Homeland Magazine March 2022

Page 10

Labor of Love Documentary Preserves the Story of Unsung Heroes of the Vietnam War Meet The Donut Dollies Homeland Magazine had a chance to speak with the director of a new documentary focused on a little known story of the Vietnam War. 25 years ago, filmmaker Norm Anderson Amandi started an on-camera conversation with his mother Dorset about a life-defining year she spent in Vietnam as a “Donut Dollie.” Neither of them knew at the time that what began as an effort to document family history would become the most significant effort ever undertaken to preserve a virtually unknown chapter in American history. Homeland: Who are the Donut Dollies? Amandi: The Donut Dollies are the most amazing women you’ve never heard of. They were brave young American women who volunteered in Korea and Vietnam during the wars. They joined a Red Cross program called Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas (SRAO), and accepted the daunting mission to boost morale and be a living, breathing reminder of home to American servicemen fighting and dying half a world away.

Donut Dollies Linda Sullivan Schulte (L) & Dorset Hoogland Anderson (R) visting with a soldier in a lookout tower in Vietnam 1968-69 (Photo Credit - Donut Dollies Documentary) 10

WWW.HomelandMagazine.com / MARCH 2022

Homeland: How did they become known as the Donut Dollies? Amandi: During WWII, the American Red Cross ran a program to provide comforts of home and entertainment to the men serving in Europe. The GIs took to calling these fresh-faced women Donut Dollies. When the SRAO program started in Korea, the term of endearment stuck. Homeland: What services did the Donut Dollies provide In Vietnam? Amandi: The Red Cross operated Recreation Centers on bases, which offered GIs typical amenities, but the real draw was getting to interact with the Donut Dollies. The job also included actively entertaining the guys through “programming.” This could be trivia games, contests, handmade games they invented, or anything else they could think of. They also caught rides in helicopters out to firebases often 4 or 5 in one day! There, they’d program, deliver mail, fill sandbags - anything to take guys’ minds off the war. Countless guys were more than a little surprised to see American women in powder blue skirts hopping out of a Huey. Homeland: What drew you to making this documentary? Amandi: Love. I’m extremely proud to say my mom is a Donut Dollie. As a kid, I didn’t think to ask her why she went to Vietnam. But as I got older, it sank in -

7 Americal Red Cross Girls (clockwise from bottom left ground Diane, Kath, Rene, Caro, Tee, Amy & Sandy) - 1968-69 (Photo credit - Diane Schmidt Curley)

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