Civilian Working for the Air Force in Vietnam
By Marilyn Knapp Litt 74, © 1998
(Written for DePauw Magazine and used with their permission)
Shirley Ann McCormick Youngblood '49 can tell you exactly how long she was in Vietnam, "one year, one week and four hours." A crash on the runway delayed her plane's departure, but no one took advantage of the opportunity to get off and wait in the airport. No one would risk missing the flight home.
Youngblood went to Vietnam as a civilian secretary for the Air Force on February 4, 1966. She worked with the vice commander and the chief of staff at Tan Son Nhut airport, headquarters for the Seventh Air Force near Saigon.
The Seventh Air Force had responsibility for all air operations in Vietnam, and Youngblood sometimes attended operations briefings to take note of top secret "action items" that the chief of staff needed to handle. The hours were Monday through Saturday, 12 hours a day.
Sunday was her day off, and she played the organ at two church services at Tan Son Nhut in the morning. In the afternoon she had lunch and relaxed by the pool at a club she belonged to in Saigon. Her apartment was in Cholon, the Chinatown area of Saigon.
It was six flights up, and the only hot water was what had warmed on the roof during the day. Tap water needed to be boiled before it was safe to drink. At night she could see friendly tracer fire across the river when there was Viet Cong activity.
There was a military curfew in the evening because Saigon could be dangerous.
"One time I was in a car with six people and we got caught in a civil demonstration," she remembers. "We had to stay there for a long time with the windows rolled up. It was very hot and frightening.
"Another time I had just gotten in the car [which picked her up each morning] and closed the door. Two men on a motorcycle, going the wrong way down a one-way street, threw a hand grenade between the car and my apartment building. I escaped injury, but some Vietnamese in the doorway of the apartment building were slightly hurt."
Living in a war zone was emotionally dangerous also. "You had to put a shield around your feelings," she said.
"You might have dinner one night with someone who was shot down the next day."
Nevertheless, she described her time in Vietnam to me as "an interesting, emotional, touching experience, and I am glad that I went. I met marvelous people that I have stayed in touch with.
"My feelings about the war are not necessarily correct," she said. "It was a mistake we got into it, but it was also a mistake we didn't go into it to win."
Youngblood retired from Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, as a civilian employee for the International Logistics Center. She is widowed and lives in Foley Ala., where she is active in the United Methodist Church, Meals on Wheels, The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Food Source.
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My Vietnam Related Websites:
Women in Vietnam ~ Read about ALL the women who served . . .
The Irish on the Wall ~ An effort to locate the Irish who died in Vietnam
Tim O'Brien's Home Page ~ National Book Award Winner and Americal Vet
Emily's Poetry ~ By a Red Cross Donut Dolly
Shrapnel in the Heart ~ The most moving book you will read on Vietnam
All About Vietnam ~ An annotated bibliography of books about Vietnam for sale thru Amazon Worldwide!
Battle Dressing ~
Project Hearts and Minds ~ Help put Viet Nam back together
Photos from a Holts' Military History Tour ~ My trip to Vietnam, February 1998
My Other Websites:
Maybe Later . . . ~ My Creative Nonfiction
Irish in Korea ~ Irish men and women who gave their lives in the Korean War
Literature of the Korean War ~ Don't let the literature be forgotten
Samuel Pepys ~ One of my favorite authors
Chicago Theatre Z - A ~ This is the best theater town in the country!
Soccer Literature ~ I'm a fan and I read
O'Leary Lantern ~ Fire! Fire! Fire!
Gil Thorp ~ THE Coach (apologies to The General!)
Poetry of the First World War ~ Owen, Hardy and others
Chi-COW-go ~ Cowz plus Commentary (this used to be a cow town)
Graham Fulton, Scottish Poet ~ Charles Manson Auditions for the Monkees
Other Important Websites:
The Truth About Caroline ~ a really good Young Adult book by my niece, Stacey M. Lane Grosh
Remember Oklahoma City ~ The Civil Service and Military will NEVER forget!
|Page last updated July 18, 2007|