Jeep Brings USA Basketball Stars Together with Airmen in Las Vegas

Check out these cool shots of members of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team meeting up with troops from United States Air Force last week after practice in Las Vegas.

You can share a photo on Instagram of your favorite summer moment using #jeepsummer and @jeepofficial will donate $1 to the USO.

Photos: Celebrites sign the USO flag in Las Vegas

The USO Every Moment Counts flag got some love from a star-studded crowd in Las Vegas this week. Celebrities like David Spade, Lance Bass, Jennifer Lopez and Jordin Sparks all stopped by the USO booth to sign our flag and to help the USO break a Guinness World Record for most signatures on a flag.

See who else signed the flag in Las Vegas:

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Justin Timberlake Hangs Out with USO Honorees at ‘Runner Runner’ Premiere

From left, USO Coast Guardsman of the Year Petty Officer 3rd Class Samuel A. Peikert, USO Airman of the Year Staff Sergeant Christopher D. Broyles, USO Sailor of the Year Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew "Chris" Munden and USO Marine of the Year Sergeant Andrew C. Seif pose for a photo with their significant others and Justin Timberlake (center) on Wednesday at the "Runner, Runner" premiere at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Denise Truscello/WireImage

From left, USO Coast Guardsman of the Year Petty Officer 3rd Class Samuel A. Peikert, USO Airman of the Year Staff Sergeant Christopher D. Broyles, USO Sailor of the Year Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew “Chris” Munden and USO Marine of the Year Sergeant Andrew C. Seif pose for a photo with their significant others and Justin Timberlake (center) on Wednesday at the “Runner, Runner” premiere at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Denise Truscello/WireImage

It’s going to be a hard anniversary to top.

Four USO service members of the year joined Justin Timberlake on the red carpet for the premiere of his new movie “Runner, Runner” on Wednesday night at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. USO supporter 20th Century Fox provided the Hollywood experience for the military couples.

The night had extra meaning for USO Marine of the Year Sgt. Andrew Seif and his wife, Dawn, who were celebrating their third wedding anniversary.

The four service members who attended the premiere – Seif, USO Coast Guardsman of the Year Petty Officer 3rd Class Samuel A. Peikert, USO Airman of the Year Staff Sergeant Christopher D. Broyles and USO Sailor of the Year Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew “Chris” Munden – will be honored at the USO Gala on Oct. 25 in Washington along with USO Soldier of the Year Sgt. Craig Warfle and USO National Guardsman of the Year Staff Sgt. Christopher D. Petersen.

A Dog Tag’s Tale: USO Las Vegas Volunteer Reunites Vet with Dad’s Lost Tags from World War II

My name is Gene Dannan, and I volunteer at the USO Center at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas each Tuesday.

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After an exhaustive search, USO Las Vegas volunteer Gene Dannan was able to ship the decades-old dog tags – which had huge sentimental value – to their rightful owner on the other side of the country. Photo courtesy of Gene Dannan

On June 12, fellow volunteer Denny Schaan and I were handed some military ID cards to copy and then shred for security reasons. Along with these ID cards were three sets of dog tags that had been turned into the airport’s lost-and-found office and then handed off to the USO. Denny handed me a metal ring that had two sets of dog tags on it, both from Marines. The older of the two tags was from World War II and dated June 1944. The name on the tag was Ferdinand Forst. The second tag did not have a date, but had the name Bruce J. Forst.

Schaan did a routine search of ancestry.com and found that Ferdinand Forst had died in 1986, but there was no additional information available.

From the moment that I received these tags, I felt there had to be a story connected to them. Before I left the USO Center, I got the go ahead from USO Las Vegas Programs Manager Marianne Wojciechowicz to take the tags home and try to find their owner.

First, I tried to locate Ferdinand Forst, but I didn’t have much luck other than the date of his death. Next, I started doing Internet searches on Bruce J. Forst. I immediately found entries for someone with the same name who lived in Huntington, N.Y., which is on Long Island.

The assessor’s office in Huntington gave me information about the property. Unfortunately, the Forsts’ home phone number was unlisted. I tried other routes to get the number, but kept coming up empty.

I tried calling the veterans’ cemetery in Huntington, looking for information on Ferdinand that would lead to Bruce. No luck there, either.

Running short on options, I called the Veterans Affairs office in Huntington. I explained who I was to the woman who answered the phone – Carol Rocco – and told her what I was trying to do. She was really helpful, making a few quick checks to confirm my information was accurate.

Rocco couldn’t believe I’d been able to locate the owner of the dog tags by just doing a few hours of work. She suggested I try sending a letter to Bruce at his listed address telling him about the dog tags. That idea had already crossed my mind, but I’d been hoping to speak with Bruce personally to let him know exactly who I was and what I was trying to do.

I asked Rocco if she would be kind enough to take my contact information and deliver it to the address. Realizing I was imposing on her time, I was surprised when she said she’d be happy to help me out.

Rocco’s office is about a mile from Bruce’s listed address. On the afternoon of June 14, she rang the doorbell, but no one was home. She left my contact information and a brief explanation of what I was trying to do in the mailbox. As it turns out, Bruce has been divorced from his wife for about a decade, but on Sunday, June 17 – at an annual Fathers Day get together – Bruce received my name, phone number and the rest of my story from his ex-wife. Around 12:30 p.m. Las Vegas time, I got a very excited voicemail from him.  I called him back a few minutes later, got his home phone number, home address and a brief history of how and when the dog tags had been lost.

Bruce said he had been in McCarran Airport on April 20, 2011, heading back to his home in New York when he lost the dog tags. He thought he’d never see them again. Bruce said his tags dated to when he served in the Marine Corps on their championship baseball team in 1960 and 1961.

After talking to him for a few minutes, I found out that his father, Ferdinand, was a Marine who fought in the battle of Iwo Jima. Ferdinand continued to serve until December 1945. He died on Super Bowl Sunday, January 26, 1986.

Bruce – also known as Scott R. Forst – has had an interesting life. He played for the Brooklyn Dodgers Rookies and then joined the Marine Corps in 1957 and played on the All-Marine Corps baseball team at Camp LeJeune, N.C. In 1961 he played as a minor league catcher and outfielder in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ system as well as the San Francisco Giants’ winter team. Unfortunately, an injury ended his professional baseball career that year.

He became a detective with Suffolk County, N.Y., Police Department and was awarded several medals. Along with his sports and police service background he has also worked as a sports artist. 

In the end, the dog tags ended up in his grateful hands. I feel very lucky that I was able to reunite him with a piece of family history.

–Gene Dannan, USO Las Vegas Volunteer

This Week’s Snag Film: Ocean’s 11

We’re getting ready to open our newest USO Center in Las Vegas at McCarran International Airport…on Veteran’s Day!  It’s an honor to be able to support our troops and their families traveling through one of the busiest airports in the world, and in honor of the grand opening, we thought we’d give you a little history on Las Vegas with this week’s Snag Film, The “Ocean’s 11″ Story.

It’s a behind the scenes look at how Frank Sinatra and his rat pack made a movie, did two shows a night, got a president elected and made the city of Las Vegas world famous while never letting the party stop.  As always, you can watch this documentary and hundreds more for FREE online at Snag Films any time you like!  Enjoy and we’ll see you in Nevada next week…

McCarran International Airport Breaks Ground on New USO Center

It’s been decades since Las Vegas enjoyed the amenities of a USO Center. All of that is about to change, as yesterday’s groundbreaking at McCarran International Airport made tangible the reality of a new USO Center, scheduled to open on Veteran’s Day this year.

“I was returning from Bosnia once, in the mid-’90s,” Col. Kevin Fox, who is stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, told the Las Vegas Sun, “and there was nowhere you could go just to sit and relax, clean up, and this was after a very long trip when you’re a little rattled anyway. A lot of people don’t realize all the work the USO does – they know them mostly from the entertainment they do – but they do a lot more than even that. This is really, really important.”

Congresswoman Shelley Berkley thanks our military men and women for their service to our country at the McCarran USO construction kick-off. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Berkley's Flickr stream)

On hand were the ceremony were a number of members of Congress, in addition to airport officials and military officials.  Wayne Newton, who deemed the new center “a joy.”  Always a big supporter of our Troops, Newton had this to say from the podium: “It’s time that we did something to thank our military people for the lifestyle that we have.”

A product of bi-partisan support, this center will occupy an area formerly home to US Airway’s lounge on the second concourse above the baggage claim.  The Clark County Aviation Department paid to relocate US Airway’s lounge.  Matching private funds have also supported the effort, and Clark county is leasing the space to the USO at no cost for up to five years.  See more video at Fox5Vegas.com.