Angels In Our Midst

Angels In Our Midst

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Angels In Our Midst (Bob Gate/Bob Hope)

Updated: Tuesday, March 19 2013, 11:01 AM CDT
Colonel Bob Gates, USAF (Ret.); "He looked at me and he said, 'You're going to fly me all over this country of Alaska and the Aleutians' and I said, 'Yes, sir.' He says, 'Well, how old are you?' I said, 'I'm 22.' He said, 'You still got growing pains.' He was still calling me growing pains right up until three months before he died."

It was the beginning of a friendship that would span more than 60 years. Air Force Pilot Colonel Bob Gates would fly the legendary Bob Hope to hundreds of USO shows racking up untold miles and memories. Take the time hope insisted on staying to do a second show for the troops and forced an unprecedented night flight out of Valdez, Alaska, the right engine quits, the radio goes out and they're at 11-thousand feet over the mountains.

Col. Bob Gate; "General Butler had the sense enough to turn on all the search lights over Anchorage. And we got down to about six thousand feet and saw this glow and we circled down and landed."

"And I was the last one to come out and Bob came over and put an arm around me, and this was where our friendship started, he said, 'Come on, let's go to the barracks and change our drawers.'"

And of course, there were the good times so many of them.

The best time in my life was sitting down with him at breakfast and going over the newspaper and what was going on. He kept very, very, very close relationships with the politicians.

Which might explain why Colonel Gates pulled the Bob Hope Assignment through World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

Bob had a lot of pull. So, he would ask for me.

In turn, the colonel could call on his friend. When he set out to build a widows' retirement home to honor the enlisted men who served with him, he called on Hope to help raise the millions they would need.

"We got Lee Greenwood. Oh, there's so many entertainers, Willie Nelson. Reba was there. Oh, Reba, she's a great little gal."

For more than a dozen years, his friend hosted a Calvary Of Stars to build and sustain what became Bob Hope Village and Theresa Village in Shalimar. Just months before his death in 2003 at age 100, Bob Hope sent a priceless gift to his friend.

"To put this beautiful building there and it's named the Bob Gates Welcome Center. I can't believe I've got a million dollar building named after me."

"Life with Bob Hope was wonderful. And I, when I met him in Alaska that night, it changed my whole life."Angels In Our Midst (Bob Gate/Bob Hope)

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Washington Times