From Seoul to Saigon
By Christina M. Callisto Free Lance Writer
Published in the October/November 2010 issue of the Military Voice & Community News
Sandra Davis is a quiet local celebrity. Perhaps you saw where Pensacola Junior College (PJC) recognized and honored her during National Women’s Month in 2003 for her unconventional careers. She may be better known around these parts for her time as Dr. Sandra Lockney-Davis, retired District Department Head of the Learning Resources Centers at PJC. While there, she authored an article in the journal Community College Libraries entitled, “Surviving Hurricane Ivan at Pensacola Junior College, Pensacola, Florida.” Not surprising, she and her husband, Charlie Davis, a local author, joined the Emerald Coast Writers, a non-profit organization for established and aspiring writers.
Sandra was named an honoree for the 2003 National Women’s Month program called “Guts, Glory, and Lipstick” at PJC. As an honoree she was expected to speak to the students and faculty. In humor typical for Sandra, she focused on the lighter side of what it was like for a female to live in Korea 11 years after the war and in Vietnam while the war was raging.
The presentation was based on the time she served as a civilian in the Army Special Services, the replacement for the Army Morale Division and the precursor to the current Army MWR program. Sandra was just one of approximately 12,000 civilian and military females who served in Vietnam. More specifically, she was one of only 600 Special Services personnel who served in Vietnam from 1966-1972. These women coordinated programs for troop morale and entertainment in the service clubs, libraries, and craft shops, harmonizing USO shows, Army Soldier Shows, and the Army Exchange which evolved into AAFES, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. Well more than fifty civilian women were lost, never to return to the homefront. Unfortunately, accurate numbers remain scarce. They were the ensurers and continuants of esprit de corps for our troops. These women were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for soldiers who were doing the same.
After a year-long tour in Korea, Sandra was offered a position for a single year tour in Vietnam. The war was on when she stepped onto Vietnamese soil and she remembers living there through the Tet Offensive. Her outpouring of patriotism was inspired by her father, Lt Colonel William J. Lockney, a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who saw action in World War II, Korea, and eventually Vietnam.
These women of Special Services were honored at the dedication of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1993. It is located at the site of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. Those able to attend listened as Admiral William Crowe, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke at the historic event. Sandra L. Davis was one of the Special Services women who received a personalized Certificate of Appreciation signed by Les Aspin, U.S. Secretary of Defense. A special publication was produced for the surviving honorees: Vietnam Women’s Memorial: A Commemorative. You can find more of her life and volunteer service in her memoir, due out soon, as well as in selected chapters of her husband’s book, Growing Up in Pensacola, by Charlie Davis.
Sandra will present her story again at the Gulf Breeze Historical Society. This time her program and PowerPoint presentation are entitled: “So, What’s A Nice Girl Like You Doing In A Place Like this? From Seoul to Saigon.” This happens to be the title of her memoir which is now in the editing stage. The presentation will be on Tuesday Oct 19, 2010 at 7:00pm at the Gulf Breeze City Hall. All are heartily welcome to attend.