USO Gala 2010 Live Blog

16:47 pm We just saw Sons on Anarchy’s Kim Coates walk through the lobby! Can’t wait to see all of the other celebs throughout the evening…

17:05 pm – Madison Pettis is on stage rehearsing her remarks and she’s talking about her brother, who’s in the Army.  Be sure to check out the video of their reunion on The Bonnie Hunt Show last year.

17:36 – This year’s Volunteer of the Year is Herb Schmeling, who regularly gives 60-80 hours a month to USO Puget Sound Area.  You can read his story here!

17:45 – The Service Member of the Year Award recipients are getting their light and sound check finished up.  We’ll tell you more about each honoree later, but one of the recipients was deployed since the nomination and his wife will be accepting on his behalf.  Way to go!

18:10 – We’ve created a special message wall just for tonight’s event.  You can leave a message of support for troops and their families by clicking here!

18:18Miss USA and Miss Teen USA have both arrived.  They probably have the best jewelry of the night (love the crowns!).

The ballroom at the Marriott Wardman Park is almost ready to welcome troops and their families for USO Gala 2010! (USO photo by Em Hall)

18: 58 – We just met the amazing Hofman family: Dad is deployed and Mom and the four kids are staying in touch with United Through Reading’s Military Program.  They’ll be honored tonight in a special video – be sure to join us for the live stream at 7:30pm!

19:38 – The live stream will be starting in just a few moments!

19:47 – Just finished the presentation of Colors by the Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard.  Now “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band is performing a rousing medley of each branches’ theme songs!

The Color Guard ascends the main stage at the USO Gala. This year's theme is "A Salute to Military Families." (USO photo by Joe Lee)

19:53 – Bill Engvall just took the stage!  Get ready for some laughs…

20:01 – USO President Sloan Gibson is at the podium thanking our great partners at United Through Reading, TAPS, National Military Family Foundation, The Moyer Foundation, Operation Homefront, United States Olympic Committee, Ride 2 Recovery.

20:09 – Past and present servicemen and women are asked to stand and be recognized, as are all of their family members.  Wounded warriors also stand to be recognized, and they receive a standing ovation!

20:17 – Madison Pettis is taking the stage to introduce our special video on United Through Reading – are you watching along with us on the live stream?

20:30 – Admiral Mullen is at the podium to begin the recognition of the Service Members of the Year.  We’re proud to honor Sergeant Zachary Caleb Dispennette, USA; Sergeant Eric B. Walker, USMC; Petty Officer Kenton J. Stacy, USN; Staff Sergeant Gino P. Kahaunaele, USAF (who is currently deployed, so his award is being presented to his mother, Kimberly Watkins), and Petty Officer Robert T. Emley, USCG.

21:00 – Trisha Yearwood is singing “How Do I Live Without You” right now and there’s not a dry eye in the house…

21:05 – Now she’s singing “We Shall Be Free,” a hit song by her husband, Garth Brooks!

21:20 – It’s time for dinner here at the gala, so take a few minutes to view our first photo album of the night!

21:50 – …and we’re back!  Trevor Romain is sharing a special message with the audience.  He travels around the world helping military kids with tough topics like deployment and loss of a loved one.  And his newest project with us will be specifically for children of wounded warriors – more details coming soon!

22:18 – Chairman of the USO’s Board of Governors Ed Reilly is getting ready to present Volunteer of the Year Herb Schmeling.

22:26 – Bill Engvall has the audience cracking up with a great story about the time he flew in a Thunderbird out of Nellis AFB.  Trust us, he was a little out of his element – ha!

22:34 – President and CEO of TriWest Healthcare Alliance David McIntyre is getting ready to present our Spirit of the USO award to Admiral Thad Allen!

22:43 – It’s all over and what a tremendous event it was!  Thanks for following along with us online and we invite you to visit for more photos and fun tomorrow morning…

It’s Time for the USO Gala!

USO President Sloan Gibson (center) poses with this year's Regional Honorees, including (l-r) Michael Lewis, Country Director, USO Germany; Robin Crouse, Center Director, USO Fort Hood; and Christine Gunderson, Duty Manager, USO Balad, who is accompanied by her mother, Colleen Curtis. (USO photo by Em Hall)

We’re so excited for our annual gala tonight!  Over 1,000 military leaders, celebrities and special guests will be in attendance as we honor our troops with the theme “A Salute to Military Families.”

We have a special treat for you, too, because for the first time ever we’re live streaming the USO Gala!  You can view the entire event on tonight beginning at 7pm.  We’ll also be live blogging the entire evening, as well as updating Facebook and Twitter.  If you’re also on Twitter, be sure to give us your feedback by using the hashtag #USOGala

We hope you’ll be a part of this amazing evening, as Master of Ceremonies Bill Engvall, musical guest Trisha Yearwood, and many more celebrities and special guests take the stage.  Admiral Thad Allen, Former Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, will be recognized as the Spirit of the USO Honoree

Our 2010 honorees include Sergeant Zachary C. Dispennette, U.S. Army; Petty Officer Robert D. Emley, U.S. Coast Guard; Staff Sergeant Gino P. Kahaunaele, U.S. Air Force; Petty Officer Kenton Stacy, U.S. Navy; Sergeant Eric B. Walker, U.S. Marine Corps; and USO Volunteer of the Year Herbert Carl Schmeling Jr., USO of Puget Sound Area, WA.

We’ll “see” you online tonight as we celebrate our troops and their families together!