Anita Foland, the daughter of Eugene and Alberta (Lamb) Foland, was born in Osceola, Iowa. With the exception of four years spent in Arizona where her father worked on road construction, Anita grew up on farms in northwest Decatur County and Southwest Clarke County, Iowa.

She graduated from Murray Community High School, and went on to the University of Iowa where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreation and Parks Management. During her senior year, she was interviewed by a Department of Defense recruiter and was hired as a civilian Recreation Specialist with U.S. Army Special Services. The U.S. Army Special Services Program provided recreational facilities such as recreation centers, craft shops, libraries, bowling alleys, and movie theaters on the U.S. Army bases around the world..

Twenty-two days after graduating in June of 1969, Anita left for Vietnam, where she spent 15 months working in U.S. Army Recreation Centers, planning and conducting daily recreational activities for members of the U.S. and allied forces. The recreation centers offered a lounge area, a TV room, sound-proof music rooms with acoustic and electrical
instruments, reading rooms, a pool and ping pong tables.

They were intended to provide the servicemen with a touch of home, a place to escape from work and war. The types of programs scheduled included bingo, card tournaments, crafts, table games, jam sessions, talent shows, quiz shows, pool and ping pong tournaments, barbeques, ice cream socials, coffees with home made cakes and cookies, holiday and themed programs.

The Recreation Centers sometimes hosted U.S.O. shows, and other traveling entertainment. Parties were coordinated with local orphanages, giving the servicemen the opportunity to spend time with children. The staffs of several recreation centers sometimes collaborated to put together traveling programs. Anita remembers a fashion show featuring Rec. Center staff members modeling attire made from military materials, including a cocktail dress of parachute silk, a camouflage sundress, bell-bottom fatigues, a mini-dress of sandbag material, and a flight suit with feminine touches. An added bonus was the fashions and finery the ladies had ordered from the Sears catalog or purchased while on R & R in Hong Kong or Bangkok, mini-skirts were "IN" that year.

Sometimes the Army Recreation Services ladies accompanied ladies from the Red Cross (affectionately known as Doughnut Dollies), and ladies from the U.S.O., to visit the servicemen at


fire bases and small outlying posts. The reward was hearing the guys say "Boy is it great to see a `Round-eye!"

Anita remembers Christmas of 1969 as one of her more rewarding experiences while in Vietnam. It was her first Christmas away from home and family, and like everyone else she was homesick.

Returning to the Rec. Center after dinner on Christmas Eve, she and her co­worker found a young serviceman sitting by the artificial Christmas tree in the lounge area, opening his Christmas gifts. They told him he should wait until Christmas to open his packages. He replied that he had duty on Christmas day, and he wanted to open his gifts somewhere that felt like home.

Anita and her co-worker sat down with him and watched him open his gifts. They even took turns modeling his new purple suede vest with fringe, a very "cool" item in the late 60's. Sharing that evening, and feeling like she had helped to make a merrier Christmas for that young soldier, helped Anita overcome her own homesickness.

Among Anita's many memories of Vietnam are: going to the firing range and firing weapons; sitting in the air traffic control tower and talking with helicopter crews who were flying night patrols; waiting through mortar attacks in the Operations Center bunker; going on an unauthorized flight in the front seat of a Cobra helicopter and firing rockets into the Mekong River; having dinner with the sailors on a Navy LST on the Mekong River; bailing water from the orderly room during the monsoon season floods; visiting orphanages; and taking a trip up the Mekong tributaries to ARVN (soldiers in Army of South Vietnam) outposts to deliver TET (Lunar New Year) gifts to the families of the soldiers. There are also memories of memorial services for friends who were lost.

While there Anita got to travel and visit much of Southeast Asia, taking long week ends and leave time to go to Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, Taipei, and Australia.

After leaving Vietnam, Anita went to Germany in 1971, for a three year tour that extended into nine years. Being in Germany was a living history lesson. Her first assignment was at a Recreation Center at a base in Furth, a suburb of Nuremburg. The Rec. Center had been a Luftwaffe aircraft hanger during WW II, and even though the swastika emblem had been removed, the German eagle was still visible in the brick work above the entrance. The next assignment was a Recreation Center in Badkissingen, a spa town located just north of Schweinfurt, one of the cities that was

heavily bombed during the war. Her living quarters were in an old hotel that had been used as hospital and an R & R center for German Officers during WWII. She transferred from there to a Recreation Center in Grafenwohr, the location of the 76 Army Training Command (ATC) Headquarters. The training area was located near the Fulda Gap, close to the Czech border and the "Iron Curtain", and was where U.S. and allied ahnored units trained using live ammunition.

After three years, Anita was promoted from Recreation Center Director to the 7 th ATC Recreation Service Staff and put in charge of developing a Publicity Department, to promote the recreational facilities and activities throughout the command. Later she took the 7 th ATC Youth Activities Director's position, in charge of coordinating sports and youth activities for the dependent youth on all of the 7th ATC installations. Although she enjoyed living and traveling in Europe, by 1980, Anita was ready to return to the USA.

After nearly a year of traveling and job hunting in the U.S., Anita returned to Army Special Services, now named Morale Support Activities, and took a position as Recreation Center Director on a small base in Wonju, Korea, a town in a mountain range about 75 miles southeast of Seoul. Scheduling activities such as ski trips, hiking trips, tours to cultural centers, and orphans' parties, gave Anita an opportunity to travel and experience the Korean Culture.

While in Korea, Anita had an opportunity to try sky diving. Unfortunately, she broke her pelvis on her second parachute jump, and spent six weeks on crutches. As exhilarating as she thought the experience was, she never found the courage to try it again. The one year tour extended into 13 months, before Anita decided she was ready to give up living in a Quonset hut, cooking on a hot plate, and doing laundry in the bathroom sink.

When offered a job in Hawaii by a former co-worker, she moved to Oahu. The insurance agency she worked for dealt primarily with servicemen and their families, so she was still involved with the military community. Living on the windward side of the island, near the Hawaiian Homestead area, Anita met several Hawaiian families who introduced her to their culture. Though she enjoyed Hawaii and the Hawaiian people, the insurance business was not exactly to her liking, other employment opportunities were limited, and the cost of living on Oahu was high. After a year Anita returned to the Midwest to be closer to family.

In 1991, Anita left the Omaha area and returned to Clarke County to take the position of Clarke County Conservation Board Director.

Being closely associated with members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families for nearly 13 years, Anita truly appreciates the sacrifices they have made and are still making for us all.




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Last Revised June 1, 2015