Patsy "Dianne" Hatley
Patsy “Dianne” Hatley was born in Concord, North Carolina. She grew up in a hard-working, middle class family, as both her parents worked for Cannon Mills. In ninth grade, Dianne had a teacher who made quite an impression on her. Her teacher inspired her to “do better” in life but also passed on her experiences in the U.S. Air Force. Those stories helped Dianne make the decision to join the Air Force when she became 18.
In 1966, Dianne set out for basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. She made quite a career for herself in the military mostly working in the air field management field with such assignments as filing flight plans for pilots and air to air refueling scheduling. Her duty locations took her around the U.S., including Hawaii, but also overseas to Germany, Thailand, and Vietnam. In 1973, Dianne was stationed at Base Ops Saigon in Vietnam during the War. She felt “so lucky to be working” to see the POWs released. Her details of what she experienced seeing them return home are quite moving.
After dedicating 21 years to the Air Force, Dianne made the decision to retire from the military. She was living back in North Carolina and did not know what to do with herself so she decided to make use of her GI Bill. She enrolled in a community college, where she was eventually asked to work in adminstration. She eventually left that position to train as a police/fire dispatcher. This job lead her to work in other areas of emergency response, such as a 911 operator and a corrections officer at a minimum security prison. Eventually, she made the decision to completely retire and enjoy life with her dogs, which were like her children.
Dianne began travelling because in the back of her mind she knew she would not be able to travel as much one day. Her journeys took her to Scotland, Ireland, Tahiti, Canada, Alaska, and the Caribbean. She sailed on at least 14 cruises.
Also in her spare time, Dianne has served as a member, past president, and is currently assistant treasurer for Vietnam Women Veterans, Inc. (non-nursing field). Together with some of these women, she provided some of her experiences in the publication, Women Vietnam Veterans: Our Untold Stories, by Donna A. Lowery. In addition, she meets and works with these women at their organization’s biannual conference. In 2012 at their conference held in Biloxi, Mississippi, Dianne toured AFRH-G. She then made the decision to move to AFRH-G when she lost the last of her canine babies. Sadly, her sweet Darcie passed a few years later. Dianne submitted her application for the Gulfport campus. She was accepted and began the process of moving. She sold her home but soon found she could not report due to COVID restrictions. She had to live in a hotel for four months until the home was able to allow new residents to move in. She has been at AFRH-G since April 2021 and enjoys it. She makes the most of her new home by playing in most of the recreation games (she even places sometimes!), enjoying the people, and keeping a good attitude.