Karen Offutt (KO) and Kristin Glasgow (KG)
KG: Can you tell me what it was like being a woman in the Army during that time?
KO: I felt real proud to have the uniform on. I was an executive stenographer. I had top secret “eyes only” clearance. A lot of times they would call me in the middle of the night to come in — if we were gonna do an airstrike on a certain village. And in addition to that, I had to look ”cutie,” you know, with my hair and my lipstick or whatever — and serve tea and… Whatever was needed to be done, I did it, you know, including having to pose as a Bunker Bunny, which was humiliating. But you did what you are told, or you didn’t last long in the service.
KG: Can you take me through the day of the fire and what happened?
KO: We lived in an old hotel. Next to us there was a hamlet, and it housed a lot of people. Well, I was in my room and I smelled smoke really badly and I saw the hamlet was on fire and so I just ran down and started grabbing people and dragging them out. The hamlet chief wanted me to have some kind of award and they put me in for the Soldier’s Medal.
But they said, “We don’t really give those to women and so we’re going to give you this certificate of appreciation for heroic action.” And so that’s what they did and I thanked them and I went back to work.
KG: Growing up, I don’t remember you talking about being in service. Why did you not talk about being in the Army for so long?
KO: That was your father. He didn’t allow me to talk about Vietnam, at all, so I just didn’t talk about it until I left him 16 years later, and, um, I had found a bunch of slides that were I think in the attic at our house and I remember just sitting there crying. And I think it was, um, you know, when you have to put something away, and lock it inside of you for so long and you’re not allowed to speak of it, I just felt lost.
KG: What has helped you the most through all of this?
KO: I think talking to veterans… I went to the Moving Wall… and that was in 1986. And I remember standing there, staring at those names because I knew some of those guys on the wall. This man came up and put his arm around me and he said, ”Welcome home, sister.” And I just started bawling because nobody had ever welcomed me home.