Tribute to the late JoAn Wilcox - Our Soldier Girl - The Four bravest people
November 10th, 1943 - March 1st, 2013
At the beginning of this month it was with great sadness that I heard that JoAn Wilcox had passed away in her sleep the day before. JoAn was one of the most amazing people I met during all the years that I wrote and ran websites. For me, JoAn was the closest thing I had to a personal assistant and right hand person for years.
JoAn contacted me in the early days of my AfricanCrisis website. She was fascinated by Africa and her husband Mack had visited here. JoAn was the first person to volunteer to help me on my website and she told me that we needed to respond properly to all the queries we had from people. And that is how JoAn moved into my life. For the first few years of AfricanCrisis's existence it was run only by myself and JoAn. I often mused to myself how strange it was that the only volunteer I had who was willing to give up so much of her personal time and make such an effort was not even a person who lived here in Africa. She was an American with no family ties here and she was more concerned about us than many of those who lived here. When I think back to my conversations with JoAn, she expressed a desire to be a part of something bigger than herself. She wanted to do something that she felt was important and worth doing, even if it implied a serious risk to herself. JoAn wanted to make a difference. She was a devout Christian and that drove her as well. She wanted to do something good in this world before she departed from it.
In those early years of my website I had many people in South Africa mocking me and deriding my attempts to tell the plain truth. It took a tremendous effort for me to get some copies of Government by Deception stocked by a few branches of Exclusive Books - no other book store would even dare to carry them. Then to my horror, upper class white people in Cape Town went to Exclusive books and told them to remove all the copies of my book from their shelves. They said they did not want this type of book in their suburbs. So my books were returned to me. As an aside, Cape Town is now the only major city and province in South Africa NOT ruled by the ruling party, whom my book was so very critical of. Now it is fashionable for the upper class to criticise the ruling party! Oh how times have changed! Back then, you'd struggle to find a ball among any of them. They were too busy trying to kiss the new ruling class's asses. A handful of the rich did stand up to be counted. One was a German investor who used photographs and information from my website and gave a presentation to the German parliament about the situation in Zimbabwe. He also went on South African radio telling the truth about Zimbabwe and why it would happen all over again in South Africa. I see since 2011 our currency is collapsing again as the wealthy exit from the mining industry because the predicted troubles came. On the whole, the rich are just cowards who cut and run. But a small handful have guts. But back then when JoAn and I worked alone, I had many white people in South Africa write to me and tell me to shut down my stupid website because nobody would read it anyway. These, are the same people who openly claim to believe in Liberalism and Free Speech ... psst... but only when it suits them!! During those years, the ONLY person who worked with me was JoAn. Daily she would logon to the website from her home in Oregon; and she would read what people wrote and she would write them nice, long, personal replies and turn them into returning visitors and make them feel like family. She did that year after year.
JoAn helped me from about 2001 until I shut AfricanCrisis down totally in January 2012. Prior to that, AfricanCrisis was never down, except for a period of 6 months when the website was up, but I did not post anything on it due to harrassment and feeling like I should give up. In total we worked on AfricanCrisis for over ten years. That was one of the key things that got me down in the end. I had so many problems especially from my hosting company IX webhosting constantly switching my websites off, saying I was using up too much server resources. One day they shut the websites down again and I thought to myself, "we've been at this for more than ten years... ten years... and it feels as if we made no progress at all". When I told one close friend of mine in Johannesburg whom I had met through the website, she said to me, "Frankly, I don't know how you lasted that long. Just give up and move on and do something else". When I shut AfricanCrisis down in January 2012, it was the realisation that we'd given up ten years of our lives and we were a lot older now, and I was not prepared to carry on for another ten without making any progress. But, of all the people around me, it was JoAn who fought back constantly saying to me that she's read the emails from many people to me and that what we did had meant a lot to other people. She insisted that we had touched some people very deeply and she'd been in contact with them and I must not give up. I had made enormous efforts during 2011 for the websites but my efforts had all had failed, and I was tired, and the ten years echoed in my head and I decided, "Screw this for a joke", I must go and do something else. I can't carry on like this. When I shut the websites down it was a decision that came out of the blue after weeks of fighting with my hosting company. I got more and more irritated and when they shut it down and I walked away from it I did not even tell anyone for days. I did not feel like talking to anyone. I was just so sick to death of it all. JoAn accepted it, as she accepted all the time that I was "the boss", but she was game to carry on. I was the one who give up - not her.
I must tell you, it was good to be free of the websites and their associated nonsense for a year. I did not miss all the hassles and trouble at all. A lot of my stress just disappeared. I found myself with lots of free time on my hands and, among other things, I started playing squash and having a life. My approach is different this time, and I will continue playing squash and having a life this time though! When I shut the websites down, I did not know for how many years I'd leave them down.
So 2012 was a quiet year and none of us talked much. In fact, I stopped watching TV news altogether - I don't even watch eTV news. I wanted to see how long I could go without a newspaper and found I could go for 5 months without buying a single newspaper. My friends and supporters would phone me or email me to tell me when something big was going on. Most of the time I wasn't interested and I didn't care anyway. I knew it would be more of the same. Nothing really new ever happens here anyway.
The only local thing I was interested in was Julius Malema whose agenda is to steal and destroy on a massive scale like Mugabe did in Zimbabwe. This is exactly what AfricanCrisis had been warning about. Malema's visits and links to Mugabe bothered me a lot. A former Special Branch operative said to me that Mugabe's CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) are probably active in South Africa where he would like to stoke racial troubles if he can. It would suit his agenda. The violence and killings around the mines, for example, is something of a mystery as to how that was really organised. Malema's constant race hate speech bothered me a lot and I was surprised and delighted that he was eventually silenced. I'd like to see him go to jail. He openly advocated genocide, which I really did not like, and I did not like the ruling party's tolerance for it. I remain concerned that he or others like him will arise. So I was glad when he was put out of business. I think some arms were twisted behind the scenes. I think forces external to South Africa destroyed him, and I am glad they did. I do not think it happened by itself.
In 2012, I mostly followed American politics and its economy. Months would go by and the only time I'd read a newspaper was if it was free at a cafe that I go to once in 2 or 3 months. I only bought 2 newspapers in ten months! In fact in the last 15 months I I've only watched about 5 minutes of TV news twice! Events close to where I live were making world headlines and people were being killed and I just didn't care. I asked friends to warn me of which roads to avoid where cars and trucks were being attacked and they warned me using BlackBerry. Beyond that I did not give a hoot what happened. I still don't watch South African TV at all - I don't know why we are forced to pay a TV licence because I never use it. I listened to South African radio for two afternoons when I was sick, after not having listened to it for over 10 years and decided I'd missed nothing in 10 years and would not bother again. I found that I could go without TV and radio without a problem. Everything you need plus a whole lot more, is on the Internet.
With respect to Zimbabwe we are back in the dark ages where we once more have no real clue what's happening and the dictatorship and illegal presidency of Mugabe continues to win the day. People are tortured and killed all the time and nobody says a word any more. As long as Mugabe sells his chrome to the USA, the USA will leave him in peace. Chrome is only found in Zimbabwe and Russia and the Zimbabwean chrome is the best in the world and is used for military and other advanced purposes. As long as Mugabe sells his chrome to America, they are quite happy to leave him in power regardless of how many people he murders or the fact that more than half of the black population has fled the country, and over 95% of the white population also fled.
During the year I mulled over where I had gone wrong and the mistakes I'd made. Little by little we got talking and new ideas began forming, and JoAn, as always, was game for it and contributed her ideas or asked for more detail.
I learned many things from JoAn, and I learned things from Americans too, and these things changed me for the better as a person. I am not the same person I was when I started out this journey.
JoAn taught me customer service and through most of those ten years JoAn was also my "diplomat" when I needed one - which, given my disposition, I often DID!! In the early years of my website, JoAn wrote letters of introduction and she put me in touch with all sorts of people. I met Mary Starret through her, who at one point tried to run for governor of Oregon. Mary interviewed me once on her radio show. JoAn introduced me to many websites and mailing lists. She had a way of talking to people. In many ways JoAn was like my mother, and I told her that indeed she was my 2nd mother. People trusted my mother. JoAn was the same. She could talk to people until she won their trust. During the course of AfricanCrisis she must have written several thousand replies to people. If people wanted to attack me, she'd calm them down. She did a lot, and she did it quietly, behind the scenes, this American lady. South Africans would not defend me, but this American woman would defend me constantly. This was something that I often thought about quietly to myself as we worked. I could not understand why I could not get anyone near at hand to stand by me so firmly as someone who lived, almost literally, on the other side of the earth.
JoAn was an excellent team player and she knew that at the end of the day, I made the final call. I told her and the others, that at the end of the day, the final responsibility was mine. She would tell me if she disagreed with me, but when I gave the word, even if she did not like it, she would go along with it.
We started talking a lot in January and February. I spoke to JoAn about 2 weeks before she passed away. We had a conversation over the phone for an hour. She knew I was reviving my websites and was glad about that. She was still game for it and was playing her part. But I knew from 2010 already that she had very serious health problems. But she was not one to complain. She was very proud of the fact that she was the daughter of a US Marine and she'd been brought up to suck it up. She knew how to pull through. She was very selfless.
What I also loved about working with JoAn, and indeed this is something I have liked about most Americans I have met and worked with, is that she was responsible, entirely trustworthy and a self-starter. I never had to nag her to do anything. She came and took care of things quietly and efficiently. The only thing she did not like about my style of working was that I did not lay out the rules clearly enough. She could follow the rules to a tee. If I told her this is my current policy, she would follow it to the letter. She was very exact in that way and I liked it. If I changed my mind the next week, she would go along with that too.
When I experienced harassment, JoAn was the person I trusted the most. This was true especially in the early years of my websites. There was a really scary time when a few of my emails were being intercepted by the ruling party and when an associate of mine would be called in for questioning about my emails. These were private emails sent to no more than 5 people, and on the two evenings that I sent these emails, the next morning, at 8am, my associate got a phone call from the ruling party on his unlisted cell phone number and was asked to report immediately to a certain building in Johannesburg where he was questioned thoroughly about my emails. He was not party to the emails, but the emails were about my fears for his life, and the very next day he would be shown these emails and asked why he was associating with me. He was from Zimbabwe and I had reason to fear that someone had attempted to kill him. You can imagine my shock when he came to me after his meeting and showed me my printed out email along with annotations by intelligence officials and he described to me their interview with them. Since I had sent these emails secretly to JoAn and people he did not have any contact with, this was the first time I saw how fast email interception really was. This was just one of many instances where displeasure was expressed about the website. All sorts of other things happened to shut down the website and stop us. We had many scares over the years. During my darkest hours I turned to two people. The one was JoAn. I always copied her on certain emails or documents and I would send it to her and ask her to please store these away safely in the event that something happened to me or my computers, then at least someone outside South Africa would have copies of these documents. I used JoAn in this way a lot.
The other person who helped me a lot when I needed it, and who was close at hand was the late Dr Chris Jordaan, whom I regard as my mentor. He had served in Military Intelligence for 20 years and was also an ordained Priest. He had a good reputation in the Intelligence community in Europe. He was the only person close at hand whom I could turn to, as I did on many occasions. He passed away suddenly from cancer several years ago. He kept his illness a secret until the last moment, and I visited him the day before died.
The fact that JoAn was outside the country was important to me. I then felt that at least if something truly went wrong, she would be able to alert someone. JoAn was well aware of this situation and had no problem with it. When I felt truly alone, I knew I could always rely on her. Having someone like that around meant a LOT to me.
JoAn got along with virtually everyone, and in the final months of her life, when we spoke telephonically quite a few times, she reminisced that the only person whom she ever felt was nasty to her was a certain Dutch writer and she could not understand why. Neither could I. In that respect JoAn was a lot like my mother, if you did not get along with her, then I'd be tempted to think the problem lay with you and not with her.
JoAn gave more than her time. She also donated money for which I am deeply indebted. In later years she and another Afrikaans man worked together and JoAn donated money to an orphanage in South Africa. This was their pet project, looking after the children. JoAn gave, even when I think, between you and me, she did not have that much to give - but she gave anyway. She was always helping someone.
She was thoughtful to all of us, and myself and that Afrikaner man were beneficiaries of CDs and DVDs that JoAn found for us. I have a deep love of history, and JoAn found the most amazing source of incredible DVDs about American and other history. I don't have much time to read books, but I make a point of watching DVDs and I spent many hours soaking up the amazing DVDs she sent me and which I have jealously kept. One of my favourites is a set of American Civil war DVDs.
JoAn and her husband came to Africa one year and she then visited me at my home and I took them on a drive. I showed them the good and the really bad. I was trying to drive and be a good tour guide. Driving here in Africa is rather more chaotic than in America. She told me later that her husband was seriously scared by my driving. It appeared that driving along a highway at 120 Km/hr while looking backwards over my shoulder constantly, and talking non-stop kinda scared him and he thought this was the day the Lord would take him off this earth! It was only when I visited the USA in 2010 and drove through Oregon, California and Nevada that I appreciated what careful and courteous (and civilised) drivers Americans really were. When I returned to Johannesburg after 3 glorious weeks of driving 2,000 miles on the west coast, I was shocked by what I saw. As I drove and the cars flashed by me weaving crazily from one lane to another I thought to myself, "Good Lord these people are INSANE!" - two weeks later I was driving just like the rest of them!!
JoAn loved her visit to Africa and talked about it a lot. She kept in touch with several people here and as always introduced me to interesting people. She kept telling me about this great guy called Martin. Martin who was involved in firearms ownership and crime fighting. When Gun Owners of America tried to start an off-shoot called Gun Owners of South Africa, Martin was there. When I met Martin face to face, I found him to be one of the funniest people I had met in my life. He is a natural comedian. He is of British origin and had some acting training and whenever I met him, I would be hooting with laughter after a few minutes. Somebody should put Martin on TV. He's hilarious. He and JoAn were close and corresponded for years. Martin is preparing to return to England. Like JoAn, he never complained, and he did his utmost. He was one of the most energetic and positive, determined people I have ever met. He really gave it his all to fight crime here, but in the end, like many others, he gave up because here, no matter how hard you try, eventually you will lose. He follows in the footsteps of a million or two or more who eventually just called it quits and left for good. Many tried hard before they gave up, and Martin, like JoAn, could give far more than most. I will miss him. The list of those who eventually return to Europe or leave for North America or Australia, just keeps growing longer as the battle for civilisation is slowly and surely being lost.
Another friend, who fought Mugabe, and then ran a successful Safari company elsewhere in Africa, was dragged kicking and screaming to America by his kids. He did not want to leave because he really was at home in Africa and preferred the company of lions and elephants to that of humans. He told me, he feels so lost in America. But finally, he found something in Texas and is giving it his best shot there.
We absolutely HATE LOSING. We never used to be losers. Most of us do not give up easily. We struggle for all we are worth, to try to succeed and make progress at SOMETHING, but our losing streak just continues. My friends businesses fold; they lose their jobs; crime gets worse no matter how hard we try, even if we go and try to fight it ourselves, we still end up losing like Martin and others did. I know many who could have left earlier, while they had money, but they hung on and clung on until they lost virtually everything and someone then helped them to escape to another continent. The opposition say they'll run the country in 2019 and fix everything. Yeah, I'm sure that's when pigs will fly too.
Before my visit to the USA in 2010 I had often been a sceptic about America. I had regarded Americans with a kind of cynicism. But going there and meeting them face to face and walking among them changed my view of them entirely. During that time I stayed with JoAn and other people I knew. And when I watched these people working hard for their living and watched them in their society, I came to appreciate the good side of the American system and the tough side of it too - that things don't just fall on a platter for these people. Whatever success they have, they earned with the sweat of their brow.
JoAn, like many Americans had many jobs during her life and they varied from working at a truck stop to driving very long distances to gun shows. Her husband Mack was a firearms dealer. When I visited her in 2010, and she was in her late 60's, she told me, "I've bought a little something for myself". I thought she was going to show me a pistol. She walked in with a case that clearly held a rifle, and when she opened it up I saw a semi-automatic rifle that looked like a normal military rifle to me. I was astounded at the cheap price. I said to her, "That rifle you've got there, would be ILLEGAL in South Africa." The gun show business that she and Mack ran involved extremely long drives often. For them to have to jump in their car or truck and drive 9 hours to yet another gun show was commonplace even at their age. I was amazed at how they did it.
JoAn used those gun shows as a place to also tell people about Africa and my website. She was always marketing me, something for which I will owe her a deep debt of gratitude for as long as I live.
I took this photo below at her house when I visited her in 2010. She had this sticker in her window, it gives her views on gun control:-
When I started AmericanCrisis JoAn wanted no part in it. She was not nasty about it, she was just more interested in Africa. She was very definitely ever more alienated from America even though she was a total patriot. America switched her off more and more as the years went by. She said to me that America had changed so much that she no longer felt it was her own country any more. She said to me on many occasions that in her view, the future of America would run a similar course to the history of Africa in recent decades. She said that the quality, which had once distinguished America was disappearing. She was sure that what we had lived through, Americans would live through in the future. JoAn said she would work on AfricanCrisis, but she would prefer not to have anything to do with AmericanCrisis because she was so sick of the politics of America. In her earlier years she had been heavily involved in politics and the political parties. But now, she had no further interest in either the Democrats or the Republicans.
She was a big fan of Ron Paul. She felt he was the only honest politician around. Another friend of mine, and constant contributor to AmericanCrisis is also a die-hard Ron Paul supporter who lives in Nevada. She's also been involved deeply in Republican politics and is disgusted by it all. She always reminds me that she's never yet met ANYONE in Nevada who's actually voted for Harry Reid! She despises him. I told both JoAn and my other friend that Ron Paul's hard-assed attitude and his honesty reminds me of only one other politician I've seen in my life: the late Ian Smith, Prime Minister of Rhodesia, before that Marxist mass murderer Robert Mugabe took over there and destroyed the country to the point where more than half the black population has run away and permanently live outside the borders. They only return in order to bring food and money to those trapped inside. They swim across crocodile-infested waters and risk deportation from South Africa to get away from Mugabe's hell on earth. People used to say Ian Smith was the ONLY honest politician around. I find it so strange that decades later, Ron Paul is the only politician in America who has a similar reputation. His attitude and his manner remind me a lot of Ian Smith. I can remember as a youngster sitting in front of the black and white TV set and listening to the Prime Minister addressing the nation and giving us some bad news but also giving us hope or lifting our spirits. He really had an effect on us and connected with us. Modern politicians are more like MacDonalds hamburgers. You can buy them by the truckload if you have enough money and they're all the same, and say the same thing and are absolutely the same as the one you had before! They call themselves leaders, but they're actually followers and they're all equally ineffective. It should be remembered that the Rhodesian Rebellion of 1965 was the only other rebellion by a British colony since the American rebellion of 1776. I am glad I grew up there during that time. It was an amazing and invigorating time. JoAn felt that Ron Paul was the only hope left for America. But her faith in America was falling constantly.
For me, coming from Africa, and never having experienced America before, it was a strange experience. I told people here that going to America was almost like a trip back in time to when I was ten years old. It was like where I grew up. People still wear suits and ties in the banks, which you don't see that here anymore. America reminded me a lot of my childhood except that nobody was wearing bell-bottoms and Americans have cell phones, PCs and the Internet. To me it was a strange mix of "old civilisation" as I remember it, mixed in with modern technology. I told people that the West coast of the USA to me, was like a trip back in time, to my childhood in Rhodesia - except for the modern technology. I absolutely LOVED IT.
JoAn knew her history and she said to me on several occasions that since most Americans came from Europe, and we whites in Africa also came from there, that chances are, we might even be cousins! Europe is the ancestral home for many of us.
Another friend of ours who met JoAn on a few occasions was Joe Smith. I met Joe through my website and it turned out that he lived in Portland not far from JoAn, and they met on four occasions. Joe has a very interesting background. He was an American journalist and he also fought in Vietnam as well as being one of the few Americans who volunteered and served in the Rhodesian Army fighting against the likes of Mugabe. JoAn never complained. She only said she was tired, no doubt due to her heart problems. There were some extremely sad events also in the last year relating to friends close to her. These things which pained her a lot. I had feared for JoAn's health after her husband Mack passed away, but later things seemed to come right and I forgot about her health problems. When she passed away, it was unexpected. I had a lovely conversation with her just 2 weeks earlier and she was already preparing to get stuck into the websites again and I spoke to her of my plans and what we were going to do different this time. She was all game for it and ready to roll.
Joe sent me the photo below with the note: "I have perhaps met JoAn four times - face to face - and always at the fairground building in Albany at gun shows. I met her husband Mack the first time. I met Shannon the last time. But JoAn and I have talked over the phone about a dozen times including just a day or two before she died. She was always a Lady. Classy."
I would like to caption the photo below as "The Two bravest people I know in Oregon". There is a third very brave person I know there, but he's already famous. The fourth person is a woman whom the Feminists hate. Below is Joe Smith (who was a Captain in the Rhodesian Army), and JoAn Wilcox. I regard them as the bravest people I know in Oregon because they both stood up time and time again for the truth and they did not care what the others around them thought. They were Americans true to the core, wanting only good things for America AND for people outside America. They stood up for things regardless of peer pressure or how that might backfire on them. So this photo, for me shows you two heroic people who stoodd firm, when everyone else had run away to hide. MY TWO HEROES:-
I would like to end this tribute to JoAn discussing what I learned from JoAn, Americans in general and also from my trip to America. Whenever I wanted to say something, regardless of the intellectual content or lack thereof in what I was saying, the one place I always found that people were keen to listen to you, was America. I never experienced that here in South Africa. A friend who lives in Holland tells me that the Dutch also place a high value on their freedom of speech. But if I think back, between 1999 and now, the one place people would always listen politely to me, was America. Over the years I have thought of the good things I have said, and also of the stupid things I said, and I am quite awed that people in America listened to me, not matter what I said. They listened and they listened politely and they let me have a chance to say my say. In South Africa I experienced what it was like to be on the air talking on a radio show and the producer hits a button and just cuts you off in mid-sentence. Or, they later just fire the person who dared to interview you! But I never experienced any kind of censorship with regard to Americans. And many Americans I came across were willing to help me find some way of passing on whatever I thought was important. When I think back to JoAn and her introductions to many people including those who interviewed me, or ran my stories on their websites, I am deeply grateful that Americans gave me a chance - a chance I would never have had anywhere else on earth. I know that, because over the last 14 years it is ONLY Americans who ever gave me any chances whenever I needed them. When I look back on some of the dumb things I said, and I feel ashamed about them, I also think how nice it was that people did not mock me, and that they politely let me have my say. They let me say my dumb thing. It made me feel happier and better, and now, with time having gone by, I realise how nice it was of them to tolerate my stupidity in such a nice way. These days I have changed a lot - but not completely! One lady told me the other day, "You are not as cantankerous as you used to be!" I had to laugh. I have improved, but I still retain some of my cantankerous core values. But what I have learned is to also be more open to other people having very different ideas. These days I have become a deep believer in FREE SPEECH. I believe people must have their chance to say their say, no matter how I may differ with it, even if I think it is dumb. Because by having had my chance to say things, and having had my chance to interact with people, allowed me to learn. For me it was not just about telling my story and venting my anger, but also about learning through my interactions with others. Now I realise that other people, younger people, are setting out on journeys similar to mine. They think about ideas that I once thought about and moved beyond. But they need to go through that experience themselves. They have to dig and think and argue as well. Herein lies the real value of FREE SPEECH, and it is one of the greatest contributions Americans have made. If America has a fault, then that fault is that it is too tolerant. Perhaps the deepest value of free speech lies in the opportunity to debate and to learn from others. It appears to me, that we all need our chance to be wrong, because that is the only way to progress towards something that is right. It is a personal journey, and we must allow people to go on that journey for the benefit of themselves and their society as a whole.
David Horrowitz was a radical and a member of the Black Panthers in America. He later switched and became a conservative. He said that when he was younger, he thought that in order to be heard in America you had to kick the door down. But in reality, the door was always there, you only had to go and open it. That door which exists in America does not exist in most other places.
Over the years, on AfricanCrisis, we had a lot of people writing to us. We also had people who hated us and we had spambots dumping garbage into our inboxes daily. JoAn was the one who waded through most of it. She replied to people and so did I. But she did the most writing by far to our Readers. At any time, hundreds of messages lay in our inbox. At times we would try to wade through it, we'd spend more and more hours going through it. Sometimes we'd spend entire days trying to reply to people and still not catching up. As time went by we just fell more and more behind. There were just too many people who wanted to say something or who wanted to ask questions and there weren't enough of us. Handling the reader's queries was JoAn's forte.
JoAn was especially fond of Afrikaners. She was hoping to come and visit us again, but that was not to be.
One of JoAn's closest friends here was an Afrikaner man who used the pseudonym Grazy. He and JoAn did a lot of work for an orphanage. He had a nickname for her "SG" - Soldier Girl. He also called her "the lady of the lamp" for the British women who did so much for the Boers when they were in the British concentration camps. For us, "Soldier Girl" is the most appropriate name for JoAn because she was extremely proud of her close links to the US Marines. Not only was she the daughter of a Marine but she had Marines as friends.
Joe Smith, who was a soldier himself sent these comments to me about JoAn:-
She was the very proud "daughter of a Marine" she told me many times. And she just "soldiered on" through thick and thin across a very tough decade. She also soldiered on through a lot of severe health problems. JoAn tried to be a MODEL for us. She was NOT in any way petty. A model of behavior consistent with the best of Western Traditions.
JoAn, I can never thank you enough for everything you did for me. You gave far more than most people would ever be capable of, even if they tried their best. I learned a lot from you, and I argued with you about many things and differed with you for years, only to realise at the end, as in our telephonic chats, that in fact you were right all along, but it took me ten years to figure that out. So I too have grown. You have shown me a side of the American spirit that I never knew existed. It is selfless, hardworking, reliable and honest to the core. I wish you could be here with us as we go on our next journey and as we venture far beyond AfricanCrisis. But rest assured, that I have learned a lot from you, and also from others, and none of these the efforts and struggles of the past will be wasted. It will all be put to good use and it will make our long, hard and winding road, a lot easier. JoAn, you were a heroine to me in a time when very few people are capable of true self-sacrifice and heroism. We'll always remember you as Our Soldier Girl!
Posted By: Jack