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Mission City Voices: Bob Hope

In this Mission City Voices, Vietnam Veteran Larry Flora remembers the time he was supposed to see the Bob Hope Show only to have rain intervene.

We are in Vietnam. It’s December 1970 and I was glad November ended, as there were too many memories to forget. This was the start of a new month and since Christmas was only a few weeks away, we were informed that our unit was going to Bien Hoa to watch the one and only Bob Hope Show. Every person in our unit was excited. It was going to be great to get out of the jungle for a much needed break. A few of us cancelled our plans for R & R, just to be able to catch this once in a lifetime show in a war zone. To us it was like a dream come true.

We were in the mountains trying not to think about the upcoming event. Most of us were well overdue for a break from the fighting. Imagine that, we were going to have a week off. Showers and clean clothes and hot meals with dessert. We had less than two weeks left to run patrols before the show arrived.  While the week dragged by, we imagined they were preparing for our show. We knew the pretty showgirls were starting to arrive and rehearse. Perhaps we were going to sit next to the stage and watch these beautiful women in awe. The girls that we wrote home to every week and professed our undying love for were just that, girls. Those we were going to see were the most beautiful women we could imagine. A once in a lifetime event.

Then it happened. Monsoon rain hit us hard. Rain poured down in buckets, all day and night. Day after day, there was no break in the onslaught. Monsoon season was supposed to have stopped in September, but no one had said “Rain, Rain, Go away!” Then days before the show was supposed to start, we received news. There was no way we were getting out of the field. They could not transport one hundred and twenty- five soldiers out of the jungle, because it was too unsafe for helicopters to come in and get us out. The show was to start without us.

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As the rain poured down, we imagined we were getting the nice shower we were promised. The jungle uniforms we wore were completely soaked from the rain. I guess we were now wearing clean uniforms. Our meals were hot, they were just not home cooked. We still ran security patrols and we felt safe because even the enemy was not going out in this weather. They were probably watching the Bob Hope Show from a distance. I hope it was good.

Mission City Voices

Do you have a personal essay that you’d like to submit for consideration? Email Editor@SvVoice.com subject line: Mission City Voices.

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