Dover AFB, Meet Elmo…

…and Grover and Cookie Monster and Rosita and Zoe!  The Sesame Street/USO Experience alighted in Delaware as part of their Stateside tour for Phase IV of this entertaining family show.  Check out the photo essay below:

Children of military families pose for a photo while awaiting the start of a Sesame Street/USO show at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, April 29, 2010. (USO photo by Mike Theiler)

Military family members were thrilled to see 'Elmo' and his friends sing, dance and perform just for them, as they continue a six-month tour of military bases in the U.S. (USO photo by Mike Theiler)

Dozens of military families military danced along - or just saw in awe! - as the Muppets of Sesame Street perform a show at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, April 29, 2010. (USO photo by Mike Theiler)

Children of military families get up close and personal with some of their favorite Sesame Street characters. Having previously visited military families in Asia, the Pacific and Europe, the tour is now visiting more than 40 bases in the United States. (USO photo by Mike Theiler)

Want to learn more about Dover?  Click here to watch a video about the USO Centers there, visit this blog post and read about the new Families of the Fallen Center, and learn more about USO Delaware director Joan Cote.

New Families of the Fallen Center at Dover AFB

From the Desk of John Hanson, Senior Vice President of Communications at the USO:

The military’s only mortuary is located at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.  Military casualties from around the world pass through Dover where remains are prepared before going on to their final resting place.  It’s always been a busy operation, but since 9/11 the mortuary has been extremely active.

It would be difficult to find a place that operates with more respect and that provides more dignified service than at this location.  Volunteers from the base augment the professional staff.  They ensure that correct military uniforms and decorations are provided – even when the remains will not be viewed.

Last year, more family members were permitted to come to Dover to witness the dignified transfer of remains as they returned to the United States.  For many families, this step in the process is critical as they begin to deal with the death of a loved one.  The military strives to return these casualties to the U.S. extremely quickly, sometimes just days after a death – sometimes faster than that.

When survivors are notified about the death of a family member, they have to make a decision about whether to come to Dover to meet the flights bringing remains back home.  Often, they have to be in Dover within hours of the notification.

Families of the Fallen Center at Dover AFB

Inside the Families of the Fallen Center at Dover AFB. Photo courtesy of the Navy Times.

Until last month, there was no special place for them to collect themselves as they waited for remains to arrive.  There was no quiet place; no safe place to gather and deal with a rush of emotions we can only imagine.

But, on January 6, the USO and Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations opened the Families of the Fallen Center at Dover.  The pictures here will give you an idea about how it looks and  maybe even how it feels. It took just 90 days to turn an empty building into a place of dignified reflection.  We’re extremely grateful to the donors, contractors and vendors who worked with the USO and the base to turn this idea into reality.

*****

The Honor Guard and USO volunteers who meet each and every fallen servicemember deserves our very best. In the following video, Center Director Joan Cote and former Dover Wing Commander John Pray, among others, reflect on the new Centers and why they’re more than just bricks and mortar…

She’s one of “25 Who Matter” to Delaware…and to the USO

USO Delaware Center Director Joan Cote has spent her career supporting the military.  Her work at Dover Air Force Base, especially, touches the lives of untold service members and their families.  Watch the profile below and be sure to read the whole story by Beth Miller of The News Journal.