Donut Dollie Diary: Susan Bradshaw McLean - 1990
Each spring for the past seven years, Susan
has made the three-hour trip from Tampa to Melbourne for the annual
Florida vets reunion. She thinks of this event as the high point of
her year. It is the only time that she feels truly understood. She always
goes to the Moving Wall exhibit to pay her respects. She anxiously scans
the names on Panel 8 West, searching for the name that is not there.
She can�t help but think back to so long ago and her good friend Ginny.
In the summer of 1970, Susan (photo right) reported for training
at the headquarters of the American Red Cross in Washington, DC. Her
training class was composed of 26 women, all freshly minted college
graduates who shared a hope for a greater America. Much as recruits
in basic training form strong and lasting bonds in the face of imminent
danger, these women quickly formed friendships around their newfound
mission. It was there that Susan met Ginny Kirsch. They were a natural
pair. Perhaps it was the fact that both were high school cheerleaders,
with friendly personalities. Ginny was from Brookfield, Ohio. She was
part of a large family, two brothers and four sisters. She was 21 years
old, a recent graduate of Miami of Ohio University. She had real-world
experience as a student teacher at a local high school. She was strikingly
attractive, with radiant hair and sparkling eyes. When she entered a
room, you knew it! Little did Susan know at the time that Ginny�s friendship
was to be the joy and the heartache of her Red Cross career.
The graduation class departed from Travis Air
Force Base in California, making stops in Guam, Hawaii and the Philippines
en route to South Vietnam. At their stop in Hawaii, Ginny spotted a
mother with a baby and asked if she could hold the child for a last
time before going overseas. Susan remembers Ginny as such a special
person. She had an extraordinary sense of family, having come from a
large one. Susan can still remember the utter joy Ginny found in such
a simple task.
They arrived at the airport outside of Saigon
on August 2. Upon arrival, Ginny was quoted as saying I felt I could do something for the men over here and for my
country. Susan and Ginny spent the next several days getting the lay
of the land, awaiting duty assignments. Movies � Clubs � Temple hopping.
After seven days in Saigon, they got their orders. Susan was to go to
An Khe in the Central Highlands. Ginny was ordered to Cu Chi, 20 miles
northwest of Saigon. They promised to write or call each other and hoped
to be reunited at the same duty station one day.
Susan was busy with the day-to-day routine.
Up early - chopper out - recreation programs - make friends - chopper
back - visit hospital - write loved ones - late to bed. It seemed like
things were going to work out okay. And then Susan heard the dreadful
news that would change her life.
(Ginny Kirsch, photo left)
is dead. She was murdered last night by a soldier at Cu Chi.� Susan couldn�t hear anything after that. She thought �Oh
my God no! It can�t be true.� But it was true! Ginny was stabbed
to death by a GI in her billet at the headquarters of the 25th Infantry. She had been there only one week. The Red Cross billet was
less that 200 yards from division headquarters and only 100 yards from
the Officer's Club. The billets were under military police guard at night.
Ginny was the first Red Cross worker to have been murdered in the 17-year
history of overseas service.
Back at The Wall now, Susan once again feels
the pain and anger of Ginny�s loss. She is outraged at the tragic irony
of Ginny being murdered by someone she came to serve. She laments the
great injustice of her killer being honorably discharged and residing
comfortably in the air-conditioned confines of a psychiatric ward. And
Susan is disappointed that the only recognition of Ginny�s sacrifice
is her name on a rock in the Red Cross headquarters� garden.
Ginny is a patriot who gave her life for her
country. She has earned a place on The Wall. But her name is not
there! And her presence is sorely missed.