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Operation Vacation gets Hollywood treatment

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Bob Johnson is used to being a hometown hero in Glenwood Springs. What the Operation Vacation organizer isn’t yet used to is the amount of national recognition he and his operation have received since it began in July of 2006.

“I didn’t think it would get this big at all,” Johnson said from his desk at Vicki Lee Green Realtors in Glenwood Springs. “Any of the national news media coverage is great. But I thought (Operation Vacation) would be something that would remain low key here in Glenwood.”

Remaining low key didn’t work out so well, but Johnson prefers the way his dream of providing a three day vacation to Glenwood Springs for soldiers from Fort Carson has grown. In three years, Operation Vacation has been featured in People Magazine, twice on the TODAY Show on NBC, a segment on Fox and Friends in Denver, two national CBS Radio segments, and an international interview with travel writer and radio show host, Peter Greenberg on his Worldwide Radio show.



And the notoriety is still rolling.

Most recently, DIRECTV sent a crew to Glenwood Springs for a weekend to document the Bennett family on their weekend getaway courtesy of Operation Vacation. And it was a little more than Johnson expected.



“It was odd,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting it to be like it was. Other news media has come up and filmed certain things but this crew filmed everything. It was like a movie production.”

A three-person crew showed up to Johnson’s Glenwood home around 7 a.m. Friday, September 26, and began filming.

“They made me do two takes of everything,” Johnson said. “My son asked me, ‘Why are we doing everything twice daddy?’ Because they would film me coming down the stairs and going outside, but then they would have to go outside and film me coming outside again.”

DIRECTV brought in Grant Goodeve, who played the oldest son, David, on the hit television show “Eight is Enough,” to do an interview with the Bennett family in the Roosevelt Room at the Hotel Colorado. The production made for an interesting and hectic two days for Johnson and the Bennett family, but it was something that Johnson was happy to be able to do.

“Anything that I can get for the program to make awareness is helpful,” Johnson said. “Especially now with the economy and everything the way it is, I assume people are going to tighten up with their contributions. But I hope that with it being about the military some will still want to contribute.”

Despite all the national attention, after three years with 36 families and four single soldiers coming to Glenwood Springs for weekend getaways as a thank you from Operation Vacation, that is what it’s still all about.

“That is what Operation Vacation is all about,” Johnson said. “It’s not about the war or being political, it’s about the soldiers and their families who are doing their duty for our country.”

The DIRECTV program featuring Operation Vacation is called DIRECTV Hometown Heroes and airs on DIRECTV’s 101 Network, channel 101. The show is hosted by Joan Lunden and will air sometime after the new year.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

jgardner@postindependent.com


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