The Ghost of Bob Hope

Doing the Baghdad boogie with traveling band Jack Knife & the Sharps

Hollister: Yeah. But I never went into the city. They kept us on a base. Then we flew in the middle of the night again, after doing a show, from Fallujah to Basra.

When we were in Basra, because we took so many mortar hits, they sent a special SUV that was bulletproof. When I went to open the door, I thought it was locked. The door was so heavy that I just couldn't get it to open. They told me that one of those took a direct [rocket-propelled grenade] hit. It went underneath the car, lifted it up. Everybody lost their hearing for a week, but they drove away.

They survived it. They made sure we were safe. As safe as they could...there's always a danger, they warn you, that a mortar could hit us. As a matter of fact, we had one lying pretty close, but it didn't go off. It was a dud.

Are you sure we couldn't just rock the Casbah instead? Jack Knife & the Sharps, seen here in Al-taqaddum, took mortar rounds on their way to a gig in Basra
Jack Knife & the Sharps
Are you sure we couldn't just rock the Casbah instead? Jack Knife & the Sharps, seen here in Al-taqaddum, took mortar rounds on their way to a gig in Basra

CP: You say you never really felt in danger, but you never left military bases?

Hollister: That's right. That's why I never felt in danger. When I did this I had a sense that I was not going to be put in harm's way. I knew full well they weren't going to ask the band to go to Iraq and leave us out in the boondocks to get shot. That wouldn't look good on the news.... If something happened to me it was going to be a fluke. It would've just been my time.

When I got back I did a show down in Baxter, Iowa, and they had to bring in the ambulances and the police because some guys were beating up on each other. They were hauling women away in ambulances. I seen more blood when I got back than I did in Iraq.

And then two days later somebody stole my truck [laughs]. The cop was laughing when I told him I just got back from two weeks in Iraq and I've seen more action here in two days in Minnesota and Iowa than the whole time I was gone.

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