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Training in DC

Donut Dollies had 2 weeks training in Washington, DC, before going to Vietnam.  We learned such things as how to recognize rank and were given our first malaria pills.  The resulting consequences made me believe that malaria could not be any worse than the pill so it was also my last malaria pill. 

We were issued our uniforms and were quite proud of our "Class A's" with our new American Red Cross patches.  The only time I wore my Class A's was for this picture and the airplane trip to Nam.  The last night we had dinner together at the Old Ebbits Grill.  Then we flew to Saigon where we were issued fatigues.  (This was the only time I wore the fatigues.)  We had a few days of orientation in Saigon and on the last day there was a list of where in country each of us would be stationed.  Everyone was looking at the list and finding their location on the large map.  Next to my name was, "Dong Tam."  I searched that entire map several times and Dong Tam was not on it.  I wondered where in the world they might be sending me that could not even be listed on the map.  The director described the locations where each girl was to be sent.  I remember phrases like, "it is on the beach, you'll be living in a villa in town, there is even water skiing, you will run a club" prior to finally describing Dong Tam at the very end, which was something like, "hot and dusty or muddy, living in a hooch on the base. flying to firebases."  I wondered who I had offended to be sent to such a desolate place.

It was years later when I understood that I had gotten the best assignment.  Places like Cam Rahn Bay and Danang had clubs where the Donut Dollies put on programs and played games with the guys.  They were stocked with tape recorders, cards and games, musical instruments, books and such.  In Dong Tam, the Special Services had a club, so our unit was completely mobile.  I got to fly in a helicopter to work every day to the surrounding firebases.  The smiles on the faces of the guys  at the firebases as we went from company to company was my reward for living in the heat, mud and dust of the Delta.

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