ROCHESTER HILLS — During the Vietnam War, American Red Cross Donut Dollies brought comfort and aid to soldiers on the front line.
City resident Joann Puffer Kotcher was a member of the organization, and she aimed to bring “a little bit of home” to the soldiers.
“She wrote letters, sang songs, served doughnuts and brought light and laughter to young men in grave situations very far from home,” said Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett.
The Rochester Hills City Council recognized Kotcher for her service and efforts March 18. Kotcher has chronicled her experiences in “Donut Dolly: An American Red Cross Girl’s War in Vietnam.”
“She was one of the first women in U.S. history to serve in combat areas,” said Rochester Hills City Council member Mark Tisdale. “During her 12 months in Vietnam, she served at five different duty stations in some of the most menacing parts of the country. Her duties often put her in danger. She was within inches of being killed more than half a dozen times.”
According to Red Cross Museum officials, 899 Donut Dollies served in South Korea from 1953 to 1973, traveling almost 3 million miles by jeep and helicopter. Another 627 served in Vietnam from 1962 to 1973.
“Her book chronicles the dangers she unselfishly faced to bring solace to our young soldiers,” Tisdale said. “She exhibited outstanding bravery and courage under perilous conditions, and received the medal for civilian service in Vietnam from the U.S. government for her meritorious contributions.”
Kotcher and her family have lived in Rochester Hills for 23 years. Her book has received 11 national and international awards and four regional honors.
“She and her husband have been involved in many different community projects,” Barnett said. “We have followed the success of her book. We applaud her and all the Donut Dollies for their service to our country.”
Kotcher led the Pledge of Allegiance at the meeting, wearing her Red Cross uniform from her days as a Donut Dolly.
“By choosing me, our governmental group has recognized the contributions of our veterans,” Kotcher said.
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