Mrs. Judy Duncan

As Interviewed by Campbell Duncan, March 22, 2019

Mrs. Judy Duncan: In Her Own Words

She taught high school English for soldiers and the wounded on an army base in Japan to get their GED until she was approved to teach by the department of defense.

My name is Judy Duncan my education is that I have a bachelor of science and education from LSU and then I have additional graduate hours in the Gifted and Talented. I taught a combination of High School and Junior High 8th grade English for 37 years total. And in addition to that I taught with the Department of Defense during the Vietnam conflict.
I did two different things. For the first year, I taught in the DOD and that’s the one where I taught the soldiers. I had applied to teach at the American High School on base, but it took over a year before they would approve me because I was not in the Department of Defense Program. And during that time, that is where I taught classes in the morning, of soldiers. I taught them English so they could pass the English part of the GED and in the afternoon I went to the hospital where I taught soldiers one at a time. Then after a year, a little over a year a position opened up at the Military High School on the base, an army base, Camp Zama and for almost two years I taught senior English. I had Leeroy and Leeroy actually had a deferment because he was a special needs student, learning had always been hard for him and he could not past the written test that soldiers had to take to get in the army, but he wanted to be in the army. So they had a program, it was called McNamara’s one-hundred thousand and McNamara was the Secretary of the Department of Defense during that time so Leeroy got in the Army. He was from Indiana, he was married, and suddenly he wanted to be able to write and read letters that his young wife had sent him and he could not read or write. And, I worked with him for about six months, truly, he couldn't even write his name when I got him. And at the end of six months, I'm seeing that young man's face right now, he was able to read and write a basic letter to his wife and he was so proud.
How did the feminist movement help me and protect me? Quite honestly, because we were so isolated on a military base, I don't think, during those three years, I was really overtly affected by it. I was not affected by it so much until we were transferred back to the United States. And I do think that, living through it at the period of time that I did, it was really almost on the beginnings of a Feminine Movement and I wasn't really a part of it. The only thing that I can say was that I was resentful that, the amount of profession that I was told that I, either overtly or suggested, that I could or could not have a career in because I was female, I resented that. And, that’s a hard concept when I have taught all these years, When I’ve looked at girls and said, “You have no idea. when I went to college, I could be a teacher, I could be a nurse, or I could be a secretary. And, what if I didn’t want to be any of those, what if I wanted to be a doctor, what if I wanted to be a engineer. I couldn’t do it back then.” Kind of that part of feminism, but it was just at the beginning of it.