Vietnam Women Veterans
Stories from Vietnam Women Veterans Living in the East Valley as told by CGCC Students in partnership with Chandler Museum's Public History Program
Why and when did you join the military? What branch did you join?

Narrator:  Shirley Heckard
Interviewed by: Kristin Sowden
KS: What year did you join the military? 
SH: 1950, November 15th 1950
KS: Were you single or married? 
SH: No, I was single.
KS Did you join the United States Marine Corps reserve? 
SH: No, Women Marines [Women Marines?] Yes
KS: Aside from wanting to pursue medicine, why did you join? 
SH: I wanted to serve my country.
Narrator: Joyce McCollum
Interviewed by: Josh Lavis
JL: and how far did you get in your schooling? 
JM: [um], Well I went to 1 year of junior college, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I was having some problems with my scores, my grades, and my stepfather played a joke-- he was a jokester-- but the joke backfired [laughing].  Well to give a little history on this, for most of my teenage years, he would tease me, saying, "When you get old enough, I'm going to ship you off to the Army."  And my answer back was always, "I'm not going into the military, and even if I do it's not going to be the Army." [laughing]  So when I graduated from high school, and during my first part of my year in junior college in Sacramento, I would get these things in the mail, these postcards in  
the mail, from recruiting services, wanting me to join the Army, or join the Navy, and I would always just throw them out.  One day, I had gone through my first year of junior college, and I was sitting at home, and there was a knock on the door, and here is a female Army recruiter standing in front of me.  And I immediately knew what had happened.  My father had decided to take one of those postcards and put my name on it, and send it back.  So she came in, and she began to give me a pitch about the Army, and about how great it was and all this, and she was giving me quite a line.  Things like, be sure and bring your swimsuit, and bring your shorts because when you go to your basic training in Fort McClelland, they have a wonderful swimming pool [laughing].  All kinds of things like this.  In her pitch, she finally got around to asking if I had any members of my family in the military, and I told her, "Oh, yes I have an uncle who was in the Navy, and an uncle was in the Army and a cousin that was in the Air Force.   
And my father retired as a Captain after uh, 22 years in the service."  And she kind of sat back, and said, "Then you know what the Army is like." I said, "Yes ma'am, I do," and from that point on, she pretty much cleaned up what she was telling me [laughing]. So, dinner comes, and I'm sitting there and I'm not saying a word, and my dad cannot stand when he knows that he's played a joke and nobody is reacting to it in any way; he can't stand that. So I'm sitting there quietly eating my dinner and finally, he says, "Well? Did you have a visitor today?" And I say, "Oh yeah I did. By the way, I need you to sign the paper so I can join the Army" [laughing].  And he didn't like that too much.
JL: He didn't think you wanted to do it huh? [laughing] 
JM: He didn't think I would do that [laughing].

Photos courtesy of the families.

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Shirley Heckard, September 2005

Joyce McCollum