When you deploy to the desert, flooding isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Still, a group of USO volunteers and staff bailed out USO Kandahar from a messy situation over the weekend when flash flooding filled some of the center’s rooms with ankle-high water.
“We had a great group of volunteers that were quick to help us get all the furniture and boxes upstairs and to the theatre, which was higher ground and less likely to be affected by the water,” USO Kandahar’s Deborah Ayers wrote in an email. “Within an hour and a half, the water was about 3 inches deep in two of the back rooms, and had pushed forward about halfway through the tent. At that point, the tent had been cleared out except for the volunteers, who went out front to assess the damage.
“[USO Kandahar] has experienced floods almost every year, so this was somewhat expected, and thanks to the amazing cooperation and coordination of the volunteers and staff we got away with minimal damage and we’re up and running again!”
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:
Beloved celebrity weatherman Al Roker announced Tuesday morning that he’ll go on a USO Tour in 2014 as part NBC’s Today Show’s Shine A Light series.
The NBC series is a year-long initiative by the show focusing on service and giving back to communities in need.
From the Today.com:
Al’s goal is to join a USO tour, helping to bring a little bit of America to our troops stationed all around the world.
“A few years ago I went to Afghanistan … You see it on TV, but nothing can prepare you for what these men and women are dealing with,” Al said. “We still have a lot of American troops in harm’s way, and I want them to know that they’re remembered.”
Dates and locations for Roker’s tour are still to be determined.
Roker officially joined the Today Show in 1996 and also hosts Waking Up With Al on The Weather Channel.
Last month, NBC highlighted the USO Christmas Convoy, which hit 50 remote locations in Southwest Asia to bring cheer and gifts to American troops who couldn’t make it home for the holidays to be with their families.
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.
Lindsy Wadas, director of the USO of Illinois’ center at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, poses with Marine Maj. Matthew Winkelbauer after he and 12 fellow Marines arrived in Chicago on Monday. Courtesy of USO of Illinois
Here at the USO, we’re lucky to get to do things on a large scale for America’s troops and their families. But it’s the little, serendipitous events that come together each day at USO centers around the world that keep us going.
On Monday, 13 Marines on the tail end of a five-day trip home from Afghanistan got a surprise they’ll never forget, courtesy of a web of people who’d likely never met and an enterprising USO of Illinois volunteer. In the course of a few minutes, the Marines went from a routine approach for landing at Chicago O’Hare International Airport to getting a water-canon salute on the runway and an impromptu greeting at the gate by members of Chicago’s police and fire departments, USO of Illinois volunteers and airport personnel. Once they were in the terminal, American Airlines offered up six first class upgrades to the Marines for free for their flight to San Diego. And when the Marine contingent boarded the plane, seven other first-class passengers gave up their seats so the Marines could sit together.
Read how one Marine’s fiancee, roughly 30 of Chicago’s finest, one USO partner, seven strangers on an airplane and a host of airport workers and USO volunteers – including 74-year-old former Marine John Colas, who coordinated it all – made this moment happen.
Troops gather at USO Kandahar in Afghanistan to watch football in late September, courtesy of NFL Game Pass. USO photo by Daniel Wood
The recent government shutdown – which ended on Thursday – left troops downrange with a slimmed-down version of the Armed Forces Network, and the prospect of missing their favorite football teams on Sunday nights.
However, NFL Game Pass – which the league offers free of charge to USO centers outside the United States – kept the games streaming for troops at sites like USO Kandahar.
“They really saved the day here,” said Daniel Wood, duty manager at USO Kandahar.
Here’s what troops in Afghanistan told the USO’s Eric Raum on Oct. 6:
- Spec. Gary Stripling: “I thought we just weren’t going to get to watch the games this week. A buddy told me the USO was still going to show the NFL over an Internet connection so we all came down early to get a seat.”
- Staff Sgt. Brian Duchsne: “It’s something we look forward to all week, it gets you through, knowing you’ll relax for an evening and watch football, so we were pretty excited to hear the USO was still going to be showing the game.”