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11-13-02, 03:20 PM #1
Bobbie the Weather Girl - AFVN TV Saigon
by Evan Morgan, © 1998
~Weather-wise and Other-wise
Weather-wise and other-wise, Bobbie's nightly broadcast of temperatures from the DMZ to the Delta brought welcome, often comic, relief to many of us as we laughed when she was doused with a bucket of water upon announcing rain.
Introduced on TV as "the bubbling, bundle of barometric brilliance," Bobbie brought sunshine to homesick GI's. stayed glued to our TV's in our hooches waiting to enjoy her weather show. She shocked it to us all with kicks and gimmicks and danced to songs like Proud Mary. Often, she extended greetings to guys who had written in or to the units she had visited. Bobbie closed each show with a wink and wished "everyone a pleasant evening weather-wise and good wishes for other-wise."
A volunteer, she was not paid of the weather broadcasts or the countless trips (hand shake tours) she made out to the boonies. She told me the rewards were worth more than a million dollars, and the experiences overwhelming enough to last a life time.
Officially, Bobbie was a secretary for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) who worked at the Mondial Hotel USAID Annex in Cholon and lived on Nguyen Hue Street in Saigon (1967-68-69).
Unofficially, and other-wise, Bobbie traveled to the field as a morale booster. She escaped gun fire, slept in bunkers, flew in helicopters, rode ACVs (Air Cushioned Vehicles), mules, roam plows, and was catapulted on and off ships such as the USS Enterprise -- all to show she cared and to spread cheer to remote places. As a measure of her sincerity, she spent most weekends in the field and often gave up R&R time to visit the troops. She even worked as a Red Cross volunteer at a hospital in Saigon - delivering snacks and kool-aid and helped write letters home for the GI's.
The First Cav dubbed her "a mini-skirted heat wave who raised troops' temperatures" when she visited Cav territory. Today, she is especially proud to have been made an honorary member of the First Cavalry Division Association of the United States. Her favorite memento, when honored as a Skytrooper in Viet Nam, is the fatigue jacket the First Cav presented her with her name and the First Cav and Blue Max patches. I have seen her wear it during Veterans reunions. She told me it became a tradition to sew on the patches of all the units she visited. Quite a collection!
A prankster at heart, when Paul took over broadcasting the weather show, he and Bobbie would embellish the show with stunts such as flying around the studio on a broomstick for Halloween. With all the tragedies going on, Bobbie told me, they wanted to make the show lively - not serious. My favorite was when she appeared in a bikini with the temperatures painted on her body. Hundreds of requests for bikini photos flooded the studio.
From the DMZ to the Delta, Bobbie made countless trips. Her trips out in the boonies often found her in comical yet dangerous predicaments. Flying over dense jungle terrain, the helicopters she flew in were shot at.. When visiting the Marines in Quang Tri she had to take cover overnight in an underground bunker when the Viet Cong penetrated the perimeter.
When in Pleiku, visiting the Fourth Infantry Division, she was given a side trip by the Medics who escorted her to Montagnard villages. One of her more precious souvenirs is the charm bracelet she received. She had a great time there as well, learning what the LRRPs do.
During visits to the 5th Special Forces camps, she R&R'd at Nha Trang beaches to work on her tan. Wearing a Green Beret and a camouflage bikini, she appeared as their monthly pin up. In the December 68 issue of the First Aviation Brigade Magazine she was their "Hawk Honey" clad in a Christmas bikini getting out of Santa's bag.
Special times and her favorite escape were the times she accompanied Commander Corie, who flew the men from the LST boats in the Delta over to Con Son island for one day R&R's. To her, it was an unspoiled paradise. They'd have a steak cook out on the beach without a care in the world, she said, until "we all had to face the reality of returning to the war at the end of the day."
Definitely not a REMF, on one field trip the APC in which she was riding broke down. Bobbie was rescued from the ensuing danger hoisted out in a harness by helicopter.
While out in the boonies on another trip, a toilet hooch was placed in the middle of a field complete with real towels and soap. When she used the facilities, the men applauded. You can't have a TB (tiny bladder) and survive Viet Nam was Bobbie's reaction. Embarrassed, Bobbie said she turned pinker than the towels. Many places did not have facilities for women; as on another occasion the men pointed her toward the bushes. Long plane trips were especially uncomfortable she told me as they were equipped with a fixture for men only.
A real trooper, when Tet hit Saigon, Bobbie served chow and washed dishes at mess facilities. She also delivered box lunches to the engineers in Cholon which proved hazardous when gun fire broke out. Tet was an horrific experience that she has managed to suppress she once remarked.
But life in Saigon was not always sunny for this Army brat. Bobbie, too, had cloudy days and stormy nights - a dear Jane from her highschool sweetheart who decided not to wait, deaths in her family back home and the deaths of loved ones in Viet Nam. Despite her own personal traumas, she kept a smile on her face because that 's what was expected of her.
And, this did not keep her from visiting the troops in the field. She felt she had to do something to show she cared. Thus, she made visits to the Delta, rode on Navy gun boats, and LSTs and the ACVs (her favorite vehicle). And she made trips to the camps of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade via loach helicopters, her favorite helicopter.
During the May Offensive, when the Viet Cong rocketed Saigon each morning before sun up, Bobbie would grab her mattress and sleep in the tub. She was confident that if the building got hit, the bath tub would survive. The building in which she worked, did receive a direct hit.
Bobbie's social life in Saigon was not without incidents. She was attacked by an irate Vietnamese girl, but Bobbie gave her a bloody nose. At another bar, a jealous bar girl cracked a glass over her head. And on Tu Do street, a bar girl tried to set fire to her long, blond hair. When gun fire broke out at her favorite haunt, Bobbie escaped unharmed by jumping into the hotel swimming pool. And, for weeks Bobbie had to escorted around town when a prominent Eurasian lady put out a contract on her because she thought Bobbie was fooling around with her French paramour. Bobbie admitted she felt frightened, but it did not prevent her from becoming friends with some of the bar girls. A jokester, she admitted she occasionally would position herself on a bar stool by a door and ask passing GI's if they wanted to buy Saigon tea. She and the bar girls would laugh hysterically at the guys' reactions. "I wish I had had a camera in those days", she confided.
Bobbie will forever be remembered for all she did for us, as a volunteer to boost the morale of the troops. She cared - she was there - not just for us -- but along with us!
Reflecting upon Viet Nam, Bobbie told me, "had I not had the naivete of youth, I would not have survived as nothing seemed real, nothing appeared permanent." Sadly she said, "I never heard a bird sing the whole time I lived in Viet Nam. -- perhaps because of all the tragedy."
Upon Bobbie's return to the United States in 1988, she became a yellow hat volunteer at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall; and although now in Florida, she still volunteers during Memorial and Veterans Day events.
Why? Perhaps the remarks she made as a speaker Memorial Day, 1994, day say it best:
"There is no greater tribute of love to so many than the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with the names of each
individual we lost inscribed upon its black granite panels.
The Wall gives honor and dignity to each man and woman
and to us a chance to reflect and remember."
Bobbie's Combination Pin-up
& Temperature Chart!
Not Your Typical Weather Report
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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