Donut Dolly:

      An American Red Cross Girl's War in Vietnam

Donut Dolly (paper back)

Donut Dolly, Joann Puffer Kotcher, is a former Math teacher at the explosive beginnings of the Viet Nam War. She makes history as one of the first women allowed in a combat zone. Joann Puffer Kotcher ducks bullets and mortar shells to bring moments of home to scared GIs.

The book shows Kotcher's own baptism into reality. She deftly intertwines her experiences with the grueling life of the ordinary Soldier.

Joann Puffer Kotcher's is much more than doling coffee or cookies, to Viet Nam soldiers. The name Donut Dolly is a remnant from WW II when young women passed out donuts to those resting from combat. Kotcher's experiences are human, exhausting, dangerous, inspiring, with splashes of romance.

She intertwines her personal life with her compassion for soldiers. The book describes how she disregards her own welfare to carry out everyday duties. She dodges bullets, shells and shrapnel as part of her job. She represents a sister or the girl next door to troops under fire. She is "a letter from home."

Kotcher takes us along on her defiant visits to perimeter fox holes and enemy-infested jungles while she serves combat and combat support troops.

An historically accurate work, Donut Dolly corrects misconceptions about the War. Kotcher brings a new and first look to a War that will to be debated.

The veteran heroes of Viet Nam are comfortable accepting her as one of their own, one of the Band of Brothers.


"One of the best researched books I've read about Nam. Not only that, Donut Dolly is a GREAT read. I recommend it to everyone. Joann served the military with courage."

Dale Throneberry, Veterans

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful (AMAZON)


Kotcher masterfully re-creates the smells, sounds, fears and emotions of the earliest and most vicious days of the Vietnam War. She relives her dangers as a Red Cross Donut Dolly serving soldiers on the front lines. She was one of the first women permitted to be in the fox holes and to work in the desolate enemy-ridden combat zone jungles.

Her first-hand accounts are vivid, fresh and accurate. We often found ourselves on the edge of our seats. Kotcher manages to re-create the searing reactions of a soldier finding his sergeant has been killed by the VC with the same sensitivity she treats a young corporal comforting a child startled by exploding shells.

Donut Dolly is a war book that maintains the pride of bravery both of the soldiers and of Kotcher, herself. To read Donut Dolly, is to give us a better, more complete historic perspective of the most controversial war in America's history. Moreover, it's lively and sometimes charmingly romantic.

Its polished prose and honest action is rare in any kind of book, military or otherwise.

HISTORIC TREASURE Kotcher's book, Donut Dolly: An Girl's War in Vietnam is a jewel. Kotcher was a Donut Dolly in Vietnam serving in five duty stations at the height of the War. She saw what most girls would never encounter, with courage and with bravery. Her book is a historical treasure.


Donut Dolly is available world wide.


(Ms Kotcher has been, but is not now, employed by the American Red Cross or any of its subsidiaries. She is an independent author, who has worked on Donut Dolly for over eight (8) years.



National Library Association Citation

Army Historical Foundation (Nominated for "Book of the Year")

National Books Critics Circle - Book of the Month

Literary World Pick (Award)

Stars and Flags

Stars and Flags National Writing Excellence Prize

Cantigny 1st Division Museum Award

Library Guide Commendation

UAW Region 1 'National Recognition of Veterans Honor'

Veterans Coalition Annual Award

United States House of Representatives

Royal Oak (MI) (international) Memorial Day Oration

National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Award for Women in American History

The Pentagon, A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You


State Of Michigan Legislative Special Tribute

Patriot Award - Michigan Veteran's Foundation

Senior Men’s Club of Birmingham – Trophy Award

Rochester Hills Museum – Veterans’ Day Launch

Regional Loyalty Day (May 1, 2012) Honors

Proclamation-Recognition Honor – City of Rochester Hills (MI)

This is a new story about an event that is not in the book. Some of the elements of the story are true. The rest is humor, to keep your attention.


(C) 2016 (by Dave Kotcher)

This is an account of a young woman falling in and out of love with an army officer, then quickly bouncing back in a passionate liaison with a Jeep. The Location was Korea. The era was sometime before the Detroit Pistons won their last NBA Championship.

My high heeled shoes clutched at the new-found Korean mud. Some General at a faraway place said that I had to be somewhere at some time o’clock. I never knew where I was, so it didn’t matter. A smart guy once said that if you don’t know where you’re going, how you get there isn’t important.

We Donut Dollies almost never went anywhere alone. A commander in charge of something had ordered an officer to escort me to a secret location abandoned by maps. But all locations in Korea were indiscreetly secret, so I may as well have been met by a brass band.

Everyone treated us like rock stars. No one used strong language. The strongest words I heard were “Golly,” and “Shucks.” The lead commander had sent me a “Welcome-to-Korea” special gift. The Lieutenant was so scorchingly stunning, only an unblushing god would remember the first ten minutes of our conversation.

He arrived in a Jeep, flawless in his army dress uniform. He was broomstick-straight and tall, and close to my age, which I had inconveniently forgotten along with my name. With clear, brown eyes and flawless olive skin, he could have escorted me through the gates of Hell. I discovered what the word, “smitten,” meant. It's the present tense of "Oh, my Lord."

“Lieutenant Crawford W. Willis at your service, Ma’am. Folks call me Willie.”

“Where are you from?”

“17 Mechanized Cavalry, Ma’am. Armor, Tanks.”

"No, I mean, what part of the United States do you come from.”

 “Shreveport, Loo-siana, Ma'am. Watch your step, now.” He was warning me against spiders, scorpions, snakes, bullets, potholes, and groping men.

The classic Southern aristocrat, he offered me his arm. I hesitated taking it, knowing I’d be crushed if it weren’t meant to be a permanent gift. And, I didn’t know if he was helping me into the Jeep or into the creaking magic of Shreveport, home of Jack the Ripper. My knees were weak. I felt my heart slowly creep toward my throat.

Inside the Jeep, I watched him depress the clutch. I could see myself in the shine of his shoes. He browsed looking for a gear and finally found one, (good ole’ ROTC.) He applied the accelerator, and we jerked down the empty road. Its flat surface was moist dirt surrounded by lukewarm mud.

I watched the Lieutenant steer the vehicle and go through the gears, periodically missing one or two. The Jeep was a surrogate toy. I forgot how stunning Willie was, and fell in love with the Jeep. When you’re young, you’re fickle. It was so cool, it could have been painted mauve and I wouldn’t have noticed.

In ecstasy, I blurted out, “Can I drive?”

Without taking his eyes off the road, Lieutenant Beautiful, gift from a benevolent commander, who never used harsh language in front of a lady, was wrestling the Jeep over the bumps and ruts in the now neglected road. He almost yelled at me, “Hell no. Not just no, HELL no.” He struggled to keep at least two tires on the road.

We burst out laughing.

I never drove one, but I have always loved the Jeep. It had the usefulness of a Cadillac and the pomposity of a fully let-out Volkswagen. Glitzy in its own humble way. In my heart I knew that if shrapnel hit us, I’d be going in style, economy class.

The date, if that was what it was meant to be, couldn’t have been over quickly enough. I lusted to sprint to the Post Exchange to see if it had any old or new issues of Car and Driver magazine. It had happened. The innocence of a Michigan farm girl had been undone by a flank attack of lascivious camshafts and tire rims.

I slept well that night.