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Diehl’s book tells military family’s story in Vietnam era

Published 12:14pm Wednesday, October 9, 2013

MADISON – Joan Diehl’s book, “Once Upon a War: The Diary of a Waiting Wife” is a memoir of her family’s survival during the Vietnam War.

Joan Diehl is the author of "Once Upon a War: The Diary of a Waiting Wife." (CONTRIBUTED)
Joan Diehl is the author of “Once Upon a War: The Diary of a Waiting Wife.” (CONTRIBUTED)

Diehl tells “the daily struggles of ‘single’ moms, as well as political turmoil, assassinations, Viet Cong attacks and media gloom and doom. Almost every day brought a new challenge, as illness and exhaustion were the norm.”

Daughter Alison, now an architect in Orlando, urged her mother to convert her diary into a book. “She was confident my story would resonate with others who have experienced wartime separation from loved ones,” Joan Diehl said.

“When my husband, Glen, an Air Force captain, received orders for Vietnam in 1968, I chose to live in Schilling Manor, a waiting wives community in Salina, Kan.,” she said. When Schilling Air Force Base closed, the government converted a section into housing for military families, mainly for soldiers deployed to South Vietnam.

Schilling Manor was about 120 miles from Topeka, the Diehls’ hometown. “Not only could I count on military support but our five children would be near their grandparents,” she said. Children’s anecdotes, especially about her 3.5-year-old son ‘Feller’, either “lightened or added to life’s difficulties.”

Schilling Manor provided schools, a chapel, dispensary, commissary, an exchange and various activities. “Community involvement and friendship with other wives sustained me throughout the 16 months I called Schilling Manor home. There has never been another community like it,” Diehl said.

Glen Diehl retired as an Air Force lieutenant colonel. The Diehls moved to Madison in 1985. “I worked for the ‘Madison County Record’ from 1989 to 1992 and again from 1994 to 1997. I began with general office duties, progressed to copy editor and finally editor,” she said.

To read the book’s first five chapters, visit The book is available at and, with an ebook scheduled for mid-October.

The Diehls have five children and 18 grandchildren, one of whom is deceased.

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