I cannot begin to remember how many times that I have answered the question "why were there no women serving in Vietnam? My answer is always the same, there were 7484 nurses registered
throughout the Vietnam conflict of which we lost eight exceptional nurses (8 Female Nurses Honored on the Memorial). But I always reminded each visitor at the memorial
there were indeed other women who served with our military but were indeed not military themselves.
For a few years I was fortunate enough to correspond with Ann Kelsey. Emails and the internet had just begin to surface and from my departure from DC to
Florida, these avenues were perfect vehicles facilitating my investigative responsibilities for Friends of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (FVVM). Ann was such an amazing
encyclopedia of information. Much to my delight, I finally met Ann at the Johnson City Texas Moving Wall set up in 2004. For one week, her visits to the information
tent was like the Niagara Falls of information flowing into my tent and I was the sponge trying to absorb all the pertinent information and incredible stories with poignant
references. I know I sat there all week with my mouth opened as I listened to her recounts of incidents and ability to put it in layman’s terms so I could understand and
then incorporate it into the information I shared with the visitors to The Moving Wall (TM). Ann continues to be a mentor to me, a resource to confirm the fiction that
floats about and most of all she is a woman I respect for what she has done for our country without receiving the recognition of her contributions to our veterans and
women like her who served our military without receiving the recognition that their support should have been acknowledged for.
I have met the missionaries who served, the women connected Operation Baby lift, in the CIA, Red Cross, the journalist and others and listening to their stories, you cannot help to wonder (just like the men who did
similar activities, why could there not be more responsible recognition for them. Recently my husband told me of a woman he went to high school with and she had just written
a book about her serving in Vietnam. I said oh she was a nurse and he said no I don't think so but he would check. By the next day, I had read her highlights and ordered her
book from Amazon. Within days after receiving her book, I disavowed it and began my email with I am married to Gary Denitto who attended school with you. I have read your book and
I would be so grateful to make contact with you. Within days, I was corresponding with Dr. Sandra Lockney Davis who wrote this delightful and detailed memoir "So What's a Nice Girl
like You doing in a Place like this? (Seoul to Saigon). The other serendipitous moment of all of this was the book had an overview written by Ann Kelsey, yes my friend Ann. It was truly
a moment we all realized that we were meant to circle our wagons and to pull our resources together.
Ann has given me permission to reprint her forward from Dr. Davis' book. Dr. Sandra Logely Davis also permitted me to use some references from her book to inspire many people. Not just women but also men,
to read her journals and perhaps use some of the jumping off points to investigate these amazing women who served outside of the military structure. All rights reserved and no portion can be used without
Ann Kelsey's or Dr. Sandra Lockney Davis' written consent.
Morale and recreation programs for members of the United States military traces its roots to the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1903, Congress authorized the Army to build, operate and maintain various
types of recreational programs. Both the Army and non-governmental organizations such as the Red Cross, the YMCA, and the American Library Association sponsored morale and recreation activities during World War I.
In 1941, the Army programs were centralized under the Special Services umbrella, joining the USO, established in 1940, and the Red Cross in bringing morale boosting recreation programs to the troops in World War II.
These programs expanded during the min-twentieth century Cold War, and became important components of the United States military presence in Korea and VietNam, often staffed by civilians, many of them women, both on
the home front and overseas.
While the USO and its contributions are well known, and many veterans remember the Red Cross Club Mobiles in World War II and Korea, and the "Donut Dollies" in VietNam, the Service Clubs, libraries, craft shops, and
the entertainment programs sponsored by Army Special Services frequently go unmentioned and unrecognized.
This is what makes Sandra Lockney Davis' memoir so special and compelling. Her stories and memories of her tours with Special Services and not all the women were young. Nethertheless, the majority of those who
served in Korea and VietNam were young female college graduates, and it was a life-changing experience for them, just as it was for the mostly young soldiers who came to the clubs, libraries and the craft shops.
Dr. Lockney Davis brings the experience of serving with Special Services alive and gives recognition to a program that then and now seeks to bring soldiers a respite from war and the loneliness of being far from home.
In telling her story, she tells all of our stories- the librarians in library services, and the recreation s specialists in the services and the recreation specialists in the service clubs, craft shops and entertainment.
Thanks to her memoir, Army Special Services and those who served with it are no longer a footnote in the history of recreational service to the military. Ann Kelsey, Army Special Services Libraries, VietNam, 1969-1970.
Also here are a few writings from Ann's on the Overview of Women Volunteers in Civilian Staffed Recreational Programs in Vietnam. Again all rights reserved and none of her text can be used without her sole permission.
This is an abbreviated substance from Dr. Davis book and Ann's overview begins on page 304, this paper was written and documented in 2004 the same year she and I finally met (fate???).
(quote beginning from page 314,) "Now, as these woman begin to tell their stories, no longer as unknown and invisible as before, it may be that history will view them as women who practiced the principles of feminism while their
contemporaries back in the world were only talking about them. For history to recognize these women, and indeed all of the American women who served in Vietnam, it is important that the study of these women's service expand
beyond oral history and personal narrative into published scholarly studies. However, except for Elizabeth Norman's fifteen year old study, "Women at War", developed as an outgrowth of her doctoral dissertation, "
Nurses in War: A Study of Female Military Nurses Who Served in Vietnam During the War Years, 1965-1973" no published books reflecting scholarly research on this topic currently exist. (unquote)
(Continuing on page 315, quote)"Literature search in two online databases, OCLC WorldCat* and Dissertation Abstracts Online*resulted in fifty-one listings for unpublished doctoral dissertations, Bachelor's theses, mater's theses,
and undergraduate honors papers on the topic of American women in Vietnam*. Eighteen of these focused specifically nurses, five on civilians (three on red Cross), one on the Women's Army Corps (WACs) and twelve on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The two most popular subject areas of research were history and American studies with twenty-three dissertations and theses, and social sciences (psychology, sociology, and ethnology) with twenty-one dissertations and theses. Other subject areas
included education (two), literature and film (three) and health sciences (two). (unquote)
(continuing on page 318, quote) While the lack of published scholarship is disheartening, some resource materials, published and unpublished, do exist. The following brief bibliographic essay highlights some of these that deal specifically? civilian
women who served in the morale and recreation program in Vietnam. .......Primary and secondary source materials on civilian women in general are also in a special collection at the Primrose Library, Denver University, " A Circle of Sisters/A Circle of Friends:
American Civilian Women and the Vietnam Experience." The archive of the Vietnam Conflict at Texas Tech University is expanding its collection related to women. Civilian women who worked in the morale and recreation programs are contributing to its Oral
History Project and also donating personal memorabilia. The archives of the American Red Cross and the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation also contain sources material, objects and memorabilia.
|Hunter, Carol A.
||"A Touch of Home: Red Cross Recreation Workers in the Vietnam War"
|Reckart , Nanette J.
||"What I Did in the War, Mother: A Study of the Women in the American Red Cross at the 249th General Hospital (1965-1971) during the Vietnam Conflict"
|Savatore, Maxine B.
||"Women After War: Vietnam Experiences and Post-Traumatic Stress: Contributions to Social Ajustment Problems of Red Cross Workers and Military Nurses"
|Weber, Maryann L.
||"Forgotten Sacrifices: American Civilian Women in the Vietnam War"
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