Donut Dollies, Precursors to Special Services and MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation)

When I first became the Ft Myer Librarian in the mid-1980s, I met many of my predecessors at various Special Library Association meetings in the DC area. They told me about life in the olden days when a library technician in a Special Services uniform would drive a bookmobile out to various Nike missile sites in the DC area. One such employee had begun her life as a Donut Dolly during WWII.

In the wake of the initial Normandy landings on D-Day, a strange vehicle hit the beaches: converted London buses driven by three female volunteers from the Red Cross. Their mission was to bring a taste of home to the soldiers fighting World War II. Their weapon of choice was the doughnut.

While their early food truck might have been a new contraption — 100 GMC trucks dubbed “Clubmobiles” were created for the D-Day invasion — the baked goods they were bringing to Hitler’s Fortress Europe was not. This was their second world war, too.

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By the time the United States entered the Vietnam War in force, the female volunteers of the Supplemental Recreational Activities Overseas were there, too, and their old nickname came with them. GIs in Vietnam also knew them as the “Doughnut Dollies.”

They weren’t limited to clubs, mess halls or hospitals. The Doughnut Dollies of Vietnam could be found on Hueys or alongside tanks headed into the bush. They were also there when some units came back with fewer men than had left.

“VIETNAM Magazine February 2011 – The Donut Dollies Are Here!” by manhhai is licensed under CC BY 2.0