Editor: For the majority of us the Vietnam War was, to use an old cliche, "A Hell on Earth" - We searched for moments to escape the reality around us and found some "Sunny Skies" and humor from a 19 year old girl, that made a real difference. Here is her story:
As the camera pans back from the mini-skirted blonde in front of a U.S. weather map in a Saigon TV studio, she bids greetings to the “fellas in the 175th Radio Research Company motor pool” and purrs her signature sign off: “Until tomorrow, have a pleasant evening, weather-wise and you know, of course, otherwise.”
With that, the Box Tops’ hit single “The Letter” begins to blare—“Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane, Ain’t got time to take a fast train” and Bobbie the Weathergirl starts grooving to the music. Thus ended one of hundreds of Armed Forces Vietnam (AFVN) broadcasts by the young and adventurous Agency for International Development (AID) clerk and volunteer morale booster, Bobbie Keith.
Keith spent most of her childhood abroad. Her father was a veteran of World War II and Korea and was an Army intelligence officer during the Vietnam War. After finishing high school in Japan and attending two years at Sophia University in Tokyo, she returned to the States with her parents in 1966.
Then, the 19-year-old in search of adventure and a way to serve her country joined AID and was off to Vietnam. Plucked from obscurity to deliver the weather report on evening AFVN news broadcasts, the vivacious Keith etched her image into the memories of hundreds of thousands of Americans serving in Vietnam from 1967 to 1969.
She was a sight for sore eyes in a hostile world and provided plenty of comic relief on the air as well as in person during hundreds of trips to visit troops from the DMZ to the Delta. When Keith left Vietnam for a nearly two-decade career of globetrotting in the service of the State Department, she abandoned any notions of a TV career, but never forgot what she regarded as the greatest honor in her life, bringing a little bit of comfort and home to young men fighting in Vietnam.
In 2008, Keith was awarded the Vietnam Veterans of America President’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. Now living in Florida, Bobbie Keith continues to support Vietnam veterans and their causes and frequently speaks to young people and patriotic groups such as the Korean war vets, Jewish war vets and the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) about the American experience in Vietnam.
LINK: To read a full interview with Bobbie Keith the Weathergirl and see more photographs and video of Bobbie in Vietnam, visit HistoryNet.com.