USO Provides Internet Connectivity to Superstorm Sandy Cleanup Personnel

Troops unwind on four MEGS (Mobile Entertainment Gaming Stations) inside the USO tent at Floyd Bennett Field. Photo by Leigh Edmonds, Mobile Program Manager

Thousands of troops and emergency personnel are settling in at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, N.Y., for what may be more than a month of cleanup efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The USO is right there with them to provide support at the heart of what has been dubbed “Tent City.”

Army engineers are spending their days clearing debris from nearby streets and security personnel are pulling 24-hour shifts to keep the most heavily damaged areas of the eastern shore safe. But they now know they’ll be able to relax when they return from duty, whether its inside one of two Mobile USOs or in a 30-foot by 30-foot USO tent featuring food, entertainment and Web access.

The first wave of connectivity support arrived with the newly refitted Mobile USOs. These units have both 4G wireless and satellite capabilities that can provide more than 25 concurrent online access points within a 200-foot radius. Inside the nearby USO tent, five Mobile Entertainment Gaming Systems (MEGS) have been deployed as gaming and movie-watching stations. Additional laptops are available for use by troops and first responders who do not have their own equipment.

Nothing like a little football with friends at a USO mobile canteen! Photo by Leigh Edmonds, Mobile Program Manager

All this high-speed technology translates into some simple comforts of home for troops who deployed to New York City—comforts like Sunday afternoon football on the Mobile USO televisions or a Skype conversation with loved ones back home.

“When you think about getting deployed—whether it’s disaster relief or combat—the last thing you expect is to catch the game on Sunday,” said Army Capt. Keven O’Reilly of the 204th Engineer Battalion. “But these soldiers are out here sleeping in the cold in order to bring security and peace to a community under duress. To get something like a football game or access to the Internet, it makes being deployed that much easier.”

The second wave of connectivity support soon to arrive in Tent City will be a portable satellite kit and bandwidth provided by 3Di.

According to USO Operations and Internet Technology personnel, this unit will be located adjacent to the USO tent and will provide wireless access for up to 50 additional users, as well as continuous Internet access to the USO tent should the Mobile USO need to relocate.

“That’s one thing I love about the USO—they show up right where we need them most with exactly what we want the most,” O’Reilly said. “All I can say is thank you—you guys did it again.” – Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer