A Girl's War...Donut Dolly in Viet Nam
You probably have heard of Jane Fonda's actions during the Viet Nam War, but never been aware of the courage shown by select young female college graduates who came to be known as "Donut Dolly". Joann Puffer Kotcher was one of these women and has recorded her one year service in a fascinating book, "Donut Dolly - An American Red Cross Girl's War in Viet Nam".
Her story puts you in the Viet Nam War in 1966-1967 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 will hear through the eyes of one of the first women officially allowed in the combat zone as a civilian non-combatant.
During her tour, Joann Kotcher went into combat zones in the Central Highlands, the Mekong Delta and along the Cambodian border. The lessons she learned were largely the same that soldiers encountered. At four duty stations, she along with other ladies, set up recreation centers and made visits right out into the combat areas, including Special Forces Teams in remote combat zone jungles. She was a reminder of home. While in Viet Nam, she was once abducted, dodged an ambush in the Delta, talked with a real hero in the hospital who had charged a machine gun and had a conversation with a prostitute. She found the answers to questions such as: What is it like in a war? What will a soldier say to a girl while sitting in a bunker with shells flying overhead? What did the men think about the war? Why would a man risk his life to save another?
Her book has received recognition and tribute by the State of Michigan House and Senate. The First Cavalry Division made her an honorary Skytrooper. She has been invited to participate both as a speaker at the First Infantry Division Museum and as a panelist with Joe Galloway, author of the best seller and movie "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young" and "We are Soldiers Still". She has received a dozen awards for her writing, including nomination for Book-of-the-Year by the Army Historical Foundation.
After more than forty years since the war, she has put her story, taken from a journal she wrote between 1965 and 1967, into a story we needed to hear back then, instead of the chatter of Jane Fonda. But we are happy it is being told today.