Subscribe

DA NANG — Nearly 20,000 GIs packed a hillside here Christmas Eve to watch the military's answer to Woodstock: the Bob Hope Christmas Show.

The audience, U.S. servicemen from southern Military Region I, cheered enthusiastically throughout the two-and-one-half hour performance.

"I'd like to thank Brig. Gen. Arthur Sweeney of the Da Nang Support Command for the use of this pasture," quipped the 67-year-old entertainer, obviously pleased with the huge crowd that overflowed the Freedom Hill amphitheater and spilled out onto the neighboring hillside.

Hope sang, strolled through a soft shoe routine with actress-dancer Lola Falana, and rattled off one-line jokes like a smoking minigun.

This was the second Vietnam performance of Hope's Christmas tour. He entertained troops Tuesday at Camp Eagle and then polished his show Wednesday with a performance in Bangkok.

There were several changes in the show following the Eagle performance. A number of jokes about Las Vegas millionaire Howard Hughes were dropped after they received a poor response from GIs at Camp Eagle Tuesday.

Hope cracked about women's fashions, marijuana, his golfing partner Vice President Spiro Agnew, and campus radicals.

"There is so much bombing back home now it makes you guys look like draft dodgers," he said.

Hope was bolstered by a bevy of beautiful girls. The dancing of the Golddiggers and Dingalings kept all eyes to the front while the singing of Gloria Loring and Bobbi Martin drew appreciative cheers.

Jennifer Hosten, Miss World, and baseball star Johnny Bench are also in Hope's entourage.

It was Miss Falana, however, who stopped the show with a sizzling rendition of "Fever."

Some troops came from as far away as Quang Ngai to see the performance. Tickets for the 8,000 grandstand seats were allocated to units based on current troop strength but a military spokesman said that no one was turned away.

Spec. 5 Mike Bukley and Sgt. Jerry Kosakowski were among 12 people from the 4th Bn., 173rd Airborne Brigade who traveled to Da Nang by C123 Thursday morning after their names were drawn out of a hat.

"The show was definitely worth the hassle we had to go through to get here," Bukley said. "We had all sorts of lineups and formations to make with people yelling at us and earlier this morning I had my doubts. But now I wouldn't hesitate to do it again."

Before the grand finale, Adm. John S. McCain, commander of all U.S. troops in the Pacific, presented Hope with a golf bag for his now famous driver. It was covered with insignia representing units in the Pacific command.

McCain made a few comments, referring to the troops as "boys." A number of people in the audience took offense at the admiral's choice of words and there was some shouting from the bleachers. Without losing his composure, McCain shot back, "You didn't like that, did you?" He cut short his comments by wishing the men the best of holiday greetings.

"You're fine men and I'm damn proud of you," he said, leaving the stage to a hearty ovation.


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up