Nang AB: Freedom Hill - 1966
On March 13, 1966, trooper Bob Hope brought
his tour to Da Nang Air Base. The stage was set up in a natural amphitheater
at the base of Freedom Hill -- Hill 327. Our Air Force Air Police K-9
squad was scheduled for patrol around Da Nang Airbase late that afternoon. With
a little luck (actually, a lot of luck) we would get to see Ann-Margret
... and, oh yeah --Bob Hope.
the Da Nang runway, you could see Freedom Hill about five miles and a stone-age away. Hope's show was to start around
1300 hours, but as weather, war, and destiny had it, he arrived LATE! We arrived early--the marines arrived earlier and were jammed
into every square inch of the valley tighter than a wallet in a pit-bull's
mouth. They had staked out perimeters, including claymores --well,
almost anyway--and had a take no prisoners BORG mindset toward
assimilating the atoms of any Viet Cong Air Force type pukes invading
the new Republic of Ann-Margret.
Rain had drenched the thousands of marines
(heh-heh) and other squids hogging the best red-earth seats for ogling
Ann-Margret and a gaggle of dancing legs. And worst of all, they actually seemed intent
upon not sharing their spaces in brotherly inner-service bonding-harmony
(as we would have done). Not to worry! As Airmen being naturally smarter
than the average bear, jarhead, and squid (who'er
barely smarter than a rock), we wore our military police Air Police helmets and waltzed right up to the front as if on duty. M.P.s and S.P.s ass/u/them/ed we were on-their-side (heh-heh) and were there to crack Air
Force heads with gay abandon if any nasty Air Force tongues unrolled within
ten meters of the stage.
[Photo: Don, I am the Marine MP in front of Ann-Margret in the picture on your site, is there anyway to get a picture from you or somewhere else? Thomas J. Blagg (photo emailed to Tom)]
Hours of waiting passed as a drizzle muddied
the clay into a coagulated goo. Clutters of men would occasionally get
up and leave as their sergeant cattle-prodded them to duty. When Bob Hope
arrived, he was electrifying and quickly whipped the crowd into an American
frenzy with homespun jokes, adlibbing as only the master-quipper could do.
Today, Bob's jokes would be rated PG-13, as it was then ... but
the innuendo and risqué implications merited a good-natured ban
in twelve languages, and his lips would be sewn shut--behind his
Unfortunately, our luck ran out too and
duty called: we had to Dee-Dee back to base. We only caught a glimpse
of a marine carrying Ann-Margret from the helicopter across the mud and
to the stage (a perfect gentleman he was too ... and therefore an enlisted
Ann launched right into the whirlwind pulsating
(Oh) Susie-Q and rocked the valley with her American-woman-magic, stirring
the crowd into a slathering hormone-testoseterone frenzy of mostly 19
and 20 year old men. One doggie had practically chewed the entire rim
off his booney hat!
We turned to watch Ann perform, and for about two minutes of American
beauty, the war was forgotten. Everyone fully understood just what
was really worth fighting for. We didn't get to see Ann-Margret's
performance, but we could hear the marines, soldiers, and airmen's screams
and hooting five miles down the road (which truly was a trail of tears
As dusk fell, I was patrolling along the
Da Nang runway--staring longingly toward Freedom Hill. And if the wind
was just right ... Ohhhh ... Susie--Q!
Oh well. Ann ... thank you. You're
still the same lady today as you were then. See you in my dreams
... and, oh yeah--Bob--thanks for the memories!
The show was fantastic! The escape the Bob Hope tour provided
us in expectation for days before, and after, helped us keep in
touch with what we were there for -- God, Country, apple pie ... and Ann-Margret!