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The Vietnam Interview: A Date with Chris Noel

By Claudia Gary and David T. Zabecki
6/12/2008 • Interviews, Vietnam

Chris Noel during her 1966 - 1970 helicopter tours in Vietnam
Chris Noel during her 1966 - 1970 helicopter tours in Vietnam

When Hollywood turned stridently against the war and the men who fought it, Chris Noel stuck with the GIs—and she’s still with them.

A model turned actress in the early 1960s, Chris Noel was a young blonde bombshell with a number of movies and TV guest appearances under her belt when she first started entertaining the troops in Vietnam. She received the Distinguished Vietnam Veteran award in 1984 from the Veterans Network for her work during the war. In an interview, Noel recalls her life-altering experiences and her ongoing efforts in support of Vietnam veterans.

Vietnam: Tell us a little about your Hollywood career before Vietnam.
Chris Noel:
When I first went to Hollywood, I was put under contract to Universal for one month, and then they fired me. Their head of casting said I had the worst voice in the world, and said to “send that girl back where she came from, she’s atrocious.” So I cried a lot, until three weeks later I was under contract to MGM. In the first film I did I played the girlfriend opposite Steve McQueen, in Soldier in the Rain. Jackie Gleason and Tuesday Weld were in the film. I guest-starred in almost all of the television shows of that year. I did a lot of beach movies and motorcycle movies, and just a little bit of everything.

And before Hollywood?
When I was in Florida as a young girl, at the age of 16, I was on the cover of Good Housekeeping magazine with a little baby, posing as a young mother. I was also the Kodak girl. There were wonderful posters that were done on the beach with me in a hammock, and with a beach ball, and that sort of thing. But I just knew that I had to do something more with my life, so I went to New York. A television writer did an article where they picked the three top women in television commercials and three top guys, and I was one of the three girls. Then I was also one of the Rheingold [beer] girls in New York, and on the cover of the New York Post and New York Mirror. But I always wanted to go to California.

What was the turning point for you?
The 1965 Christmas tour that I made with California’s Governor Pat Brown and various celebrities. That year, my boyfriend was over in Vietnam with Bob Hope. Then I had the opportunity to go to the VA hospitals. When I went into the gangrene ward of double and triple amputees, I was stunned. I remember the very first guy I saw there said something really nasty to us. Then Sandy Koufax took and threw a ball to a guy who had only one arm, and he reached up and caught the ball. He was laughing, and the other guys were laughing. I thought, “Wow, I have to find a way to learn to make them happy.” My girlfriend and I sang “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” and we were absolutely terrible, but it was kind of cute. When I walked out of the ward, I was still very, very stunned. Those moments changed my life and made me realize that I had to make a difference.

How did you get the disk jockey job with Armed Forces Radio?
My boyfriend came back from his tour and he had to put in Reserve time. He was at Armed Forces Radio and Television Service in Hollywood, and he found out that they were looking for someone to put on the radio. So I called, made my appointment, went in and did my interview—and they chose me. I started off doing a show called Small World with George Church III. I became really popular. The colonel called me in one day, and said, “Well, Chris, I hate to tell you this, but you’ve been fired.” I said, “Fired? What did I do wrong?” And he said, “Well, you’ve been fired, but you’ve been hired to do your own show.” It was pretty exciting. They came up with the name, A Date With Chris. They would record it to be put on 33-1/3 records, which would be sent to all the outlets throughout the free world.

Did you ever meet Adrian Cronauer?
During the Vietnam War, there were several people who had a radio show for the U.S. troops there. Adrian Cronauer was not the original. I met Adrian back here after his movie was done.

What did you think aout your radio show being called America’s answer to Hanoi Hannah and Saigon Sally?
Something that just blew me away was when Hanoi Hannah stated that she really didn’t know how the GIs all felt about her until she got a video of the movie Good Morning, Vietnam! Isn’t that weird? I never really knew what Hanoi Hannah looked like until 2007, when CSPAN was showing an interview with her. It was fascinating. I had heard just a little tiny bit of her voice a couple of times in Vietnam, but usually I was so busy that I wasn’t really tuned in to her.

How did you get on Bob Hope’s tour?
After I started my radio show, I knew that the holidays were coming and Bob Hope would be going back over again. I asked, “Is there any way that you could get Bob Hope to let me go with him to Vietnam?” The answer came back: No, I wasn’t considered a big enough star to go with him. But a few weeks later I got a telegram from the Pentagon asking if I would go over and entertain the troops.

Though it was equivalent to professional suicide in show biz, Noel openly supported GIs
Though it was equivalent to professional suicide in show biz, Noel openly supported GIs
How was your first trip to Vietnam?
The first time I went over was in December 1966. I was very excited, but I didn’t have the foggiest idea of what to do, because all I knew was how to be an actress on radio and television. I took a portable record player with batteries, and a little record case. I think I had the top 100, or maybe only the top 50 songs. They said, “You’re going to be there at Christmas time, so take some kind of Santa Claus outfit.” I was only being paid $200 a week by MGM, so I didn’t have a lot of money. I went to Hollywood Boulevard and I saw a little silver miniskirt and little silver top, and that’s what I bought for my Santa Claus outfit.

They sent me to one of the bases to get my shots, and I had to stand in this line, just like all the guys. I had never been anywhere outside of the United States except one time to Mexico. When we landed in Vietnam and I walked down the steps at Tan Son Nhut, it was stifling. They took my suitcase and we got into a van. The windows were open, but there was mesh on the windows, which they said was to keep grenades out.

What was it like being on Bob Hope’s 25th Anniversary show in Cu Chi on December 25, 1966?
My escort officer said to me: “Chris, Bob Hope is going to be doing a show on Christmas Day. How would you like to be in his show?” I wasn’t very far away from Cu Chi, so they just helicoptered me in. When I first got there so many cameras were clicking, it sounded like a field of locusts. We went to this tent, and they had fans going, and makeup artists, and hairdressers. Some GI had given me a poem, something about the Night Before Christmas, only it all had to do with the Vietnam War. It was that whole poem I did onstage.

I kept hearing all of these show business people complaining—they complained about everything! They complained about how hot it was—“I can’t go out there if I’m sweating like this,” and “You must do something better with my hair.” I’m sitting there thinking, my gosh, I can’t stand these people! They’re all just prima donnas. They don’t have the foggiest idea of what it’s really like over here. They’re in air conditioning as much as they can, and they’ve got the best of everything, and all they do is complain!

How was it to work with “Colonel Maggie,” Martha Raye?
I had been up north for several days and was back in Saigon, and I was very, very tired. I was so happy to think that I was actually going to have a bed, and could lie down behind a closed door. When I got to the hotel I remember being told that Martha Raye was there. I walked in, and there was Martha with three Green Berets. Someone introduced us and we talked for just a second, and she said, “Get it together, girl, you’re having dinner at the camp with the boys.” I said: “I just got here! I’m not going to eat any dinner, I’m not doing anything!” She said: “Oh, yes, you are! You get it together, because you’re having dinner with the boys.”

When we first got to Camp Goodman, we walked into a mess hall that had a kind of platform and a very long table. Nobody else was in the room—just four of us. The food was brought in to us. I was talking a little bit, and then the captain sitting next to me very meanly looked at me and said: “What are you doing here? We all know what Maggie is doing here, but what is it that you’re doing here?” I looked at him and was almost speechless. I said: “I’m doing the same thing Maggie is. I’m here because I care. I was asked to be here.”

Then a lieutenant who was there, Ty Herrington, said, “Miss Noel, would you like to see our camp?” I felt as if he was on a white horse saving me, and I said, “Oh, yes, yes!” He took me around and showed me the camp a bit, and then he opened the door to his room. There was a picture of a woman in a silver frame. I said, “Oh, that must be your wife!” And he said, “My mother wishes she were.” Shortly after that day he became my escort officer. After a couple of more tours we were in love and we got married. As it turned out, the woman in his picture was his wife! He had lied to me.

Some big acts were restricted to base camps for security, but you sometimes went alone to the more isolated firebases. What was that like?
I’m so thankful that I was able to have that opportunity—to just drop down out of the sky in a helicopter, and to see the guys come out of the boonies, exhausted, and already with that stare in their eyes. I feel really blessed that I could be there for a few moments with them, just to sign some pictures, just to say hello, just to let them know that, yes, people do care about you. Along with Maggie and a few female war correspondents, I was one of the only women who ever traveled the entire scope of South Vietnam. I really think I got to have one of the most incredible experiences, to see that it wasn’t the same war for everybody.

You kept doing this even though the Viet Cong had a $10,000 bounty on your head and you had a fear of heights?
I didn’t think they’d ever really get me. I felt really protected. And once I started getting into those helicopters, I just loved it. What’s weird is that now, when I get into helicopters, I freak. Back then, one time the hydraulic system went out in a helicopter and we went down…that was scary.

Did your helicopter ever come under fire? Were there any close calls on the ground?
I only remember one very serious time in a helicoper, while trying to leave a mountaintop. Being in places that were being mortared—maybe three times. And groundfire—maybe twice.

You are a hero to GIs, but in show business, openly supporting the troops was the equivalent of professional suicide. How did you keep doing the hard right over the easy wrong?
Whenever I talk to young people, I always leave them with one thought: Do the right thing. Actually I never really thought of it that way, but when I started hearing it a lot—“do the right thing”—I realized that that’s how I went along in my life, just always trying to do the right thing. I cannot imagine anybody having grown up in this country ever betraying it. Yet I’ve met so many people who are somewhat like that. And I’ve had to endure their conversations and sit there politely, and excuse myself when the time was up.

Noel's 1987 autobiography recounted her work with veterans and her own recovery from PTSD
Noel's 1987 autobiography recounted her work with veterans and her own recovery from PTSD
Your book A Matter of Survival is subtitled The War Jane Never Saw. How could you and Jane Fonda, coming from the same Hollywood culture, see things so differently?
I went to see a psychiatrist in New York who was doing work with PTSD, and I was just hoping that maybe she could help me because I really needed some help from somebody. Something came up about Jane Fonda. The doctor looked at me and asked, “How can you possibly even consider yourself in the same breath? She was born with a silver spoon, and you weren’t. Why would you even bring her up? You don’t have anger against her, you just have anger, period, and your own hostility. You’re just using her as a catalyst.”

I was in a pretty fragile state as it was, and I thought to myself, “Man, then if I have these thoughts that are so misdirected, are you trying to say to me that all these thousands and thousands of men and women who know the truth about Jane Fonda and feel the same way that I do—that we’re all screwed up? That she was fine, but we’re all the ones who are screwed up?”

Did you ever meet with Jane Fonda?
Yes. In the 1970s a girlfriend said, “Come on, I’m going to this event—Jane Fonda is talking, at Warner Brothers Studio.” They had it set up in a big room. She was talking, and I was thinking, “I can’t believe I’m here listening to all of this.” So finally, I stood up and told her: “I don’t even know where you’re coming from. How can you say these things? You know, you went over to the enemy side in the Vietnam War, and I didn’t. I stayed with our troops, which I felt was the honorable thing to do. How can you live with yourself, having done what you did? And how can you be saying today all the things that you’re saying about our government and the oil industry? I can tell you right now, I’m married to an independent oil producer, and it’s costing him more money to get the oil out of the ground than he’s getting for it. He’s losing everything that he owns and he’s going under. And I’m sitting in this room, listening to these disgusting things that you’re saying. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

She said: “You and I need to talk. Would you come up afterwards? Because you and I just need to talk.” Well, that went nowhere. Everybody in the room looked at me like I was some kind of lu-lu.

You married Ty Herrington, whom you met in Vietnam, but that went terribly wrong?
Ty Herrington was a very charming, good-looking guy. I was madly in love with him, and it was so incredibly romantic. I was this Hollywood star, and he was this warrior. He was able to slip out of Vietnam a couple of times. I met him on R&R in Hawaii.

Then we decided to get married, but things started happening right before we got married, things that scared me. I realized that something was very, very wrong—but I went ahead and married him anyway. It was a horrible mistake. He used to put a gun to my head, and a knife to my throat, and he used to strangle me until I passed out. He would get this look in his eyes. I was scared, but I didn’t know how to get out from underneath it.

We moved to Nash­ville because he had a contract with Monument Records. They recorded him singing “When the Green Berets Come Home” and “A Gun Don’t Make a Man”—isn’t that something? I was able to get him to go see a psychiatrist once. The psychiatrist told me that he was a paranoid-schizophrenic manic-depressive, and that he was very dangerous. Then one day he put a gun to his head and he was gone.

Her turning point came during a 1965 visit to California VA hospitals
Her turning point came during a 1965 visit to California VA hospitals
You have remained a tireless supporter of Vietnam vets, with projects such as the Vetsville Cease Fire House you founded in 1993 in Florida to help homeless veterans.
I was living in Palm Beach at the time and married to a lawyer. I would go to United Way meetings and talk about the fact that we needed to do something for homeless vets. People would laugh at me: Here’s this movie actress talking about homelessness—what does she know? All they seemed to care about were all the people coming in from other countries. They didn’t care anything at all about the homeless vets. I finally concluded that none of these people were going to do anything but make fun of me and I would just have to do it all by myself. I woke up one day and said: “That’s it, today’s the day I’m going to do it.” By the end of that week I had a house in Riviera Beach, the roughest area in the entire town. At our opening ceremony, a neighbor walked over to see what was happening. Then he offered me the use of a house he owned that was right next to ours, and he wouldn’t take any money for it. Within about five months he went into foreclosure and lost all of his property. I went to the bank and made a deal to buy his two houses. So now I had three houses there. That’s how it all began, and then it expanded.

And now this project of yours has grown beyond Palm Beach?
Pretty soon we were in three cities, and I had people calling me from different places in the country, wanting me to help them. I don’t take government money. I did in the beginning—I applied for grants, and I did get them, but I don’t have any grants anymore. I just work really hard and have a fundraiser and do a mail-out to try to raise some money to keep the program going.

We are now in another muddled war that the American people are turning increasingly sour on. But so far they haven’t turned against the GIs sent to fight it. Why do you think it’s different this time?

I don’t think it’s different this time. I think they’re just keeping their mouths shut. I have found that if you ask anybody who tells you they were against the war in Vietnam, they will all deny having said anything bad about the GIs. Not one person has admitted to spitting on a GI or calling them names. I think that’s because the Vietnam vets suffered so greatly from the attacks against them, and there was so much emphasis on the reality of PTSD. But I believe that people still have the same thoughts that they had during the Vietnam War.

The only difference is that now it’s become so politically incorrect to say anything negative about the warrior—but they don’t really support the warrior. They’re not the ones who are sending letters over; they’re not saying great things about them. They just pretend that they support the troops but not the war. They may not admit it, but deep in their souls that’s the way they feel. They’re not going to invite GIs to dinner, or invite them over to their home when they come back, or be really good friends with them, or go to any of the veteran functions. Any­way, that’s my personal opinion. I really don’t think it’s changed.

So many of those fighting this war are children or, in some cases, grandchildren of Vietnam veterans. What more can be done to ensure we take bet­ter care of these new veterans?
Just keep fighting for them. Just keep fighting for the veterans’ issues. Keep fighting to make Walter Reed a better hospital—with more doctors. Sometimes our vets are fortunate, and they get a really good doctor; at other times, they are not so fortunate.

What enduring lessons did you gain from your experience during the Vietnam War?
I just think that war is hell, no matter who is fighting or where the wars are. But I think sometimes you have to have war in order to have peace. I mean, I’m just a retired movie actress. What do I know? I just keep fight­ing for what is my truth, trying to make it a better world for as many people as I come in touch with. I try to give the best of myself whenever I’m around other people, and try to be the best person I know how to be.

Claudia Gary is senior editor of Vietnam magazine. David T. Zabecki is senior military historian for Vietnam and all of World History Group’s other magazines. For more about Chris Noel and her work, see

86 Responses to The Vietnam Interview: A Date with Chris Noel

  1. […] The Vietnam Interview: A Date with Chris Noel When Hollywood turned stridently against the Vietnam War and the men who fought it, Chris Noel stuck with the GIs – and she’s still with them. […]

    • david says:

      When I was a young soldier in 1968 I listened to Chrison the radio. She was excellent for morale. Lifted ones spires with her soft lively voice.

    • jay says:

      I was the RTO for Ty Harrington in Vietnam( the Husband of Chris)when he was my Company commander.It was A Co. 2/3 199th LIB.1968.
      I knew him well and he always had the safety of his a priority.

      • Jim says:

        I was in Alpha Company with you Sept 1968 – Jan 1969 with CPT Harrington and he cared more about the welfare and safety of his men than any other officer I served with. Right on, Jay!!!

    • Brad says:

      I served with the army in 1969 and was wounded in December of that year. Cut my tour short, but at least I lived to tell the story.
      I remember having a black and white 8×10 glossy of Chris Noel wearing her white go-go boots. I also remember her visiting the troops in Vietnam. We will always be thankful to her for that.

    • Ray Arabie says:

      She Made a Visit to the Btry I was in in Korea in 1969

  2. WestPointer says:

    Thanks for the fascinating article. I’d never heard of Ms Noel before. The fact that I know everything about Jane Fonda’s involvement in Vietnam but nothing about Ms Noel says so much about what our main stream media choices to cover. Thanks for this article!

  3. Jepson says:

    A wonderful person with a giving and honest character that is not seen much in today’s culture, nor during the Viet Nam area.

    • Vance O'Neal says:

      I was up in what they called the I corps area around the DMZ. Chris Noel radio show was the only bright spot we had that is when we got to listen to her. As another GI said you are beautiful inside and out… maybe I’ll get to meet you before I leave this world. If not you’ll be on the most high throne of heaven, for your truly are the most remarkable lady I know and they should do a movie about your life for what you’ve done in Vietnam.

  4. Eric Weider says:

    Thank you Ms. Noel. You are beautiful inside and out!

  5. Jonathan Hayes says:

    Chris was a heroine to all of us in ’67-’68 and she still is. And she’s right on that nothing’s changed. The anti-military types have found that spitting on vets and calling them babykillers doesn’t get traction anymore. So now it’s support the troops by turning them into some sort of victim they can be patronizing to. Same old song; different words.

  6. Frank McKellar says:

    As a Canadian army officer at the time of Chris
    Noel’s stint with AFRTS (Vietnam) I think she is a U.S. national treasure. A tireless worker for vets when many would have “retired” from that “duty” years ago. Chris was “the girl next door” for many battle-weary troops. Worth a brigade herself…….just in morale boosting! Three cheers for Chris! Frank.

  7. Reality Check says:

    It is amazing to see how can Ms. Noel still fails to grasp the utter policy failure tend heart wrenching waste of lives that was Vietnam. The troops and the public were sold a lie, that it was better to fight the Commies in the jungles of Vietnam rather than on the beaches of California.

    The whole premise of the War was to stop communism from spreading across Asia; ignoring the specific issues at play in Vietnam, that had little to do with East v. West Cold War politics. Just like Jane Fonda and other anti-war protesters predicted, the war was an issue to be resolved by the Vietnamese themselves. the North Vietnamese proved that they were not puppets of China or Russia (their 1979 border war with Communist China and Hanoi’s lukewarm relations with Moscow proved that).When the Vietnamese did march into Cambodia in 1978 to fight the murderous regime of Pol Pot, they did so with the almost universal approval of the international community, including the US.

    The situation in Iraq painfully mirrors that of Vietnam: the internal, ancient religious and ethnic conflicts between Iraqis have nothing to do with the so-called war on terror. 58,000 dead Americans could not stop the unification of Vietnam; likewise, regardless of how many Americans fight and die in Iraq, the future of Iraq will be decided not by the Pentagon or the neo-cons in Washington, but by Shia mullahs of Najaf and Karbala, Sunni sheiks of Anbar and Kurdish leaders in the Mosul and Kirkuk.

    • Seth says:

      Obviously, Reality Check is one of those who believes if you hate the war you must hate the people sent there to fight it.

  8. Tom Knight says:

    Chris Noel is an ANGEL! She will forever occupy a place in my heart for all she’s done for Vietnam vets.
    I lost track of her when I rotated back to “the world” in 1970. May GOD BLESS CHRIS NOEL!
    Love, Tom Knight

  9. Frank Eskridge says:

    This is a comment on a comment, I guess. “Reality Check” said succinctly exactly what I was (and have been for years) thinking. Of course I agree with Miss Noel that holding individual soldiers responsible for Vietnam is (and was) wrong, but I disagree about the current situation. I believe and hope that the American public has gone beyond that, and now recognize that the soldiers only carry out orders, no matter how misguided and stupid.

  10. Romando Echovarde says:

    To Frank…. it is indeed interesting that whatever the outcome of the War in Vietnam was, we did not see any additional countries in South East Asia become socialist or have ties with USSR/China. So, maybe those 54K who died, did die for a purpose…. a line was drawn in the sand and the Russians/Chinese chose not to cross it.

  11. Steve lee says:

    wow, great article. Thank god for people like Chris Noel.

  12. Gene Spanos says:

    For those who were sent with orders for westpac ground forces and served their tours – we thank you.

    For those who did not and have not served their country – then you have no say here.

    For Mr. Reality check to come forward and give his pro left ideas – are just that ideas.

    Its very easy for folks such as him to arm chair quarter back with the ” weak kneed – joint smokers type attitudes”.

    Just think if we always had the benefit to sit out and pick your fight – in this world.
    That’s a beneift we would all like but in all
    REALITY we don’t have.

    Thank you.

    Gene Spanos
    Lieutenant Retired RPD
    Marine Vietnam Combat Veteran
    Member of the Marine Corps League Det # 553
    Park Ridge, IL

  13. J Paul Alston says:

    The real truth is Chris Noel, Bob Hope and others
    were there for the Officers, white soldiers and
    media I served two tours in Viet-Nam. I do not have a good feeling for her.In fact I never saw her.

  14. Joe Messore says:

    I don’t give a crap what your views were-God bless Chris and others like her for giving our boys a taste of home…

  15. Frank McKellar says:

    It’s Frank McKellar again (see comment 6 above). Romando does have a valid point about “a line in the sand.” We will never know the total “good” done. I recall a Russian Officer saying you (Americans) scared the s–t out of them. They did not know you were so tough…..had such endurance! What did that war prevent that we will never know? But, another “Yay” for Chris Noel! Frank McKellar.

  16. Ruben Garcia says:

    41 years ago to the day I arrived in Korea Aco. 1/72 Armor 2nd. Infantry Division Camp Rose. I extended my tour of duty to serve 17 months.June 25,1967 to Nov.17,1968. Thank you Doesnot begin to express my Thanks God Bless You and again Thankyou Very Much !

  17. armand says:

    what most people seem to forget/not realize, then and now, was the US was a part of the SEATO Treaty (SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization), entered into under the Eisenhower Administration, and therefor obligated to come to the aid of South Vietnam when they asked for it, whether we wanted to or not. So to compare the current situation in Iraq with Vietnam is flawed from the start. While I have never served, my father spent two tours in Vietnam, first as an advisor, then as as a rifle company commander in the 9th Infantry Division. Based on his stories when he was assigned to a South Vietnamese unit, they were none too pleased with Americans being there (my father spoke Vietnamese, so they would speak French around him so he wouldn’t know what they were discussing). So the troops that served in Vietnam got it from “both sides”.

  18. LL says:

    Having known Chris and also working with her the past few years, I can say she truely believes in what she has done and will do in the future. She pours her heart out for the soldiers of yesterday and the new veterans of today. As a major donor to her Ceasefire House project, the Namknights MC of Palm Beach County and our Rock and Roll Sunday event fund raiser, know what energy and enthusiasm she puts forth in her personal quest for the veterans of today. God bless Chris and all others like her.

  19. secret says:

    i think that chris noel is really cool i meen that’s jus twaesome that she actually did all that while still at a young age how awesome is that!!!

  20. CWO Love Army Ret says:

    I remember Chris’ show very well – loved it. She would open her show by saying, “Hi Love” and end her show by saying, “bye Love” and of course with my name being Love, I always said she was talking to me.

    • Neil Albaugh says:

      CWO Love;

      You wouldn’t be CWO R.B. Love who was the exec of the 157th Ordnance detachment in Babenhausen in 1962, would you?

      If so, “hello” from SP5 Albaugh, Ground Guidance Section Chief.

  21. CSM (Ret) Lee Ingram says:

    Wow! after all these years emotions are still stirred. regardless of the point of view you have now, or that matter, then, we can all agree that that era was real. We are a stronger country and a more enlightened society as a result of the Viet Nam conflict.
    I am a soldier so I will not attempt to spar with the academics, or the experts on what were the core reasons we entered into that fray. What I can say with absolute certainty is that while we were in that most foriegn of places, it was a god-send to have Chris Noel, Bob Hope and Wally what’s his name fly into our madness for a little while and add some degree of normalcy to a totally screwed up environment. Actually, J. Paul was somewhat on the target when he said most of those shows never made it to where the “boonie” soldiers were. But!!! there were DoNut Dollies that came out pretty regularly and some of them were as pretty as Chris and stayed longer, so to those of you that actually saw Chris in the field… Good for you. For those of us that didn’t, well be grateful for her courage and dedication to the fighting men that did have that moment of sanity and hopefully, happiness in looking upon a true American Girl Next Door! Thank you Chris and all the Red Cross girls that left their sophomore year in college to visit us when we needed you the most.

  22. R. E. says:

    Chris (nee Sandra) is my step-niece and I am as proud of her today as I was back when she was growing up in W. Palm Beach.

  23. Chris Poteat says:

    I served with the 458th PBR’s in Cat-Lai, RVN, and I remember listening to Miss Noel and seeing her photos’ she is as beautiful now as then and her support of us and our troops now is great. I always felt that Hanoi Jane should have been tried for treason.

  24. Mike Higgins says:

    Chris Noel is the “Mother Theresa” of the Vietnam vets, of which I am one. May God bless you, lady. After 34 years in the military and 3 wars in which I was shot at in each and every one, I have come to this conclusion. Only two people have ever volunteered to die for me, Jesus Christ, who died for my sins and the American fighting man who died for my many freedoms. Among those freedoms, shared by all of us, is the freedom to sit comfortably behind that computer screen in the greatest country in the world (I’ve been to 42)and pass judgement on foreign policy, political policy and war management of which none of us know anymore than what our “slanted” and un-objective media wishes to cover. To my warrior brethren who suffer the scars of their experience, you are in my prayers. To those others who have not served, yet care to criticize, remeber this quote from a Marine chaplain:
    It is the soldier and not the journlist who gave you the freedom of the press. It is the soldier and not the organizers who gave you the freedom to assemble. And it is the soldier, who salutes our flag and whose coffin is draped with the flag that gave you the right to burn that flag.

  25. Jim Wiley says:

    I listened to chris noel while in Vietnam 67/68 I wrote her a letter and she sent me a autographed picture in a striped bikini. It is one of the only things I brought home me and I still have . She was such a beautiful person and is one of the only real ggod memories I have of that Hell-hole thank you Chris

  26. Nick Papayani says:

    I am proud to know Chris, be her friend, and to try and help her raise funds for her shelter VETSVILLE CEASE FIRE HOUSE located on 291 NE 19th Avenue, Boynton Beach, Florida. She continues to work tirelessly to help homeless Vets. Show your support by writing Chris and helping if you can.
    Nick SP4 USAR 1963-1969

  27. wounded Viet Nam Vet says:

    To Realtycheck and his ilk, you spew that left wing rhectoric without facts. We were asked to go into South Viet Nam because of the insurgency by the North. It was the North that were committing atrocities and killing innocent villagers for not coming over to their side. We never lost a battle in Viet Nam but thanks to the likes of your liberal socialist leaders (Hanoi Jane Fonda and Walter Conkrite and the left wing media) our country gave up on the war and its soldiers. It was the likes of Conkrite, the media and Hanoi Jane that embolden the Communists to fight on. It was the media and Conkrite that kept telling the American public that the troops could not win the war. HOW SHAMEFUL. Just google Gen. Giap and he tells the exact story in his memomoirs. He states that the North was ready to surrender after TET. Your’r right about Iraq being like Viet Nam, again you left wing liberals and the media putting down and talking down our troops which only embolden the ensurgents to fight on. Do you people not learn from history, but then again you only think with emotions and not with common sense. Another fact is that when American solders go back to revisit they are welcomed with opened arms and get more thanks from the South Viet Namese than when they came home 40 some years ago. They thank us for what we tried to do. Even the old NVA solders commend the American toops for their toughness. Pass your BS on some other liberal site. And a big thank you to Chris for her unselfish deeds for Veterans.

  28. Joseph Didia says:

    Wow, I was thrilled to see Chris Noel is still supporting our vets. I was in a hospital in Viet Nam at Christmas time when this beautiful lady came to visit. It was a field med unit and I can’t remember the name of it, but I remember thinking this is one brave woman to be be here for us since it wasn’t too safe of an area. I’ll never forget her and how happy the guys and I were to see her. God Bless Chris Noel.

  29. Jim Dugan says:

    Chris Noel was not heard on AFVN out of Saigon during my tour
    in 1969-70. She was known to me though as the stateside
    newspapers covered her time in Vietnam before I arrived in-
    country. We are all grateful for her service. She is a true legend of
    the Vietnan War.

  30. Danielle says:

    where the hell can i find a website that i can plug in a specific date and see the event that happened that day in the Vietnam war.

  31. ouiipyt says:

    this is good info

  32. "SURFSIDE" Pete Crellin says:

    We listened to Chris on AF radio in Vietnam in 1968-1969. I was stationed on the USS Sphinx ARL-24′ part of the Mobile Riverine Force in the Mekong Delta. I wrote A letter to her requesting A photo, and within two weeks, I got an 8×10. I’m not sure if one of my shipmates swiped it or my ex-wife threw it out.
    She was A beauty!

  33. COL (Ret.) Gilbert N. San Roman says:

    Chris Noel,

    She has always been there for the Vietnam Veterans. I got to meet her in person at the dedication of the Wall in D.C. There she was still welcoming and supporting our Vietnam Brothers and Sisters.
    She even autographed an album cover for me. Met her again at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire, NM.

    She has always been an Angel to us, and we all love her very much.

  34. William D. Bailiff says:

    Chris, you visited An Thoi naval base in Spring of 1968. Arriving on a “Swift” boat, we could see in the distance your dress flying like a flag as you stood on the stern. Red hair and please excuse me but very pretty knees. Five hundred sailors appreciated your efforts to sing ” I want to help my brothers I’m a stranger in this land”. You were so nervous, your voice kept cracking, you kept looking down, you could not continue singing. Then the in-charge said ” Chris will now pose for photos”. All five hundred of us got to hug your waist as a picture was snapped and given to each man. Thank you so much for raising our morale. You were an angel. Forever, Your grateful sailor.

  35. Dave West says:

    Chris Noel was an amazing person who lifted the spirits of every GI in Vietnam. Politics aside, the typical GI was doing the job they were called to do and we are grateful for people like Chris Noel who put her career on hold to give us the support we needed. I don’t see anyone condeming Bob Hope for doing the very same thing. God Bless you, Chris.

  36. Chuck Watts says:

    I never had the opportunity to meet Chris Noel, but many times I was able to listen to her show over the Armed Forces Network during my time in Southeast Asia (1966-1967). It gave us a little time to forget about our work and remember “the world” !

    Thank You Chris

  37. Don LaFrance says:

    I loved Chis she was the bright side of us being there. I do have a question. What was the name of the song Chris used to sign off the air.

    It was a instrumental, I can hum it but that doesn’t work here. By the way I did 2 tours as a Commo soldier.
    Retired 11B4X Email:
    Thanks Chris for the memories.

  38. Roger says:

    Chris was a pin up girl for me when I was overseas in 69-70. She is one great girl. Thank you for everything and for the memories of a time so long ago.

  39. Jim Wilson says:

    Dear Chris
    you are the best we listened to you every day and you are always in our heart thank you for bringing joy and love to to us in the Nam we got your six
    Jim Wilson
    188 assault Helicopter co Dautieng RVN 67-68

  40. Earl says:


    Have always wanted to say thanks, just never knew how.

    Thanks Chris for who you were and are.

  41. Sir Khan Ok says:

    Many tnx to Ms. Chris Noel. I was deeply moved by what you did during the Vietnam campaign, sacrificing all your life. And you surely deserve of full admiration from all Americans , Vets ,and people all over the world. Sir-khan Ok from Korea.

  42. Gary Chenett says:

    Chris Noel is the only entertainer or American civilian I have saw in the boonies.
    No others were crazy enough to come out to the hot spots were were in, Well there was one person who was crazy enough and brave enough it was Chris
    I served in III Corps with the U.S. Army Big Red One with the 1st/4th Calvary. It was some time late in 1967. We had been out for a month or more and were hot, dirty, disgusted and busting our rears daily chasing Charlie down.
    I was coming in from a late afternoon patrol and here sat this gorgeous round eye on the running board of a Deuce and 1/2 Truck. She was wearing white Go Go boots and and nice short skirt.
    I immediately said to her Darling what are you doing out here? You are going to get yourself killed.
    She laughed and said baby I am here to sing you guys some songs , The perimeter was small, we moved every 3 days or so to prevent Charlie from getting us bracketed in. So were were close
    together. We were a hit and run group.
    It was deep in the jungle. We had maybe a Company of Infantry tops, one platoon of Calvary Tanks & APC’s ( 10 armored track total) and several batteries of artillery which were 105’s and 8 inch guns
    Chris had a hand held megaphone and a Vet playing a guitar and she sang to us and made us laugh for maybe a hour.
    I know not a guy there will ever forget her.
    I took many pictures of her and before Chris left she gave us all a hug before she jumped back onto the Chopper to visit her next group of young Vets like myself. I was 20 and the old man on our APC.
    I met here again in 2002 in New Orleans at a Big Red One Reunion, She was as sweet as ever.
    I told her about the photos I had taken of her and she said “I sure wish I could see them” I said well Darling come on down to the CP the 1/4 Cav has set up in the hotel.
    In a flash she was there and asked to make copies of the photo’s and of course she signed several for me.
    Chris is a fantastic lady. A true American Patroit.
    She also works very hard and runs a home for homeless Veterans in Florida,
    We are lucky to have such a caring Movie Star that took some big chances to come out in the boonies to make all of us smile and laugh before we got back to the war.
    God Bless You Chris.
    Gary Chenett
    The Big Red One 1st/4th Calvary Bravo Troop The Nam 67/68

    • Robert Brown says:

      Always imagined Chris as a beautiful blonde. She was and still is! Listened to her while I was a a place called Blackhorse with the 11th ACR. That Lady will always be dear to all of our hearts! God Bless YOU Chris Noel!!!

  43. SHACONDA says:


  44. Ivan Tribe says:

    Hi Chris:
    Just reading the comments from soldiers who fondly remember your service; or at least most of them do. It must feel good to be appreciated. Hope we can meet again soon at a film fair, or someplace.
    While I’m not a veteran…
    Thanks for your service.
    Ivan Tribe

  45. Roger says:

    Chris Noel was my pin up girl overseas and I had two or three pictures of her in my locker. She is one great lady unlike Jane fonda the traitor. Three cheers for Chris Noel !!!!!!!!

  46. Bill Barham says:

    I hate to see this kind of thing get political. And the negative statements are usually by individuals who knew or know nothing of what Chris Noel meant to the Grunts in Viet Nam. In fact I would be willing to bet they somehow dodged the draft or flew north.
    I didn’t get to see any of the ‘big’ shows over there. Once during a stand down I saw an Australian Rock & Roll group and once Chris Noel came to me.. I was with the 101st in the Au Shau Valley when we saw a chopper coming in. There was no more than seven or eight of us around but she spent a good hour singing, telling stories and just talking to us. I thought she was beautiful and was enthralled by her being there, not very far from danger, just to be with us. That’s what it was you know, just being with us meant more to me than anything I could imagine at the time. I still have a picture Chris signed for me that day, “To Bill, Love Chris”, framed and sitting on a bookshelf in my den. When there are days that I somehow think back to the horror I feel I went through when l just have to look at that picture, see Chris’ smile, and start feeling better. God Bless Her!

  47. SURFSIDE PETE says:

    I remember Chris Noel. I served on the USS Sphinx ARL-24, with the Mobile Riverine Force(TF-117) in the MeKong Delta, 1968-1969.
    Chris would be on the Armed Forces Radio Network every day playing music for us. It was refreshing to hear A woman’s soft voice in such A war torn country.
    One of the guys bet me, that I didn’t have the guts to send A letter to her, asking for A signed photo of her. I received the photo and A short letter of thanks for listning to her show.
    I never got to thank her, so, ” THANKS CHRIS!”

  48. J.B. Mason says:

    Greetings Chris, as I read your interview you brought tears to my eyes and took me back when I use to listen to you on my watch late at night in my bunker with that transistor radio. Sometime I think to myself what the hell did I survive when my buddies did not make it home. Yes, PTSD haunts me to this day, but you have been an inspiration to us Vietnam Veterans, what a waste to give all that up for nothing, but I am surviving again for what I do not know. I know I am feeling sorry for myself and again no one understands what were going through, that we will take to our graves……

  49. Carl Crisp says:

    Never got to see Chirs in person, did visit with Ann B. Davis and George Peppard at our base or out in the Delta boonies. But, I heard her on AFVN radio and saw her in the Bob Hope TV specials. God Bless her. Chris will always be loved and appreciated by all of us who faced the enemy for our country in the ‘Nam.

    Carl Crisp
    Crew Chief / Gunner – Red Knights
    114th AHC, 1st Avn. Bde.
    Vinh Lone, RVN (IV Corps)

  50. John Edgerly says:

    I have written other sites dedicated to Chris Noel, but you can’t honestly say enough about what this lovely woman put into her service to Vietnam era soldiers/veterans. I was fortunate to not have to go to the ‘Nam; still recollect, however, her “A Date With Chris” radio program, which was still on in 1970 while I was working at the Schofield Barracks(Oahu, Hawaii) telecommunications center. This is why so many men who were in the armed forces at that time–and treated like dirt by hippies and women’s libbers–will never have much fondness for that period. I nonetheless remain proud of what Chris achieved by her dedication and courage to actually risk herself while entertaining the guys out in the war-torn boondocks. Bravo, Chris Noel!

  51. Dai Uy USN says:

    I recently had a batch of my Viet Nam slides converted to CD and I have a picture of Chris in that silver outfit she describes. I was near the end of my tour and had never seen a mini skirt. She must have just arrived in Saigon, it was Dec or Jan ’66-’67 and took the time to chat with us and pose for photos.
    I am glad I googled her name and found this site and a lot of info I never knew about her.
    I’d be glad to share her photo.
    I also ran in to Martha Raye in the high country of Da Lat scrounging up veggies for her Green Berets. She too was very friendly and a treasure.

  52. Jim Smith (LTC Ret'd) says:

    I met Miss Noel twice: she accompanied Jack Jones at a show for the troops at Oxnard AFB, CA in 1966 and during her visit to Osan AFB, Korea in 1967 while she was THE disk jockey for AFRTS. Unlike many famous or important people, both times she seemed truly nice, no fake persona, and interested in everyone around her. Gravity wasn’t pulling everyone to her; she swept to everyone (even us lowly E3s). I didn’t know until today about her involvement with vets for all these years. I always wondered what happened to her after such a strong career opening. Guess she suffered career-wise because of her support and focus on the soldier. Great lady by all accounts. Huah! Miss Chris.

  53. dave mason says:

    Wow!! I am deeply moved by the work she has done during her lifetime. A true American Hero. So often women of beauty waste it on trivial matters but she used hers to support the troops. She not only supported them but related to them on a personal level and knew their pain and I think she felt it deep within her. We need more Americans like her who not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. God Bless you Ms. Noel

  54. Frank A. LoPresti says:

    I was still in high school while Chris was active in Vietnam (I graduated in June of 1968). No, I didn’t serve in Vietnam . . . but there is a part of me that wishes I could have been there! I attended college during the war (1968-1972), and I felt GUILTY then, and still do!!

    So often during my student days, I would take long walks along the Lake Michigan shoreline . . . and wonder how many guys my age had been killed, wounded, or just driven insane, while I was safe and sound at home.

    Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

    What makes MY life worth more than the lives of those who died?

    Why does serving your country always have to involve killing people from other countries?

    Why do some people seem to breeze through life, while others bear all the pain and misery?

    I know I’ll never find answers to any of these questions, but I do know this: CHRIS NOEL IS AN UNSUNG AMERICAN HERO . . . IF THERE IS A HEAVEN, CHRIS, THAT’S WHERE YOU’RE GOING . . . what can I say but . . . thank you for helping some of my friends whom I’ve nver met . . . PEACE!!!

  55. Gedeon Croteau says:

    Although this is the first I have heard of Chris Noel I do believe she is worthy of any and all awards for her civilian involvement, then and now a very brave person.

  56. Robert Routh says:

    I love Chris Noel as I think anyone does who ever saw her or listened to her on Armed Forces Radio. I was not in Vietnam but we heard her loud and clear in other places too. She was the voice of home. And we loved her.

  57. Joe Reed says:

    Thank God for Chris Noel.

    She’s right. Our baby boomer citizens will never alter their dogmatic beliefs against Vietnam Vets, including most of the mental health professional workers. She hit that right on. In my view, most mental health workers also currently remain incompetent and politically tainted regarding treatment of war vets; although, now it is not largely anti-war political bias, but is also now heavily money-cost driven.

    She also got another big one: in the end, you have to just keep helping the Vietnam Vets as best as you can. They deserve it. Myself, I will never, ever let anyone say that any of our WWII Vets aren’t just as good as Vietnam Vets.

    And as General Abrams concluded, after the utter destruction of Giapp’s million man invading army back in 1973, the South Vietnamese have shown themselves to be more than capable of handling ANYTHING the communitst can muster against them. And regarding the war itself, General Abrams said it best: The South Vietnamese are WORTH IT.

    The truth is, that General Abrams, Chris Noel, the US Veterans and the S. Vietnamese won the war. The TRUTH is important. LATER, in 1974 and 1975 our treasonous-cowardly-selfish (you pick the best descriptor) US Congress abandoned our worthy ally and our Vietnam Vets by cutting off money and supplies to the S. Vietnamese. That is the true history. And that is what will be remembered and concluded generations from now. The TRUTH will live on long after we are gone.

    Thanks to General Abrams, Chris Noel, and all of our US Veterans and S. Vietnamese who fought successfully for their country.

    Joe Reed, 2/5 Marines, An Hoa, 1970.

  58. michael o'connell says:

    I can’t believe some of the anti war comments on this site. It’s not about the policy ,boys; it’s about the men who were there. They had no say in the policy; only a duty to perform. I was a grunt in 1968 with the 101st; hearing this woman on the radio was incredible. Thank you Chris.

  59. Tom Tac says:

    Well said. Whether the folks stateside were “hawks” or “doves” or just “confused” about the war itself, what Chris manages to get across, in interviews like this, was just some idea of how far just a little taste of “home” could go, to those in service in Vietnam. Or in any of the wars before or since.

    That she’s still in service to the soldiers, I think it shows she still stands by her motto, “Do the right thing.” God’s Blessings, Chris.

  60. Jeff Colt says:

    I was in the Mekong Delta on the Bossac River a klick off the Cambodian Border in a Special Forces Camp in 67 & 68. Not too many people came that far out, but Chris’s voice over the radio, bought some sense of harmony out there. She will forever be a Hero in my eyes. She sacrificed her career for the Troops in ‘Nam. She was the “Martha Raye” of the air waves!

    • Phil Childrey says:

      Jeff, nice to hear fm another blankethead fm Nam. I was at A-433 My Da in IV corp East of Nui Coto mountain and north west of Can To. Was the Radio Operator Supv.
      Rtn to US and became Law Enforcement and reserve SF team Sgt in Va.
      Retired and was called back to active duty and ended up retiring in 2009. Current SF guys held me above them for how we lived in the boonies and what little equipment we had comparied to now. They are better educated than most of us were and not as close as we were, but damm good troops.
      Thanks De Oppresso Libre

  61. Terry Kaiser says:

    I was stationed at Camp Goodman when Chris and Martha Raye first came to visit. Ty Harrington was my B Team Special Forces commander. I remember Chris as a beautiful out going woman. It was obvious to all that there was an imediate attraction between Chris and Ty. I was impressed that Chris had come to vietnam for the troops. I also was saddned when Ty took his life. I thought the world of him as a commander, a soldier, and a friend. Chris, I hope you are doing well it has been a long long time. Go Bless.

  62. Bill Rivers says:

    I was with the 7th MASH 44th Medical Brigade stationed in Fire Base Black Horse outside Xuan Loc Vietnam in Dec 68 thru 69. Never got to see to many shows. But I remember good morning Vietnam at 6am every morning. Chicken Man the wing warrior. haha I had the lonely shift 6pm to 6am I would sit up in the dark all night. Sometimes pretty scary when the wounded started coming in then a lot of adrenaline was used up. At nineteen years old I wasn’t ready to see that many wounded in dead every night. I would pray for quiet nights, then the radio would go off. Some dust off giving me his coordinates bringing in wounded GI’s and a Victor Charlie now and then. Then your adrenaline gets going and you half to bring that chopper in making no mistakes. After a while you realize the people who your trying to save are more scared than you. I remember it all very vividly but don’t miss it one bit

  63. Mike Jones says:

    I attended the !st Infantry Division several days ago and a life long Viet Nam buddy introduced me to her and I was speechless. She gave me a hug. and it made the long drive to Memphis Tn well worth it. I’ll never forget it..Later when I got back down on the ground from cloud nine, I desperately wanted a picture with her but missed her..

  64. […] The Vietnam Interview: A Date with Chris Noel ^^ For those who don't remember. ^^ __________________ Rex […]

  65. Robert Scott says:

    I got there too late to meet her, but heard lots of good comments, and saw some great pictures of her. In the other hand, I WAS there when the traitor went to the north, and cavorted with the NVA, and the AA batteries that occasionally shot HER fellow Americans down. She SHOULD have been tried for high treason, and executed with malice. Yes, fellow vets, I STILL hold a grudge. I served in ICorp, and flew with VQ1. Yeah, I was Navy, but we all had our jobs, and we all did them! Chris, thank you for EVERYTHING! And God Bless everyone who served, and who is serving now! You left wing critters, well you know what I think of you, and yes you sorry pricks spit on us when we got home. If you don’t have a clue, don’t open your pie hole! All my best to the vets, we did what was the right thing to do!

  66. B. Jolly says:

    I am sorry but I don’t think Chris Noel should receive anything from the government or any one else because she only supported the Viet Nam Era. She should still be supporting all the military troops today that are serving, signing their death certificate, to serve and protect the USA and its citizens.

  67. Joe Reiher says:

    I still have my autographed photo of Chris from in country \68-69′

  68. Hieu says:

    May God bless you Chris Noel peace forever, Amen!

  69. Glenn J says:

    So what is your point Reality Check? Chris was there to support the troops, not the people that sent them there. You don’t know Jack about her \grasp\ of policy or heart wrenching waste.

  70. […] Entertainer Chris Noel gives her first performance for the USO at two hospitals in California; became a star on Armed Forces Radio and Television, entertaining troops in Vietnam; in 1984 Veterans Network honored her with a Distinguished Vietnam Veteran award. […]

  71. Robert N. Peterson says:

    I was an Army pilot. On Christmas day, 1967 as we approached the Pleiku (SP?) airport, I reported having a code 2 (VIP rating) on board. Tower operator responded, Code name, please. I answered, No code name but I have a CHRIS-mas present for you. Tower op stuttered, Thaaatttsss the one we are waiting for!!!
    She was my passenger again on New Year’s Day ’68. A long story there!

  72. […] The Vietnam Interview: A Date with … – Vance O’Neal 4/17/2011 . I was up in what they called the I corps area around the DMZ. Chris Noel radio show was the only bright spot we had that is when … […]

  73. […] The Vietnam Interview: A Date with … – Vance O’Neal 4/17/2011 . I was up in what they called the I corps area around the DMZ. Chris Noel radio show was the only bright spot we had that is when … […]

  74. […] went to Vietnam in December 1966 with veteran comedian Bob Hope to entertain American soldiers. A Date With Chris Noel: Did your helicopter ever come under fire? Were there any close calls on the ground? I only […]

  75. Pherber says:

    What an amazing lady! I wish she had become a huge Hollywood star instead of that traitor Hanoi Jane. My dad and all Vietnam vets cannot stand Jane Fonda and what she did to them.

  76. frankjohnson221 says:

    1967 she walked into my room at Chu Lai, I looked up from my desk and she was standing there wearing a mini-skirt and before could open my mouth(which was probably already open) she was whisked away by higher ranking officers–a beautiful girl.

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