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Bob Hope's 1972 Diego Garcia Tour!
Merry Christmas EVERY YEAR to All The Boys and Girls On Diego Garcia!

So... you're fighting a war in the 2000s?  Well, there was another war going on in the 70's.  In 1972,
Bob Hope, the Greatest American Entertainer of All Time, took his time to come out and visit.
Carl "Vig" Villanueva was there, and has kindly provided these pictures...

Kick back, grab a cold one, and let's go back to those thrilling days of yesteryear...

Ladies and Gentlemen, er...
If it's Tuesday, that means we're on Diego Garcia...
er... Gentlemen!
Fresh from an SRO crowd in Da Nang -
Misterrrrrrrr  Bob Hope!
(applause, cheers, whistles)


The very first jet airplane to land on the brand new runway the SEABEES built was this C-141 from Norton AFB, CA, carrying Bob Hope and the Christmas Show!


With Cameras Rolling, the Show heads for downtown along "Interstate 71" along the lagoon side.


Setting Up the Stage.  This location is approximately where the "Short Pier" is today.


See yourself or a buddy or your father in the crowd?  This is the "Cue Card" tower.


Oooo La La!  For guys who haven't seen a woman in months, this was what THEY were waiting for!


Red Foxx and Bob Hope as swabbies, with some able assitants.


Fuzzy gets a kiss from Belinda Green, Miss World, 1972.


The Crane Crowd!
 


This is why front row center seats were so sought after...
 


Farewell!  I'll be back in 1987!  You guys keep my room ready!

Merry Christmas
Diego Garcia!
From the President, Cabinet and Citizens of the PPDRDG!

Were you there for a Bob Hope Show?  Send in your story about it today!

From Richard Cole = rcole@cole-mgtandeng.com

Citizenship = USA

Service = USN

Outfit = Navcomsta Public Works

My_Warstory = Bob Hope Christmas Show 1972 Diego Garcia

During World War 11, Bob Hope began visiting and entertaining military service members.  Virtually every year from the first Bob Hope shows until 1971. There was no plan for a tour during Christmas 1972  Each year in January the Bob Hope Christmas Show appeared on TV.   In November rumors started that Bob Hope was reconsidering another Christmas show. Mid-month the word came that there would be a show and Diego Garcia would host it on Christmas Day. 

Now the Recreation Director had written Bob Hope and asked him to come but he did not tell the Seabee Commander.  When the invitation was accepted by Bob there were requirements that come with the show.  First the airfield was 4000 long with a gravel surface.  In order to land the c-161 used by the Tour Group the permanent concrete runway which was under construction needed to be finished so the C-161 could land.  So the Seabee Battalion Commander was not happy.  He would have to rearrange his construction priorities to be sure the concrete runway would be complete and he would also have to prepare facilities for the show including building a stage and bleaches from which to watch the show.   The Seabee crews were already working six ten hour days but it would take additional time to prepare for the show. 

All of us who were going to attend the show were excited.  We didnít know who was going join Bob Hope but we knew it would be funny and involve beautiful women and a variety of entertainment stars.

A week or two before Christmas I was invited to attend a reception with the participants in the show.  Wow!  I didnít know if I was to be nervous or excited or just tongue tied.  I hadnít seen a woman in three months and many of the Seabee crew hadnít seen a woman in eight months.  It was going to be interesting to see how everyone reacted including me. 

The big day arrives and all is ready.  The new concrete runway was completed just two days before the Christmas.  On Christmas Day the plane with the show participants lands, it is the first plane to land on the new 6000 foot runway and the show participants head to town.  The first vehicle is an open air jeep carrying Bob Hope.  He stops the main entrance and points to the millage sign.  I believe it said New York to the left 13000 miles and Los Angeles to the right 14000 miles There were a few other destinations shown but I donít remember what they were.  Bob laughs and tells the film crew who is following to be sure and get a shot of the sign.

There is about 6 or7 hours before the show.  Bob goes to take a nap in the Island Commanders hut and the rest of the group disperses in downtown Diego Garcia and in some of the facilities to wait for the show.

What happens before the show?  My hut mates who are all junior officers have laid out strategies for the day.  Bob S, who has the space next to me is well prepared.  He finds out where most of the young women are spending their free time.  Now Bob S. is a good guy who has the greatest confidence when it comes approaching women he has never met.  A while later I see him walking on our beach with a lovely lady.  It turns out she is Miss Kansas who won the swimsuit competition at the Miss USA contest.  He spends all the free time with her.  It turns out he has built a relationship in those few hours.  He and Miss Kansa exchange addresses and he and she correspond while he is on the island. 

Now the rest of us are unsure what to do.  I look out to our beach and there is Redd Foxx wandering down the beach looking for seashells.  The only thing I can think is that this is a long way from Sanford and Sonís junkyard.

Eventually I make my way to the reception for everyone from the show and some of us.  I joined up with one of my hut mates who also was invited to the reception.  Beyond awkward is my first feeling.  How do you approach the show participants?  I look for the least obtrusive way to mingle.   One of the easiest people to approach is Delores Hope, Bobís wife.  A group of us gather around her.  She is warm and friendly and makes us feel like she can serve as a mother surrogate for the day.  She will prove that later during the show. 

There are other stars there including Lola Falana and of course there were many recent beauty contestants participants include Miss World, Miss World Runner-Up who was also Miss Europe.  A group of girls from the USA who states they represent I donít remember.  My hut mate and I finally get up enough courage to ask Miss World Runner-Up if she would take a picture with each of us.  She politely agrees.  She is still the most beautiful woman I have ever met. I think her name was Ingrid and she was from either Sweden or Norway.  After I returned to the US I saw her in a couple of commercials.

After the reception it is time for the show.  The Seabees have created seating out of leftover construction material and various construction equipment has been stationed in strategic locations so some of the Seabees can get a birds-eye view of the show.   The stage is set within palm trees with a back drop of the lagoon.  It is very surreal.

The show is similar to all the Bob Hope Christmas specials I have seen on television in the past.  Being there makes me realize that we are a part of history that dates back to World War II.  It is a proud and happy feeling.  Although the show is similar to those I saw on television in the past, it is unique.  Somehow Bob has learned a great deal about our life on Diego Garcia and he has jokes that makes us feel like he knows our plight and struggles.  He knows about the donkeys and mosquitos who are residents of the island and he brings humor these elements of the island.  He also adlibs thought the show creating a steady stream of laughs.  The actors. actresses and beauty contestants appear through the show with Bob, Redd Foxx and Lola Falana playing major roles. 

As the show nears completion Delores Hope appears on stage.  Unknow to me and many others she is an excellent singer.  She begins with traditional Christmas songs.  She closes the program with ďIíll be home for ChristmasĒ There wasnít a dry eye in the crowd. 

The show is over and I experience and I suspect many other feel a wide variety of emotions.  We are happy with what we have seen, sad to see them go.  We feet a loss at the realization that this big event has passed and we need to go back to work tomorrow and we are still over 10000 miles from the USA with little connection to our families. 

Later we hear the Bob Hope was upset with his wife for singing a song that made us cry.  He is of the opinion that he is there to bring laughs and joy.  Again we hear that he sent her home rather than include in other shows in the Viet Nam and other military locations in Asia and the Pacific area.  I believe Bob was wrong, I believe more than any other element of the show we will remember that song by Delores Hope.

In late January 1973 the Bob Hope Christmas Show video was sent to Diego Garcia.  The show was shown back in USA at about the same time.  I remember that each year the Bob Hope Christmas Show was a major television event.  I believe I saw all of them.  The show included many other sites where the show was put on but is was great to relive that moment on our island.  This was easily the most memorable moment from my year on the island as it probably was for the others who attended. 



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