Armed Forces Entertainment wasn’t always Armed Forces Entertainment. Before that, we were called the Armed Forces Professional Entertainment Office (AEPEO) and before 1951, we hardly existed as an organization at all.
Until the DoD was established that year, AFPEO was simply a collection of contacts representing each service and scheduling overseas tours on behalf of the USO’s Camp Shows program. Where USO sent a celebrity or performer, we were ready on the ground to field all shows.
Vietnam would be the first true test of AFPEO’s efforts during wartime. And as dark of a time as it was, one comedian came back year after year to brighten up the boys’ days. It’s no secret legendary Bob Hope was one of the military’s biggest supporters. But during one of our most dangerous conflicts, he returned to bring the laughs and some special guests along the way.
When looking back at the Vietnam War, many can’t help but recall Hope’s annual Christmas Show. Troops eagerly awaited his trips during the holiday season and the show became a fixture of American tradition.
To the veterans who saw Hope on stage in Vietnam, an hour of laughter became a lifetime of memories.
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