On Patrol staff

The name Harry Lillis Crosby may not ring any bells, but it should bring to mind a White Christmas. He was one of America’s favorite crooners, after all. Though there has been much debate on his birth date, the man known the world over as “Bing” was born to Harry and Catherine Crosby in Tacoma, Washington, on May 2, 1904, according to his autobiography.

Crosby grew up surrounded by music, an influence that followed him to Gonzaga College. But it was his appearances at the prestigious Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles that made Bing a household name. During World War II, Crosby entertained American GIs while touring with the USO. His popularity with the boys was obvious. They voted him the person who did the most for their morale overseas in a Yank magazine poll at the end of the war.

The feeling was mutual. During his December 21, 1944, radio show, after singing the classic holiday hymn “Silent Night,” Crosby’s thoughts turned to the boys on the front lines. “On our fighting front there are no silent nights, but there are plenty of holy nights. I’m sure that all of us are offering up prayers for the gallant gang of American kids to whom anything that has to do with peace still seems very far away,” he said. “My own thoughts are a lot humbler than they were last year. I’ve talked and lived and chowed with these boys, boys whose courage and faith is something that beggars description.”