Last Friday, USO of Metropolitan New York received a call from the 369th Regiment Armory in Harlem, requesting a touch of home for more than 7,000 troops deployed to New York and New Jersey in response to the recent superstorm.
These troops came from around the country in support of Operation Sandy—a massive joint-services cleanup and humanitarian effort expected to last the next few weeks. Troops will live in a tent city at Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field, braving the elements in order to bring food, water, gasoline and security to Superstorm Sandy-impacted communities in New York City.
To make their lives a little easier, the USO sent two Mobile USO vehicles—one from the USO’s regional office in Norfolk, Va., and another from USO of North Carolina—along with three vans packed full of supplies to provide creature comforts to the thousands of brave citizen-soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
“These troops are sleeping in a field environment with very few amenities,” said Army Capt. J.C. Bravo of the 369th Regiment Armory. “Right now we’re setting up something very similar to a Forward Operating Base—just like you might see in the field—so their noses are to the grindstone, hard at work.
“But once we get set up with a place to rest our heads, it will be a great benefit to have the presence of the USO out there.”
The Mobile USOs—scheduled to be in place and operational at Floyd Bennett Field by Thursday—will bring the USO’s special brand of services directly to these troops. Each Mobile USO lounge is equipped with books, magazines and a 46-inch LCD television with state-of-the-art home theater and digital satellite television systems and an Xbox 360 gaming system.
The Internet café inside the Mobile USO based in Norfolk features laptops for checking e-mail, accessing the Web and printing, copying or faxing documents. Each of its four laptops are also outfitted with an Xbox 360 gaming system, with the ability to play individually or against other Xbox 360 consoles networked within the vehicle. Meanwhile, the Mobile USO deployed by the USO of North Carolina features two cell phones for troops to use if necessary.
The Mobile USOs’ quick deployment capabilities allow the USO to get where it needs to be to accomplish its mission of lifting the spirits of troops and their families. And with another winter storm heading toward the New York area this week, it looks like the vehicles made it there just in time.
—Joseph Andrew Lee, USO staff writer