Two months after winning an online contest, USO volunteer Norm Hallowell watched as Pam Horton – manager of the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Va. – pulled his new Jeep Wrangler up to the curb.
Hallowell stood in front of the recently opened center Friday afternoon with a small group of USO staff and volunteers and received the keys to his new Jeep from USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore Chief Operating Officer Cheryl Laaker Hall.
The contest was part of the USO’s ongoing relationship with Jeep, which include’s the automaker’s Operation Safe Return initiative.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eileen Smith’s eyes filled with tears. Capt. Bud Evans shared a long embrace with his son. No matter where you looked, one thing was clear: Liberty USO had created another USO Moment.
The Phillie Phanatic – in his Phanta Claus outfit – handed holiday stockings to two service members who recently returned from Afghanistan on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. In each stocking was a free trip to Philadelphia Phillies spring training in Clearwater, Fla., including US Airways travel vouchers, hotel accommodations, an informal meet-and-greet with Phillies players and first pitch honors at a game. (Check out video of the event here.)
In addition to the surprise, Phillies personnel, Liberty USO staff and board members and host John Brazer assembled the final Operation Stocking Stuffer (OSS) care packages, which will go to troops serving overseas. The OSS shipments will bring USO Liberty’s care package total to more than 5,000 in 2013.
They’re off and walking to the South Pole. Medically retired Army Sgt. Margaux Mange and her American teammates (known as Team Noom) are currently somewhere in Antarctica pushing toward the South Pole.
The USO is sponsoring Mange – who was injured by roadside bombs in Iraq – on her extreme adventure. You can find daily updates on the entire Walking With the Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge here.
And if you want to know even more about her journey, check out this video from the Walking With the Wounded stateside sendoff Nov. 8, when Mange shared her story and her inspiration for taking on the walk:
We hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving as much as we did serving troops and their families who couldn’t make it back home. From Kandahar, Afghanistan, to the Florida Panhandle, USO centers made sure hard-working service members who had to stick around base for the holiday weren’t forgotten.
Here’s a previously unpublished clip from the 2013 USO Gala archives of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno talking about how the USO affects troops serving in every corner of the world.
And for a look at the overall events of night, check out our short 2013 USO Gala compilation video.
“He wasn’t there when she was born, and, almost two months later for him to hold her, she knew his voice.” Those are the words of Brittany Ellridge, wife of Spec. Najee Ellridge, who watched their daughter Nyla’s birth over a USO-provided Skype connection in Afghanistan. The Nov. 10 edition of the CBS Evening News featured a story on how American troops serving across the globe stay in touch with their families back home.
CBS also profiled Allison Simerly, who spoke at a USO/With You All The Way symposium on military kids and post-deployment issues at the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Va., back in April. Simerly, and her father – Army Col. Mark Simerly – keep in touch via online video chats.
The CBS story also featured file footage of Senior Airman Gabriel Time, who had this emotional reaction to watching his child being born via a Skype connection at USO Kandahar in Afghanistan in 2011.