‘Heave a ho there! Sailor’

While many Americans are taking their vacations to the shore, help us identify the harbor in this photo.

Can you identify the location or date of this photo?

The ship names are barely visible, but can you recognize them? Do the cranes in the background or the mountain in the mist give away the location of this place – Stateside or overseas?

According to our records, the USO logo on the armband of the volunteer pictured here was in use from 1974-1983. Do you notice anything else that indicates a more specific date when this photo was taken?

Leave a comment below if you can provide any information about the people, place or date this photo was taken.

‘For you sail at break of day, Hey!’

Military Community – All About Being Inclusive

Military Community – All About Being Inclusive
by Maja Stevanovich

I often get asked why I take such an avid interest in the military community considering I have no formal family ties and am not serving myself. Doing a few entertainment related projects was my first interaction with a community that most who are not directly involved in, typically try not to enter.

Growing up in an extremely patriotic household, I have always had an appreciation for the military but it was only when I started interacting with the various organizations such as the USO, the actual branches and other support groups that I realized how special this community truly is. I was truly inspired by the stories that I would hear or witness that I decided to start my blog and share stories that are happening in the military community that may not exactly be front-page news. There are so many interesting, inspiring, and worthwhile stories that should be a part of our conversations.

As an outsider, it would have been correct to assume that I would have continued to feel that way in my quest to connect with the military community. Instead, I was quickly able to connect with other supporters, military personnel, various support organizations and feel like I have been working with these people for ages.

Navy Facebook Page

U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Palmer Pinckney makes updates to the official U.S. 7th Fleet Facebook social media site Nov. 24, 2009, in Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. 7th Fleet began using social media in Spring 2009 to promote interaction with the people who have an interest in the U.S. Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gregory Mitchell/Released)

The fact that the military community truly embraces social media, makes it that much easier to connect, learn about their stories and be a part of the larger dialogue going on. If more individuals were exposed to various military blogs, official DoD Twitter or Facebook accounts, they would feel much closer to this community and gain a deeper understanding about who the men and women behind the front lines are and what they represent.

Supporting our troops does mean engaging and there are so many outlets that make that possible. Whether volunteering for a local USO chapter, or keeping up with what is going on through social media, supporting our troops is easier than ever and the satisfaction of giving back to those that give so much to us is unparalleled. With so many of us living busy lives, and struggling to find those precious extra hours, a second look into the military community and who these brave men and women and their families are, is well worth the time.

Maja Stevanovich is the Founder of First Touch Management.  Her blog, Not Your Average Brooklynette, discusses everything from military and marketing communications to social media and pop culture.  The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Maja Stevanovich and do not necessarily reflect those of the USO.

Black History Month and the USO

Black History Month traces its roots to the work of Carter G. Woodson, who – in 1926 designated a week in February to reflect on the contributions of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass to the lives of African Americans.  Nearly a century later we observe “Black History Month.”

The US Military has a long tradition of African Americans serving.  And although the military was not legally desegregated until 1948 by President Harry S Truman, the USO served the needs of Black service members from the outset.

African American soldiers relax at a USO Center in the early 1940s

In 1942, a USO Club opened in Hattiesburg, MS, specifically for African American soldiers; it is the only extant USO Center built for that purpose.  In 2003 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and is home to Hattiesburg’s African American Military Museum.

From the beginning, USO policy expressly forbade discrimination on the basis of race or creed, but as Gretchen Knapp explained in “Experimental Social Policymaking During World War II: The United Service Organizations (USO) and American War-Community Services (AWCS),” it was not uncommon for separate USO Centers to spring up in the same town, “either because of local regulations or by the request of African Americans who deplored the tensions that arose when they entered the USO center.”

USO Centers designed exclusively for Black soldiers soon sprung up around the country, including Tacoma, WA; Tuscon, AZ; San Marcos, TX; and Portland, OR, just to name a few.  In fact, by 1943, “more than 180 of 1,326 USO operations were designated for African Americans.” (ibid)

African American serviceman, being greeted at the front desk of a USO Center, 1943.

As the military integrated, so did USO Centers, many of whom also opened their doors to female service members around the same time.  The impact of those early, segregated clubs was felt, however, in a lasting acknowledgement and respect for the service of Black Troops during World War II and the idea that a “home away from home” was available to anyone visiting a USO Center.

Today the USO and the US Military continue to recognize the contributions of African Americans from every branch of the military.  The Coast Guard has announced the soon-to-be released documentary “RESCUE MEN: The Story of the Pea Island Life Savers,” the story of the Pea Island Lifesaving Station surfmen.  The Marines are celebrating the legacy of African American Marines with a multi-media project entitled “The Line.”  One part of that project is this commercial:

Other branches are celebrating, too: the Navy’s remembers the “Golden 13″ and offers a series of events at the Navy Memorial; a number of Air Force Bases are holding celebrations, such as the Gospel Extravaganza at Offut AFB.  The Army has created a website, “African Americans in the U.S. Army,” chock full of unique content on the history of Black soldiers.  Likewise, Military.com is offering exclusive content on the history of African American service, from the Buffalo Soldiers to the Tuskegee Airman to current Troops.  Speaking of the Tuskegee Airman, George Lucas’ film Red Tails – the story of the Tuskegee Airman – will be released later in 2010.

As of June 2009 Black troops account for 239,661(17%) of total active duty (Total Pop 1,405,489) and minority women continue to join the military at a higher rate than their share in the civilian population.  We salute these service members – and all African Americans who have served in the US military – during Black History Month and every day of the year!

A Page From History

“PARIS, Dec. 24 (AP) – Maj. Glenn Miller, director of the Unites States Aire Force Band and a former orchestra leader, is missing on a flight from England to Paris, it was announced today.

Major Miller, one of the outstanding orchestra leaders of the United States, left England Dec. 15 as a passenger aboard a plane.  No trace of the plane has been found.”

So read the December 25, 1944, page 4 article in the New York Times.  Miller – perhaps the most famous of big band directors – was an accomplished trombonist and actor as well.  At the height of his fame and fortune, Miller enlisted in the Army then transferred to the Army Air Force in 1942.  He eventually formed a 50-piece Army Air Force band, which toured domestically and internationally, often to USO Centers.

He was on his way to entertain Troops who had recently liberated Paris when his plane disappeared.  Still officially listed as “Missing in Action,” Miller’s story sparked the popular imagination of conspiracy theorists and Hollywood executives alike.  His wife, Helen Miller, posthumously accepted a Bronze Star on his behalf in 1945.

No trace of the plane or any of the other passengers has been found in the last 65 years.

Billy Ray Cyrus Sure Has a Great Memory!

A note from Jane Campbell, CAPT, U.S. Navy (OF-5), ISAF Joint Command:

“Yesterday we hosted ADM & Mrs. Mullen & the USO Holiday Troop Tour (Comedian – Dave Attell, Tennis legend – Nick Bolletierri, Tennis star - Anna Kournikova, and Country Music star – Billy Ray Cyrus).

MCC Craig Strawser who was the star of the day — literally. Chief Strawser is a huge fan of Billy Ray Cyrus.  He captured several hundred
images of Billy Ray signing autographs & standing with soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.  As the autograph session wrapped up, I walked over and suggested that I take a picture of Chief and Billy Ray.  They both smiled.

Billy Ray Cyrus and U. S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Craig P. Strawser

Chief then asked Billy Ray if he could tell him why he was such a fan. Chief relayed the story that about 10 years ago that he had the opportunity to talk with him following a concert at a fair in California. Evidently somebody tried to interrupt that conversation, and Billy Ray stopped them — informed them that Chief was a Navy man — and that he didn’t want to be interrupted.

Amazingly, Billy Ray responded to Chief’s story by saying — “Yeah, we walked over by the Corn Dog stand and finished the conversation.” Chief was shocked that Billy Ray remembered.  I think most of us standing around were shocked — and more than pleasantly impressed.

We wrapped up the session, and took Mrs. Mullen and the USO Tour over to our cafeteria for lunch.”

Just another day in the life of a USO Celebrity Tour!  Click here for other tour photos and be sure to read this article from Black Anthem Military News.

Image of the Day

Santa Claus makes a surprise appearance and hands out candy to audience members during a holiday concert featuring the U.S. 7th Fleet Band and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Band Dec. 11, 2009, in Yokosuka, Japan. The concert is celebrating the holiday season and showcasing the alliance between both the countries' navies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles Oki/Released)