USA: Multi-Purpose Amphibious Assault Ship Hosts Pop Icon


A former United Service Organizations (USO) and chart-topping singer visited multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) April 25, while the ship was in port for Fleet Week Port Everglades 2011.

Singer Connie Francis was a chart topping pop musician in the 1950s and 1960s, and performed with the United Service Organizations (USO) for troops in Vietnam. This was her time on board a Navy ship since 1967.

“This is the experience of a lifetime; this is an absolute thrill,” she said. “This is what I liked best so far.

Francis toured the ship’s well deck, vehicle stowage areas, hangar bay, hospital, and enlisted mess. She said her father inspired her to support service members, and that her career began with her performing in veterans hospitals when she was only 10 years old.

“Service members are heroes,” said Francis. “They lay their lives on the line for us everyday. We can’t pay them enough for that.”

Lt. j.g. Dave Wilcox, USS Iwo Jima boilers officer, led Francis on her tour of the ship and said he felt privileged to have the opportunity to meet her.

“It reminded me of my childhood growing up listening to her records with my mother and father,” said Wilcox.

Wilcox said it was great to meet someone who had experience entertaining troops in Vietnam, and felt that she bridged the gap between him and the previous generation because of her experience with the military.

“It’s amazing to listen to someone who talks about Douglas MacArthur because she knew him,” said Wilcox.

Francis is involved with the Mental Health America organization and is their spokesperson for their trauma campaign raising money to support wounded warriors. Some of her hit songs include “Where the Boys Are,”Lipstick On Your Collar,”Who’s Sorry Now,” and “Stupid Cupid”.

Fleet Week Port Everglades 2011 brought more than 2,500 Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen to participate in this South Florida tradition honoring the sea services and establishing relationships through community outreach, public tours of sea platforms, and general tourism.

By Zane Ecklund (navy)
Source: navy, April 28, 2011;