By Gary Metzker,
The way Mady Nollan sees it, we can’t fully repay veterans for their service — but that doesn’t mean we can’t try.
And that’s what the 14-year-old Los Alamitos High School student, who also serves as president of the Eliza Donner Houghton Society of the Children of the American Revolution, tried to do ahead of this year’s Veterans Day.
Nollan and her 14-member group — comprising girls from Long Beach and Huntington Beach — collected and donated 25 boxes of food for the nonprofit U.S. Vets Long Beach. The group also sent more than 40 letters to veterans thanking them for their service. And they sent a care package of toilet paper, water flavoring and Halloween candy to Capt. Rex Pearce, a doctor in the Air Force currently on deployment in Qatar.
“We are grateful for these veterans,” Nollan said, “and we wanted to show our appreciation.”
But Nollan was also tasked with one more thing — writing a note of thanks to 95-year-old Navy Lt. Lou Duacsek.
Duacsek certainly deserves the gratitude.
“She was a real Rosie the Riveter,” said Diane Duacsek, the pilot’s daughter and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. “She wanted equal pay for equal work, and only the military would offer that.”
Lou Duacsek, whose real first name was Ada, began her service in the Navy on Jan. 1, 1950. A few years later, the Navy sent her to post-graduate school in Monterey for aerology, which is the study of the atmosphere. She served during the Korean War as a meteorologist, doing forecasts for amphibious landings, and also worked in flight control towers.
Duacsek — who, her daughter said, could also fly planes, decades before the military allowed female combat pilots — was tasked with recalling all Reserve Air Squadrons in the U.S. and later served as a congressional liaison naval aide in Washington, D.C.
She even had the opportunity to meet first lady Bess Truman.
“When I was stationed in D.C., I had the ceremonial guard detachment duty for Navy women,” Duacsek said. “There were women who represented the Army and the Marines, too. Well, Mrs. Truman had all of us over for lunch one day. She was very nice and asked us lot of questions.”
Duacsek’s career in the Navy ended in 1957, when she and her husband, Anthony Duacsek, decided to have children. Expectant mothers were honorably discharged in those days. The Duacseks moved to Long Beach in 1973, when her husband, who was also in the military, took up the post as commander of the Long Beach United States Naval Shipyard.
“In my day, there weren’t many women in the military,” Duacsek said. “Nowadays, I’m so proud; they are doing a great job all over the world. This is the greatest country in the world and I’m very glad to be a part of it.”
Duacsek said she was also thrilled to get a letter from the president of the local chapter of the Children of the American Revolution — referring to Nollan.
“It was a very, very nice letter and she wrote in it that I was a true inspiration,” Duacsek said. “I always told all three of my daughters growing up, ‘Never say you can’t do something because you’re a female.’ I’ve always had a positive attitude. I’m powered by the goal of making the world a little bit better by my passing through it.”
Nollan, for her part, is trying to make the world a little better as well. Her group’s next project, for example, will raise money for the Pets for Vets program, which provides therapy dogs for veterans.
“We can’t ever repay the veterans fully for what they have done,” Nollan said, “but we do what we can.”
Source: Orange County Register