Little Pattie Interview on Talking Heads

Lorrae Desmond entertaining the troops


"When I got to Vietnam, they were my boys and they still are my boys. They even gave me a plaque saying, "To the mother of all Vietnam veterans" which I love.

One of the highlights of all times in my life was the Welcome Home march for the Vietnam veterans. As all the battalions went by, they were saying, "G'day, Lorrae." I said, "Hi". So they grabbed me and I moved in the middle of a battalion and that's where I was. Nobody knew I was there but I did.

After the Welcome Home march came the Welcome Home concert.

Well, not only the troops but their family and their children were with them. And when I sang the first three notes of the song that I really took as my own but I did my own version of it - 'Leaving on a Jet Plane' - I sang, "My bags are packed" and they went, "Whoa!" and 20,000 people stood and held their arms out. I nearly died with my leg in the air. I don't know how I got on with that song. I just...I nearly choked to death.

When I first sang the song in Vietnam, they were all emotional. I said, "I'll never sing it again." They said, "Oh, please, it's our song. You must sing it again." So I did. But it hurt them because... You know, most soldiers wanna be with the people they love most. They weren't."

Dinah Lee

Today, I am so glad I did it because all through my life now, entertaining I've had people that have come up to know, men saying like - ‘you don't know what that did for us'.  You don't realise when you talk to these people, like I've done the Vietnam reunions just recently, you don't realise when you talk to these guys, you know, who are now, you like, old men...they're older men now, grandfathers.  Of course in those days they were 19, 20,

You know, we were in the sixties having all this fun, then all of sudden whisked away to war, you know, it was this new era that everybody was fabulous, everybody could get a job, everybody was young, everybody was making money, this new music...girls were freer, men were freer - do you know what I mean?  We sort of had a mind of our was're not allowed to do that.  This was lifted, you were free - it was a free era.  Then all of a sudden these young guys went to Vietnam, and of course that changed them forever, you know, and when you see them they talk to you, and like they just still adore you and they'll be your fans forever.