Raquel Welch flew all the way to Vietnam to see me—and about 500,000 other guys in December 1967. She was part of Bob Hope’s Christmas Tour to entertain the troops. I was one of the troops at Chu Lai: Sergeant Stephen F. Dennstedt USMC (twenty years old). I was finishing up my 13-month combat tour in-country and was scheduled to fly home in early February 1968. I almost didn’t make it because on January 30, 1968 at 0430 hours the Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA) launched the Têt Offensive.
Raquel was a local girl from my hometown of San Diego, California and of course I bragged up that fact to all of my buddies (yeah, like I knew her or something—fat chance). She’s seven years older than me so she would have been twenty-seven years old when this photo was taken. What I remember most vividly about that day was that during Hope’s show the MedEvac choppers kept landing with wounded soldiers from the Army’s Americal Division at the 91st Evac Hospital just up the hill temporarily drowning out the music with their loud rotors—evidently there had been some serious action close by.
I was just one small insignificant face in the vast sea of green Jungle Utilities (combat uniforms) but I had the distinct feeling she was looking and talking just to me—after all, I was her San Diego homeboy wasn’t I? I’ve never met Raquel Welch but if I ever do I will be sure to take a moment to thank her for visiting me and bringing a bit of home to Vietnam. I understand she is very generous and kind when meeting Vietnam veterans and I think her time in Vietnam must have had a profound affect on her.