Making music not war
When one thinks of troop entertainment during the Vietnam
War, familiar names such as Bob Hope and Johnny Cash come to
mind. These highly publicized shows were heralded at home as
grand escapes, if only for a few minutes, from the realities and
the harshness of war and the celebrities were well-loved by soldiers
and those they left behind.
Lesser known, however, are another brand of entertainers.
They were not so well-known, nor did they have the entourage
nor the publicity that the big-name stars enjoyed. They didn’t
stay for a week or so and go home. They were there for the long
Zephyrhills, Larry passed away in 2003, but Joy, now 86, remembers
the days of the Vietnam War like it was yesterday.
New Jersey. He was working for one group and I went over and
did an audition for the group so I started working in New Jersey
and then we went out west. Our agent was from Hollywood.
He sublet us to an agent from Vegas and we started a military
circuit. It was Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Philippines and Guam. It
eyes when she remembers. “The military were a great group of
private entertainment company. In the beginning they were entertaining
in Korea. This was, of course, 12 years after the armistice.
“We based out of 8th Army and they just contracted us to
go to the bases to do show. It was ‘65 but there were still about
50,000 troops in there so we went out every day and did shows
and had an eight-piece group that came with us, they were Korean.
We sang and did
comedy. Larry played
the guitar and other
catbird seat to watch
history unfold. They
saw the number of
they were entertaining
troops in Vietnam
and stayed there until
“Every year when we
were in Vietnam, we
had to get authority
through the state
plained. “We lived
there. In the beginning we were
Top left: Joy hanging out
with the chopper pilots.
Top right: American GI
Memorial Statue in
working where there were tents so we were living in tents a lot.
Then we rented our own villa. We were doing sometimes two
or three shows a day. It was a good living and we weren’t really
spending anything. We had to rent the villa but we were sharing
that with two other entertainment agents, Doris Lee and Jim
Though you know it is a vivid memory, Joy speaks very
matter of factly when she says, “Later the war escalated and Tet
happened. Tet was not nice, but everybody knew it was going to
paigns of the Vietnam War. It was begun at the end of January
during the Vietnamese New Year holiday called Tet.
The Tet offensive brought thousands of troops into Vietnam
to answer the attack. A photo album Joy brings out has photographs
of Viet Cong lying dead outside the American Embassy,
just four blocks from their villa where they were staying.
the whole experience she cannot recall feeling scared.
jokes about it. Like at Tet when we knew they were at the corner
where the American bowling alley and the library were and we
were down the street and knew the Northern forces had been
there, but we didn’t know if they were still there. We sat in the
villa and joked, but I don’t think we were actually afraid.
“I remember being in a chopper and we were seeing some
tracers and Larry looked at the sergeant and said ‘the price of our
We would bring in bands to do shows for the troops.
laughed. When the big shows came through, we never got to see
Joy, now 86, remembers the days of the
Vietnam War like it was yesterday.
36 • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018 813.682.9364 FLORIDA WOMEN MAGAZINE