Nancy Doyle

Highlight Reel

Bassist for the Mystrals

It was the late 90s almost the end of the millennium When I got
the call about touring Bosnia and entertaining the United
Nations, I couldn’t believe it. It was not that long after the
war, though I loved drumming and travelling over seas. Why I
chose my Uncle Milty to check on the safety status I don’t know,
I called Uncle Milty and asked, “are they fighting over there
right now”? Uncle Milty said no, do you need a drum roadie? It
sounds like a great experience. So I called my buddy in L.A. and
accepted the tour…. Days went by, and I realized the day was
getting near to fly across the world and entertain the United
Nations. We faxed information back and fourth for a couple of
weeks, trying to put together a show with members four hundred
miles apart from each other… Capt. Mee from Alington VA. Kept
in close contact with us, helping us get our Government
Passports, special military badges, medical shots, going over the
Government rules and regulations and plane and housing
reservations. And to keep your politcal views to ourselves…

After packing three times and changing suitcases twice, I was
ready to embark on my adventure…. First stop L.A. to meet the
rest of the band and have a quick two-day rehearsal….

Well our two-day rehearsal turned into a four-hour one-day only
practice, we spent the rest of our time spray painting our name
on the music equipment and taping everything up for the long

The plane wouldn’t accommodate all of our musical gear, so the
bandleader stayed behind for a day to bring the rest of the gear
and meet us in Germany. We kissed our loved ones goodbye and got
on the plane….

The bandleader that stayed behind was the only person I knew,
and the other girls were sitting so far away on the plane. So
there we were on the plane with lots our musical equipment, no
band leader and no one spoke a word of German, All we knew was
that we would be gone for over a month and we would be greeted by
the military and “don’t worry” some one will be there to help you
with your musical equipment…

The trip was long, a good fourteen hours non-stop to
Frankfurt…… After four movies, little sleep, and lots of
airplane food, we arrived in Frankfurt, Germany.

Everything was checked as excess baggage so we made our way to
the baggage claim area. There were no porters or the military
anywhere to help us with our stuff, we ran around all over the
Airport and after a while we found three medium shopping carts
and headed for the baggage claim area to wait for our gear… A
bass drum, floor tom, other drum cases and amps and guitars came
rolling down the ramp, and as we scrambled to load up our
equipment into the carts we still didn’t see any Army personnel
anywhere. We all took turns looking, running around and trying to
find anyone in military gear to let them know “hey, your rock and
roll band is here and we’re ready to rock”! After an hour or so
we finally found the Army, that’s right, we found the Army, they
weren’t looking for us. Tired and hungry for anything other then
Airplane food we loaded up on a military bus and headed for
Ramstein Air force Base in Frankfurt, Germany.

Checking into the officers Quarters was easy and boy was it
fancy. We each had our own room. Two rooms accuatly, Full bar,
TV, V.C.R, Stereo, everything you need and don’t need, I was
ready to get horizontal and take it all in

After a good night sleep we roamed around the base for a couple
of days waiting for our other member to arrive with the rest of
the musical gear, We Watched movies, bought make up, ate food,
played pool, etc…. Finally our other member arrived so we left
Germany and headed to Hungary right outside Budapest to “Military
Base Tazar” This trip from Germany took many hours on a bus.

After arriving, my tired foggy eyes adjusted to what was in
front of me. What a wake up call, we went to pick up our sleeping
gear and army gear, which at the time I didn’t no know why or
what we were getting. The sergeant handed me a dark green duffel
bag and inside was a thin floor mat, mummy sleeping bag, pair of
rubber boots, Gore-Tex jacket, shrapnel proof vest and an Army
helmet, all in its American army fatigue. We were sized up and
fitted, a private Benjamin moment. I couldn’t believe it, me, a
little Mendocino Costal, Northern California, Bay Area girl all
grown up and being fitted for Army Fatigue wear, along with the
shrapnel proof vest…

<span style=”font-size:24px;”> <strong>”What did I get myself
into, I thought to myself”?</strong> <strong>I’m a drummer just
on another gig, I’m a drummer just on another gig, and what a gig
so far, we hadent even played yet….</strong></span>

We were driven to our housing facilities, and then it hit me.
The officer’s quarters in Frankfurt Germany were much different
then the officer’s quarters here. It looked like a scene right
out of M.A.S.H. Rows and rows of HUGE tents. Sleeping facilities,
Dining facilities, Movie tents, First aid, church, Moral boosting
area, Post office, the PX store etc. This was a mini world of
it’s own. These were men and women living in twenty degrees below
zero up to a year at a time. They were called “the peacekeepers”,
the S.F.O.R group. [The stabilizing force]. And we were here to
entertain them. So much killing had gone on here, I could feel it
and I knew this was only the beginning, we still had Bosnia and
we hadn’t even played a show yet….

Days went by, and the NATO troops seemed to love us, we would put
on our stage clothes and then our army boots and truck through
mud and snow, and hike up to where we were performing. Change out
of our muddy snowy shoes and get on stage. For the most part our
gigs went according to plan, about two hours of music, usually
eight to ten p.m. and anywhere from 40 to 200 people would come.
Some places we had even more people. All the soldiers were really
happy to see four women kicking some booty up on stage. We were
all good musicians, seasoned and could hold our own. We had
guitar, bass, drums and lead vocals and all of us singing
together. Mostly songs that everyone would know and could sing
along to. We played all the popular hits and funky tight grooves.
It was a lot of fun and we were getting really tight the more
shows we played….

On the military bases there were all different kinds of people
and of all ages. The girls, and I mean girls because they were so
young, 18-25, were very strong and in excellent shape. Everyone
was nice and respectful and very helpful. My attitude changed on
what I thought about the military, well, what I thought about
what type of person who would join the military. And what I
realized is that people I met who joined the military did so for
education, to make a living, to learn, to be strong, to have
something for the future. A lot of people seemed to come from
poor families and they did not want to work at a fast food place.
But no one seemed to want to fight and shoot guns and have the
attitude I thought they might have..

We were so close to Serb territory that these American military
bases had “a no alcohol policy”, which made everyone on good
behavior. A person at all times had to be ready for action. Have
your gun on you at all times. Example-right before a solider
would walk into a building on the base there would always be a
large barrel full of saw dust packed tightly in front of the
building. The men and women soldiers would make sure that their
guns were completely unloaded before entering inside anywhere and
click several times shooting into the barrel.

Getting from base to base was sticky sometimes as we got closer
to Serb territory… Sarajevo Bosnia was just around the corner
and yet I had no concept of what to expect.

Sometimes we drove from base to base and sometimes we flew, and
sometimes not a commercial airline… After flying in a C-130 plane
it was great to get back on the ground. All the soldier boys and
girls kept telling us that the C-130 was all first class, now I
know what they meant. One BIG open room with all of us strapped
in like any minute we would all jump and parachute down to the
ground. When the plane took off, it took off straight up and
fast. Getting strapped in was a task in its self and I was happy
that the guy sitting next to me helped me at the last minute
before take off. And boy was the plane LOUD. We all had to wear
earplugs that was provided and handed out before the plane took
off, it was like I was sitting on top of the engine… And if you
had to go to the bathroom, you would literally have to go behind
a curtain right in front of everyone. We made friends on that
C-130 plane trip, had our mystery sandwich lunch together, and
played chess on our tiny magnetic chessboard. We finally landed
and I was back on the ground. Usually we were the only civilians
on the planes or busses, it was like the military would find a
place anywhere and stick us there as long as we had a convoy..
All these bases had different names like Tazar, Tuzla, Camp
Dobel, Camp Caison, Camp Eagle, Camp Bedrock, Guardian Base,
McGovern, Comanche and so on… We always needed an escort between
bases, at least four vehicles and one or two soldiers in Humvees
with big M16 guns keeping an eye out for snipers. We had to wear
our helmets and our shrapnel proof vests at all times traveling
from base to base just incase…

I remember that the bottle water on the bases had a lot of
minerals in it so it was like a diuretic. I also remember the
military briefing us saying because we were going through what
they called “HOSTIL TERITORY” that we could not stop anywhere to
use the bathroom. But once they did stop for all of us girls.
The one time they did stop all the soldiers got out of their
humvees with their guns locked and loaded looking in every
direction and escorted us into the bathroom, A women speaking no
English charged us and gave us two little squares and let us do
our duty. Note-Buy your own kleenix… Pulling over only happened
once, it was way too risky for a terrorist attack being in Serb
territory, and they did not want any casualties at any time. And
I think our escort got yelled at by his superiors on “what did
you do?” “You stopped?” Well some of our drives were four hours
long so we would try and not drink too many liquids and
exspecially the bottle water with all the minerals. A catch 22,
we wanted to keep fluids in us to keep up our energy, but we only
had access to the water with lots of minerals. Well, sometimes
nature calls, so the Red Cross taught us to cut off the top of a
water bottle if we had to pee, which was in the back of an Army
bus behind the seat. How lovely to be on bumpy roads with
soldiers on the bus and land mines all around and you have to go,
try and relax with strange people with the thought of a land mine
going off… In general, I wasn’t too scared I was just going with
the flow and then we arrived at Camp Bedrock….

We were stopped and asked to show our military passport and
badges and then Wham, Bam They searched us up and down and told
us that we were on LOCK DOWN till further notice…. Actually I was
a bit scared as I had some hash on me that a friendly Sargent had
given to me as we had hung out together on tanks reminiscing San
Francisco while having a little toke.

“When the military police and their dogs came onto the bus, I was
thinking-what was this all about, what do I do with the hash?
Then I realized that’s not what they were looking for.. I was
able to keep it haa haaa.. But I found out later that the NATO
Troops had caught a big war criminal, somebody that had organized
and executed a lot of civilians in the market place in Sarjeveo,
Bosnia. The military was worried about retaliation and did not
want anyone to leave the base until they could secure the area.
At that moment I thought of my mom, my Jewish mother who was
probably worrying about me so I went to the “Moral Boosting Tent”
and had my free call and called her to tell her that I was o.k.
and not to worry…. I was happy that Bill Clinton had set up what
he called the “Moral Boosting Area” for solders to be able to
call home anytime. I remember calling my mom and she was saying
there was no news about Bosnia, or about a war criminal being
caught, only about Bill Clinton having sex with Monica Lewinsky.
“That is BIG NEWS”, I thought”, as I was getting irritated with
the thought of know one at home knowing anything that was going
on. Ironic huh!!! That’s America for you! I asked her what about
the plane that was shot down in Italy by accident? Again, my mom
told me the ONLY news that she has seen was regarding our
president and the sex scandal. My info was coming from the Stars
and Stripes Military News Paper… Well my time was up and I had
to say goodbye to my mom.

I guess the army wanted to take no chances for casualties so no
one left the base for a couple of days. We put on two great shows
for them. One of dance music and one of good old rock and roll..
Not a lot to do in the middle of nowhere and we kinda stuck out,
but that was fun sometimes and we all played it up. So what do
you do? You can learn a lot if you want to about the military,
and I thought, “well if I am crazy enough to go to a place like
this, then why not take advantage and learn about what the heck
this is all about”…. We hung out on BRADLEY TANKS and I took to
the driver seat which was in the front way down below close to
the tires, got to spin around the big guns, looked through the
scope and through some infrared goggles which one could see
really far away in the dark. We learned about M16 guns, held them
and heard strategies incase they needed to keep peace and fight
the Serbs. We also learned how much money everything costs, I
mean a huge amount of money, BILLIONS and BILLIONS. Each tank can
cost up to a billion. We learned about mines, and how people
build them. On one of the bases there was a mine museum and
people were happy to educate us about land mines. It’s so
psychological I swear. One kind of mine has a little mettle disk
that when a vehicle or tank drives over it, it explodes and sends
multiple metal disks inside and spins around sending metal pieces
flying at great speed and cuts everything in sight. Very
scientific actually! I learned something sick and that is that
mines are made to maim you, not necessarily kill you, so soldiers
would go back to camp feeling humiliated.

I learned that In Bosnia between 25% and 87% of households had
daily activities affected by land mines. One household in 20
reported a land mine victim, a third of these dying in the blast.

Some facts from the 90s-There are a total of 54,554 animals lost
due to landmines. Something like a 100 million mines are in place
in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Mozambique and a couple of dozen other
countries. It is estimated that 80 to 100 million landmines in 70
countries are yet to be found. In Cambodia 300 limbs are lost
each month to land mines…. All these killing machines is a lot to
take in, and it was all around us…

We were getting ready to leave Hungary and we were on our way to
Sarjeveo, Bosnia. In general, all of these trips to the
different bases in Hungary, Bosnia and Croatia were all a secret
regarding their location. No family members or other civilians
knew where the camps were. Family had an 800 number to Captain
Mee from Arlington VA. And that was it… By the way, try and use
that 800 number and see if you can get through haa haa… It never

Getting to some of the military bases was an experience. Small
roads with beautiful landscapes, wooden bridges made with details
of etchings and carvings, and then BAMM blown up buildings and
yellow tape with the word MINE all over it. I learned what
Princess Diana was trying to do and really never took it in until
I was in the middle of it. Oh my god it was incredible and
unbelievable… Land mines were everywhere on either side of us.
Learning about landmines on bases is very different then being in
an area with them all around you. There were blown up cars and
more blown up buildings. Towards Bosnia, the roads were really
narrow at some places, and we were on a buss so it was a little
scary. At times I thought it could be over if the driver slipped
over the edge just a tiny bit. It was sick, you could feel
death around you, hear crying in the streets, it was very sad.
Native Bosnians would come up to the car window and show their
deformities hoping to get something like money or food… Mothers
would drug their children to keep them quiet and beg for help.
Since the money was changing over there and you coulden’t use old
Bosnian money, kids would try and sell us old Bosnian money for
German money and other kinds of money. Sarejejo looked like it
was once a beautifull city. I know it was because my Uncle Milty
and Auntie Joan went to the Olympics in the 80s and I saw the
pictures. Now it felt like a depressed city. Blown up buildings
everywhere, destruction all around, red splattered paint in the
downtown market place symbolizing where 1,000’s of innocent
people had died. Yellow tape in many areas that read MINE, MINE,
MINE! We saw empty schoolyards and lots that you could not play
in because the mines had not been cleared yet; “why is that”?
You had to be really careful, REALLY CAREFUL…. The military
drilled us over and over about NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GOING OFF THE
PATH, and sometimes mines were three feet away from us. Only the
military knew where they were and chose not to remove them
because it was safer in the long run against the Serbs…
Accassionaly you would hear a mine explode and hope no one died.
The Military would tell us it was probably an animal that was
wandering around in the wrong place. I thought to my self does
anyone at home REALLY know what is going on over here?? We
walked around and went into places for coffee and food and met
people at the local pubs. I saw many young people that looked
like they had been through hell and back. Now they’re trying to
putt their life back together. We met people who told us stories
that they had watched best friends get shot and die right in
front of them and scrambled to save them selves. People would be
walking in town hand in hand and then one would be shot and
ripped away. They would tell us that so many people fled when
they could to other countries, but many of the young and stronger
ones stayed behind to keep their land and fight.. Pretty soon
people would go to the FREEDOM TUNNEL, which was underground and
went on forever and go through and get food for their families
and bring it back. It felt like a third world country, which I
guess it was and is. Now people are being forced to leave other
countries and come back and claim what’s left, A mine sweeper is
very expensive or so the military says so, removing mines takes a
really long time so the Bosnian people start sending cows out
instead of their children to help clear the mines.

We tried to put on a great show and I think we did, but at times
it was so hard and we had our own internal band drama, which I’m
sure the environment around us contributed to. In Sereajo,
Bosnia, around 200 people came out to see us. We had our show in
an old movie theater made out of coble stones and stain glass.
Kinda like a theater and a gothic church all in one. It made it
through the war and had an eerie vibe to it and great acoustics.
When we arrived in Bosnia we were taken to our housing facilities
and as usually I was walking ahead of everyone. We came to our
rooms and I struggled to get the door open. I turned and turned
the door handle until I finally broke it. Then a nice tall army
guy came to my assistance and with a crooked smile said, “I guess
no one told you that in Bosnia the door handles don’t turn, you
push the knob” I found that a little strange but now I know,
don’t turn, push…. We were exhausted and saddened from our week
in Bosnia. The snow was falling and everything looked so surreal.
I along with my guitar player seemed to be more adventurous, so
when we had down time we explored the area. Curly barbed wire
went around the base and it looked so beautiful with snow all
around it and then across the street there would be blown up
buildings with the yellow tape with the word MINE all over it. A
once beautiful hot spring was now contaminated but was still
beautiful to look at it through snowflakes. We wanted to explore
as much as we could and take it all in because, would we ever
come back? One never knows.

It was getting down to our last leg of the tour and we were now
on our way to Zagreb, Croatia… First stop Camp Caison. This camp
was very desolate. Not as many soldiers there but the ones who
were there were significant. That base was considered to be on
the front line. We had five Humvees on that trip. Many guns and
look out solders everywhere. For now every thing was quiet but
just in case all the tanks were in place for war. This was the
only place that had incredible chefs. The chefs were from Sweden.
They made gourmet food served on white tablecloths and in
beautiful candlelight. The soldiers made their environment as
beautiful as they could which I understand considering they were
in the middle of nowhere. It was nice to be able to perform for
these men and women. All types of men and women, straight, old,
gay, young and have a bonus with such great food. We stayed for a
couple of days and played some great music. We went for a ride on
the medical tank. The tank that goes out and rescues people on
the front lines or people who were stuck in a minefield. The
woman in charge was from Canada and was really fun to hang out
with. I really enjoyed that meeting… We were ready to go onto the
next adventure. We packed up and headed to Zagreb, Croatia for
our last gig. I think we ended up playing eighteen shows in
twenty-two days with a couple of days off in Budapest.

To back track a little, Budapest was a beautiful place. I
remembered the art and Hungarian culture, it was incredible. We
had a couple of days off and went to Budapest.. Buda the older
side and Pest the newer side with a bridge going to either side..
It was amazing! Beautiful architecture, coffee, food and wine..
We went to one place for dinner underground, walked through a
stone tunnel with tourches of big candles flikering, down and
down some more, past big wine barrles, then into a gothic looking
open dining area. We ate at this place down in the old wine
cellar, about 50 steps down with incredible gypsy Hungarian music
played right at your table. The chef would come to your table and
cook right there with wine and brandy. Flames flying in the air
and great people and food surrounding us. If you wanted to
participate in cooking you too could get up and cook at your
table. Tasting wine was different, your waiter would come over
with this thing that looked like a huge bagpipe and drip a little
wine in your mouth. This is a custom for men so of course I
wanted to try it. They were happy to ablidge and gave me a
sample. I splurged in Budapest and got my own room at this small
inn. I paid $15.00 a night haa haa to have my own space and peace
and quiet…. As I reflected on my Budapest trip it was time to go
for our last gig and adventure.

At one point there was not enough escorts for our last leg of the
trip so the Military decided to take a chance and send us to
Zagreb, Croatia without an escort… You know, must save money.
They felt it was pretty safe. I was irritated because our bus
driver did not speak a word of English. And what if we broke down
or got into an accident or the police pulled us over or there was
gunfire from a sniper. And we were going on a route that was
notoirus for having land mines. The military said they never pull
over for the police because you never no…. And that there is so
much hostility with the Serbs that you can’t take any chances for
an attack. So we won’t pull over and “don’t worry”! But we made
it though at one point the bus driver started to fall asleep at
the wheel and was swerving all over the place. We were all trying
to make lots of noise by turning up the VCR and talking and
singing very loud to keep him awake. All on tiny roads with land
mines all around. The driver got lost in Zagreb, Croatia for over
an hour before we arrived at the United Nations base.

I would say that there were a lot of Generals and officers from
all over the world in Croatia more then any of the other military
bases we visited. Every country had their own Army fatigue
version. After a while you started to know who was from which
country by their fatigue pattern and hats. The party army-The
Norwegians, knew how to party, they would hoot and holler the
loudest at our shows. One night a solider boy took off his shirt
and gave it to me for a momentum. Those boys and girls were so
glad to see some entertainment because they mostly would be on
guard outside in sub degree weather watching for any sign of
trouble… The Candianians were pretty vocal along with the French
and the Italians, but the Americans were quiet, always on good
behavior, which I found a bit odd. Most all of the bases we
played were dry bases. No alcohol aloud, too close to the front
line. Of course that did not stop me from having a small bottle
of Hennessey Cognac with one of my band mates to keep the chill
off in cold snowy weather, along with the sweet officer who
shared some hash with me on top of a tank now and then.

Strange world! After every show literally everyone would come
rushing to the stage wanting autographs or to talk to someone
other then another army person. We felt like stars. Some of the
soldiers would have tears in there eyes because they could not
believe we would come so far to the middle of nowhere to an
unsafe place and bring a little home reality to them. Some of the
solider boys and girls looked so young and innocent and I would
ask them why they would join the army? Some would respond saying
that they saw a commercial with solders driving tanks and
thought, “I want to do that”. Mostly the girls said this. Some
people would say that they were poor and their family was poor
and had no education and it was a way to be set up for life, if
one could last there for a while. But this particular military
base had the most international feel of them all; everyone
involved was part of the United Nations. At the base in Zagreb,
Croatia lied a brick wall that came up to your waste and
surrounded the base. Names of everyone who had fought and died in
the war were embedded in the bricks. And when we got to Zagreb,
it was almost dark so we saw candles flickered in the dark
honoring the loved ones who had left them behind. At night it was
very surreal to walk around and see that so many people had died.
The bricks were a symbol to the NATO troops to let them know that
they took too long to get involved…Zagreb, Croatia was great to
explore. One day I got lost downtown while exploring on my own.
Made it to a beautiful cathedral and started walking around
wondering how to get back to the base.. 2 nuns walked over to me
and started talking. I told them who I was and what I was doing
in Croatia and I was a bit lost to where the base was. They ended
up adopting me for the day. Showed me all around Zagreb, fed me
incredible food from their garden. I will always remember the
Sisters there… I did find my way back to the base and started
getting ready to perform..

Croatia was one of our best gigs with so many people from all
over the world. It was an international convention of NATO and we
were entertaining about 1,000 people. At one point the big
General of Croatia, (a strong looking woman) came up to the stage
and presented us with a plaque that thanked us for our
participation and gave us all metals of honor for coming so far
to boost the moral of the United Nations. A Bob Hope, Marilyn
Monroe moment. It was actually very moving. We finished up the
evening and had little sleep that night before leaving the next
day to go home. Going home was almost as bad as when our
bandleader had to stay an extra day before meeting us in Germany.
We went to this tiny Airport and checked our baggage in and the
airplane people told me to empty my suitcase. We were in a hurry
and I thought why? They said we don’t allow anything on the
airplane with batteries in it. So I opened my suitcase and took
the batteries out of my flashlight and a little clock. I packed
everything back and gave it to them. Mean while my other band
mates were running to the plane and said they would do everything
they could to delay the flight until I could get to the gate.
Again the Croatians airline people said you have something in
your suitcase with a battery in it. I could not believe it.
Didn’t they know that I had a plane to catch? Once again I looked
and finally found a light you attach to a book, ripped out the
battery, stuffed everything in my suitcase and ran like hell for
the plane. Sure enough, the girls got the plane to wait for me. I
was the last one aboard, everyone clapped and I was on the tiny
plane embarked for Frankfurt Germany then home. When we got to
Germany, everyone went their separate ways. I was going to San
Francisco and the other girls were doing a little more traveling
before going back to Los Angeles. That was one good thing about
doing a DOD tour. You can go anywhere for an extra two weeks and
the Army will pick up the airfare from where ever.. That was
great along with the $100- per show. We were paid for the whole
darn tour right when we arrived at the beginning. I ended up
sending 85% of my money back to the US since most everything was
paid for.

I had a great tour and would do it again. Look, I’m not pro
military or pro war, getting a gig to entertain NATO was a life
experience that I will never forget. I hope in the future we wont
have to have gigs like this one or a need for PEACE KEEPING or
ATTACKING, I hope we can learn to help educate not decimate.
Teach our children right. …. Many people are still dying over
there and many other places in the world as well. Who ever came
up with the term ETHNIC CLEANSING is sick and I will never
understand it or war. Landmines are an evil form of warfare. They
kill and can keep killing long before any conflict ends. They
don’t cost much to build but costs plenty to find and destroy.
The mines have got to be cleared and mines in general have got to
be wiped out and stop being invented and made… As Princess Diana
said, “Lets wake up, take notice and do something about it”.