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“We were young women just out of college with a thirst for adventure and a desire to do something real.”
They came of age at the dawn of the women’s movement, stepping out of conventional roles to take a route away from the expected. Young, adventurous, idealistic, and committed, they were a breath of fresh air in the dusty firebases and sweaty base camps of Vietnam. They were the Donut Dollies, and their job was to distract US soldiers on the front lines with games, songs and a listening ear. Heirs to a Red Cross recreational program started in World War II, the Vietnam girls didn’t have donut machines, but with a never-ending smile, a listening ear, and a collection of silly games, they delivered a touch of home to the combat zone.
627 of them signed up for the Red Cross Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas program to go and entertain the two and a half million troops fighting the Vietnam War. That’s a 4,000 to one ratio. No wonder they were popular. Miraculously, none of them was killed by enemy fire.
“The horror of the war was as if it were in black and white. And then when the Donut Dollies came, it was like everything suddenly turned to color.”
They commuted in Huey helicopters, collectively logging 2,125,000 air miles in the war zone. Their workplace was furnished with piles of sandbags and staffed by shirtless patriots. Through the dust, the mud, and the mortars, the Red Cross Girls smiled until their cheeks hurt, despite the ever-present death surrounding them. Read More...
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