Seven cartoonists went halfway around the globe to meet America’s troops. And they penned some notes of appreciation while they were at it.
The USO cartoonists tour to Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan – with quick stops in Turkey and Germany – wrapped recently. Those National Cartoonist Society Members also joined the USO Love Notes campaign, writing messages of support to American service members. Among those who made the trek: “Lola” creator Todd Clark, editorial cartoonists Paul Combs and Tom Stiglich, “Punderstatements” creator Bruce Higdon, “In the Bleachers and “Open Season” creator Steve Moore and MAD Magazine contributors Ed Steckley and Sam Viviano.
Coincidentally, the tour marked the last USO entertainment foray into Kyrgyzstan, where significant U.S. operations are winding down.
USO Northwest was gifted a piece of history Thursday. The USO center at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport received planks from the teak decking from the USS Colorado, a ship that patrolled the waters of the Pacific during World War II. The decking – a gift from Boeing, which possessed the boards for more than 50 years – will cover roughly 1,500 square feet of floor inside the USO’s Sea-Tac center.
“We are very excited the Boeing Company has chosen the USO Northwest to be the recipient of this great piece of history,” USO Northwest Executive Director Don Leingang said, according to the Tukwila Reporter. “Our organization truly understands the significance of this donation and is honored to be the new caretaker of this teakwood planking for as long as the USO exists at SeaTac Airport.”
Troops attended USOs around the world last night to watch the big game. And even though this year’s Super Bowl was a blowout, they still had a great time. Take a look:
The center of attention at this year’s Super Bowl was the center of attention for deployed troops just one year ago. Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning – who set NFL records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) this season – will take on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night. Manning went on a USO Tour hosted by Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. James Winnefeld Jr., last February.
Manning kept a journal of his experience for ESPN, which featured this passage:
[I] experienced a true first in my life. I have thrown footballs in lots and lots of places. Boats, prisons, schools, military bases, hospitals, golf course fairways, malls, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, Mardi Gras floats, French Quarter, etc., but I ain’t never thrown a football in an airplane. And I am not talking about little 3-yard lob passes. I was throwing 35-yard bullets to a guy who had the best hands on the entire USO tour, Senior Airman Stephen Gasperic. He was catching passes while trying to avoid falling over luggage, probably a couple of missiles back there as well for all I knew. He fell over a couple of times on some high throws, but he never dropped one. …
Manning will have a few USO tour veterans on the sidelines with him Sunday night, too.
Broncos starting cornerback Champ Bailey went on a USO tour last spring along with former Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller. Miller tore his anterior cruciate ligament in December and won’t be able to play in Sunday’s game.
And the Broncos coach is a USO tour vet, too. John Fox went on a USO tour in 2010, back when he was the head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
You may have heard it snowed yesterday on the East Coast. While news of cancelled flights and videos of dogs-playing-in-snow likely snuck into your Facebook feed, we noticed a different, heartwarming trend. Our Facebook feed turned up several photos and notes about tireless USO volunteers and staffers at centers that were able to stay open taking care of stranded troops. Here’s a sampling:
From Liberty USO, which serves Philadelphia International Airport:
The USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore was able to help stranded troops at Dulles International Airport thanks to three dedicated volunteers. (The center at Reagan National Airport stayed open overnight, too, hosting seven stranded troops):
And in Fort Drum, N.Y. – where the temperature was 8 below zero at noon today – the USO continued business as usual by welcoming home returning troops earlier this week:
Like what you see? You can help America’s troops, too, by donating to support USO centers and programs.
The USO and partners Exelis and George Washington University assembled Warrior Care Packs as part of Points of Light’s Family Community Fun Day on Monday at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.