Donut Dolly: An American Red Cross Girl's War in Vietnam

Donut Dolly: An American Red Cross Girl's War in Vietnam

Donut Dolly: An American Red Cross Girl's War in Vietnam

Donut Dolly: An American Red Cross Girl's War in Vietnam

Synopsis

Donut Dolly puts you in the Vietnam War face down in the dirt under a sniper attack, inside a helicopter being struck by lightning, at dinner next to a commanding general, and slogging through the mud along a line of foxholes. You see the war through the eyes of one of the first women officially allowed in the combat zone.
When Joann Puffer Kotcher left for Vietnam in 1966, she was fresh out of the University of Michigan with a year of teaching, and a year as an American Red Cross Donut Dolly in Korea. All she wanted was to go someplace exciting. In Vietnam, she visited troops from the Central Highlands to the Mekong Delta, from the South China Sea to the Cambodian border. At four duty stations, she set up recreation centers and made mobile visits wherever commanders requested. That included Special Forces Teams in remote combat zone jungles. She brought reminders of home, thoughts of a sister or the girl next door. Officers asked her to take risks because they believed her visits to the front lines were important to the men. Every Vietnam veteran who meets her thinks of her as a brother-at-arms.
Donut Dolly is Kotcher's personal view of the war, recorded in a journal kept during her tour, day by day as she experienced it. It is a faithful representation of the twists and turns of the turbulent, controversial time. While in Vietnam, Kotcher was once abducted; dodged an ambush in the Delta; talked with a true war hero in a hospital who had charged a machine gun; and had a conversation with a prostitute. A rare account of an American Red Cross volunteer in Vietnam, Donut Dolly will appeal to those interested in the Vietnam War, to those who have interest in the military, and to women aspiring to go beyond the ordinary.

Excerpt

Donut Dolly: An American Red Cross Girl’s War in Vietnam is my personal view of the early days of the war. I kept a journal for a year while a program director for the American Red Cross. I wrote what I saw and did, what I felt and thought—a faithful representation of that time. The comedian Jeff Foxworthy said, “The best stuff is not stuff you make up. It’s true stuff.” This book is based primarily on that diary and other confirmed sources. The story unfolds day by day as I lived it. What happened on one day usually had no connection to what happened on the next. I included only information that I experienced first-hand. Later I expanded the original diary into a book-length narrative. I hope this book will convey the twists and turns of a turbulent time. While filling in the notes of my Vietnam diary I used the internet extensively. My searches led me throughout the country to renew friendships with people I knew well or casually. These people were good representatives of the 2.6 million who served in the war. More about my old new friends in the chapter, “Whatever Happened To…?” however. Through our shared experiences we are forever young.

Before I went to Vietnam, my mother, a well-published writer, told me, “Keep a diary. You think you will remember, but you wont.” She was right. More than once when reading the diary years later, I found a story in my handwriting that I did not recall.

Ernie Pyle, the World War II Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist wrote, “I haven’t written anything about the ‘Big Picture,’ because I don’t . . .

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