Thursday, June 23, 2016
Pictured l-r: Ed Barben (Red Cross Central PA Board Member), Kathy Doran (Red Cross Central PA Regional Service to the Armed Forces Director), Colonel Carla Fisher, and Jeri Sims (Red Cross Central PA Chief Executive Officer).
Retired Army Colonel Carla Fisher of Carlisle was awarded the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) Legacy Award during the Rotary Club of Mechanicsburg-North Breakfast on Thursday, June 23, 2016. Colonel Fisher earned the award for her service as a Red Cross Donut Dolly in Vietnam.
Donut Dollies were young female college graduates who, beginning in 1965, deployed to Vietnam to provide entertainment and audience participation programs to the troops. Traveling by helicopter, truck, and jeep, they also provided refreshments and a sense of home to military forces serving in the field. During their peak in 1969, 110 women operated in 17 units throughout the country, reaching an estimated 300,000 troops.
Colonel Fisher served from July 1968-July 1969. Her tour took her to troops stationed in Cam Ranh Bay, Pleiku, and Dong Tam.
She noted, “The intensity of the friendships formed from sharing cold meals, hot sun, time in the bunker, cold showers, and the sounds of fighting, along with the joys of a letter home, a care package, and the day [I] actually boarded the plane to go on R&R or [for the] trip home, made me truly appreciate the service of our soldiers, their resilience, and their values.”
Colonel Fisher was so moved by the experience that she joined the Army herself, obtaining the rank of Colonel and specializing in personnel and tactical communications during a 25-year career. Since her retirement, she has been an active Red Cross volunteer, supporting the Service to the Armed Forces Program in the Central Pennsylvania Region.
The Red Cross’ legacy of service to members of the military began with Clara Barton providing comfort on the battlefields during the American Civil War. Since then, American Red Cross staff and volunteers have served in every major military combat or conflict operation around the world. They are among a select group who have proudly worn the Red Cross emblem to provide care and comfort to members of the United States Armed Forces, their families, and our veterans.
The Legacy Project honors and recognizes the legacy of Red Cross staff and volunteers who have served side-by-side with members of the United States Armed Forces. Since the program’s inception in 2010, the Red Cross has received nearly 500 nominations. The stories and memories many of these people bring are an opportunity for the Red Cross to engage the families and individuals who share the distinct experience of serving alongside members of the military during conflicts, wars, and humanitarian operations.