GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - For Doris Jones, there wasn’t a question in her mind of whether she would serve her country or not. It was a strong calling that led her to a 20-year career in the U.S. Army.
Doris said she felt pulled to serve her country, despite rising tensions at the time as the Vietnam War escalated.
“They needed medical people,” she said. "A lot of the people that went to Vietnam were drafted. Us ladies, we volunteered for all that stuff. We signed up for it. So, whatever came down the path, we just had to accept it and do the best we could.”
She said that wasn’t easy. “It’s hard to talk about. We saw a lot of bad stuff."
Along with that came memorable stuff, like being able to collect sand from the beaches of Normandy.
“The side of the bottle says ‘Omaha, World War II. Beach Sand.’ My uncles died here," she said.
Doris is also quick to point out the joy she had in the Army, including her other tours of duty, and the fact that she’s pretty good when it comes to marksmanship.
“My dad and uncles were all hunters and they taught me how to shoot, and then when I joined the Army, I was at a base in Virginia, Fort Lee. They had a pistol team. I tried out for the pistol team, and lo and behold, I got on the team."
Now, Doris is retired but it’s talking to other senior citizens like herself that keeps her going.
This week, she was part of a program at the Charles Walker Senior Center in Gulfport. The program was a team effort, with the Starlight Dancers and Doris sharing a bit of the past and dancing to the beat of the Veterans Day drummers to make sure no one ever forgets the sacrifices made by so many in service to our country.
“Us veterans have to be out there and talk about our experiences and that it was real, it wasn’t made up, it was the real deal," said Doris.
And it seems Doris' adventure-seeking days are still going strong. A self-described “thrill-seeker,” Doris said she’s done more than 300 parachute jumps out of various planes and helicopters.