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USO Pacific Tour – Candy Jones

Candy Jones

By Sgt. Al Hine

YANK Staff Writer

Candy Jones was just back from a USO tour of the Pacific when I saw her, and with rare originality I said to her, “How are you?” She said, “Fine.”

Well, maybe she was telling the truth, and anyway who am I to be calling a beautiful model like Miss Jones a liar, but if she was feeling fine, she must have been pressing the old will power to its limit. The fact is that Candy had one of those Pacific trips that GIs usually are thinking about when they say, “Why doesn’t anyone ever print how lousy things are?”

She took off from the West Coast in November of 1944 and got back, a couple of months after the rest of the troupe she started out with, in August 1945. In this comparatively short time, she managed to get involved in two minor earthquakes, to lose the top of her dress on stage, and to spend a month in GI hospitals on Leyte and Morotai and in sick bay on the U.S.S C.H. Muir, the troop ship she came home on.

Candy Jones

Candy’s time on sick call was not goldbricking but the result of one of those nice little Pacific gadgets which medics diagnose as “fever of undetermined origin” and treat like malaria, coupled with a nasty case of eczema. A dame columnist in New York, shortly after Candy’s return, printed as an item that the showgirl-model was suffering from “jungle rot.” Possibly this made the eczema sound more romantic to the columnist, but eczema it was.

Candy threw off the fever in pretty good shape. “It only had me scared once, when I thought my hair was all going to fall out,” she said, “but after I lost a little, it stopped falling and everything was alright.”

The eczema left large areas of pale white on Candy’s otherwise sunburned chassis and this is possibly what caught the columnist’s eye.  It caught other eyes too, namely the eyes of photographers for whom Candy made a living posing.

“I won’t be able to pose for any color work till I begin to get even again, ” she said.

By the time all this info had come out, I was ready to ask Candy if she stuck by her original statement that she felt fine.  She said she did.

“It was a good trip and the GI’s we met were wonderful.  They gave us a swell hand everywhere, except sometimes in the hospitals.  I don’t see why I shouldn’t say that about the hospitals either.  It’s the truth.  Lots of guys who had been wounded were bitter and you couldn’t blame them.  They’d look at you when you came in with a sort of “Well, who the hell do you think you are?”

“We played regular shows nights and hospitals during the day.  After the regular shows, we’d get a chance to gab with the GI’s and stuff.  There was almost an even balance between officers and GI’s among the people we got a chance to know.”

“How about the earthquakes?” I asked.

“One was at Leyte,” she said.  “I was in bed when it happened and I almost fell out, but not quite.  The other was at Finschhafen, our first stop after Hollandia.  It was funnier because it was the first time I ever experienced an earthquake and I was in the johnny when it happened.”

“I was in the johnny and there was this crash and things started shifting around.  For a minute or two I thought I had jungle fever.  I pulled myself together, ran out and found it was only an earthquake.”

Candy’s itinerary ran from Brisbane to Leyte, hitting most of the whistle stops along the way.  The gang she was with was called “Cover Girls Abroad”.  The original destination was such a dead secret that Candy guessed wrong by thinking it was the ETO.  When she arrived at the dock, complete with woollies, she was flabbergasted to find she was headed for hotter Pacific.

Candy Jones

“Somebody got a surprise poking around that dock we left from”, she said.  “When I found out where we were going, I got rid of some of my luggage, women’s winter woolies.”

The Cover Girls played over 30 installations.  The troupe did vaudeville-type stuff – juggling, acrobatics, songs and black-out skits.  But it was a wedding number that Candy lost the top of her dress.

General Hospital dispensary/blood bank. Hollandia, New Guinea, 1945

“When the frame (for the ‘wedding picture’) went down,” she explained, “it hooked on top of the dress and took it with it.  I went through the number, sweetly holding up the shreds of camouflage.  After that time, we did the number in a reworked model of the same dress, the only strapless wedding dress I’d ever seen.”

Just as our interview was winding up, I thought of one more question: “How had she liked spending Christmas overseas?”

“Well, it wouldn’t have been bad really if I hadn’t gone and tried to be so smart.  You see, I was staying with the 334th General Hospital in Hollandia.  Christmas Eve had been rough.  We had carol singing and whipped up a bit of the spirit of the season and then they brought in some casualties.  Somehow it seemed worse than ever – no matter how many wounded men you might have seen – to see them on Christmas Eve.”

“But Christmas Dayed started out well.  The guys in the mess were buzzing around with their preparations for a real Christmas dinner – turkey and everything.  It sounded wonderful and I could hardly wait.  In fact I didn’t.  A friend asked me to go to the officer’s club for dinner at noon and thinking I’d be able to wolf down 2 Christmas feast, I accepted.”

“The officer’s club lunch was corned-beef hash; they’d have their turkey in the evening.  But I could dream of dinner at the hospital.  But when I returned to the hospital, I found that they had already feasted on turkey at noon.”

++++++++++

Candy Jones made another trip with the USO during the Vietnam War.  She passed away from cancer on 18 January 1990.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Saying Goodbye to the Best –

Bob Hope in Heaven

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joshua Beale – Carrollton, VA; US Army, Afghanistan, 3rd Special Forces Group, KIA

Henry A. Courtney Jr. – Duluth, MN; USMC, WWII, PTO, Medal of Honor, KIA

Elwin Duhn – Grand haven, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 82nd Airborne Division, 2 Purple Hearts

Martin Freed – Cleveland, OH; US Air Force

Rosemary Gancar – Mt. Sterling, KY; US Army Air Corps WAC, flight line mechanic

Edward Hock – Lewisburg, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. F/187th/11th Airborne Division

Ralph Jordon – Enfield, CT; US Army, Korea, Co. C/187th RCT

Edward Loeb – Berkeley, CA; US Navy, WWII

Charles Muehlebach – St. Louis, MO; US Army, WWII, PTO, 40th Infantry Division

Bill “Tiger” Watson – UK; British Army, WWII, ETO, Commando, POW,

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USO and Nurse – Martha Raye

Maggie's tour truck

Maggie’s tour truck

Martha Raye was a Vaudeville born actress, comedian, and movie star that was known for bold comedy. She was named “The Big Mouth”, not only because of her comedy, but for the physical trait.

Politically, Raye was conservative, affirming her political views by informing an interviewer, “I am a Republican because I believe in the constitution, strength in national defense, limited government, individual freedom, and personal responsibility as the concrete foundation for American government. They reinforce the resolve that the United States is the greatest country in the world and we can all be eternally grateful to our founding fathers for the beautiful legacy they left us today.”

Beginning in WWII, Raye started a lifelong commitment to entertaining and assisting the troops overseas. She worked with them during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Some nights she would do shows, but other nights, she’d skip the show because she’d been assisting the soldiers all day and wanted to continue into the night. A former nurse, she worked with Medivac units and in field hospitals. She often served in remote areas with Special Forces.

Raye wore fatigues and the troops called her “Colonel Maggie”.

Raye was an honorary Colonel in the Marines, and President Lyndon B. Johnson made her an honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Special Forces as well. The Green Berets have a special place in their hearts for her.

Miss Raye in Vietnam, from the Robert Boyd Jr. collection

Miss Raye in Vietnam, from the Robert Boyd Jr. collection

In 1993, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The text included reads:

A talented performer whose career spans the better part of a century, Martha Raye has delighted audiences and uplifted spirits around the globe. She brought her tremendous comedic and musical skills to her work in film, stage, and television, helping to shape American entertainment. the great courage, kindness, and patriotism she showed in her many tours during World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam Conflict earned her the nickname ‘Colonel Maggie.’ The American people honor Martha Raye, a woman who has tirelessly used her gifts to benefit the lives of her fellow Americans.

rayemartha

Raye was offered a place at Arlington National Cemetery upon her death, which is a high honor, but Raye wanted to be with her beloved Green Berets. A very special exception was made for her and she was buried at Ft. Bragg, home of the Green Berets, with full military honors. She is the only civilian buried on post that receives full recognition of military honors on Veteran’s Day.

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 Military Humor – Nurse’s style ___

Pee all that you can pee.

"What a temperature! What a pulse!" [gee- I wonder why?]

“What a temperature! What a pulse!”
[gee- I wonder why?]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They even had their own magazine

YR078ArmyNurse

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Signe Anderson – Garski, ND; US Army Nursing Corps, Korea

US Army Nurse insignia

US Army Nurse insignia

Margaret Ann – Dover, DE; US Army Nursing Corps, Korea

Marcella Buckalew – Dallas, TX; US Navy Nursing Corps, USS Solace

Lynn Conrad – Wichita, KS; US Army, Nurse

Ruth Criswell – St. Louis, MO; US Army, WWII, CBI, Nurse

Marjorie Markert – Columbus, OH; US Navy WAVE, WWII

US Navy Nurse insignia

US Navy Nurse insignia

June Poggi – Sacramento, CA; US Army, WWII, Nurse

Louise Rossi – Sharon Hill, PA; US Army, WWII,  Nurse

Grace Shaefer – FL; US Army, WWII, Nurse

Joan Shimerda – Philipsburg, MT; US Army (Ret. 20 yrs.), Vietnam, Nurse

 

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