What with balancing hybrid classes at Los Alamitos High School, playing on a water polo team and being president of the Eliza Donner Houghton Society of the Children of the American Revolution, Mady Nollan barely has any free time.
But she uses what she has well.
Not only has Nollan and her 14-member group collected and donated 25 boxes of food for U.S. Vets Long Beach, but for Veterans Day, they sent more than 40 letters to veterans thanking them for their service. And let’s not forget what they did for Capt. Rex Pearce, a doctor in the Air Force who is currently on deployment in Qatar. He requested — and received — a care package of toilet paper, water flavoring and Halloween candy, specifically Snickers and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
But Nollan was also tasked with one more thing — writing a note of thanks to 95-year-old Lt. Lou Duacsek.
“I want people to know that we are having fun in this organization,” said Nollan, 14, who is the oldest of the group comprised of girls from Long Beach and Huntington Beach. “We are grateful for these veterans and we wanted to show our appreciation.”
Duacsek learned how to fly a plane before she could drive a car, according to her daughter Diane Duacsek, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
“She was a real Rosie the Riveter,” the younger Duacsek said. “She wanted equal pay for equal work, and only the military would offer that.”
Lou Duacsek (she doesn’t use her first name, 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. She served during the Korean War as a meteorologist, where she did forecasts for amphibious landings and also worked in flight control towers.
Duacsek 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.”
Her career in the Navy ended in 1957, when she and her husband Anthony decided to have children. Expectant mothers were honorably discharged in those days. The Duacseks moved to Long Beach in 1973 when her husband 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.”
She was very glad to get a letter from the president of the Children of the American Revolution (CAR) as well.
“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.”
Mady Nollan is trying to make the world a little better as well. Last year’s CAR project was Pennies for Pines. They raised more than $300 to plant pine trees around Lake Tahoe. Their next project will be to raise funds to support the Pets for Vets program that provides therapy dogs for veterans.
“We can’t ever repay the veterans fully for what they have done,” she said, “but we do what we can.”