Waiting Wives

The Story of Schilling Manor, Home Front to the Vietnam War

Waiting Wives

In 1964, as the first B-52s took flight in what would become America's longest combat mission, an old Air Force base on the plains of Kansas became Schilling Manor -- the only base ever to be set aside for the wives and children of soldiers assigned to Vietnam. Author Donna Moreau was the daughter of one such waiting wife, and here she writes of growing up at a time when The Flintstones were interrupted with news of firefights, fraggings, and protests, when the evening news announced death tolls along with the weather forecasts. The women and children of Schilling Manor fought on the emotional front of the war. It was not a front composed of battle plans and bullets. Their enemies were fear, loneliness, lack of information, and the slow tick of time.
Waiting Wives: The Story of Schilling Manor, Home Front to the Vietnam War tells the story of the last generation of hat-and-glove military wives called upon by their country to pack without question, to follow without comment, and to wait quietly with a smile. A heartfelt book that focuses on this other, hidden side of war, Waiting Wives is a narrative investigation of an extraordinary group of women. A compelling memoir and domestic drama, Waiting Wives is also the story of a country in the midst of change, of a country at war with a war.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743470773 | 
  • May 2005
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Reading Group Guide

Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Along with her family's story, why do you suppose -- out of the thousands of women who called Schilling Manor home -- Donna Moreau chose to tell Lorrayne's and Bonnie's stories? How does each of these three accounts contribute something different to the narrative?
2. In the Preface, the author says that for the women she interviewed, "Schilling Manor was a place of light during the darkest, most terrifying time of their lives." What did Schilling Manor provide for these women that other places, even living near family, could not?
3. What do the sections titled "The Committee" add to the overall picture of what life was like for the waiting wives at Schilling Manor? Why does the author refer to each woman on the committee not by name but by her husband's rank?
4. Along with Lorrayne's desire to turn Schilling Manor into a home for waiting wives and her determination to see it done, what other factors played a part in the founding and success of Schilling Manor?
5. Housing officer John Kindlesparger was advised by his superior officers not to allow MIA/POW wives residence at Schilling Manor because of the negative emotional impact it might have on the community of waiting wives. Did Kindlesparger make the right decision to let Bonnie and other MIA/POW wives live at Schilling Manor?
6. Discuss the role of the "military wife" as portrayed in Waiting Wives. How about Beverly in particular as a milit see more

About the Author

Donna Moreau
Photo Credit:

Donna Moreau

Donna Moreau was born in Fort Meade, Maryland, and raised on Army posts throughout the world. She now lives and writes in Leominster, Massachusetts. Waiting Wives is her first book. Donna Moreau can be contacted at waitingwives.com or at donamore@aol.com.