Eyes Light Up

This poem was written by the staff at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, to capture in one simple phrase – Eyes Light Up or “ELU” – their every day experiences at the USO Center there.  We hope you enjoy…

We love it at the USO.  We get to see that our services are offering soldiers a bit of unexpected good luck; a touch of serendipity.  It may be something small or simple, but we know we’ve done something right when we watch their eyes light up.

Soldier:  How long is the wait for the phone?
Us:  You can get on one right now.
Soldier:  I don’t have a calling card.
Us:  You don’t need a calling card; just hop on.
Soldier:  I’ve used all of my Spaware minutes.
Us:  You don’t need Spaware minutes.  Our phones are direct dial.
Soldier:  Do you mean I can sit down and call my husband right now?
Us:  Yes, ma’am. Soldier’s ELU.

Solider:  I heard you’re open until 18:00.
Us:  No sir.  We are open until zero-six, not six o’clock.
Soldier’s ELU.

Us:  Yes, sir.  The book goes home along with your recording.  Soldier’s ELU.
Soldier:  So I just take this and mail it?
Us:  No, sir.  We will mail it for you.  Soldier’s ELU.
Soldier:  So how much does it cost?
Us:  It’s free, sir.  Everything in our USO is free.  Soldier’s ELU.

Soldier:  The movie is over.  How do I find out what’s playing next in the cinema?
Us:  You are welcome to pick the next movie.  Just give us the name and number from our list.
Soldier’s ELU.

Soldier:  What time do I have to be here to do a UTR?
Us:  Any time we are open.
Soldier:  Is there a long wait? Us:  No, sir.  You are welcome to do a UTR rig

ht now.
Soldier’s ELU.

Us:  Ma’am, here’s your “cocktail.”  It’s Happy Hour at the USO.
Soldier’s ELU.

Soldier:  Are we allowed to bring food in here?
Us:  Sure.
Soldier’s ELU.

Soldier:  Do you have a deck of cards I can borrow?
Us:  [Pointing to six decks of cards on the desk.]  Take and keep as many as you want.
Soldier’s ELU.

Soldier:  How long is the wait for the Internet.
Us:  You can hop on right now. Soldier’s ELU.

Of course there as many occasions for the Camp Virginia Duty Managers’ eyes to light up:

When four troops return their Wii game and they are all laughing and dripping with sweat, our ELU.

When we find someone snoring on the couch for 90 minutes, our ELU.

When the Colonel sends UTRs home to his children or comes in to play Xbox with the Major, our ELU.

When the movie is over and 40 people exit the cinema, just like a theater in the States, our ELU.

When the Center is full and quiet with people reading, watching TV, playing board games, chatting and relaxing, our ELU.

When the CSM tells us that she has suggested to all new arrivals at Camp Virginia that they visit the USO because they will be in for a treat, our ELU.

When the Center is full and loud with people playing video games, dominoes, watching action movies and whooping, our ELU.

When everyone is watching football games on AFN and the crowd roars with enthusiasm or groans in despair, our ELU.

When a soldier finds a friend who he hasn’t seen in months, our ELU.

Any time troops laugh, our ELU.

We’re at the USO and we have the best “jobs” in the world; our goal is to make people happy.  Every day, at least a few times a day, our ELU!  Life just doesn’t get better than that.”

A Page From History

“PARIS, Dec. 24 (AP) – Maj. Glenn Miller, director of the Unites States Aire Force Band and a former orchestra leader, is missing on a flight from England to Paris, it was announced today.

Major Miller, one of the outstanding orchestra leaders of the United States, left England Dec. 15 as a passenger aboard a plane.  No trace of the plane has been found.”

So read the December 25, 1944, page 4 article in the New York Times.  Miller – perhaps the most famous of big band directors – was an accomplished trombonist and actor as well.  At the height of his fame and fortune, Miller enlisted in the Army then transferred to the Army Air Force in 1942.  He eventually formed a 50-piece Army Air Force band, which toured domestically and internationally, often to USO Centers.

He was on his way to entertain Troops who had recently liberated Paris when his plane disappeared.  Still officially listed as “Missing in Action,” Miller’s story sparked the popular imagination of conspiracy theorists and Hollywood executives alike.  His wife, Helen Miller, posthumously accepted a Bronze Star on his behalf in 1945.

No trace of the plane or any of the other passengers has been found in the last 65 years.

Billy Ray Cyrus Sure Has a Great Memory!

A note from Jane Campbell, CAPT, U.S. Navy (OF-5), ISAF Joint Command:

“Yesterday we hosted ADM & Mrs. Mullen & the USO Holiday Troop Tour (Comedian – Dave Attell, Tennis legend – Nick Bolletierri, Tennis star - Anna Kournikova, and Country Music star – Billy Ray Cyrus).

MCC Craig Strawser who was the star of the day — literally. Chief Strawser is a huge fan of Billy Ray Cyrus.  He captured several hundred
images of Billy Ray signing autographs & standing with soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.  As the autograph session wrapped up, I walked over and suggested that I take a picture of Chief and Billy Ray.  They both smiled.

Billy Ray Cyrus and U. S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Craig P. Strawser

Chief then asked Billy Ray if he could tell him why he was such a fan. Chief relayed the story that about 10 years ago that he had the opportunity to talk with him following a concert at a fair in California. Evidently somebody tried to interrupt that conversation, and Billy Ray stopped them — informed them that Chief was a Navy man — and that he didn’t want to be interrupted.

Amazingly, Billy Ray responded to Chief’s story by saying — “Yeah, we walked over by the Corn Dog stand and finished the conversation.” Chief was shocked that Billy Ray remembered.  I think most of us standing around were shocked — and more than pleasantly impressed.

We wrapped up the session, and took Mrs. Mullen and the USO Tour over to our cafeteria for lunch.”

Just another day in the life of a USO Celebrity Tour!  Click here for other tour photos and be sure to read this article from Black Anthem Military News.

Image of the Day

Santa Claus makes a surprise appearance and hands out candy to audience members during a holiday concert featuring the U.S. 7th Fleet Band and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Band Dec. 11, 2009, in Yokosuka, Japan. The concert is celebrating the holiday season and showcasing the alliance between both the countries' navies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles Oki/Released)

Chamillionaire Shares His Experience

Chamillionaire performs at Fort Hood Community StrongGrammy Award winning rapper and singer Chamillionaire was one of many celebrity entertainment performers at Fort Hood on Friday, December 11.  He penned the following article for MTV News:

“I feel so privileged to have received an invitation to perform in Killeen, Texas for the Fort Hood Community Strong event for all the soldiers and their families. It’s not every day that we get a chance to give back to the people who put their lives on the line to defend our country daily. Me and my party of four received a warm greeting from a group of USO soldiers who were waiting to pick us up from the airport when we arrived in Killeen. They took pictures and told us numerous times how appreciative they were that I would be a part of the event. While we were in the van en route to the hotel to drop off our bags, they told us some of their daily duties and Iraq stories. One of the soldiers told us he had to carry 180 pounds of baggage and weapons in what seemed like 150 degree Iraq weather, and he also told us stories about spiders that they saw that chased people and attacked birds. From the moment we met the soldiers they were very open with us and it seemed like they like the loved to share their war stories with tourists…”

Read the entire article at MTV News.

AND be sure to check out Cham’s article at XXLmag.com, too!