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"USO Down"

Episode#13

By Lee Russell

The USO was most famous for the Clubs it set up for servicemen in WW II, and for the shows it sent overseas to entertain them. Bob Hope was the personification of these. I got to see his 1967 Christmas show in Vietnam and it was wonderful. The USO also had other shows, traveling editions of Broadway plays, like "Hello Dolly" with Martha Ray for example. Other celebrities also visited Vietnam under USO auspices, movie stars, singers (Nancy Sinatra was very popular), athletes, etc. Unhappily, the pop-cultural mood of "Make Love Not War" wasn't very appropriate to the circumstances and no major rock group decided to tour Vietnam. What we got for entertainment were vagabond troupes of Asian rock bands, strippers and has-been comedians. These were booked through ordinary theatrical agencies and had nothing to do with the USO. They performed on makeshift stages outdoors on major bases and were paid out of unit funds. We were happy to have them. Just hearing a "round-eye" woman sing and talk back to you in the audience was such a treat! The women were treated like gold. I don't know what they were paid but they earned every penny. Unhappily, several of them also lost their lives in the daily hazard of being "in-country," to aircraft accidents and land mines.

When I first had a chance to comment on the "USO Down" script, I humorously suggested having a woman Viet Cong character try to figure out what some of those costumes found in the wreck were supposed to be for. The writers were not amused..... The idea of arming a civilian is rather extreme. In "Roadrunner" the patrol even takes away the pilot's .38 revolver so he can't accidentally shoot someone-standard operational procedure.

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About the Music....The midi's are songs from the original episodes

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