PRESERVING A MILITARY LEGACY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
The following Reflection represents LTC Gary Crowden’s legacy of their military service from 1969 to 1990. If you are a Veteran, consider preserving a record of your own military service, including your memories and photographs, on Togetherweserved.com (TWS), the leading archive of living military history. The Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Military Service Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.
Of all your duty stations you were assigned to from your Military Service, which one(s) do you have fondest memories of and why?
It was a bright sunny day in Vietnam, and the word was out, “Bob Hope is coming to town!” The troops had waited all year to see Bob Hope, Les Brown and his Band of Renown, and of course, the “Gold Diggers.” On the day that the Christmas Show was to be given, my Squadron Commander summoned me to his office and gave me a mission. As the unit’s adjutant, I was used to getting some bazaar tasks, but this one was out in left field. The mission, “Captain, take this Black Cavalry Hat and personally give it to Bob Hope and asked that he wear it on stage.” Simple right? Wrong.
Bob Hope landed at Eagle pad and was immediately surrounded by security; no chance to get him the hat at this point. He was rushed off to a compound surrounded by a fence that even sappers could not get through. Because I did not have the proper clearances, I was stopped by a burly 6’6″ 250-pound MP. As I waited outside the gate, I was pleasantly surprised by seeing twelve of the most gorgeous women parade right in front of me. These, of course, were Dean Martin’s Gold Diggers. After being in Nam for over 10 months without seeing American women, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. But I had to remain focused on the mission. The mission, yes, the mission, hat to Hope. As I contemplated my next move, I saw someone inside the fence giving directions to everybody. In a last-ditch effort, I yelled to get his attention. I did. He came over to me, and I asked him to give the Cavalry Hat to Bob Hope and told him that my military career depended on Mr. Hope wearing the hat on stage. I think he felt sorry for me because the next thing I knew, I was inside the fence heading for Mr. Hope’s air-conditioned trailer. Imagine my surprise when this individual told me that I was going to give the hat to Mr. Hope myself! We knocked on the door to find Bob Hope eating a sandwich and talking with Jim Nabors; yep, Gomer Pile himself. I presented the hat to Mr. Hope and said it was from the officers and men of the 2nd Squadron 17th Cavalry 101st Airborne Division. I asked if it would be OK if I took his picture, and he said, “Captain, let’s you and I go outside where the lighting is better, and Jim will take our picture.” So we did. On that December day, Bob Hope did wear that Cavalry Hat on stage. The troops went wild, and my military career continued for another 20 years.
In a land that at that time was filled with uncertainty and bad memories for many, Bob Hope provided us a brief moment where happiness and thoughts of home provided us relief from the destruction and death that surrounded us on a daily basis. It was an honor and a privilege to have met “the man.” He was loved by soldiers of seven decades. He is missed.
Read the Military Memories of our Runner-Ups.