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Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders -

Their First European Tour and How it Came to Camp Lee, 2/11 ACR

In March 1980, the Show Group of the Dallas Cowboy Football Cheerleaders conducted a brief USO / Department of Defense tour of US military bases in Germany. This was the first time the Cheerleaders performed in Europe but it would hardly be the last. Through the ensuing years, the Cheerleaders participated in over 75 USO tours to virtually every country that hosted US service men and women and other NFL teams have likewise joined in these morale boosting efforts.  Thanks NFL for all the games and thanks cheerleaders on tour for the diversions.  Where ever we were you guys also showed up, regardless of the decade - what a wonderful show!

   
  Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in performance during the 1979 NFL season  

Much of the fine detail of this first brief visit is now lost, the exact itinerary, number of performances and specific locations is unknown but we do know  some of their stops. They made appearances at the US Army Barracks Baumholder, Conn Barracks in Schweinfurt, Camp Lee and then Downs Barracks, Fulda.  Did they stop at Daley Barracks along the way?  There is simply no evidence - maybe they went to the Hawk site, maybe pressed for time - they simply drove by.

   
  The US Army Schweinfurt Public Affairs Office retained this image of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders taken on their Christmas Tour in Korea, 1979.  The photo was probably part of the advance publicity as the tour came to Germany in 1980.  

In telling this story, we owe great thanks to the newspapers of the  US Army in Germany that first reported on the tour and the Public Affairs Officers who maintained the files for long years until we came looking.

Click on the thumbnail to bring up the full-sized picture
   

Kim Kilway - a dance and drama major at North Texas State University, she assisted greatly in retelling this story and is still very active in the fitness and entertainment industry in Houston.

 

Teri Richardson - a star athlete in high school with a passion for performance.  Her obituary is here:  http://blackdcc.net/page72.html

 

Kim McKinney - one of the most talented singers to perform with the DCC, during the Germany tour, she was in school at the University of Texas at Arlington.

   

Sherrie Worthington - a graduate of North Texas State, she was employed as a teacher during her DCC career.

 

Jill Waggoner - originally from Los Angeles, she was in graduate school during the Germany tour.  After leaving the DCC, she went on to medical school and currently is a physician, author and public speaker.  Her twitter feed  is here:  https://twitter.com/AskDrJill
And a bio is here:  http://blackdcc.net/page35.html

 

Suzette Scholz - from Phoenix, she was a nursing student at Baylor during her DCC career.  She is still professionally active in that field.

   

Debbie White - was attending the University of Texas during the Germany tour, went into business after leaving the DCC.

 

Syndy Garza - a Texas Tech graduate in 1980 with a degree in education, she balanced her teaching career with cheerleading duties and found time to participate in the Germany tour.

 

Suzanne Mitchell - the heart, soul and manager of the cheerleaders from their modern day inception in the early 1970s through their spectacular growth in popularity thru the late 1980s
A history of the DCC recalling Suzanne’s activities
 On line interview

Something to Cheer About:

Stars and Stripes Newspaper

13 March 1980

Cowboy Cheerleaders Kick Off USO Tour

“ We’re real people not … not sex pots. “

Keith Bennetts - Entertainment Editor

They may be the heart throbs of armchair quarterbacks and the envy of football widows across America, but the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders say they are much more than just an enterprising group of young women with long legs, shapely figures and pretty faces.

“ We’re real people, “ said Jill Waggoner, one of the eight cheerleaders here on an 11 day USO tour.  “ We have careers and full lives … we’re not sex pots. “

Waggoner said that although physical attractiveness is part of their success, the Cheerleaders don’t consider themselves sex objects. 

“ Some people have warped ideas or dirty minds and they can choose to look at what we do in whatever way they want to - and that’s their right, “ she explained. 

“ However each of us are individuals with our on jobs and lives to lead.  When people get a chance to know us and talk to us as individuals they see we’re just like everybody else.   If I thought that I was doing was in any way dirty, I wouldn’t be here.  I don’t think any of us would.  We have to live and work in the community like everyone else. “ 

Several women in the touring group have attended college and all have jobs or avocations other than cheerleading.  “ One of the myths people tend to have about us is that we all want to be movie stars someday and we’re using the Cheerleaders to get there, “ said Debbie White, a secretary for a Fort Worth company and in her second years as a Cheerleader.

“ It’s just not true.  I don’t think there’s one of us here who has those kind of aspirations. “

Waggoner added that many people are shocked to learn the Cheerleaders are, “  human beings, too. “

“ When some people first meet you they say - ’ Well what do you do? ’ I tell them I work and go to school just like everyone else and I don’t intend to be a Cheerleader all my life … Sometimes you get the feeling that people really expect us to just pop up out of the ground at the games and then just disappear again! “ she said.   

“ I think with our USO Shows and other performances, we have tired to show people that we just don’t stand there - that we can speak intelligently and that we have minds, “ added Suzette Scholz, a three year veteran with the Cheerleaders. 

“ With the shows, we get a chance to sing and dance and show people that we can do other things besides just stand up and smile on the sidelines of football games. “

Sex Show Image

Suzanne Mitchell, vice president of the cheerleaders travels with the group on show tours.  She says dispelling the “ sex show “ image has been a problem.  

“ You’d really be surprised just how many people think I am some kind of madam procuring these girls for all sorts of things, “ she said.  “ There’s  nothing wrong with being sexy … it’s all in how you handle it and carry yourself.  These are beautiful, dignified young ladies.  Their uniforms are contoured to their bodies not only to highlight that beauty but for performance purposes as well.

“ We are entertainers - just like entertainers in Broadway shows or other performers who wear attractive costumes.  Some people try and separate us from the entertainment business - but you can’t because that is really what we are all about - entertainment. “

Whatever the reason for their success, the Cheerleaders have become the darlings of the gridiron.  Dressed in white hot pants and boots, royal blue shirts and star - spangled mini vests, they parlayed their sideline shows into a booming business enterprise - with calendars, posters and other promotional paraphernalia.

Some Squads Failed

Although several other National Football League teams have cashed in on the “ beauty on the sidelines “ bonanza,  none have enjoyed the national recognition of the Cowboys cheerleading corps.  Outcries from feminists, moralists and other groups in other cities, including Washington and Los Angles have forced some teams to either abandon or tone down cheerleading shows.

“ I think one of the reasons we are so successful is that we have a good organization and work so hard.  We didn’t start out looking for fame or anything like that - it just kind of gradually worked out, “ said Kim Kilway, a North Texas State University student.  “ I think that maybe some of the other teams may have tried to achieve success too fast - maybe that’s why some of them had problems.”

     
 

The DCC were becoming a national sensation in the late 1970s.  Beyond the football sidelines, there were many TV appearances including the Love Boat program.

 

The corps of Cheerleaders in a publicity still

 

“ Having a winning team to root for was a big factor too, “  added Waggoner.  “ Without the Cowboys, we wouldn’t be here. “   The Cheerleaders who recently completed a USO tour in Korea, will be in Europe through March 21 doing shows and making appearances at USAREUR and USAFE installations and remote sites.  Local events calendars should be consulted for playing dates, times and locations. 

Suzanne Mitchell

Director of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders 1975 - 1989

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  And the first of two Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader made for TV movies, seen here with  popular 1970s star, John Davidson.   Guess who’s coming to town!   Baumholder MILCOM delivers the file recalling the Cheerleaders first tour stop.   

I took part in so many tours with the DCC in that period, the popularity of the cheerleaders was just exploding in the late 1970s.  I recall the Department of Defense / USO tours began in 1979 when General John Wickham contacted Tex Schramm and asked if we could participate in a Christmas tour to Korea to entertain the troops.  I said, “ Absolutely! “, it was very successful and became a tradition with the DCC that holds to this day.  There is an article about that Korea tour

Going to Germany the following Spring just evolved as we continued to refine our shows and talent to meet the requirements the USO.  In Germany and then world wide, we would be making two or three appearances each day in a foreign country once committed to a tour.  In America, we were used to putting on shows and various public appearances but when we traveled on the DoD tours, it was a hectic but enjoyable fast pace with little time for sight seeing.

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Schweinfurt PAO had a number of clippings from the Cheerleaders visit.

 

Of course we loved the interaction with the troops, whether it was a brief stop or full show.  That first Germany tour consisted of seven DCC plus myself.  The DoD paid our flight expenses and a stipend for the cheerleaders and arranged the tour schedule based on our availability. 

The Cowboys organization picked up the remaining expenses.

   
 

This was the text block accompanying the story in the 3rd ID Crusader newspaper.

 

We toured with the Show Group, selected cheerleaders who had great personalities as well as superior performance talent.  This group more or less came into being at about this time and it was considered a great honor to be chosen.  All together, we had as many as ten costume changes and upwards of twelve musical numbers with each show - we did not have live musicians, but the reel to reel player went everywhere that we went.  The length of the show varied according to our schedule and the local requirements and we planned on doing one big show each night of the tour except on the arrival and departure days.

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The Schweinfurt based reporter followed the caravan as far as Camp Lee, this photo ran in the Crusader.  The troopers are unknown but were members of Troop E.  The ladies are, left to right across the front  row: Kim Kilway - Suzette Scholz - Teri Richardson.

Across the back row: Sherry Worthington,  Jill Waggoner, Kim McKenney, Debbie White and Cindy Garza.

 

I do recall our German bus driver on that first tour was named Dieter and he was a God - send.  These are the cheerleaders who went on the 1980 Germany tour:

1. Kim Kilway

2. Teri Richardson

3. Kim McKinney

4. Sherry Worthington

5. Jill Waggoner

6. Suzette Scholz

7. Debbie White

8. Cindy Garza

9. Myself

+++++++++++

Kim Kilway

Dallas Cowgirl Cheerleader  1978 - 1980

Assistant  DCC Choreographer  1982 - 1983

“ I think I was only 18 years old when I tried out and then was selected for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader squad.  I was a dance and theater performance major at North Texas State College, heard about the auditions and gave it a try.  What a wonderful experience all of that became. “

   
   
 

Side bar story in the Crusader recalls some of the hype accompanying the visit.

 

“ Back then, the Dallas Cheerleaders were really becoming a national hit.  Of course, we practiced and practiced for the sideline shows at the football games but we were in demand most of the off season as well.  And all of this was pretty much unpaid - or maybe ten or fifteen dollars per event but we were happy to represent the team, Texas and then the United States. “

“ Hollywood came calling three times when I was there - The 36 Most Beautiful Girls in Texas, then the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders I and II movies.  Countless local and then national TV appearances, The Love Boat show twice, The Donny Osmond Show, Family Feud, some of the girls did other game shows as individuals, then Country and Western Music Awards shows three times and on and on!  So - to be selected to join the Show Group and then go on the tours to Korea and Germany - it was all just a dream come to life. “

     
 

Ric Badal, Eaglehorse S2 shop captured this image as the girls stretched their legs enroute to Camp Lee.  At left is Debbie White and then Kim McKenney.

 

On with the show and on to Fulda!  The only private photo we could find from that tour. One big show each night, here the DCC show their stuff accompanied by their reel to reel tape player.  Kim Kilway up front on the right, Kim McKinney on the front left with Terri Richardson back right and Sherry Worthington in the back left.

 

“ Honestly, I do not recall the Germany trip with great detail beyond a few funny incidents, I am pretty sure we had a helicopter ride and that was exciting.  Once the tour began, we had two or three events scheduled each day beginning right after breakfast.  The first two troop visits were along the lines of meet - and - greet functions.  We would get off the bus, talk to the troops at their mess hall or where ever they were assembled.  Sign some autographs - interact with these brave young men far from home.  Then back on the bus and off to the next stop of the day.  The last stop was where we put on our show accompanied by a reel to reel recorder. “

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And what did the Blackhorse newspaper have to say about all of this … not much.  Sadly, the 11th ACR newspaper files held at the Post and Regimental Museum at Fort Irwin indicate that the file copies of the paper were reduced to clippings at some point.  In a folder marked Force Modernization were a few items from the March 1980 issue, a large article reported on the delivery of the M901 improved TOW vehicle to the First Squadron and this text block related to the upgrade of the Eaglehorse M60A3 tanks to thermal sights.  All that high tech equipment and not one saved picture of pretty gals from Texas. All work and no play makes Trooper Bill a grump guy …

 

“ We had full costumes and many changes depending on the show but always were included were two numbers, The Yellow Rose of Texas and If My Friends Could See Me Now.  Between the songs, there was plenty of banter and interaction with the audience.  Once the show was finally done, back on the bus and off to a local German Pension for the night - it was a hectic and wonderful pace. “

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Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders on visit to Marine Corps Camp Courteny, Okinawa Japan in 1986. 

 

“ I do recall one event in Germany in particular, we were loading up the bus one morning and I went back inside to use the ladies room.  When I came back out - the bus was gone!  Couldn’t speak German, no local money - just that feeling of “ well - what ever are you going to do now? “  Luckily, on the bus, they noticed someone was missing and about fifteen minutes or so later, it loomed into sight coming back down the road.  A lot of laughter and a few tears. “

   
 

Thanks very much Suzanne Mitchell for assisting in recalling the first DCC USO tour to Germany.  She is seen here wearing the jacket adorned with the military pins that were collected on each USO tour.  She is currently retired from the Cowboys organization.

 

“ As with all my memories of the Cheerleaders, the USO tours were wonderful and I am certain we brought some needed entertainment to the troops.  I look back so fondly to those times, the Cheerleaders were like a wonderful sorority, almost a family.  I wish I had taken photographs back in those days.  It was such a great time and I guess I thought it would go on forever; we were entertainers, representatives of the team and organization  and the cameras flashed in front of us.  Each day brought new adventures, new demands and we were more than happy to entertain.  Such a great experience. “

Suzanne Mitchell

“ There were so many tours we did for the DoD / USO over the fourteen years I was associated with the DCC:  10 Christmas tours to Korea, 9 tours in the Pacific -Indian Ocean region including stops at the Philippians, Okinawa and  Diego Garcia, twice to Turkey, Greece and the Middle East to include Beirut, tour stops at Iceland, Greenland and Portugal - just about where ever US troops were stationed - we tried to visit to include many return visits to Germany.  And after I left the DCC, the tours continued and I recently read that they had just completed their 75th foreign tour for the troops. “

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That was then - and this is now - some things seemed to have changed.  DCC on a recent USO stop in front of the troops.

 

“ Along these lines, somewhere early on, soldiers started giving me their unit pins at the end of a show.  I proudly added these to a jacket that I wore on stage and by the time I retired, the jacket weighed over two lbs!  This is one of my most treasured souvenirs of the DoD trips I made with the Cheerleaders. “

So - Thanks across the decades …

The 1980 Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader tour was their only appearance at Camp Lee and after that -  USO visits to the Eaglehorse border camp were pretty much limited to: Maurice the comedian and his talking dog … Rex,  but there were laughs all around and USO entertainment was a nice diversion.

   
 

If you weren’t at Schweinfurt, Camp Lee or Fulda and missed the DCC experience in the Spring of 1980, do not despair.  The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders second movie, contains a wonderful musical / dance number very similar to the one performed on the USO tour from that period and in fact, more than a few of the actual tour participants can be seen on screen.  The costumes worn in the clip are not the ones used in Germany and the clip features a much larger dance crew but this is as close to the way - back machine as I can render.  Follow this link to You Tube and enjoy the show more than 30 years after the fact.

 

As years passed, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders made several visits to Germany and Fulda was a common stop on the caravan trail and the trail still goes on

Deeply indebted to the following in helping us recall this bit of both football and Army history:  Office of Public Affairs US Army Baumholder and Schweinfurt, National Training Center and Blackhorse Museum - Fort Irwin California, Mr. George Riba - WFAA TV Dallas, Texas, Ms. Suzanne Mitchell and Ms. Kim Kilway.  Thanks!

May 2014

 
 


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