"Thanks for the memories..." Bob Hope's theme song meant more Monday than ever before, and the impact was felt hardest by those he touched the most. "I guess you felt like you lost a brother," said Vietnam veteran Jim Fowler.
In 1965 Fowler was an Army Ranger in Saigon when word spread quickly about the impending arrival of a very special guest. "Oh yes, everybody knew he was coming," he said. Tonsenewit Air Base, 5,000 soldiers getting a two hour reprieve from the war and a memory that would last a lifetime. "You can't measure it, can't measure it. You know, the GI's felt that if he could come to them and perform in a combat situation, like what he did, you couldn't measure it. Money couldn't buy it," said Fowler.
Thousands of veterans will soon be remembered at the Lubbock area veteran's war memorial, their names permanently etched in stone. But Bob Hope is already engraved in the hearts of veterans. So much so, that on his 95th birthday, he was made an honorary veteran. "You are now a veteran," said Newt Gingrich. "I want to thank everyone," replied Hope.
And in the nations grief, a return of that thanks in the form of choked up veterans, remembering a friend. "Well, I felt like I lost a fellow vet. That's what he meant to the veterans," said Fowler.