USO Comforts Family of Korean War Soldier

Army Pfc. Roosevelt “Jack” Clark's Yearbook Photo

Army Pfc. Roosevelt “Jack” Clark’s Yearbook Photo

Four volunteers reported for duty hours before dawn this morning at Los Angeles International Airport’s Bob Hope Hollywood USO to greet the remains of a fallen soldier.

As the flag-draped coffin containing the remains of Army Pfc. Roosevelt “Jack” Clark slowly rolled from the rear of the plane, his family could hardly contain their joy to finally bring him home.

It’s not that they’re happy he died. His family’s grief has lasted nearly 62 years. Clark was first reported missing-in-action while fighting with the 35th Infantry Regiment in North Korea in 1950. He was just 18.

His remains were recently identified among 208 boxes of human remains turned over to the United States by North Korea in the early 1990s. It was determined that he had died just three days before he was reported missing, when his position was overwhelmed by elements of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces.

“A dignified transfer is usually a very somber event,” said Bob Kurkjian, executive director of USO Greater Los Angeles Area. “We are always there to support families of the fallen, but this time was different.”

The USO is committed to supporting families of the fallen through our centers and partnerships with airport and service honor guards, as well as organizations such as the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). USO staff and volunteers provide comfort for family members along the journey to the final resting place of the service member.

“This was the celebration of a soldier’s return home,” added Kurkjian. “We helped bring his family the closure they haven’t had for decades.”

Two of Clark’s cousins and his great-niece were there — alongside USO volunteers, airport police and firefighters — to welcome Clark’s remains.

“It’s a closure for us,” his cousin, Rennie Hunter, told KABC-TV. The hardest part about having a family member go missing, she said, is that “you just never know what had happened or if they will ever come back home.”

Clark grew up close to his cousins in rural Arvin, located just southeast of Bakersfield, Calif., and though it was his mother’s lifelong dream for Clark to return home, neither of his parents lived to see it.

Clark’s remains will be buried Friday in Bakersfield, KTLA-TV reported.

Questions about the USO’s support for families of the fallen can be directed to Wendy Fish, Families of the Fallen Support program manager, at wfish@uso.org. - Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer

Care Package Stuffing Party at Beyond the Welcome Home Summit in LA

Thanks to everyone who participate in this successful stuffing party. (Photo by Shauna Bain Smith)

The Beyond the Welcome Home Summit – held in Los Angeles earlier this week – brought together a select group of talented and entrepreneurial participants from campuses and communities across the country.  Sponsored by Mobilize.org, ServiceNation: Mission Serve, MTV, the McCormick Foundation, and the Goldhirsh Foundation, the Summit included a service component – a USO Care Package stuffing party!

Summit participants and celebrities alike pitched in to create 7500 Care Packages to be distributed to Troops when they leave for deployment.  David Arquette, Antwone Fisher, Olivia Munn, Geoff Stults, and Mathew St. Patrick all create video messages for the Troops.  Arquette’s is below and you can see the rest by clicking on their names.  Keep scrolling for pictures, too!

Director of the USO Warehouse Ron Wise keeps an eye on the proceedings. Great job with the Care Package program! (Photo by Shauna Bain Smith)

A volunteer puts the finishing seal on a complete Care Package. (Photo by Shauna Bain Smith)

Seventy-five hundred care packages just like this one will be handed out to Troops. (Photo by Shauna Bain Smith)

Wounded Troops Enjoy a View from the Sky Box

Michael R. S. Teilmann, the Executive Director of USO – Greater Los Angeles Area, Inc. sent this dispatch from the field on January 2: We were able to get a sky box at Staples Center for our wounded warriors last night…THIS is what we are in business for — to take care of our troops and our wounded warriors.  Look at the smiles on the faces of these heroes! God Bless everyone who helps us with our sacred mission. Happy New Year to all.  -Mike”

That’s right, Mike.  This IS what the USO is all about.  The troops made the trip to the Staples Center in conjunction with The 911 HelpAmerica Foundation.  We have a photo gallery below.

Mike Talleda heads up this group’s wounded warrior initiative and had this to say to the USO:  “I want to thank you for always thinking of us.  You and the Bob Hope USO at LAX have made it possible for us to get our guys together more than anyone. You’ve always put our name out there and for that we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  We help our guys financially, we advocate for them but the thing that we like to do most is create a fellowship and get these guys out of the house, and believe me ‘it ain’t easy”. Some of the best times we have had are because of invitations that have come our way because of you.”

Outstanding work, Mike and Michael!  And to all the troops who enjoyed the game, that was some fourth quarter, eh?  We’re so proud of your service.