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Christmas Day, 1966: The Bob Hope Show.

By Harry Kieninger

   We are taking a trip down memory lane.

   Tonight we give you Christmas at Cu Chi, 1966.

   The words are Harry Kieninger's. You may visit with Harry at Medic.

   The photo is courtesy of Mike Pectol,   focus11b from Arty.
   The soldier in the picture, decorating a tree from home, is Phil Costantino, focus11 from '66-'67.
   Thank you for sharing.

   And, Bob, "Thanks for the memories."
                Christmas Day, 1966:  The Bob Hope Show.

            Every man and women stationed at Cu-Chi base camp was tired, sick of the war and were in need of a glimpse of home and a hope that the real world still existed. That Hope was soon to be but for security reasons nobody knew he was coming until the day
before. We just couldn't believe this great man was actually going to be there. The show was to start at noon sharp but was an hour late because of security threats.

            The theater he was appearing in was a security threat within itself. It was an old open air theater made of old bamboo poles and rough cut wood and it was obvious it was not built by professionals. The whole stage in size was about the size of a semi-trailer. The crowd started gathering as early as 7:OOAM.

            The air was filled with excitement and the little butterflies were beginning to fly in the tummies. At this intense time it was like magic. It was like the war was on hold or
something, because let's face it, Bob Hope and war just don't mix.

            It was about 11:45 and with the thousands present it was like a King was coming. Suddenly it was 12:3O and we were getting worried that something was wrong. A staff sergeant announced that the delay was caused by some enemy fire on Mr. Hope’s convoy.
I believe every man there began praying for Bob's safe arrival. It seemed as though hours had passed and it was now 1:O5.

            Then it happened, we have no idea how he got on stage, nor how  Les Brown set up a 14 piece band in a matter of minutes but he was there and that’s all that mattered. Everyone was screaming and applauding Then in a very casual manner Bob Hope came walking to front stage swinging a golf club. He did a little dance, and then said, “I was just sitting around in my hootch so I thought I'd come over here and talk to you guys for awhile.” Phyllis Diller came out and told jokes and danced with Bob. The guys went wild when Joey Heatherton came out, she was beautiful and a sex symbol of the Sixties. Miss America was there; she sang and did a dance with Joey. Bob said so many jokes that we were falling out of our seats.

            The show was 1 hour long but it seemed like about 15 minutes.

            The time had come to close, so Bob, Delores and all  the entertainers lined up onthe stage.
            Bob Hope said, “We want you guys to know we are very proud of you and if the critics in the states were here today I know they would hang their heads in shame. We love you guys, we love you guys.”

            They sang silent night and we were all weeping. At the end of the song Bob Hope said again, “We love you with all our hearts and we'll see ‘ya when you get home.”

            We knew we were in war and hell, but for one day this brave man made things better. For one day he made us know that if you have Bob you have Hope.

            The crowd of soldiers was slow to leave, many of them sobbing with tears, but they were good tears; tears of relief from depression and pain.

            Thank you, Bob Hope, Thank You.
Harry Kieninger, Medic, Cu Chi, ‘67 When Can We Come Home? Understanding the Viet Nam Vet

Remember: Our forces are abroad this Christmas.

Send them Hope with a greeting from you.Defend America.
Our prayers for your safe return.


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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