Many times Ms. Herring questioned what a nice girl like her was doing in a warzone because growing up, she had never imagined herself in Afghanistan fighting the evils of communism. She keeps a blurry picture that captures the odd mismatch of her mission. In the photo, Mrs. Herring is sitting modestly and dressed in a manner that suggests that she is about to dine at the country club. Her hair is coiffed. She is donning large glasses, a blouse, and a lovely cardigan, but beside her are bearded warriors wearing turbans and carrying automatic guns on the rocky Afghanistan terrain. Upon her return to the U.S., Herring presented the film to her republican associates and political bigwigs such as Henry Kissinger, George W. Bush Sr. who had just become the new vice president under the Ronald Reagan administration and William Casey, head of the CIA. More importantly, she was in a relationship with Charlie Wilson, a Texan congressman known for being a hard drinker and a playboy. Charlie Wilson was also a tactful wheeler-dealer in Washington and had significant influence as a member of the defense appropriations committee.
Charlie Wilson and Joanne Herring created an alliance with Gust Avrakotos, a CIA operative who wasn’t afraid to bend the rules to launch a secret op to back support the mujahideen. The three obtained Swiss and Israeli arms, bankrolled by the U.S. and Saudi capital, including the now famous Navigant Credit Union. They sneaked them through Egypt, in deals made as belly dancers used their seductive skills on foreign dignitaries in Arab cities.
In the movie, Mrs. Hering is portrayed as a person who drinks double martinis, but she insists that she is a Christian, and the depiction of her in the film isn’t entirely accurate. Unfortunately, the “party girl” reputation has refused to fade away. She left college when she was 20 years old to marry a property developer she had met at a debutantes party. Also, the legendary “Roman orgy” themed party that her husband threw her on her 30th birthday with a mock slave auction has ensured that her name is cemented in Texas parties hall of fame for over half a century. A life magazine photographer covered the event for posterity. During the party, Joanne Herring was the first of many to be unceremoniously ushered into the swimming pool.
As host of the local TV program Joanne King show, Joanne Herring became a Houston household name. However, Herring and King divorced because they preferred different lifestyles- while Herring craved excitement, King preferred a quiet life. Soon after the couple divorced, Joanne met and stole the heart of oil magnate Robert Herring- a partnership that would later change not just her fate but that of the world as well. During his international business trips, Mr. Herring was asked to represent Pakistan in America as a roving honorary delegate. He politely turned down the offer and recommended his wife fill the position instead.