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Interview with Judy Reed Russell [1/9/2004]

Michael Willie:

Today is Friday, January 9th, 2004, and this is the beginning of an interview with Judy Reed Russell at the Erhlinger Health Link Plus Office, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Ms. Russell was born on June 20th, 1942 and is now 61 years old. My name is Michael Willie, and I'll conduct this interview. Ms. Russell, could you state for the recording your name and its spelling, please.

Judy Reed Russell:

Judy Reed Russell, R-U-S-S-E-L-L.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Where were you born, Ms. Russell?

Judy Reed Russell:

I was born in Harriman, Tennessee.

Michael Willie:

Explain where Harriman is in relation to --

Judy Reed Russell:

Harriman is about 30 minutes south of Knoxville.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Judy Reed Russell:

H-A-R-R-I-M-A-N.

Michael Willie:

Okay. My grandfather, I should note, was ____+

Judy Reed Russell:

Oh, okay.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Tell me about your family. Did you have any brothers or sisters?

Judy Reed Russell:

Yes. I have two brothers and two sisters.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Older, younger?

Judy Reed Russell:

The two brothers are younger; the sisters are older.

Michael Willie:

Huh-huh. Now, you're born in Harriman. Were you raised there, also, spend your formative years there?

Judy Reed Russell:

Until I was about 12 or 13. We moved to Chattanooga then.

Michael Willie:

What did your parents do at that time or your dad?

Judy Reed Russell:

My dad had gone into the military and was missing.

Michael Willie:

Oh, really.

Judy Reed Russell:

So we moved down here to be close to two aunts, my mother's sisters.

Michael Willie:

Okay. So your dad had gone into the military.

Judy Reed Russell:

Yes. And had been missing for a number of years.

Michael Willie:

Okay. All right. Now --

Judy Reed Russell:

He served in the Battle of Normandy, and he had fought on the lines --

Michael Willie:

Wow.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- in the Battle of Normandy.

Michael Willie:

So -- and you were born in '42 so, obviously, you never met him -- or did you meet him?

Judy Reed Russell:

Well, I was four years old when I last saw him.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Now, you moved to Chattanooga, you're around 12 years old.

Judy Reed Russell:

Right.

Michael Willie:

Okay. And tell me about your education up to that time. You graduated high school?

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah. I went to Dickinson Junior High School. We don't have that here anymore. I was a cheerleader there. I had lots of fun. And went on to Central High School, graduated from there in 1960.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Judy Reed Russell:

And then I started a work scholarship at a college, but I had no money for personal items. And it was just such a struggle unless you had money coming in from somewhere.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

So I later went into the military.

Michael Willie:

Okay. And is that the reason, just to --

Judy Reed Russell:

No. I actually went in the military -- I had a burden for the Vietnam crisis, and I also wanted to get the GI Bill so I could finish out college, so I had a -- like, a dual purpose in going in.

Michael Willie:

So when was this, what year?

Judy Reed Russell:

This is about the mid '60s.

Michael Willie:

Okay. So at that time, number one, political climate; you're in the south, conservative --

Judy Reed Russell:

Right.

Michael Willie:

-- so it's not really unpopular, really, nationwide, it's not really unpopular. But, I mean, you said you had a burden for Vietnam.

Judy Reed Russell:

Well, I guess I wanted to serve. My sister's husband was in the Air Force, and my brother was in the Naval Air Force at that time, and my dad, of course, had been in the Army Air Force with the Battle of Normandy. And so, you know, I had the family flavor of the military.

Michael Willie:

Right. And GI bill, obviously, too.

Judy Reed Russell:

GI bill. And I thought I could finish college that way and, also, help my country at the same time.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Now, did you have any idea of what you wanted to do in the Air Force or --

Judy Reed Russell:

Well, they give you pretesting, you know, your recruiter does, and I topped out in administrative secretarial type testing. So I supposed it would be in that.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Judy Reed Russell:

But we really didn't get a choice. We kind of had to go wherever they put us.

Michael Willie:

That's just the way it goes. But they didn't make any promises; they just --

Judy Reed Russell:

No, they made no promises.

Michael Willie:

So when you join, what kind of a commitment are we talking about?

Judy Reed Russell:

A four-year commitment.

Michael Willie:

Okay. And no problem with the family? Obviously, you've got a brother and a sister --

Judy Reed Russell:

Oh, no, there was no problem with that.

Michael Willie:

Okay. All right.

Judy Reed Russell:

The family almost becomes insignificant at that point, except when you maybe come home and touch bases with your family members, if they happen to be on leave at that time.

Michael Willie:

All right. I mean, in fairness, you know, with your mom, does that tend to make you closer or did it tend to pull you -- make you not quite as close --

Judy Reed Russell:

Um --

Michael Willie:

-- if that's relevant.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- I don't think that's even relevant to anything --

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- because it was just an accepted thing of survival.

Michael Willie:

Gotcha.

Judy Reed Russell:

Survival was more of a problem back then than it is now.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Judy Reed Russell:

So you can kind of pick and choose now. You could not then.

Michael Willie:

Gotcha. Okay. So --

Judy Reed Russell:

As well, I should say.

Michael Willie:

Okay. So you joined the Air Force. Take it from there. What happens?

Judy Reed Russell:

Okay. I went to a tech school in Amarillo. I was at San Antonio for my basic training.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Judy Reed Russell:

Then I went to Amarillo --

Michael Willie:

Okay. Well, let's talk --

Judy Reed Russell:

-- for technical school.

Michael Willie:

-- first of all -- I just want to ask you about the basic training. Any point at which you think, huh?

Judy Reed Russell:

No. I loved it. I ____ marched everybody there and had some fun with -- my problem was, is not to get too tickled about everything, because I'd heard all these war stories and then -- and these military stories, and then when they would happen to me, I would just -- I would have to try not to laugh because it was just like they told me --

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- and they said, they're going to be mean to you and blah, blah, blah. And I would just try not to laugh because it was so funny because it was so exact as they had described it.

Michael Willie:

I see.

Judy Reed Russell:

So I went on through the six weeks basic training and finished that out and then went to the tech school for about six weeks, I believe.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Judy Reed Russell:

And it was at Amarillo, Texas.

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Judy Reed Russell:

And they sent me back to San Antonio. And when I got back there, I found out that my assignment would be in -- they had done all these clearances on me, top secret, secret, confidential, cryptographic -- and they had done all these clearances on me while I was at the tech school so, apparently, they already had in mind what they were going to do with me at that point.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

So they assigned me there at San Antonio, and I was there the rest of my tour.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And worked as a secretary to a captain and a senior master sergeant in the Air Force, and it was at a cryptographic school. And I can't really go that much into what -- what I did, but it was administrative type work.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And there is a real bond with these people that's in that building, because the building has no windows. We really -- I never learned how many floors it went underground. No one could come in there. Even -- at that time, it was President Johnson. Even he could not come in our building unless he had a need to know. You know, you had to have a clearance and a need to know. And so even the President of the United States could not come in there just at random. He would have had to be cleared.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

So it was that kind of security. We learned a lot about the Justice Department of the United States. We learned a lot about the fine work that J. Edgar Hoover did. We had one -- since it was a cryptographic training school, we had one person who came in there that was a spy. But he had very cleverly done his shenangling to get into the military and into this school. And while I was there, one of the most interesting things that happened is, they said, lockdown. That means you freeze right where you are. You do nothing. You can only breathe and stand there. And they come through, and they strip everybody down, they call it. And strip down means they can just check you. They can check you from head to toe, and they can check to see if you have money on you, if you have any foreign money on you, if you have anything suspicious about you. And at that time, that one person was confiscated. And he had been secretly investigated by J. Edgar Hoover. Nobody had not even a hint of an idea and, yet, we were in the secret stuff, and they took him and -- immediately took him out of the building and took him away.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

Because he was a Russian spy. And see, Russia was our big enemy at that time.

Michael Willie:

It was the height of the Cold War.

Judy Reed Russell:

Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Michael Willie:

We were right smack dab in the middle of the Cold War.

Judy Reed Russell:

I mean, if you were ever seen reading a Russian magazine, you would have been reported because it was that intense.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

Go ahead.

Michael Willie:

Was there -- I don't want to say a paranoia -- but, I mean, were they very, very -- like, did they check your mail, did they check your --

Judy Reed Russell:

They periodically checked everything. And you have to sign papers stating that. And they had -- they even will check you periodically after you're discharged.

Michael Willie:

Where?

Judy Reed Russell:

In your mail. And I noticed there for a while that, periodically, my mail would be checked.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And, of course, that was all right with me because I knew why I was there and what I was doing.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

And after I got out, I was glad they were doing their job.

Michael Willie:

Right. Exactly. Because you wouldn't want them, you know, like the spy to get out or whatever. Now, did that make for a tense work environment or --

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah. But, you know, everybody had a sense of humor. Whether they were an Army person in our midst or a Marine or someone else who had come in for certain reasons, and we all had a sense of humor. You know, they would -- when you're working that closely, you know, you could see all each other's flaws.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

So we'd kind of, you know, make fun of each other or, you know, say funny things.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh. But what about contact with people outside; I mean, was that voluntary?

Judy Reed Russell:

We get nervous when people start asking too many questions about what we were doing. Yeah, we would get tense.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

Because I'd say, well, if I tell you, then I have to have you arrested.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

So --

Michael Willie:

Don't tell me anything.

Judy Reed Russell:

So -- so --

Michael Willie:

All right. Now --

Judy Reed Russell:

But you learn what you can say. Like, I can say, I had a top secret clearance. I can say, I had a cryptographic clearance. I can say that I worked at the Department of Cryptographic Training, but then you stop there.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

You just really stop there.

Michael Willie:

So -- but as far as, like, leisure, relaxation, things that you did.

Judy Reed Russell:

Well, they had things on the base. They had a swimming pool. I dated a lot of the Air Force guys. I had a good social life.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And back then, they didn't have that many restaurants. But we would go to restaurants in the area or on the little River Walk there in San Antonio.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

People who have been there will know that --

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- River Walk.

Michael Willie:

Right. Everybody knows the River Walk now.

Judy Reed Russell:

And hold hands. Back then when you dated, you just held hands, you know, and -- but we -- you went places.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

We would go to different areas, and it was just pleasurable. Just always almost educational dates.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

So that was the extent there of the --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- social environment.

Michael Willie:

Did you kind of gravitate toward people with whom you could kind of relax and wouldn't have to worry?

Judy Reed Russell:

Well, I went to a local church there, so I had other contacts other than just military.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

But there's such a bond among the military that, you know, it's like there's just this understanding, and you know that when you meet them, that if we -- because we went on a number of alerts then. People don't talk about that much now you know, when you look back on the Vietnam war, but we did. And I had special ops, special training, in what they did to you as a prisoner of war. So sometimes, I would have little nightmares about that after I was out of the Air Force.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

Because those films are real. They're not, you know, just --

Michael Willie:

That's right. And you would be a valuable commodity.

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah.

Michael Willie:

Anybody who --

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah.

Michael Willie:

-- had that kind of information would be.

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah. And, of course, advised never to visit the Soviet Union or Russia as well. And --

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- I used to joke about, you know, how two-year olds are testy. And I said, I'd tell the Russians everything I knew if they put me in a room full of two-year olds. So there's a lot of little jokes that go around like that.

Michael Willie:

But does it -- and this might not be pertinent either -- but does it make you more guarded? Does it make you more --

Judy Reed Russell:

Very guarded. I began to watch the United States, and I would be almost amazed at how the television -- our freedom of speech --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- would overlap what should be guarded.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

It would take precedence over what should be guarded. That bothered me and has bothered me through the years. Because I think the people who are in the media should be far more cautious with our information. So, yes, that has bothered me.

Michael Willie:

But did it make you suspicious of others, also?

Judy Reed Russell:

Yes, I was suspicious. I was suspicious. To this day, I'm very alert. You know, you get where -- I got where I could recognize anybody, no matter if they had just civilian clothes on or sports clothes even, I could tell if they were an FBI agent or some person of that caliber.

Michael Willie:

Really.

Judy Reed Russell:

Because I just knew.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

It's like a thief knows another thief. Well -- that old cliché. You just knew. You knew who was that -- you could tell by the demeanor and how they carried themselves.

Michael Willie:

Right. Okay. Now, during this time, does it get -- is it fresh enough to where it doesn't kind of get you bogged down or --

Judy Reed Russell:

I have chosen not to ever let it get me bogged down. But I have great compassion for those who have stopped or part by their troubles because I don't know what they went through.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

When you see your best friend get his face shot off --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- you know, I can't even imagine that. So I don't know what they've been through. I don't know what my dad went through --

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- you know.

Michael Willie:

Right. Okay. Now, how long did you say you were there?

Judy Reed Russell:

It's a full four-year term --

Michael Willie:

Okay.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- as far as the military -- the Air Force is concerned.

Michael Willie:

Okay. Now, you had said that during this time, it affected your life in a number of ways.

Judy Reed Russell:

Oh, yeah. It's affected my life, mostly since I have been out. Even though I had worked for an extraordinary Captain and an extraordinary Senior Master Sergeant who became Chief Master Sergeant, fine caliber men, wonderful. And I learned a lot of stuff from them on just living and integrity and a lot of good things from them just having served --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- during that time.

Michael Willie:

Can I interrupt you for just one second?

Judy Reed Russell:

Sure.

Michael Willie:

I just want to say -- I didn't mean to jump out of this --

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah.

Michael Willie:

-- but I felt like I didn't want to push any further on --

Judy Reed Russell:

There's not much further I can say.

Michael Willie:

I didn't want to ask you anything which you really didn't feel comfortable talking about.

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah. Yeah.

Michael Willie:

But at any time, if you want to bring anything up back there or any things that you feel, feel free to do so.

Judy Reed Russell:

Well, after I got out -- let me backtrack even a little further. When I was six years old, there used to be an old program called "Dr. Morgan."

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And it was on the radio. We didn't have TVs then. We were just about to come into TVs. We did about two or three years after that. And I would sit and listen to Dr. Morgan on the radio all the time, every night. And he had a nurse named June, and June was always helping people. And I -- it sank in my heart then that I wanted to be a nurse.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

Well, through your high school and everything, you kind of get an idea that you -- like, I knew I wasn't good at math, and I didn't think I could ever go through nurse's training because I was not good in math, and math is a strategic type thing that you do when you're going to --

Michael Willie:

Statistics, right?

Judy Reed Russell:

Well, you go through measurements of medicines and so forth. And so you have to have pretty good basic math and a little bit of chemistry type training in the LPN program. This was licensed practical nursing.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And the RN, it's required even more. But so, I had wanted to be a nurse since I was that small. And did not. I got out and got a job as a secretarial. And still had that in my heart to be a nurse.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

While I was in the Air Force, where my barracks were located, all I could see was them bringing the Vietnam injured people back and watching them walk with their crutches or their arms, and I wanted to help them so much. And that's every day when you would come home --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- before you might go out for the evening or anything. Go to a church event. So I was always seeing these people. And I thought, awe, I wish I could be a nurse in there helping them. It just -- it -- it became deeper then.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And so that was an every day vision for me.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And --

Michael Willie:

Were you getting -- were you hearing --

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah. I would meet the people in passing. And I figure they -- they could wear their pajamas outside. So we would joke about, I'm going to talk to one of the pajama people. And so anyway -- but, you know, it was some interesting stories and, you know --

Michael Willie:

And at that time, too -- because you had something about the media -- and at that time, the media was really portraying it in a way where it was getting --

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah.

Michael Willie:

-- a lot of negative press.

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah. Because the biggest complaint was they didn't know who their enemy was.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And when you try to fight a war, you need to know who your enemy is.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

But anyway, I would listen to these people and talk with these people, and that was part of my social life as well when we touched on it before. And I would also talk to some of these people at my church. And I went to a really large church there. And so after I got out, I started back to college.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

I had had a little college before I went in. I finished up my degree eventually and went on to nurse's training. I finished up the nurse's training, and from that point on, I was able to help people; like it was so deeply embedded in my heart.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

I could really help them now because I knew what I was doing.

Michael Willie:

But -- I mean, did it feel right at that time? Was it the same --

Judy Reed Russell:

Real -- when I walked across the stage to get my diploma, the other student nurses and all their families and everybody stood up because they knew my heart, and they clapped --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- and I cried. And then I began this journey as a nurse --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- that -- where I've been able to really help people.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And now, I'm in private duty. I do private duty now. And -- but one of the things that happened, also, because of that degree, that GI bill degree --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- is it taught me enough things to off write a business. Now, I don't have a business, per se, but I went -- have since gone into developing a home called House of Judah. And House of Judah accommodates people who come here from other third world countries who are serving in ministry. You know, the Bible talks about the Fivefold Ministry; apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, pastors. And those men and women come and stay as long as they need to in America to develop connections into the churches here. And they have a free place to stay, and they would not have a place to stay. There's no -- nowhere where they can stay in the United States when they visit like that. They can't go get food from the food banks because they're visitors. They can't go stay with the church people because most of the husbands and wives work. So they have -- they have -- they get over here, and they come over here by -- it's called by faith. And that means they've come with no money and their churches -- everybody they know have gotten enough money for a round trip ticket for them.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And they've got a certain amount of time that they've got to make their contacts. What has happened since then is I've put them in contact with missionaries.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And then, ultimately, the missionaries go over there and take the missionary medical supplies, foods. And a lot of times, these are rural areas, like the rural areas of Kenya or Uganda or Ghana or Haiti or different -- just, you know, any of the countries --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- where there's -- they have no government to help the rural areas. And it's kind of like a little quiet ministry going in and going on. You go in -- the missionaries go in, they help, and they do follow-up visits. And so people who -- who have so little are able to finally get medical help and foods. I remember what touched my heart very much when I first started this. A Pastor in one of the remote areas of Kenya -- Isaac Obure is his name. And Pastor Isaac wrote me an e-mail and said, I've gone into Kisumu, I'm at a computer site. I wanted you to please pray for our people. This is the season where they die off because of lack of food. And so that, you know, that really touched my heart.

Michael Willie:

Well, and it makes it real.

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah.

Michael Willie:

I mean, when I think so many people are just not aware, or, if they are aware, it's very easy to not think about it --

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah.

Michael Willie:

-- you know.

Judy Reed Russell:

And so you even have a problem when you send the things, because a lot of times, over there, their rules are not strict like ours. So a lot of times, the people will -- in the mailing, would steal it on the way. So I learned ways to mail things. Like, open your rice first and take some of it out and tape it back. That way, they have a difficult time selling it on the black market. So you learn to open things and make it look like it's been invaded and then they don't bother with those. So you learn a lot of things like that. And I think, also, my military background made me far more aware of cultures at large because of what I did. I was in a strategic place where I learned geography and cultures. And so when I began helping, not only did my military service background become a help that way, but my -- also, my Bachelor's Degree in Organizational Behavior was an asset. So see, ultimately, the military provided that --

Michael Willie:

The GI bill --

Judy Reed Russell:

-- to help. Yeah. To help. Help these little rural areas all around the world.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And if you take it back, it goes back to that GI bill --

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- and that training that I had.

Michael Willie:

Let me ask you this: Does that -- and I know you felt a need to help. And does that -- does it feel like you're filling that need?

Judy Reed Russell:

Oh, the greatest fulfilment in the world. And then you start helping some of these people at some of these places, and then you finally meet them --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- and you feel like they're your brother or your sister.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

I met a woman of -- a wife of one of the pastors that I had helped. And when I met her, I just -- we just hugged and cried because, you know, we had learned of each other through her husband and through the e-mail. They have to really sacrifice to get to e-mail, but it's just about all over the world now, so . . .

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh. All right. Well, I don't know what else to ask you now so you need to talk.

Judy Reed Russell:

Oh, well, I could -- on the nursing part of my experience. It's like everybody has their niche.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And, you know, you can take a technical person and put them over in a nursing assistant job, and they don't fit.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

They really don't fit.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

Or vice versa. But when you find your niche, you're at home there. So my helping people does not feel strenuous or problematic. It's part of me. I love parties. I have worked for years now as a volunteer with American Red Cross in disasters. I served in TWA flight 800 air traffic accident in New York. And, of course, with my background in top secret work and everything, I kept migrating over trying to get some information out of the FBI, which was a joke, because they weren't saying anything. And I would have gotten more information out of CNN. But anyway . . . And I served on a homestead there in Florida -- and I think that was about '92, was it not -- when they had the big hurricane --

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- near the Miami area, and I served that. And it was horrendous. You know, we drove 25 miles, and it just looked like a war zone.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

Commodes in the middle of the street, boats in people's backyards, you know, that had been blown there.

Michael Willie:

Right. But it's -- it's, I think, very rare when a person's heart can meet the skill.

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah.

Michael Willie:

And they can come together, and you really can do some good.

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah. That's -- see, that's another thing I'm grateful, too, for the United States Government because they helped me get to my niche.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And my niche is the fulfillment of my life.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

It's as fun as going to one of these Christian parties or gatherings. It's as fun to me on the inside --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- because it's such a fulfillment.

Michael Willie:

Right. See, my wife is waiting until the kids leave before she --

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah.

Michael Willie:

Honestly. I mean, she wants to join the Peace Corps, and she's been wanting to do it all her life.

Judy Reed Russell:

Wonderful.

Michael Willie:

And we're bogged in.

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah.

Michael Willie:

We've got to raise our kids.

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah.

Michael Willie:

So you're lucky enough to be able to realize that.

Judy Reed Russell:

Well, I asked one of the Africans once when they were over here at the House of Judah, the little ministry house, I said, what's the most amazing thing to you about America. And I've gotten to where I ask that all the time since. And they said, your roads. We have no good roads in our countries. And he said, your array of foods. Because we were always taking them to some place like Golden Corral's or ____ or something where there's this vast array of food, you know. And they were just blown away. And, of course, they couldn't eat much there. They're not used to eating much. But they were amazed that we had places like that.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And then they would say, your denominations. They said, over there, we're so glad to find another Christian --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- or anyone who comes to help, including people like the Peace Corps --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- or some other organization. And a lot of these countries -- just to put it real bluntly -- the Muslims will just shoot them to death. And so they've had family members shot by the Muslims. And, again, not to say every Muslim would be this violent or anything, but it's just the way of life with some of these people over there. And so they're so glad to find another Christian that they were --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- amazed by our denominations.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

You know, sometimes over here, the Catholics and the Baptists get to arguing or something, and it's -- it's an effort in futility, almost, because over there, they connect together --

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- tight.

Michael Willie:

Well, there's a bond.

Judy Reed Russell:

Yes.

Michael Willie:

There's not a competition; it's a bond.

Judy Reed Russell:

A great bond. And so what happens is, they begin to work together real quickly and steadily no matter what denomination they are over there. So they were amazed at our denominations here.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And so this is a funny story with one of the -- two of the Africans, too.

Michael Willie:

Hold on a second. (Interview at 30:00 was interrupted.)

Michael Willie:

Okay. Tell me your story.

Judy Reed Russell:

Okay. One of the funniest incidences that happened in two of the ministers coming over here; one from Uganda and one from Kenya. I had my cousin Glen Russell with me in my vehicle, and we were going down Brainerd Road near Chattanooga, and we were -- I kind of said a little private prayer, and I said, God, what would these gentlemen be intrigued with or fascinated by. Show me something that I can do. Because they'd just gotten here, you know. And so I thought, oh, well, we'll go through the Krispy Kreme Drive Thru. So we went through the Krispy Kreme Drive Thru. There was absolutely no one else there during that time of day. We got -- I asked for a half a dozen glazed doughnuts with a half dozen chocolate glazed doughnuts. We got them -- and plus coffee. And so Glen and I each got a doughnut and just handed all the rest of them back to them. And they started laughing and laughing, and they laughed so hard that they cried. And I said, you all have got to tell me what you're laughing about. And they explained that it would take their villages three weeks to make anything comparable to a doughnut. They said, we'd have to find someone who had some kind of sweetener. Maybe someone would have honey or maybe someone would have to have something that was sweet. We'd have to find somebody that even had an oven. We would have to find somebody else that had something like a flour substance. And by then, by the time we had got these made, it would take us about three weeks. And he said, we got the doughnuts in three seconds.

Michael Willie:

Isn't that something.

Judy Reed Russell:

And so they were laughing because it was so -- and they were saying, only in America, only in America. So I thought that was one of the cutest things that I had seen. And you know, you see these different responses of the different men and women who come here. And you're serving them. And different people begin to help them as well. Like the different churches or different individuals in the churches. And they begin helping these people, taking them around, helping them get clothing. You know, different things. Making the proper connections for their orphanages and so on. Because over there, most of the countries -- like, if your sister died or -- and her husband, those children are automatically yours by law. So they often end up with many children, even though they may have three of their own.

Michael Willie:

Right. Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

So you learn their cultures. You learn what they're doing. And you learn how to best help them and connect with them. Again, a lot of this goes to what I had learned in the Air Force and about the countries, the connections, the cultures, the ones to watch out for. And that was an interesting question you asked me earlier about suspicious, because there for a while, right when you're first out, you're really suspicious of everybody.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

And --

Michael Willie:

And you think they're going to be doing checks on you, right? I mean --

Judy Reed Russell:

Yeah. Yeah. And then bringing it up to this day with this ministry, you learn to be very alert, too. Like, if someone just calls out of the clear and wants to stay at your home, you know, all of my legal antennas go up, because now, I've almost got a Master's in Criminal Justice and so that, you know, that makes me more aware of things, too. And so we've had a few that come into America, and they do it under the Christian disguise, and they've turned out to be business people who -- they come here to try to promote their business. They have a little bit of the right language. But, you know, another good thing on behalf of our country -- and I know people may complain -- but they've beefed up the security, and it's really wonderful that they have.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

I think that this is one of the best things they've ever done. Because now, those people can't come in to try to con America as easily.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

And we even have a way of checking these people out as far as who stays with us. Again, that was some of the skills I learned in the Air Force.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And we have a way of checking them out so that we won't get fooled. I don't think we'll ever have another con person go through. We had only had two.

Michael Willie:

I've just got to ask you this: How did you -- how did you end up getting your -- or going towards a Master's in Criminal Justice?

Judy Reed Russell:

After I got my Bachelor's in Organizational Behavior, I was very interested in the whole legal system. I have a cousin who's a United States Judge and another cousin who was a detective, and, you know, those kind of things. And I am very intrigued with different facets of our law, and there again, a lot of that goes back to the training I was in in the Air Force where I worked. And I wanted a Master's in -- and I felt like Criminal Justice was best suited to me, because you get a lot into research methodology and social and cultural things and legal things. And also, I was the first woman who ever ran for City Council in District Four.

Michael Willie:

Really.

Judy Reed Russell:

First women ever.

Michael Willie:

I'll be darn.

Judy Reed Russell:

So I had a little bit of a legal, political interest anyway. So that's kind of how I got into the Criminal Justice --

Michael Willie:

That's --

Judy Reed Russell:

-- area.

Michael Willie:

-- interesting because, I mean, it's just -- you just kind of through it out there --

Judy Reed Russell:

Well --

Michael Willie:

-- and took me by surprise.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- one almost springboards off the other. And it realizes that even with the good Lord, you know that -- you think, Jesus, why am I doing this right now, and you realize that your -- all of your -- it's like God uses your whole background to do what you do at the present.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

And in the ways that I now serve, little ways that I serve the whole military scene, which is just in a small way, in my own local Chattanooga here --

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- is at the Veterans Clinic. I'll take over a whole big container of sandwiches. When it's 11 o'clock, and they're going to have to be waiting there until 2:00 or 1:00, and that gives them a little lunch, you know Or I'll take -- one Easter, I did this. I took those little plastic Easter eggs, and I put little Easter candy in there, except for few of them. And in a few of them, I put gold coins. So I know they were probably picking up the Easter eggs thinking they were going to eat a little bit of the candy like the others were, and they would open it up, and it will be a gold coin. Of course, it's the gold dollar bill.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

And it's a gold coin.

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

And I just -- you know, you do little things like that --

Michael Willie:

Right.

Judy Reed Russell:

-- just to lift their day or make them laugh or tie them over nutritionally or something of that nature. So I really enjoy doing that. And I just take them in there and leave them there with the security officer and then leave. And it's just my little part still helping the military.

Michael Willie:

What's next?

Judy Reed Russell:

I don't know. I think that there's more, though. That's the reason I'm reacting to you.

Michael Willie:

You have so much energy that maybe you do have a list.

Judy Reed Russell:

I thought, wow, I can't go on social security yet, I'm too busy. I have to wait until I'm -- you know, they've changed that a little bit. I have to wait until I'm 65 and 11 months before I can go on social security. And I thought, I don't have time for that. I just really do not have time for that. And so you keep, you know, plugging away.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh. Is your family involved in your work with you at all?

Judy Reed Russell:

No. Other than my children totally -- I had three children, and they totally promote me in what I do. And you know, they'll say, mom, can we help any, in whatever I'm doing. And they're -- two of them, my son and daughter-in-law, my middle son, he is the assistant in the House of Judah Ministry, so he helps a lot there. He and his wife. But -- but we're all busy, I guess you would say. I guess we all have that energy.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

But the sad parts that I saw and experienced and had to watch, and I think that what has happened is I have turned it around to make their day good.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

If it's somebody in my life, make their day good.

Michael Willie:

Uh-huh.

Judy Reed Russell:

Or encourage them for the day. Because I have an oath saying that I just developed myself and I just have followed it; is don't park by your troubles. And after you have lived to age 61, which I am, you've gone through some troubles, and you just learn not to park there. Just go on, you know. If you get a broken bone, one leg is shorter than the other, go get rehabilitation through bone stretching technique and get them both evened back out. You know, take a negative and make a positive.

Michael Willie:

Not generalizing there, right?

Judy Reed Russell:

No.

Michael Willie:

All right. Well, I personally want to thank you for taking the time to come down here.

Judy Reed Russell:

You're welcome.

Michael Willie:

Is there anything else you'd like to talk about?

Judy Reed Russell:

Not really. I just -- you know, if I had anything to say to the veterans is, you know, take your lemons and turn them into lemonade.

Michael Willie:

That's wonderful. Thank you so much for coming down. I appreciate it.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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