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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Linda Jones, 2011

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Object ID: wv0291.5.001

Description: Linda Ruth Johnson Jones tells of her early life, service with the American Red Cross and American Red Cross reserve corps, and life after service.

Summary: Jones discusses her various service assignments, deployments, and experiences throughout the time of her service.

Creator: Linda Jones

Biographical Info: Linda Jones served in the American Red Cross in Korea in 1968-1969 and in Saudi Arabia during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Collection: Linda Jones Papers

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Jackson Library, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Full Text:

Hermann Trojanowski:

Today is April 14, 2011, and my name is Hermann Trojanowksi. I’m at the Alumni House with Linda Jones, and we’re here to conduct an oral history for the [Betty H.] Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina. Linda, if you would state your full name for me that would be great.

Linda Jones:

Linda Ruth Johnson Jones.

HT:

Great. Well Linda, if you would tell me something about your life; about when you were born and where you were born, and little bit about your family.

LJ:

I was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was born August 4, 1944. I attended Oakhurst Elementary School, McClintock Junior High [now McClintock Middle School], and graduated from East Mecklenburg High School in 1962. I’m an only child. My parents were married sixteen years before I was born, and I have red hair and my mother always told me folks would ask my father who I inherited the red hair from, because neither of them had red hair and he said, “Well, she took so long in coming that she rusted, I think.” So, I always thought that was a good explanation.

My father was killed when I was five, so I was raised mainly by my grandmother who lived with us, and my mom. After his death, my mother went back to work, so my after school hours were spent with my grandmother.

HT:

What did your dad do? What kind of line of work was he in?

LJ:

My father owned a service station, and the way he died was he was closing the station on a Saturday evening; this was in 1950. And a young boy who had worked for him off and on at the station evidently needed money, and held him up and robbed him and attacked him, and he died—and he died from that. So, it was very tragic and I—that event probably affected my life, probably the most of anything, when I think back on it, I feel that it probably did.

HT:

That certainly is understandable. What about your mom? Did she work outside the house at all?

LJ:

She did. She had been a stay-at-home mom until my dad died, and then she went back to work. And she was a book keeper, and she worked until she was seventy years old. She died four years later in 1982.

HT:

I think you mentioned earlier that you had gone to high school in Charlotte?

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

What was the name of the high school?

LJ:

East Mecklenburg.

HT:

East Mecklenburg, right. What was your favorite subject? Do you recall?

LJ:

Creative writing, yes, and I remember the teacher, a Mr. Davis, and the highlight of the class was, he was a graduate of Davidson College and he took our class out to the campus and I remember going to the library, and that was very exciting to see all the young college men and the inside of a college library. It was a very—very interesting class, and I am sorry I didn’t pursue more in the literature, writing field.

HT:

Do you recall Mr. Davis’ first name, by any chance?

LJ:

Not at the moment, but I—

HT:

That’s fine right now. After you graduated from high school, what did you do next?

LJ:

I went my first year to St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg [North Carolina]. I had a couple of small scholarships; one was from the Future Teachers of America club [now Future Educators Association] at my high school, and another small one was from our local Presbyterian church. So, my freshman year was spent there. I wasn’t very fond of Larinburg, after living in Charlotte all my life. I decided I did not want to spend my four years at St. Andrews and I transferred to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the fall of 1963, as a sophomore.

HT:

Right. So, the school had just converted from being all female.

LJ:

It had. This was the first—it was the first.

HT:

The first—The men didn’t actually come until the fall of ’64, because they didn’t have dorms ready for them, but the official—I think it officially changed—

LJ:

The name changed.

HT:

Probably the name, about ’63, yes.

LJ:

Yes, it did.

HT:

What made you decide to go to St. Andrews first, as opposed to coming to Women’s College, or UNCG, right away?

LJ:

I thought it would be nice to go to a small school, but I found that I actually was happier on a larger campus with more opportunities.

HT:

And when you were at St. Andrews had you decided what your major was going to be yet, at that time? What you were leaning toward, by any chance?

LJ:

I was leaning either towards nursing or education, and at that time, pretty much it was secretarial, nursing, or education. So, I think I probably was leaning towards elementary education by the time I got to UNCG.

HT:

What do you remember about your first days here at UNCG?

LJ:

I remember moving into the Kirkland dorm, which was no longer after a short period of time after we moved out. We were waiting for the new dorms, Reynolds and Grogan, to be completed, and within—probably within a month, if not a few weeks, we moved into the new dorms, which were wonderful. And I lived there for my sophomore year and my junior year, and then my senior year I lived in Strong [and Mendenhall –LJ added later].

HT:

Now, the—do you remember how you got to Greensboro, that first time?

LJ:

The first time, my mom and my aunt drove me up.

HT:

Had you been on campus before, or in Greensboro, before that time?

LJ:

I don’t think so.

HT:

Okay, that’s fine. Did you enjoy school?

LJ:

I did, and I especially enjoyed the folks who lived on our hall. We were very close and shared our activities, and that was my favorite part.

HT:

What do you recall about any of the administration people, or professors, on campus in the mid-1960s? Do you have any recollections of favorite teachers, or something like that?

LJ:

[pause] No. [Dr. Gaskins in Biology and Dr. Dozier in Geography –LJ added later]

HT:

Okay, that’s fine. When did you graduate from UNCG?

LJ:

I graduated in 1966.

HT:

Right. And your degree is in?

LJ:

Elementary ed[ucation].

HT:

Did you plan to teach after that?

LJ:

I did. I interviewed—Here on campus, a representative from the Dependents School from Camp Lejeune came up for interviews. I interviewed and was accepted as a teacher in the Dependents School system. My family had no association with the military. I had never been on a military base, and never knew anything about it, but the salary they were offering was the highest in the state at the time, and it sounded like a great opportunity. So, I accepted the position and went to Camp Lejeune that following fall.

HT:

Fall of ’67?

LJ:

Fall of ’66.

HT:

Sixty-six, sorry.

LJ:

Yes. Taught fourth grade for a year, and the next year taught fifth grade. So, I was there for two years.

HT:

Right.

LJ:

We lived on the base. Teachers at that time were given quarters. I had two roommates who were also school teachers. We each paid thirty-three dollars a month rent, [chuckles] all utilities included. We lived in Tarawa Terrace. I taught at Stone Street Elementary School. At that time, they had the school segregated by housing area, and I happened to—my school was in the officer housing area, so I had children, totally, of officers, and there was, I think, one teacher—one teacher’s child who went there.

HT:

Were those schools part of the public school system?

LJ:

They were not. They were the Dependents—

HT:

Dependents, okay.

LJ:

Dependents School system.

HT:

This was at Camp Lejeune?

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

Well, I know you decided to join the Red Cross shortly after your teaching stint.

LJ:

I did. I was—

HT:

How did that—Tell me about how that came about.

LJ:

I was teaching at Stone Street with a young lady who had recently married, and she had just returned from a one year tour in Vietnam with the American Red Cross. So, we would chat in the teacher’s lounge, and visit back and forth in our homes. She would tell me, oh, I should go off and do this exciting thing, and you could, at the time, go to Korea for a year or you could go to Vietnam for a year. It was in the—what the Red Cross termed their SRAO program, which was supplemental recreation aid overseas [sic Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas], and the only requirements were you had to be single and not older than twenty-five, and a college graduate. They didn’t care so much what the degree was in, just that you had—had a degree.

She, you know, described how great a service she felt that they were able to offer to the soldiers, and how rewarding it had been. So, I applied. I went down to Atlanta for an interview, and I’ll never forget, one of the ladies who interviewed me, I asked her what I thought was a reasonable question, “Well, what hours do you work?” [both chuckle]

And she almost ushered me out of her office at that point, and she said, “Well my dear, you know, we work twenty hours a day. You cannot—you know, if you think of this as a nine to five job, then you’re in the wrong organization.”

So, I thought, “Oh my. Well, okay.” She didn’t throw me out of her office, and they did hire me. I chose to go to Korea. I wish, now, I had chosen Vietnam, so I would know what it was like, but I didn’t. And so, in September of 1968 I went to Washington, D.C., and for each class they held a two week training class. You were taken to the Pentagon to get your passport worked on and a tour of the Pentagon. You were given classes in military protocol; how to conduct yourself in social situations; what was expected on the job; and kind of a culture—Korean culture and/or Vietnam classes.

HT:

So, this was sort of like a mini basic training course?

LJ:

It was. It was. We were issued our uniforms, and of course now, remembering that this is 1968, after we got them we all trotted out to the local tailors shops and got them shortened a bit. [chuckles]

HT:

And that was okay?

LJ:

After we were out of the country it was. [both laughing]

HT:

What was the uniform like?

LJ:

It was the little blue and white pinstripe. Yes. And then your winter uniform—also at that time they thought it was very—very high fashion; we had culottes. We had culottes and a little top. At that—In that time, we had no pants, you know, there weren’t—pantsuits hadn’t come upon the scene yet, so culottes were the closest thing to it. Winter was a skirt, a grey little skirt, a red wool blazer, and of course the hats, but we—once we all left Washington, I don’t think we ever wore the hats again.

HT:

So, did you wear a uniform throughout the day—business day, so to speak?

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

And at social functions, I guess, you had some sort of—

LJ:

You could wear civilian—your regular clothes.

HT:

Civilian clothing, okay.

LJ:

Absolutely.

HT:

Interesting. How many pieces of garments did you have to buy, or were they given to you, or how—?

LJ:

They were—they gave you the uniforms.

HT:

Okay, I see.

LJ:

Yes, and they decided—in my class, I believe there were perhaps fifteen of us that—I think because I was the oldest, I was twenty-four I think at the time, that I would be the team leader. So, before we left and got on the plane, they gave me a large manila envelope that had the, you know, private records of everyone; everything that had happened to them during the training, etcetera. And I was to deliver this to our director once we got to Seoul, Korea. So, we got—we left out of Baltimore, we went to Seattle, spent the night in Tacoma. Next morning we flew out of Tacoma, and when we got to Korea, I realized that I had left the packet on the plane back in Seattle, evidently. So, the director was not too impressed [chuckles]—impressed with that, and I had to pay, and I don’t remember how much it was now, I had to pay out of my own money for them to have this redelivered back through the airlines; back to the Red Cross Headquarters in Seoul.

HT:

But—So, the did find the package?

LJ:

They did find it. They did find it. That was not the best beginning, but—they did assign me, though, a few miles from the DMZ [demilitarized zone], [laughs] instead of down south. I was at Camp Pelham, which was—at the time, was the first of the fifteenth artillery. And it was, I don’t know, three or four miles from the DMZ, and I was there from September until January, and then I transferred to Camp Red Cloud, which was in Uijeongbu. I was there until I came home in September.

HT:

So, how long of a tour was this?

LJ:

It was a year.

HT:

Just one year?

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

Okay.

LJ:

That was your commitment; was one year.

HT:

And you could’ve stayed longer if you wanted to, I guess?

LJ:

You could’ve—you could extend, and I could have extended and gone to Vietnam, but I chose not—or I could have extended and stayed in Korea, too.

HT:

Well, tell me about some of the work you did while you were there.

LJ:

Well, as I said, we were assigned out to base—to the army base camps, and we had our own office. We [worked in –LJ clarified later]  Quonset huts and we lived in Quonset huts, and the first Camp Pelham that I was at—we also, living with us besides the Red Cross Girls, were your special service folks; the ones who ran the library, the service club, and Red Cross, all lived together. We had private rooms. We had a community bath. We had mamasans who totally took care of us; did our laundry. They cleaned our rooms. As many times a day, if you went in and out of your room, you would come back and everything would be tidied up. If you left a pair of shoes out, they would be put away. Everything was—everything was just kept immaculate, it was wonderful

HT:

Did you have to pay for the mamasan?

LJ:

I think we did, and maybe it was ten dollars a month. It was very very little.

HT:

Do you recall what kind of salary you got in those days?

LJ:

I think the hiring salary on that was fifty-five hundred a year, I believe. It might have been a hundred less than the teaching salary at Camp Lejeune.

HT:

Were you looking for adventure when you joined?

LJ:

I was, and I certainly—and I found it. [both chuckle] We would go out—each—well, each office had, usually, a Korean baker and kitchen facilities, and they would come in early in the morning, three or four o’clock, usually a Mr. Kim, and he would—he had a doughnut machine, and he would make the doughnuts, bag them up in brown paper sacks, mark them with the name of the units. Two girls went out in a military vehicle with an army driver, or a KATUSA driver, which is Korean Attached to the U.S. Army. And we would go out to the units, we would take the doughnuts, and we would make up recreation programs which would be of interest to the men: sports, TV, movies; that sort of thing. And the—our Korean staff, who were very, very talented, would make up game boards; whatever props we needed. We had a large green canvas prop bag, we’d put all our artwork, all our game props, in it, and take the prop bag and our doughnuts and off we’d go. We would—when we got to a military compound we would set up in the mess hall and we’d be there for approximately an hour. We would go into the first sergeant and notify him that we were there, then we’d go to the mess hall. The men would come; they would give them time off from their work. They would come gather in the mess hall, have their coffee, have their doughnut, and it was the old, you know, divide up into two teams. And they—mainly, I think they enjoyed seeing American women—

HT:

Right.

LJ:

—and it was a touch of home for them. But even though the games could be silly at times, it was fun. It’s hard to imagine, you know, now, but at the time it really—it really was.

HT:

Now, were there any American women based there in the military? Do you recall ever seeing any?

LJ:

Nurses.

HT:

Nurses? Just nurses, okay.

LJ:

If you were at a base that had a medical facility, there would be—there would be nurses.

HT:

But no—

LJ:

A field hospital, or maybe a small clinic, they might have a nurse, but for the most part it was—

HT:

But no army women.

LJ:

I don’t—

HT:

I guess by that time they weren’t called WACs [Women’s Army Corps] anymore, but I can’t remember when that changed over, but that’s interesting. If we could back track just a minute?

LJ:

Sure.

HT:

When you decided to join to the Red Cross and go overseas, what was the reaction of your family and friends?

LJ:

Well, being an only child, my mother was surprised but she never ever, you know, tried to discourage me from doing it. On my father’s side of the family, I had four uncles who were career merchant mariners, and I’d always been fascinated with their travels, and they always, you know, would send postcards and send presents through the years. She knew that I’d always found that exciting, so she wasn’t really surprised, but again, I know that she would [have] preferred I, probably, stay in Charlotte, or teach and stay nearby. But she never—never verbalized it.

HT:

When you joined, did you have to commit to one year, two years? What was the commitment?

LJ:

It was a—initially, it was a one year commitment, and I did. I came back from that one year and went back to teaching in Atlanta, and taught, six months, second grade, and decided to go back to Red Cross. So, I just—I did have a six month gap in employment with the Red Cross at that time.

HT:

Just missed it that much, I guess.

LJ:

After second grade, yes. [both laughing]

HT:

So, I guess it was easier dealing with nineteen and twenty year olds—

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

—than six and seven year olds. Oh my goodness. Oh goodness, let me see. Well, I guess let’s just jump back to Korea. When you were in Korea, were you able to take some time off and do some vacation type things?

LJ:

I don’t remember how many days leave we would get; possibly ten, I’m not sure. But the first—and there was a wife of a retired army officer that lived in Seoul that—she had become well known in the Red Cross circles as she had been a travel agent, I guess, in her stateside life, and that is what she did; was make these elaborate travel arrangements for all the Red Cross women, and others, of course; military families and men. Scratch the families because I’m not sure they—families were over there at the time. [chuckles]

HT:

So, you did a little bit of traveling around Korea?

LJ:

We did.

HT:

Or did you go over to Japan as well?

LJ:

The first trip we took with—there were three or four of us, we went to Hong Kong. We went to Bangkok. I believe those were the two main places; was Hong Kong and Bangkok. And then the next leave we went to Tokyo, and in both Bangkok and Tokyo, they had military billeting hotels, which they still have actually. In Tokyo, it’s the Sanno Hotel, and at that time in the sixties, it was for field grade only, and that was one thing the Red Cross nicely did for us; they gave us a complimentary rank of field grade for billeting and travel purposes.

HT:

So, that’s officer grade?

LJ:

[Yes, major and above. –LJ clarified later] Not pay purposes, but billeting and travel. So, we were able to stay there, and it was in downtown Tokyo, and it was wonderful access to the subways and everything. The same thing in Bangkok; the Chao Phya Hotel; we stayed at that; that was a military billeting hotel also. But the travel agent woman did a wonderful job for us and booked us into very nicely located hotels.

One of the girls and I were going to go to Angkor Wat [Cambodia]. This was right after Jackie Kennedy had been there, and it had become the hotspot to go to. We got to the airport in Bangkok and my friend, Judy Blake was her name, became ill and she was not going to be able to go. We had spent at least a day, if not two, in the Cambodian embassy getting our visas to go to Angkor Wat, and she wasn’t going to be able to go and she said, “Oh, you go ahead.”

Well, I looked around at the people in line and I thought, “This is too scary. I can’t do this.” Because—So, I didn’t. I always wish I had done that. We didn’t make Cambodia.

HT:

Sounds like you had some pretty good times and traveled quite a bit in that one year. Well, what was—what did you think of the Far East? Because I’ve never been there, so.

LJ:

I loved Korea. It’s a beautiful country. It’s very much like, in a way, North Carolina. It has a definite four seasons, it has mountains, it has sea coast. Of course they get, you know, more snow than we do here in central North Carolina. They have the monsoon season, but it’s a beautiful country, as is Japan. I love the Far East and the people.

HT:

Do you recall what your favorite country was?

LJ:

Probably Korea.

HT:

Korea? After you came back, I think you said, you taught for six months then rejoined the Red Cross. What was your next duty station?

LJ:

The next place they sent me, it was in a different position. It was at the naval base in Charleston as an assistant station manager, and the focus of the station manager positions on a military base was to provide emergency communication service to the military folks that were stationed there. In other words, if they had illness or death in their families, we would get the message. It would be verified out through the local chapters, and we would relay it to the person’s commanding officer.

HT:

I remember when my grandmother died in Germany in 1970, I think the Red Cross helped me get over there that November, on—you know, very quickly; that kind of stuff, so.

LJ:

And we made—one of our big services at the time was to make financial assistance in the form of loans and/or grants for airfare, and maintenance for travel [for emergency leaves – LJ clarified later]. Today the aid societies, the military aid societies, provide that financial function. The Red Cross no longer is involved in that, but we still now do the verification, and the provision to the military for the emergency leaves.

HT:

How long did you stay in Charleston?

LJ:

I was in Charleston from 1970 to 1973 [LJ corrected later: 1974]. But after that first year, they decided they had to cut back in that service to armed forces program, and I transferred over to hospital service, in Charleston there at the navy base. This was the old navy hospital, before they built the new Navy [Naval] Regional Medical Center.

HT:

I was in that hospital.

LJ:

Oh, were you? Which ward were you on.

HT:

I don’t remember. [both laugh] I remember this long ward that had about fifty guys, on the ward.

[speaking simultaneously]

LJ:       Oh, yes, these containment hospitals. Oh, yes. If you weren’t—if you weren’t very very ill and in ICU [intensive care unit], you were just in an open bay ward, in varying—you know, varying stages of illnesses.

HT:

Right. As I recall, there were not even any curtains. It was just all open.

LJ:

That’s right. One of our main programs we had at the time—oh, also, one of our main focuses, besides that emergency communication, is the administration of the—of volunteer programs. So, at the hospital was where your volunteers were. We had, of course, a volunteer chairman, etcetera. But our programs were to provide therapeutic recreation for the patients, and the way we did it, again, was—well, we had a movie that came. It was mailed to us through Red Cross national headquarters; a somewhat current movie. We had an actual movie projector, and you took it out to the open bay wards, you set up the screen. Those who were too ill, you know, to be—to where it wouldn’t bother them, you put curtains around them and turned out the lights and closed the blinds as much as you could, and showed the movie, and we took that around from ward to ward.

We had a lot of card games, you know, for if one person was in bed and somebody was mobile, if they could gather around the bed, then we’d play lots of card games. We had groups—many, many community groups that came in day and night; your church groups, for coffee calls, they brought freshly baked goods. We made the coffee, and we went around and escorted them. We had—the Elks Club came at night. They were famous for wanting to bring in Playboy magazines disguised—disguised under other auspices, and we would always have to police that after they left. [both chuckle] But these local churches and community groups were excellent at donations, and they made all sorts of in-kind donations of, say, leather goods for the—for the patients’ arts and crafts programs. The Help Hospitalized Veterans did wonderful, wonderful arts and crafts projects every month.

HT:

Does the Red Cross still do that same sort of thing these days?

LJ:

They don’t. Not as it was then. As the years went by and the patients got TVs in their—they got private rooms—they got a semi-private rooms, they got TVs in the room. The need for that just wasn’t there.

We also used to have—we still have maintained though, at least at Womack [Army Medical Center] at Fort Bragg, they take a cookie cart around, and they bring newspapers around every morning; Red Cross does. And they visit the patients, but that formal recreation program is not in existence. They dispensed—they ended that program in 1973 [LJ corrected later: 1976], I believe.

HT:

Right. Well, during World War II the Red—many of the Red Cross ladies were called Doughnut Dollies.

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

Were they still called that in Korea?

LJ:

In Korea and Vietnam, up until that program ended in ’70 —’73, they were Doughnut Dollies, even though in Vietnam they weren’t serving doughnuts, they were serving Kool-Aid, but after that, no, it was just hospital—it was called Service to—SMH, which was Service to Military Hospitals.

HT:

And, jumping back to Charleston, did you live on base?

LJ:

I lived off base.

HT:

Off base. Right.

LJ:

Yes. Only when—when you were overseas, did they generally offer—offer quarters.

HT:

I think you said earlier that you were on duty twenty-four hours a—I mean, you were subject to be on duty twenty-four hours a day, but I’m assuming you were not, most of the time, anyway.

LJ:

No, that was just a—that was Ms. Taylor’s rules back in Southeastern Area Headquarters in Atlanta. [both laugh] No, of course we were not. But, going back to Korea, besides the—you would go out on anywhere from three to six, they called them stops, a day, and you would either go by helicopter, three-quarter ton truck, or train, depending, and—[long pause]

HT:

You were talking about in Korea. Let me ask you something on the side. Since you were so close to the DM—

LJ:

DMZ [demilitarized zone].

HT:

DMZ, I’m sorry. Did you have to wear guns? Were you armed, or anything like that?

LJ:

No, we were never—we were never allowed to wear guns. We—the trucks—the vehicles that we were in—if we had to—the Imjim River was the river we had to cross to get up with—to the units, the JSA units, Joint Security Area units that were right there at the DMZ near [unclear], and you had to sandbag the trucks. Supposedly that—you know, if you ran over a landmine, supposedly that was going to—to keep the vehicle from blowing up.

[extraneous comment from unknown speaker]

HT:

Okay. What—You actually had to sandbag the trucks?

LJ:

The bottom—the floorboard of the trucks—

HT:

Oh my gosh.

LJ:

—were sandbagged. You could not have tops. In the winter it was extremely uncomfortable, even though we had on army parkas and all that, the top of the jeeps—

HT:

So, you rode in the back of the trucks?

LJ:

Yes, it would be the driver and possibly one other person in the front, let’s say, if we were in a jeep. Two girls in the back, and it would all—the floorboard would be sandbagged and/or the truck, but you couldn’t have a top on anything that you were in. If you were in a helicopter, no doors; there were no doors.

HT:

Why was that?

LJ:

Because if you were shot down, I guess you’d be able to escape quickly.

HT:

Oh my gosh, okay. And it gets cold in Korea, I understand.

LJ:

Yes. Yes.

HT:

Wow.

LJ:

And the tactical sites where you had to go way up on top of the mountains were the most interesting. A very small group of people maintained these; maybe thirty men. They always had a dog, they always had puppies. And their food was brought up to them; some of them. Some had, actually, a small kitchen and they would have, like, one cook, and they probably ate the best of anybody in Korea. But the ones who had the food brought up on the trucks, they ate—had metal trays. All I can remember is the wet—the trays were always wet and they were always cold, and we would go up and we would have lunch with them and present our programs. On the top, on their sites, would be the missiles, you know, aimed towards North—North Korea.

HT:

Oh my gosh. Do you think the fellows were appreciative of all your efforts and of the efforts of the Red Cross?

LJ:

Oh, absolutely. I do.

HT:

I think you mentioned earlier, it was a little bit of home for them. I had a friend that was stationed in Korea, and he said it was not the most pleasant experience; very cold, and that sort of thing.

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

Let’s see.

LJ:

Oh, I know what I was—I don’t—Besides the—when we go out during the day on the runs, we got multiple invitations for social events with the units, and because there were a limited amount of American women to invite to them, we had to—you would never think that you have to make a young lady go to a party, but our director would have to, you know, assign out. “Okay, we have a pile of invitations here, now, who wants to go Tuesday night? Who wants to go Wednesday?” The units would send someone to pick you up; many times it was an ambulance. That was always fun, the back of [unclear]. It’s just like on MASH on TV. [both chuckle] You know, you have the old, paneled ambulance and we would get in the back and go, you know, flying down the road to the—

HT:

Were these dances, or just parties?

LJ:

No, no, most of them were hails and farewells, you know, and refreshments. But no, not—oh, one of the bigger events was when we went to the general’s dining in, and this was for he and his officers only, and of course they invited the Red Cross young ladies, and that was a very formal occasion. You would stand by the fireplace and watch the general toasting chestnuts [both chuckle], and hear them talk about their wives and their children. Of course, we were probably the same age as their children, at the time.

HT:

Well, do you recall if the Red—I happen to think, do you recall if the Red Cross was integrated at this time?

LJ:

They were.

HT:

They were?

LJ:

Yes, yes, they were, very much so.

HT:

I could not remember when that happened. I’m not sure how much physical work you had to do, but do you ever recall what the hardest thing you ever had to do, physically, while you were with the Red Cross?

LJ:

Throughout my whole career with the Red Cross, or you mean just with—in Korea?

HT:

Well, the whole career.

LJ:

Oh, that would have been [Operation] Desert Storm [also known as the Persian Gulf War] [chuckles].

HT:

Oh, okay. So, we haven’t even gotten to that yet, okay. We’ll cover that again later on.

LJ:

Okay.

HT:

Right, okay. Do you have any additional amusing stories you might want to mention about your time in Korea or in Charleston? Anything unusual happen during those times?

LJ:

Right now I can’t think of one, but if I do I’ll intercept.

HT:

Okay, alright. That’s fine. Well, after you left Charleston, I assume you decided to stay with the Red Cross, but there again, you could have left anytime because you were a civilian, right, you were not committed for any—

LJ:

Right, I could leave at any time.

HT:

But you decided by this time to make the Red Cross a career.

LJ:

And they did transfer you around somewhat frequently. So, when I left the Naval Regional Medical Center in Charleston I was the recreation supervisor at the time, and they transferred me to Naval Regional Medical Center in Memphis [LJ corrected later: Millington], Tennessee. I actually noticed in Pat Childers’ interview, that she and I were there at the same time, but we didn’t know each other.

HT:

It’s always a small world, isn’t it?

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

Well, if I could ask just one quick question.

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

You said you were transferred. Did you ask to be transferred, or they—

LJ:

No, they tell you.

HT:

They tell you. They’re much like the military.

LJ:

It is, it is.

HT:

You don’t have much of a choice.

LJ:

That’s right. They ask you to go, and if you choose not to go then you would probably be asked to resign, unless you had some significantly good reason that you couldn’t go at that time.

HT:

Were all the Red Cross workers married, unmarried, single?

LJ:

They did not allow you as a female to be married at this time. Not until—not sure which year, maybe ’73, but once you—so, the women were single.

HT:

All single?

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

And what about the men?

LJ:

The men could be married. [both chuckle]

HT:

A bit of a double standard there, right.

LJ:

A bit.

HT:

I’m assuming you worked with men in both Korea and Charleston? Were there any men?

LJ:

Yes, they have—the way it was then was, you had your service to military installation staff, and they were the ones that worked on the base, which is what I did at Charleston at first. Then, all your women were in your hospital service. And then they started allowing women to work in the service to military installation, so—but at first it was pretty separated. Women were in the hospitals and the Red Cross men were on the bases, and then it started being intermixed in the early seventies.

HT:

After you got to Memphis, what did you get involved in? What kind of work did you do there?

LJ:

I was in their recreation. I was their recreation supervisor there at the—at the regional hospital. We had a large rec room there, which I’d never had before. You know, typical pool tables, TV; that sort of thing. You planned—planned large events for that facility, plus your visits to the individual wards, and the same community group activities.

HT:

This was a VA hospital?

LJ:

It was a navy hospital.

HT:

A navy hospital.

LJ:

Naval Regional Medical Center. The base is NATTC [naval air technical training command], or the naval station—naval air station in Memphis.

HT:

How long did you stay in Memphis?

LJ:

I was there from ’73 [LJ corrected later: ‘74] to ’77.

HT:

Did you enjoy that duty as well as duty in Charleston?

LJ:

I did. While I was there they had another cut, that’s when they finally did away with the recreation staff, and I transferred over to the base office and went back to the emergency communication type position.

HT:

And just—So, after Memphis what happened?

LJ:

I went to England. I was given orders to a three year tour in England, and I went in December 1977 to RAF [Royal Air Force Station] Alconbury, which is about thirty miles from Cambridge.

HT:

Had you ever been to Europe before this?

LJ:

No, I had not.

HT:

Were you thrilled?

LJ:

Well, my first thought was I remember calling one of my bosses in Atlanta saying, “I don’t want to go England. I wanted to go to Germany. You promised you’d send me to Germany.

And they’re like, “You’ll love England,” and after I got there I was so, so glad that it was England. I was—This was my first station manager—I had been a recreation supervisor. This was my first—I had the station to myself. I was the only staff member besides the secretary. So, that was a new challenge.

I lived in the bachelor officer quarters, which was helpful. Then I noticed almost everyone was moving out; all the young officers wanted to move out. They got a housing allowance so they were all moving out to the little villages, so I decided to move too. And I found an elderly couple who were renting what had been their original home back in the 1940s, and in Buckden, which was about a twenty minute drive from the base. So, I lived there for two years. It was wonderful. The house came with a housekeeper, and came with a—with a gardener, Bert. And Bert didn’t show up—supposedly they told me he would come every week. Well, the first year Bert didn’t come very much. Well, that Christmas I gave him a bottle of bourbon, and Bert came almost every day after that. [both laugh] It was wonderful.

HT:

What was this house like?

LJ:

It was two-story, no heat. It was totally covered in vines; my very favorite part of it.

HT:

So, the typical English cottage look.

LJ:

Yes. Yes.

HT:

Did you say no heat?

LJ:

No—Well, it had storage heaters, and storage heaters have bricks in them and when the bricks heat up, that supposedly emits the heat. You practically had to sit on, or glue yourself to the heater to feel any warmth. So, the answer was buying Calor gas heaters, which everyone did, with the large tanks, and that was how you kept warm. You bought one for, you know, multiple rooms.

It had a huge garden, as they called a lawn, in the back. The little village was wonderful. It had a famous pub, the Lion’s Pub, that dated from the 900s. It was a great experience. I was glad I did it. Very good, rather than staying on base.

HT:

You had the house all by yourself?

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

So, the couple had moved out, I guess?

LJ:

Oh, yes, yes. I’m sorry. Yes, they had.

HT:

Did you do some traveling in Europe while you were there those several years?

LJ:

I did. I went to—I did make it to Germany, and around—and to Scotland. We were about an hour north of London by train, so it was easy to—easy to get to London.

HT:

What about England did you particularly like?

LJ:

I liked the people. I liked their sense of humor.

HT:

Some of your travels, I see, I think you went to Germany. Did you just go over on holidays with friends?

LJ:

I did.

HT:

And sort of tour around, and that sort of thing? That’s what I wanted to do, but I never got to do that. [chuckles] Never got a chance. Oh my goodness. Well, after—after England, where were you stationed next?

LJ:

While I was in England my mother did come to visit; she and my aunt. Then she became ill, and I had to actually cut my tour short and came back home, and was assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Sorry, I wasn’t. I was assigned to Shaw Air Force Base; [laughs]

HT:

That’s all right, that’s fine.

LJ:

Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina, as a station manager. It was there I met my husband, Kevin. We lived in the same apartment complex, and I met him because he was parking his motorcycle in my parking spot and I complained to the manager, and he came over to apologize and move it and that’s how we met.

HT:

Was he in the military?

LJ:

He was; the air force.

HT:

Air force, okay.

LJ:

So, we—we—I got transferred to Fort Bragg, and Kevin was working for a chemical company at the time and he got—he was able to transfer to their office in Wilson, North Carolina.

HT:

I guess by this time a Red Cross worker could be married?

LJ:

Yes. [both laugh] Yes. Yes.

HT:

They had finally gone—

LJ:

They finally allowed that by then.

HT:

Oh my goodness. So, he was out of the air force by this time?

LJ:

Right.

HT:

[unclear] Did you like living in Fort Bragg?

LJ:

We’ve been there thirty years.

HT:

Oh.

LJ:

We bought our house, thought we’d be there a few years, and we’re still there and still in the same little house. So, we have enjoyed it. We—Fayetteville is home now. And then Kevin joined the—he had gotten out of the air force, and then he joined the air force reserves in, oh, maybe ’84. He just retired from the reserves last year. Then he ended up going to work with Cumberland County in the tax department, and he retired from there last year also.

HT:

So, he’s a retired person at this point?

LJ:

He is. He is. And so while I was at Fort Bragg I was an assistant station manager for most of the time, and we were in charge not only, you know, of the emergency communication and volunteer program, but we had health—the health and safety programs. That was—for most of those years that was my—my responsibility; organizing the first aid and swim programs and CPR and all that.

HT:

I’m assuming when you were a supervisor you had both men and women—you supervised both men and women, is that correct?

LJ:

Yes. Yes.

HT:

Yeah. Right. By this time they had done away with the separating the men, and that kind of stuff.

LJ:

Right. Yes.

HT:

Well, I know you’ve been at Fort Bragg on and off over the years, but you had been overseas part of that time, right?

LJ:

Yes. We had had limited—chances for limited deployments up until [Operation] Desert Storm actually. And they realized at that time that what they thought was a mobile force, perhaps wasn’t as mobile as they thought it was when it came time to send everybody off to—to Desert Storm. So, that totally changed the service and made the—made them incorporate certain policy changes to be sure that everyone was physically fit to deploy.

I went to Desert Storm with the 82nd Airborne. You were assigned with a unit and came under orders from that unit. I deployed with them in December of 1990.

HT:

And so, between—let me see. When did you—you left England, what, about 1980?

LJ:

I went to Fort Bragg in 1981; February 1981.

HT:

Nineteen-eighty-one, so you were—

LJ:

So, from ’81 to ’90 I actually had done some TDY [temporary duty] assignments, but nothing out of the country.

HT:

But stationed basically—right. But stationed basically at Fort Bragg.

LJ:

I was always—yes.

HT:

And the TDY would last a couple of weeks or something like that?

LJ:

Yes, two or three months or something, but nothing out of the country until Desert Storm came up.

HT:

And that—Was that your choice or their choice to go to Desert Storm?

LJ:

Oh, it was their choice.

HT:

Their choice, okay.

LJ:

Yes. It was mandatory.

HT:

How did your husband feel about you doing this?

LJ:

He had been activated—his reserve unit had been activated out at Pope Air Force Base, so they were busy loading airplanes with troops and supplies, you know, twenty-four-seven. So, he was actually on active duty when I was—when I was dep—got my orders. We left in December and then I came home in April of ’91. But at first, with the 82nd, we were at what had been a Saudi military base; it looked to be quite new. We were assigned as is typical with the G1 folks; with the personnel folks. But we lived in a warehouse, and there were just hundreds of cots. The women’s section, we just hung blankets up for separation. There was outdoor bathrooms that they set up. We showered—there was a mop closet [chuckles] that had a shower head with a hose—shower with a—I mean, a water outlet with a hose, and so, that’s where you showered when you could; there.

HT:

This was in Saudi Arabia, where you were stationed?

LJ:

Yes, it was, yes. The biggest fear, of course, was the chemical attack. We always had our gas mask, you know, with us. But we worked shift work, which varied, you know, from week to week. Communication was very, very difficult. Our messages came through the military system and then we would have to—to pick them up from their communication center and then service them, but because units were constantly on the move it was very hard to get in touch and relay messages, because the phone lines were constantly coming up and going down. There was no—we didn’t have access to email at that time, so.

We were in—on that Saudi military compound, which was called Champion Main, from December until January when the ground war [LJ corrected later: air war] started, in mid-January, and we moved by convoy down past Riyadh and up to the Iraqi/Saudi border. If you looked at a map and went due south of Baghdad, you would come to our location right there on the border. We traveled by double decker busses, there were maybe a half a dozen, and all the duffel bags with all—everything we owned was stacked up in the aisles and on empty seats. So, in order to exit the bus you either crawled out the window or you had to crawl over all the duffel bags. [both chuckle]

And I remember when the busses lined up in the parking lot before we left; they were just covered in mud and dirt, and I thought, “Well, how am I going to see out this window?” So, I got my handy baby wipes, and I went out and I tried to stand up on the wheel base to clean my window, and I did get it clean somewhat. Well, not too long ago I read that it was intentional that they disguise—you know, they camouflaged the vehicles as they was traveling in these convoys so they couldn’t see what was inside and I thought, “Well, nobody told me not to clean my window.” But the little bit of good I did, I don’t think it was a security threat.

But it took a few days of traveling, and we would stop at night. The national guards set up camps and they had access to—they had temporary little shelters set up that had cots in them. So, you could actually get off your bus, you could go in, you could have a bed. Then they had MREs [meals ready to eat] and rations available for you. I pretty much existed those four months on cans of chicken and tuna that were sent from home. I didn’t like MREs.

They also—once we got out to the desert, they literally—it was like a circus come to town. They set up all—everything was set up, just there on the spot. There was nothing there. We just got to the middle of nowhere, to this piece of sand, and they had to dig bunkers—build bunkers, and build berms.

So, we were assigned a tent and we were with army—other army women. We had a stove—a kerosene heater, because it was extremely cold at night; this was, like, January. There was no—when we first got there, there was no—no outside toilets at all. We had to walk quite a ways to where the closest other folks had already set up, but we did get our own. We had no medical folks there. We had no running water; we had bottled water when we could get it. When the medical folks showed up they installed the big canteen with the running water so—for health purposes so you could at least wash your hands. And the toilets came. They were, like—they called them “three holers,” because you sat side by side. And they came in everyday and dusted them with some heavy white powder. I never was sure what that was; really didn’t want to know what that was, but it worked. They actually put pink toilet—I don’t know where they got them, they had pink and blue toilet seats. [both chuckle]

But we worked; we had a work tent, and we worked with the 82nd army personnel folks.

HT:

What type of work did you do?

LJ:

It was, again, the emergency messages. We would get the—we would crawl over concertina wire and go through a path and go out to the tent where they—they called them RATT [radio teletype] rigs. I’m not sure what that stands for but they’re wire machines, and they make—maybe because they make—make a rattly noise, I don’t know. The messages would come in; they’d be very, very poor. I don’t know if they were low on ink or what, but very, very poor copies that you would have difficulty reading. You would take those, go back to the tent, log them in, and then get on the field phones and try to—try to reach the units to relay them.

HT:

Wow. Did you have any adventures while you were there; those four or five months?

LJ:

We did. One night there were three or four of the army staff that decided they needed to go to the local medical tent. This is before we had our own. And I have to say, we all had major sinus issues, from all the dust I think. So, we got in the jeep and we started out, and we got totally lost. Everything was looking alike. There would be a piece of sage—something like sagebrush or cactus, and then you’d see lights in the distance and you’d think it was our camp, and you’d get there and it’d be, you know, something else. So, we drove around for hours, and we would run into the same vehicles going in circles that we had just seen. And we knew that we were very near the Iraqi border, so we were very afraid that we were going to be in Iraq and not know it. But anyway, we made it back safely and by the time we got back, everyone’s congestion had totally cleared up from the adrenaline, I think. [both laugh] We all felt cured, but we were just so happy; so happy to be back.

HT:

You had army escorting all the time?

LJ:

Yes. We were always with the army, absolutely, yes. Some Red Cross units there did have their own vehicles. They had Toyota Pajeros [sic, Mitsubishi Pajeros?], but we did not.

HT:

Mercy. Let me see. There again, you probably worked with both men and women—

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

—at this point.

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

Did you ever have any feelings there might be some sort of discrimination against you or the other women, because you were women? Did you ever notice any of that?

LJ:

I did not notice that. What I did notice was, perhaps, a lack of respect at times, for privacy from the men. For instance, traveling. We would stop for a bathroom break and so the men would all hang out the window and yell and cheer and jeer while the women—we had to hold a canopy around us, you know, for each one to go in, and they would be taking pictures and—I don’t think now that would probably be allowed or put up with or whatever, but that’s just the way it was.

HT:

And you couldn’t complain, I guess?

LJ:

I suppose we could have tried, but I’m not quite sure who we’d go to, and at the time, who would be—their mind was so focused on other things I don’t think they would have done anything at the time.

HT:

Well, since your trip to Iraq [Saudi –LJ clarified later] was quite different from the other trips, did you get any kind of special training for that, or was there time for special training?

LJ:

No, we didn’t. But the next deployment to Bosnia, we did. They sent—

HT:

Okay, Bosnia.

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

How was that different from your—

LJ:

It was much more organized, more civilized, not as much of a hardship in living conditions as Desert Storm. But I do feel that Desert Storm was the bravest thing I ever did.

HT:

I can imagine so.

LJ:

It really taught you—the people you got to know, you feel like you’d be friends for life, even though you may never see these people again.

But Bosnia was different. We went to Fort Benning [Georgia] for two weeks training, and we went to Grafenwoehr, Germany for—we went to Fort Benning for a week and Grafenwoehr for a week for training, and this was training with the army. So, the army folks that were being deployed to Bosnia had to go through the training, as did we.

HT:

What type of training did you receive?

LJ:

Some of it was, for instance, in—you were trained in how to check for bombs under a vehicle. Not that we would be doing this, but we had to do it. You had to get down on the ground and crawl, and—like you were looking for mines. And I was so tired, I was—The first time we had to do that I just thought it felt so good to lay down on the ground, that I was thankful. I was crawling along and they’re yelling at me, “You’re going the wrong way, Mrs. Jones!”

I thought, “Who cares? [laughing] Just let me lie down.”

HT:

Did you wear army fatigues?

LJ:

Yes, we had desert—desert fatigues.

HT:

In both Bosnia and the other place?

LJ:

Yes. Bosnia was, and Saudi.

HT:

And there again, I’m assuming you did not wear firearms?

LJ:

No, we were never—

HT:

Never armed. You always had armed escorts.

LJ:

But during that training at Fort Benning they did take us to the firing range. We kept saying, “But you’re not going to issue us a weapon?”

And they said, “Well, you have to keep score for the army people then.” So, we were assigned a partner, and the poor man that got me, because I just really couldn’t—I just really didn’t—his score did not turn out very well and he wasn’t very happy, but I’d never done that before.

HT:

And then how long were you in Bosnia?

LJ:

I was there for four months, and that was in 1995 [LJ corrected later: 1998].

HT:

I guess you got there right after the massacres that happened in Bosnia.

LJ:

Oh, yes.

HT:

Horrible thing.

LJ:

Yes. We were at Tuzla.

HT:

How do you—do you know how spell—

LJ:

T-U-Z-L-A. It’s the base where Hilary Clinton, remember, said she was fired upon on her arrival.

HT:

Oh, yes.

LJ:

We lived in connexes, which were like storage—you know, metal storage unit type things, with bathrooms down the way, a mess hall. Our office was in with military units again. And again, we did the same thing; the transmittal of the emergency messages.

HT:

These are messages that are coming from overseas, or is it—

LJ:

Both. It went both ways.

[speaking simultaneously]

HT:

Both ways.

LJ:

The soldier could initiate it from the Bosnia end or his family could initiate it through their local chapter.

HT:

What type of emergency messages would be sent? Do you recall?

LJ:

The typical is, you know, death of an immediate family member or illness, or extreme family problems.

HT:

Oh, I see. Then you would try to, perhaps, help this soldier get back to the states to help take care of the emergency that happened.

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

That’s wonderful. Well, let me see. Now, I know you retired at one time. Did you have any duty after Bosnia?

LJ:

When I came back from Bosnia I hadn’t gotten back to work yet, and they called and gave me orders to England [chuckles] for a three year tour, and at that time my husband did not want to leave, and I didn’t want to go without him, so I decided that I would go ahead and take early retirement, which I really hadn’t planned on.

[LJ added later :  I had just spent the year of 1996 to 1997 at Camp Stanley Korea which was a 12 month unaccompanied tour and the thought of an additional three year separation from Kevin just wasn't acceptable. Camp Stanley was an Artillery/Aviation base a few miles from Camp Red Cloud in Uijongbu where I had been assigned in 1969. I was the station manager and in charge of delivery of emergency communication messages to and from the soldiers and their families and the command. I also supervised volunteers some of whom were American teachers who lived near the post and taught English in the Korean schools.

The main changes I noticed in the almost 30 years I had departed Korea was the sophistication of the transportation system. In 1969 few roads were paved and the only way from the Army camps North of Seoul to Seoul were by Army sedan or Kimchi bus. In 1996 a subway ran from Uijongbu to Seoul and it seemed everyone had their own private vehicle. Also Army coach buses ran regularly from Camp Red Cloud to Seoul.  Roads were crowded and the shops, restaurants and commercial facilities were sophisticated.]

So, in 1999 I retired, and then I stayed out for a year and then I went back in 2000 and—I’m sorry, in 2001, and joined the reserve corps, which allowed you to work a thousand hours a year, and they would send you off on various assignments. So, I went out to Travis Air Force Base [California] to fill in for a station manager. I went to Bethesda to the navy medical center [Walter Reed National Military Medical Center] for an assignment, and I did two or three assignments at Fort Bragg at Womack [Army Medical Center] or at the station.

HT:

Short?

LJ:

Yes, short. You know, three, four, up to—you know, because actually it turns out, a thousand hours is about a little less than six months. So, that was great because it gave you six months of the year to be free and do what you wanted, and then the other six months.

HT:

And that worked out well with your husband being in one place and probably not wanting to travel and that sort of thing.

LJ:

Right. And so then I retired from the reserve corps in 2004.

[pause]

HT:

So, you were officially retired?

LJ:

I’m officially retired. I have been volunteering at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville since then.

HT:

Great. Well, what kind of changes did you see within the Red Cross over the many years that you served with them?

LJ:

I think the focus—the focus has always remained on, you know, assisting the military—it has become more focused on the family, I think, than it used to be. More so on the soldier himself or herself, and now it’s come, you know—it’s broadened out and it’s all inclusive. They’re not seen as individuals, but as a whole family—family unit. And our services, even though the financial, as I said, has been turned over to the aid society, we’ve maintained our core services and our—and many times, it depends on your location, but your health and safety, your blood program, those, in a lot of locations, are provided by your local chapters and your—this Service to [the] Armed Forces program that I was in that’s on your military base, depending on what the chapter does, will have their duties, you know, assigned accordingly, but it’s always that communication and always that—supervision of that volunteer program will always be there, but I think there’s certainly more—more focus on the family and what can be done for the whole family unit.

HT:

Do you think that’s because more and more women have been joining the military in the last few years? Do you think that’s had an impact?

LJ:

I think it has, and I think deployments—the multitude of deployments is what has brought focus on that, because it’s the spouse and the children that are home while the active duty person’s deployed that’s created all new issues.

HT:

Does the Red Cross have any kind of program to help children live with the fact that their—at least one parent is away, and that sort of thing?

LJ:

Most of that I think is, again, done through your military service agencies, your navy relief, but—I mean, Red Cross did it years ago and still do have, you know, the babysitting services. That’s—those classes have probably been expanded out, I would guess, to include the—the more current issues.

HT:

How do you feel about how the Red Cross has treated you over the years regarding pay, promotions, assignments, and that sort of thing?

LJ:

Well, I don’t think anyone goes to work for Red Cross because of the pay. I certainly found it rewarding. I found it a wonderful organization, that they provided excellent training, and they gave you resources, you know, to do what you needed to do to help the individual. Pay was okay.

HT:

What about the assignments you received?

LJ:

I loved them.

HT:

Because you’ve been to some wonderful places.

LJ:

I know. When I look at that I think I was really fortunate.

HT:

I mean, you’ve seen the world. That’s amazing. Well, during your time did you ever encounter any kind of sexual harassment? I know [unclear] women in the military, which is a little bit different.

LJ:

Oh, I probably did.

HT:

Well, that incident with the men taking photographs. [both laugh] Oh my goodness. Well, we usually ask the people interviewed, who were your heroes and heroines during your time in the military. Of course, you’re not—you were associated with the military.

[conversation about popular culture redacted]

HT:

All right. Well, you mentioned a few minutes ago that you retired, officially, from Red Cross in 2004, so what made you decide to retire? That first retirement, then of course, the second retirement.

LJ:

The second time, actually, I had just finished a six month assignment as the—as a station manager at Fort Bragg; the station manager had deployed to Iraq. It was a very busy time because most of Fort Bragg was deployed, and it was very stressful. I ended up having to get a stent in my [cardiac artery—LJ clarified later] July fourth, right after I had just finished that assignment the end of June, so I decided, okay, this is it. I’m not going to—I’m going to take a break and I’m going to take care of myself. So, that’s what I’ve tried to do. I’ve joined cardiac rehab program at our local hospital healthplex, and I go to exercise three days a week, which is wonderful. I’ve been doing that for six years, and as I said, I’m doing volunteering. I have—at the airborne museum.

HT:

What type of volunteer work do you do at the museum?

LJ:

Varying things. Mostly I’m working at the information desk directing people to different parts of the museum and informing them.

HT:

It’s a wonderful museum. I’ve been there one time. Very nice.

LJ:

It is.

HT:

Well, can you describe to me your adjustment to leaving the Red Cross and then going into civilian life and not having to go on these temporary duties all the time? How is that?

LJ:

It’s a relief in certain ways. Every time a new conflict comes up and I know that Red Cross is deploying folks as the military is, I think I think, “Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about going,” and then on the other hand I think, “Oh, I’d really like—I really wish I could go.” So, it’s a mixed—it’s a mixed feeling, but it’s a little—it gets a little difficult the older you get; physically, too.

HT:

I would imagine going to someplace like Iraq would be physically demanding for anybody no matter what their age was.

LJ:

Absolutely.

HT:

I talked to a young woman who was there—she was in the air force. She said it was in—she said she was in her early twenties, probably, at that time, and she said it was really tough. I mean, the desert is not very forgiving. I mean, it’s—

LJ:

Just the heat.

HT:

—the heat and the sand and the dirt, it’s—

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

—just wear and tear, not only on the equipment but on persons as well, so you know.

LJ:

Yes.

HT:

Well, many people consider women who join the military, especially the women who join the military in the [unclear], to be trailblazers. Do you consider yourself to be a trailblazer or pioneer?

LJ:

I don’t. I don’t. Not at all. I think I’m following in the footsteps of the women who were the trailblazers. Absolutely.

HT:

Would you recommend the Red Cross either to a young woman or a young man today as a career?

LJ:

I would, absolutely. It’s very rewarding. You have a lot of freedom to initiate your own ideas and to—it’s just a feeling of service.

HT:

Tell me about your—any kind of experiences you’ve had with the Veterans Administration. Have you ever worked in a veterans hospital?

LJ:

I have not.

HT:

Have not? Okay. There have been a lot of mention in the media lately about PTSD, which is post-traumatic stress disorder, with servicemen and women. Do you have any thoughts on that? How we can help these young folks?

LJ:

I think trying to focus on removing the restrictions that would keep people, you know, from seeking help for it would be the biggest thing, so that they wouldn’t worry about the social stigma of admitting that they're having a problem. And if we can do that—it’s definitely a very real—a very, very real illness.

HT:

As a Red Cross worker did you ever run across kids who had this while they were still overseas, someplace like Iraq maybe?

LJ:

I’m sure I probably did.

HT:

Well, has your life—how’s your life been different because you were a Red Cross worker for so many years?

LJ:

I think I’ve become more appreciative of small things; I’ve become more flexible.

HT:

That’s very, very interesting. Is there anything in particular you’d want a civilian, or a person who’s not really familiar with the Red Cross, to know and understand about the mission of the Red Cross and type of work that you have done over the last thirty years?

LJ:

I don’t know what to say to that one.

HT:

Okay.

LJ:

I’d have to think about that one.

HT:

Okay, that’s fine. I don’t have any more formal questions, Linda, we’ve covered so many different things. [both chuckle] Is there anything you’d like to add that I haven’t covered? Okay. Well, thank you so much.

LJ:

Oh, you’re welcome.

HT:

I enjoyed hearing your stories about your time with the Red Cross. As you know, we normally interview women in the military service, so it’s quite a joy to listen to a different aspect of service to the United States, and I think the Red Cross does a wonderful, wonderful job.

LJ:

Thank you.

HT:

Okay, thanks again.

[End of Interview]