Documents show Fort Drum declined Hugh Hefner's 'blank check' offer of Playboy magazines, model visits in Somalia
By GORDON BLOCK | Watertown Daily Times | Published: September 29, 2017
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) -- Officials with the 10th Mountain Division carefully deliberated their response to a "blank check" offer by Playboy magazine to supply soldiers deployed to Somalia with a laundry list of items, including free magazines.
The offer in 1993 also included autographed photos, sponsorship of one or more platoons, a visit by Playboy models and the division "providing a list of single male soldiers for female correspondence."
The internal deliberations were released by the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Museum, which mentioned the letter after the passing of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner Wednesday at the age of 91.
"It's not an offer we'd see today," said Kent Bolke, the museum's curator.
A memo to the division chief of staff, Maj. Martin J. Culp II, public affairs officer, said the division's options were to decline the offer entirely or accept a portion or all of Playboy offer, working it through the Adopt-a-Platoon program or through Army public affairs.
The major recommended that the division reject the offer, noting it could be used as a "tool in the current anti-American campaign in Somalia."
"Our apparent insensitivities to the Islamic culture could be used to further fuel anti-American fervor," Maj. Culp said.
The major also pointed out the recent controversy from the Tailhook scandal that took place in 1991, when dozens of women were assaulted by members of the Navy and the Marines at a Las Vegas hotel where the Tailhook Association was having its annual convention.
"The impression the American public would get could be extremely damaging to the U.S. Army," Maj. Culp said. "Even if we took some measures to guard against publicity, it would be naive to think that Playboy would not generate their own. Playboy's publicity might imply tacit endorsement by the U.S. Army."
Bolke said there was more to the letter than just the novelty of such a request.
"Once you look beyond the surface, you realize the division sat down and took this seriously, and went through the steps to see if it's a good idea, what are we going to do in reference to it," Bolke said. "I think they made the right decision."
The Playboy founder's past military service was noted on the official Facebook page of the Army.
Hefner enlisted in the Army as an infantry clerk in 1944. At the time also wrote and created cartoons for military newspapers until 1946.
The New York Times contributed to this report.
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