By Mike Case
When most people think of the USO, the first thing that comes to mind, understandably, is the legendary entertainer Bob Hope.
A true patriot, Hope first performed for U.S. troops in California in May 1941, just a few months before the Pearl Harbor Attacks and the country’s official entrance into World War II. Over the next few years, he went on to travel around the world with USO Camps Shows, Inc., bringing a much-needed dose of laughter to U.S. troops serving in Europe, Africa and, the Pacific.
When the war ended in 1945, Hope didn’t stop performing for his military fans, particularly during the holidays. In December 1948, Hope started the tradition of hosting an annual USO holiday show when he, his wife and other entertainers traveled to Germany to perform for U.S. troops involved in the Berlin Airlift.
Over the next few decades, Hope brought his “Bob Hope Christmas Special” to troops serving in places like Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East, in addition to broadcasting them live on radio or T.V. back home. It should also be noted that Hope also continued to do other USO tours at other times of the year. In 1990, Hope his final USO tour, ending an era of incredible service through entertainment to hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of military family members. He passed away at the age of 100 in 2003.
We at the USO are privileged to hold a special collection of never-published photos documenting the true joy Bob Hope brought to the military community over the years. The photos are a little bit of everything: an amateur snapshot taken by an audience member; a photo by a military photographer; a sneaky behind the scenes look.
We had a tough time narrowing our favorites, but we hope you enjoy these 11 (well, 12 if you count the snapshot at the top of Hope in Beirut in the 1980s!) photos of Bob Hope doing what he loved best – entertaining the troops:
Bob Hope during World War II
Bob Hope during the Korea War
Bob Hope during the Vietnam War
Bob Hope during Operation Desert Shield
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