Nikki Jacobsmeyer’s job as a USO entertainer is to help the men and women in uniform forget that a war is raging in the Persian Gulf.
“Our job is to try to take their mind off the war for a while,” Jacobsmeyer said. “We don’t talk about the war, we just try to entertain them, and they appreciate that.”
The tall, strawberry-blond singer, who specializes in ‘50s songs and pop music, is a new USO entertainer from Simi Valley. She has performed three times at the Seabee base at Port Hueneme since December, both for military personnel and their families, and is scheduled to perform next week at Ft. Irwin, an Army base in a remote area of San Bernardino County.
Last week’s show at Port Hueneme was put on by the USO Hollywood Mobile Shows, a Van Nuys-based group of professional and semi-professional entertainers who donate their time and talents to help the USO entertain troops at military installations throughout California and the Pacific Northwest.
The show was part of a homecoming celebration for Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4, which returned recently from the gulf. It was a difficult assignment, Jacobsmeyer said, because the servicemen want to talk after the performance, not just have her sign autographs.
“It’s hard going to the base and meeting these guys and knowing that they are going off again,” she said. “It becomes personal. I get letters and phone calls from them.”
Despite the tension and the tight security at the base, morale was good, Jacobsmeyer said.
“The mood was extremely high. Everyone was glad to be home, but they are very anxious to go back. They believe in what they are doing.”
Jacobsmeyer, 22, a theater major at Brigham Young University and a performer for four years at the Moorpark Melodrama Theatre, previously worked as an editorial assistant for a San Fernando Valley newspaper.
Last spring, she saw a press release about an audition for USO Hollywood Mobile Shows.
She was accepted, but her work schedule conflicted with the shows until she was laid off in August.
Even though she has only performed three times, she feels that she’s a part of the USO family of entertainers.
“I’m looking for a job, but I will always have time for the USO. It’s a priority in my life,” she said.
“Theater work was my outlet before, but you get so much more out of this, even though you don’t get any money. It’s quite an honor to be a part of it, a lot of fun, but it’s hard work.”