Friday, 27 May 2011 00:00
Every time I deliver my PowerPoint presentation dealing with presidents and fun vignettes, the item, which gets the most laughs and questions is my coming face-to-face in Korea with Marilyn Monroe. This goes back to February of 1954.
One of my assignments as Company Commander of an Engineer Combat Company was to wet down roads so as artillery or tanks moved from one area to another Chinese spotters could not determine the locations. Wetting the roads prevented dust, and it was the dust which spotters used to track the movements of artillery or tanks. The road wetting process was one of the most unpopular assignments in my Company.
Now to the story of Marilyn Monroe. It was late on one afternoon, and my phone rang. It was my Group Commander, and he ordered me to come to his office at Camp Casey immediately. As I drove to Camp Casey, I wondered what could be so urgent? Arriving in the Colonel’s office, he pulled down a map of the area. He stated very clearly that he wanted roads sprayed with water from the helicopter pad in Camp Casey to the General’s Mess, and then to the Amphitheatre. “But, Colonel,” I said, “The spotters cannot see dust here, because mountains block the view.”
Then, he hit me with the reason for wetting down the roads. It was to keep dust off of Marilyn Monroe as she lands on the helicopter pad. Wow, what an assignment.
As I went back to my company, I thought about how best to get the job done. The word about the reason for wetting the roads leaked out, and it seemed everyone wanted to be on those trucks. The next morning we were all set. The trucks had never been so well staffed, and I had to be present to be sure the work was done effectively.
While the roads were not washed away, they were soaked. There was not a speck of dust from any moving vehicle.
After convincing the military police that it was essential for the trucks, my jeep and the soldiers to stand by for Marilyn Monroe’s arrival, we stationed ourselves next to the helicopter pad. Soon, we heard the sound of a large helicopter coming up the nearby valley. Next, after landing, we all saw the radiant Marilyn Monroe. She was beautiful. With a wave and blowing a kiss, we felt thrown to all of us next to the helicopter pad, she was off for her luncheon with the general.
After the luncheon she changed into a low cut sparkling purple dress and was off to perform for us at the amphitheater. By the way, that performance can be seen whenever the biography of Marilyn Monroe appears on television. And if you look closely, you will not see one speck of dust on that beautiful dress. Interestingly, at an auction in 1999, that dress was purchased for $112,000!
As I look back, that was an event I will always remember.