Donut Dollies – The Unsung Heroes Of World War iI

By Antonia Čirjak on December 31 2019 in Society

Re-enactors of the Vietnam War Society wear uniforms and equipment of US riflemen of the Vietnam War this image was taken in Ashdown Forest England in 2001.
Re-enactors of the Vietnam War Society wear uniforms and equipment of US riflemen of the Vietnam War this image was taken in Ashdown Forest England in 2001.

The Donut Dollies were an organization that participated in the Vietnam War. An all-female assembly was sent to help with the morale of US soldiers battling in Vietnam, providing positive emotions and home-like manners. 

Red Cross Organization

The organization first developed during World War II, where a group of women serving under the Red Cross was sent to the battlefields, not to fight, but to deliver coffee and donuts. So the name ‘’Donut Dollies’’ was created. In 1965, the United States was already ten years deep into the Vietnam War, a long and exhausting conflict that lasted for twenty years. The Defense Department requested that the Red Cross rehabilitates the Donut Dollies and start sending women to Vietnam. 

Women Volunteers

Interestingly, most of the women that went as Donut Dollies to serve in Vietnam volunteered themselves. A lot of women also wanted to participate in the ‘’real’’ fight, but the US Army was not recruiting women at the time. The women found inspiration in John F. Kennedy’s call to duty. They also saw it as a measure to delay the responsibilities of marriage and childbirth, which was still a role expected to be fulfilled in the 1960s. It also served as an opportunity to receive a college education and all the benefits one could receive as a Vietnam War veteran. 

In the seven years span (1965-1972), more than 600 women served under the Donut Dollies organization. The group mostly consisted of young and single women, and part of their job was to act in Vietnam as they were the soldiers’ mothers, sisters, or girlfriends. Most of them were stationed in large military bases where they would engage in playing games with the soldiers there, listening to music, or just sitting and talking. Some of the Donut Dollies traveled in pairs to more battle-active areas, where they would land with a helicopter and bring games and refreshments for the troops that were close to the first lines of battle. 

Staying Positive In War

The Donut Dollies were instructed by the Red Cross that they should be a reminder of home, and not serve as sexual objects. They were dressed in light-blue uniforms and had to constantly appear positive and smiling when around the soldiers. Some of them were even instructed to wear perfumes when working with wounded soldiers in hospitals, bringing more feelings from home in those difficult situations. 

The experience of Donut Dollies during the Vietnam War is hard to put into words. Their job was to keep a positive attitude in situations where lives were lost every single day. They had to act differently, ignoring all horrors of war that became a part of their everyday life.  

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