Freedom Hill - 1965
In 1965, trooper Bob Hope brought his
tour to Danang 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 Danang late that afternoon. With a little
luck (actually, a lot of luck) we would get to see Ann-Margret . . . and,
oh yeah--Bob Hope.
From the Danang runway, you could see Freedom
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 who hogged the best red-earth seats for ogling
Ann-Margret and a gaggle of dancing legs. 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 (who's naturally smarter than the average squid--who's
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/me/d we were on-their-side (heh-heh) and would crack Air
Force heads with gay abandon if any nasty Air Force tongues unrolled within
ten meters of the stage.
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 as only the master-quipper can do. Today, Bob's
jokes would be rated PG-50, banned in twelve languages, and his
lips would be sewn shut--behind his head!
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 much of 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
Danang 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!