In 1997, President Bill Clinton declared Bob Hope America’s first and only “Honorary Veteran” — a seemingly meaningless title that will likely cause anyone who has ever served in uniform to roll their eyes. That is, unless they’re familiar with Hope’s incredible track record as the most prolific battlefield performer in the history of American warfare.
Hope’s wartime service began in World War II. Between 1941–1945, he logged more than a million miles performing with the USO both in the United States and overseas and came to be known among the troops as “GI Bob.” His commitment to the military would persist throughout nearly every American conflict for the next six decades.
In a column published in 1943, the novelist John Steinbeck wrote of Hope’s wartime work:
When the time for recognition of service to the nation in wartime comes to be considered, Bob Hope should be high on the list. This man drives himself and is driven. It is impossible to see how he can do so much, can cover so much ground, can work so hard, and can be so effective. He works month after month at a pace that would kill most people… And he has been doing this ever since the war started. His energy is boundless.
Hope was already in his 60s by the time the Vietnam War kicked off. But he persevered, helming dozens of USO variety shows for troops in Vietnam and Southeast Asia between 1964–1972, all while shrugging off virulent criticism from the anti-movement, which was exceptionally robust in Hollywood.
Hope’s Vietnam-era variety shows, which featured a rotating cast of whatever celebrities he managed to convince to tag along, were famous for their informality and slightly irreverent tone. Hope’s affinity for the troops was evident in the trench humor that pervaded his comedy sets. He wasn’t a celebrity talking down to a bunch of grunts. He was just one of the guys, joking about everything from strategic blunders to smoking pot.
Honorary veteran? Absolutely.
Below is a short compilation of some of our favorite highlights from Hope’s USO tours in Vietnam, pulled from TIME LIFE’s DVD collection “Bob Hope: Entertaining the Troops,” which will be released on May 10, 2016.
Army Futures Command will reach fully operational status just before the newest gem of the Army's modernization plan sees its first birthday on August 24th, officials announced on Tuesday.
AFC Commander Gen. John "Mike" Murray told reporters at a technologies showcase on Tuesday that the command will be fully operational on July 31st before showing off everything AFC personnel have been working on over the last year, from night vision goggles and robotic vehicles to new air- and missile-defense capabilities.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) has been told to stop using the Marine Corps' emblem and the 1st Marine Division's motto in his campaign literature, Corps officials confirmed.
The Marine Corps Trademark Licensing Office has sent Hunter, a Marine veteran, a cease and desist letter telling him to quit using the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem along with the phrase, "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy," on a fundraising mailer that accuses his political opponent of having links to terrorism, NBC News first reported on Wednesday.
Arapahoe County sheriff's deputies have arrested a U.S. Army recruiter for investigation of soliciting girls as young as 10 years old for sex after he allegedly sent selfies calling himself "Colorado batman," the sheriff's department reported.
An Army appeals court has rejected Bowe Bergdahl's claim that President Trump's public description of him as "a no-good traitor who should have been executed" and other comments on the disgraced soldier's case constituted unlawful command influence (UCI).
The Marine Corps must update its parental-leave policies to give new moms and dads time with their newborns, the service's new top general wrote this week, including considering a full year's worth of leave for women who've had a child.
Marines should not be expected to choose between being the best parent possible and their career duties, Commandant Gen. David Berger wrote in his planning guidance released to the force Tuesday.
"These outcomes should never be in competition to the extent that success with one will come at the expense of the other," Berger wrote. "Our parental/maternity leave policies are inadequate and have failed to keep pace with societal norms and modern talent management practices."