USO Entertainers Shine at Academy Awards

USO entertainers have been raking in the nominations, awards and accolades this winter, and last night’s Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles was no exception.

If you missed last night’s festivities, here’s a look at this year’s Academy Award nominees and winners who also happen to be USO tour veterans and supporters.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2”

Academy Awards
Best animated feature film; Nominated

In 2010, actress America Ferrera traveled on an eight-day USO handshake tour to the Persian Gulf, where she visited with over 1,300 service members with actors Ryan O’Nan and Jason Ritter and writer/director Ryan Peters.

Check out what she had to say about the tour here:


More recently, in June 2014, actors Jay Baruchel and America Ferrera and writer/director Dean DeBlois joined more than 450 troops and military families at an advance screening of DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2” at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. The event also included a question-and-answer session with the trio.

Watch the highlights from the event here:


Academy Awards
Best cinematography; Nominated
Best sound editing; Nominated
Best sound mixing; Nominated

In 2010, Angelina Jolie, the director of “Unbroken” traveled to Germany to surprise wounded troops and the service members taking care of them.

This past December, as part of its partnership with Universal Pictures, the USO brought five service members and their guests to the premiere of “Unbroken” at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. Although Jolie was unable to attend the premiere due to illness, her husband, Brad Pitt, stood in for her, and personally greeted the USO guests.

Watch highlights from the “Unbroken” premiere here:

“American Sniper”

Academy Awards
Best actor in a leading role (Bradley Cooper); Nominated
Best picture; Nominated
Best film editing; Nominated
Best sound editing; Nominated and won
Best sound mixing; Nominated
Best adapted screenplay; Nominated

Bradley Cooper, a veteran of several USO tours, has traveled to Cuba, Kuwait and Afghanistan in addition to a seven-day, three-country tour with then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen in 2009.

Actor Bradley Cooper takes a moment to pose with service members stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during a week-long USO tour in 2008.  Cooper was in the region on his first tour to show support to U.S. troops and bring them a touch of home.

Actor Bradley Cooper takes a moment to pose with service members stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during a weeklong USO tour in 2008. Cooper was in the region on his first tour to show support to U.S. troops.


More from USO Pacific: Camp Fuji, Guam, and Camp Hansen

On Tuesday, March 24, USO USO Camp Fuji staff and two volunteers  from Yokota Fussa Church hosted “Free Food at Fuji.”  Despite the rain, 44 marines -2 Okinawa Inspection officers, a Chaplain, one Army reserve duty from the states and 40 Fuji Marines – chowed down on free food and soft drinks.

Center Operations Manager Suk Cha Lucas said the event was a big success, and the “Marines appreciated USO for supporting them in many ways…We talked and laughed like we are family.”  Check out some pictures below!

Although the rain drove them indoors, it was still a great cookout for Marines at USO Camp Fuji.

Troops at Camp Fuji relax with a free meal and enjoy some downtime in the USO Center.

On Wednesday, March 24, USO Directors from Hawaii, Japan, Okinawa and Korea met with USO Regional Vice President Thomas Kolstad at USO Guam in Tumon.  Guam is a constant hub of activity in the Pacific, serving approximately 30,000 service members and their families; over 30,000 more are served outside the center.

As reported by Laura Matthews of the Pacific Daily News, the meeting brought together regional leaders in order to strengthen the range of programs and services they offer.  “It’s important that we continue to have teamwork across the Pacific,” Kolstad said. “We have a responsibility for taking care of the men and women in the U.S. military and for sharing information on what new adventures and events are coming up.”  Get to know your USO Pacific staff below!

USO Guam

USO personnel are photographed in front of the USO facility in Tumon. Pictured in front, from left, are Jarrett Ota, Remichel Tharps, Judy Decker, Juliet Bucayu, Elizabeth Lee, Eva Laird, Betsy McWhirt and Leigh Leilani Graham. In back, from left are Tom Kolstad, James Embry, Julia Gregory, Renae Whited, Jeff Herndon, Nicole Darity and Dave Proch. (Louis J. Paulino/For Pacific Daily News)

Finally, as reported by Lance Cpl. Kentavist P. Brackin of Marine Corps Bases Japan, Camp Hansen USO is celebrating 34 years of service this month.  Camp Hansen – along with the USO at Camp Schwab – serves between 6,000 and 7,000 Troops each year.  Center Manager Lee Kramvik, himself a retired Marine, emphasized that “Our main mission is to provide morale, welfare and recreation for the troops.  The island USOs are places where friendly staff and volunteers welcome and interact with the troops to provide a comfortable place to spend some time.”  Congratulations on 34 years of service, Camp Hansen, and here’s to many more!

Camp Hansen USO

The Hansen USO celebrates its 34th anniversary of serving personnel on the island since 1976, this month. (Publicly released photo by Lance Cpl. Kentavist P. Brackin)

Senate to Recognize USO Hawaii at State Capitol

USO Hawaii has served Troops since World War II. (Photo courtesy of USO Archives)

We are thrilled to announce that USO Hawaii will be honored at the State Capitol of Honolulu on March 31, during a Senate Proclamation Ceremony sponsored by Sen. Will Espero, chairman, Public Safety and Military Affairs Committee.  The USO is being recognized for its outstanding morale programs and services for Hawaii’s military members and families.

USO Hawaii, which operates two centers on Oahu — one at the Honolulu International Airport and one at the Hickam Air Force Base terminal — offers the enhanced services of a “home away from home” for all branches of the military.  In the past year alone USO Hawaii served the needs of 64,000 military personnel deploying to, or returning from combat and other worldwide military assignments.

For more than 69 years, the USO has provided support to active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces throughout the world. The USO’s mission is, “to enhance the quality of life for our brave men and women who serve to protect our country and our freedom.”  Through peacetime and various wars and conflicts, the USO continues to serve those who serve us, “Until Every One Comes Home.”

USO Officials Karl Kiyokawa, chair, USO Hawaii Advisory Council, Kyle Brockett, Chair-Elect, Tom Kolstad, Vice President-USO Pacific Operations and Eva Laird Smith, USO Hawaii director will be on the Senate Floor to accept the Proclamation Award on behalf of the nonprofit organization.

The community is invited to attend the Senate Proclamation Ceremony honoring USO Hawaii at the State Capitol Gallery at 11:30 a.m., Wed., March 31.

Al Shimizu, a USO volunteer, hands a slice of pizza to a deploying Soldier on an early Tuesday morning at Hickam Air Force Base. (Photo by Sgt. Bradley Rhen)