This Warrior Wednesday is a little different…
The shameful way our troops were treated when they came home from Vietnam hopefully served to show how much our troops need the support of those they fight for. One organization has been dedicated to supporting our troops for over 70 years. You might recognize the United Service Organization– better known as the USO.
The USO has centers at or near military installations across the country and around the world, including in combat zones, some which are un-staffed in places too dangerous for anyone but combat troops to occupy. They are not part of the federal government, but they are chartered by Congress, volunteer staffed, private organization, and relies on the generosity of individuals, organizations and corporations to support its activities.
They do many things to help and support our troops and their families, but what the USO maybe most known for, is their trademark tours which brings some of ‘home’ to our troops oversees and puts on shows with notable American entertainers.
Of course, the most notable of all was Bob Hope who made his first USO appearance at Munda Airstrip in the Solomon Islands in October 1944. Hope headlined 57 USO tours, giving U.S. military men and women serving in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and even past the Gulf War a taste of home and happiness. Bill Clinton named Hope an honorary veteran in 1997 for his tireless dedication to our troops. Hope was touched and said, “I’ve been given many awards in my lifetime – but to be numbered among the men and women I admire most – is the greatest honor I have ever received.”
One of his last shows in 1990
Another beloved by her troops was Martha Raye, whom I’ve written about before. She started her USO ‘career’ in 1942 with a request to travel to England to entertain the troops. Raye, Carol Landis, Kay Francis and Mitzi Mayfair took their show on the road with the USO to entertain the boys fighting in Africa. After WW2, she continued encouraging and lovin’ on the ‘boys’ during the Korean War and Vietnam- and during the latter conflict, she often went over there on her own, paying out of her own pocket to support and help in real tangible ways. It’s no surprise with her love and dedication to her boys, that they love and are dedicated to her, still visiting her grave and leaving mementos where she is buried at Ft. Bragg, NC.
In 1944, Marlene Dietrich gave her first of two USO performances for troops. The first was to North Africa and Italy. Her second tour lasted 11 months, and she entertained near the front in France and Germany.
A lot of folks might not realize that she came to the United States in 1930 to make movies after considerable success on the German screen and allegedly refused offers to return to Germany to star in Nazi films. She became a U.S. citizen in 1939. After WW2, she continued to travel to raise money for war bonds to support our military. She was awarded the Medal of Freedom and named Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor because of her support.
Bing Crosby, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland were among many stars of the era to travel overseas many times.
Marilyn Monroe was on her honeymoon with Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio, in Japan when she flew to South Korea in 1954 to perform for the American troops there shortly after the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed.
I don’t imagine many who were there forgot when Rachel Welch teamed up with Bob Hope and others in 1967 in Saigon, Vietnam.
This article would take days to mention all the top names who’ve given up some time and brought so much to our troops stationed overseas. For a more complete list, check them all out when you have time.
For now, here’s one more…
Toby Keith, one of my favorites, does the Taliban Song for our troops in Iraq,
God bless our Veterans and our troops for their incredible service. Thank You all from the bottom of my heart.
Have a great day all.