Pro vs. GI Joe Hits E3 Expo

E3 ExpoPro vs. GI Joe pulls into the E3 Expo in Los Angeles today. Literally.

The group is using the annual video game conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center to show off its tricked-out 40-foot trailer (click for photos) that houses seven HD TVs, gaming systems and more to allow gamers and troops to go head-to-head virtually.

The Pro vs. GI Joe crew will be hosting gaming tournaments and connecting with deployed service men and women from USO Centers in Iraq and Afghanistan for online gaming from Tuesday, June 7 to Thursday, June 9.

For those going to E3, (which stands for Electronic Entertainment Expo), find the map at the bottom of the linked page to visit the trailer, watch all the action and maybe get to wish our troops well. – Christian Pelusi, USO

D-Day Anniversary Brings Reflection, Feelings of Pride

Many call June 6, 1944, the beginning of the end of World War II. The amphibious D-Day invasion of France’s Normandy coastline has been lauded for the ambitiousness of the Allied leaders, the bravery of the deployed troops and the secrecy of strategy and planning by all. Film great Steven Spielberg’s stark, honest and captivating portrayal of the landings casts vivid images that remain with the millions of moviegoers who watched the opening scenes of “Saving Private Ryan” in 1998. Later, the Spielberg- and Tom Hanks-produced mini-series “Band of Brothers” appeared on HBO in 2001 to give the world a peek into how the 101st Airborne’s “Easy Company” (2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment) dropped behind enemy lines in advance of the landings to secure the flanks prior to the invasion.

 The History Channel’s This Day in History for June 6 gives a terrific summation of the lead up to and the events during D-Day. But the late Stephen Ambrose, one of the world’s foremost historians and author of “Band of Brothers,” “D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II” (which in many ways was the basis for “Saving Private Ryan”) and several other World War II-related books, capsulated some poignant moments in an interview with CSPAN2’s Book TV. His expertise and observations give the day’s events true grit.

Add your own memories and thoughts on this important date in American history in the comments section of this post. – Christian Pelusi, USO

Pro vs. GI Joe Heads to Indy 500

On Wednesday, May 26, IndyCar racers used to gripping a steering wheel will pick up their instruments to compete against service members in Guitar Hero 5®. The competition is another interactive adventure put on by the Pro vs. GI Joe program, sponsored by the USO and Activision.

As part of Indy 500 Community Day, IndyCar drivers Townsend Bell, Raphael Matos, Davey Hamilton and Simona De Silvestro will take on troops based in Baghdad, Iraq, as well as local troops from the Indianapolis National Guard, who will be taking on the racers in person. The virtual “battle of the bands” will get going on the Coca-Cola stage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. – Christian Pelusi, USO

Watch this sample of a past Pro vs. GI Joe event.

Miss USA, Miss Teen USA Prepare for European USO Tour

Rima Fakih, Kamie Crawford

Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih, left, and Miss Teen USA 2010 Kamie Crawford attend last year's USO Gala. (Photo credit: USO)

Reigning Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih and fellow titleholder Miss Teen USA  Kamie Crawford will be extending goodwill and friendship in Spain and Portugal this week as part of the ongoing partnership between the USO and the Miss Universe Organization. The pair will be visiting various NATO and military locations to pose for photos and mingle with military families.

The trip is sure to be bittersweet for Fakih, whose run as Miss USA will be coming to an end with this year’s Miss USA pageant slated for June 19 at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Crawford has a little more time remaining on her reign after being crowned last July 24. When it does end, she is planning to attend the University of Alabama this fall to enroll in their pre-med program. – Christian Pelusi, USO

Colbie Caillat Set to Perform at Close of Warrior Games

Colbie Caillat

Colbie Caillat (Image courtesy of colbiecaillat.com)

Two-time Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Colbie Caillat will break away from her current tour to honor our wounded warriors as they compete in the second annual Warrior Gamesin Colorado Springs, Colo. The multi-platinum singer will perform an exclusive USO concert for the more than 200 wounded, ill and injured service men and women and their families expected to be on-hand for the Games.

“I can’t wait to get to Colorado and perform my first USO concert at the 2011 Warrior Games,” Colbie said. “When you have the opportunity to do something like this for such a deserving audience, it really is the opportunity of a lifetime. I can’t thank our wounded heroes enough for their sacrifices.”

Colbie, 25, who won two Grammys in 2010, will perform songs from her multi-platinum albums “Coco” and “Breakthrough,” the latter of which debuted at No. 1, and from her new album, “All of You,” set for release on July 12.

Colbie’s current tour concludes on August 13 in Sagres, Portugal, and she also stopped in Washington, D.C. last month to participate in the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

Watch Colbie’s latest music video, “I Do.” – Christian Pelusi, USO

Update: See photos from Colbie’s concert on our USO Flickr account.

Spirits Soar Upon Arrival of Angelina Jolie at Ramstein Air Base

Angelina Jolie and company at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Angelina Jolie, (center, in black), and company at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. (Photo credit: Phil Jones, LRMC Public Affairs)

Megawatt moviestar Angelina Jolie took time out to visit Ramstein Air Base and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and talk with wounded warriors and stationed service men and women. Jolie also popped in on a departing Med Evac aircraft loaded with wounded soldiers that was set to depart for Andrews Air Force Base.

See how her visit affected some of those homebound troops in this video.

The Academy Award-winning Jolie is famous for her roles in films like “Girl, Interrupted,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “Salt” and the Lara Croft films, but she is also known the world over as an active advocate of humanitarian efforts. Jolie was recently in Cannes, France, to promote her voice-over work in the upcoming sequel to the animated movie “Kung Fu Panda” and was also informed that her directorial debut, “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” has secured distribution in the United States and will be in theaters this December. – Christian Pelusi, USO