Dear Nancy

So nice to meet you. I just wanted to drop a line to share a few old
memories with you. I was in the 1st Cav from May to May, '67 to '68. I
visited the Red Cross Center at An Khe in May of 67. I was new in country
and going through the in-country training program at An Khe. Our sergeant
took us over to the Red Cross Center one day just after we finished the ten
day training program. We were on our way out to the field the next day.

Anyway, there is this memory about Red Cross Donut Dollies you might enjoy.
It occurred on Christmas Day of 1967. My unit, 2nd of the 8th, was at L.Z.
English in the Bong Son. My squad was detailed to some escort duty that
morning and when we returned, we ended up being the last people through the
chow line. I was the last guy to be served and there were these two Donut
Dollies helping serve Christmas Dinner. Well, it was really pleasant to see
them and I shared a few pleasant words with both of them. Then as soon as I
got my chow I went to sit down with some of my men in an area not far from
the mess tent.

To my wonder and amazement, the two Donut Dollies came over and sat next to
me with their Christmas dinner. All of us were so pleased that these two
young ladies chose to be with us instead of going to the Officers Mess, we
couldn't believe our luck! After we finished eating, I asked the gals if
they wanted to have a tour of the L.Z.? (L.Z. English was pretty big, it was
the forward command for the 1st Brigade). Anyway, they said yes. So
another fella and I went out and "acquired" a jeep so that we could give
them a ride. (What the hell, the Brigade Sergeant Major wasn't using it

We had a wonderful time together. It lasted an hour and a half to two
hours. Here were these two Red Cross gals in a jeep with five or six
G.I.'s, (remember, those jeeps were only suppose to seat four) getting a
tour of the L.Z. Both of them were very sweet to us. They smiled and joked
and acted like everything we said was important. To my utter amazement, my
squad mates actually cleaned up their language! It was all great fun.

Then it was time to take them back to the air strip for their return flight
to An Khe. We all stayed with them right up to when they got on the plane
(a C-130) and waived good bye. For a long time I tried to remember their
names. I saw one of them again a few months later. She had given me her
name and told me to stop and say hello the next time I was in An Khe. I
looked her up.

We had dinner in the officers mess at the hospital. (I was a Buck Sergeant E-5,
but this gal told an Army doctor that I was a LT. so she could get me in - I wasn't
wearing my stripes at the time). We saw a movie over at the hospital and had a beer
together. It was an innocent visit, and she was as sincere and as kind as before.

I can't remember her name today, but I will always remember that special
Christmas Day and how wonderful those two young women made me and my
buddies feel by just simply being there and being nice to us.

The experience with the ladies was more poignant when I recall that only a
few days before that Christmas, we had just ended what was later called the
Battle of Tom Quan. It was a nasty drawn out fight that went on for about
ten days in the Bong Son. One day your in a fox hole dodging bullets and
a few days later your sitting on a rock talking to a girl from back home.
It was an amazing war.

As I look back on that occasion, I often wonder if those gals knew how all
of us treasured each one of their smiles? I bet they knew. Considering the
place and the time. The simple fact of their being there to smile and laugh
with us was the greatest Christmas gift we could have ever wished for. Not
all of the young guys who were in our lucky group that day came home. One
of my fellas was killed in the Tet Offensive just one month later and
another in the A Shau Valley a little later on. I'm glad they had a few
hours to laugh and tell a few jokes with a couple of great gals on Christmas

Anyway, thank you for going to Nam in the Red Cross. You and a lot other
young women like yourself gave small treasures of relief to fellas who
wondered if they would ever live to see another Round Eye, let alone talk to
one. I know it was hard on you, it was hard on us all. But you were
special, because you really did not have to be there at all.

Thank you,
Ken Willis
2nd Bn, 8th Cav, 1st Air Cav., 5/67 to 5/68