Vice President and Dr. Biden Mingle with Troops at USO Hawaii Barbecue

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Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, attended their second USO-affiliated event in as many months Saturday when they dropped in on a barbecue in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

USO Hawaii hosted the event where the Bidens mingled with approximately 500 troops and family members. The Bidens addressed the assembled guests and talked about their personal connection to the military through their son Beau Biden, who is a major in the Delaware Army National Guard.

Due to security, guests had to arrive several hours early. However, the USO had plenty of activities for the kids in attendance to pass the time, including face painters, music, a hula school performance and bounce houses.

“The USO is such a great organization,” Dr. Biden told the crowd, according to the Armed Forces Press Service. “I’ve worked with them many times, and they do really wonderful things.”

–Story by USO Story Development

*** Renew your support and commitment to our troops today. Nothing matters more than being there with the care and support they need. Your donation will be put to work immediately and will have a deep and lasting impact on our troops and their families. ***

Sons of Anarchy Bring Smiles to the Pacific

Is there a word or phrase that conveys “happily exhausted?” When I first meet Kim Coates, Mark Boone Junior and Dayton Callie of Sons of Anarchy on the last day of their whirlwind tour of the Pacific, that is the first thing that comes to my mind.

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Clockwise from top left: The line snaked around the parking lot; Kim Coates and Mark Boone Junior admire a framed photo of the cast before signing; The actors met with hundreds of troops and their families in the morning

Over the past seven days the trio of actors had visited troops and their families stationed in Japan and Guam, and now Hawaii. This was be the second USO tour for Coates and Boone and the third for Callie. In 2010, the cast set out on their first USO tour together, along with fellow actor Theo Rossi, and delivered cheer and a touch of home to more than 2,000 troops in Kuwait and Iraq. Last year, Callie and Rossi, along with fellow “Sons of Anarchy” star Ron Perlman, spent a day visiting troops and military families at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in California.

They had just landed the night before, but no time for sun and surf – we were immediately off to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a meet and greet event!

The line of hundreds of military members and families wrapped around the parking lot in the hot sun, but it was all cheers smiles as we arrived! For three hours straight, the actors gave out hugs, took pictures and signed posters and t-shirts.

"I'm star struck!" explained one pregnant military spouse after the actors signed her tummy!

“I’m star struck!” explained one pregnant military spouse after the actors signed her tummy!

After a brief lunch, filled with signing more posters, it was off to tour a ship and meet with some of the crew members. Dayton Callie, a Navy veteran who served during the Vietnam War, joked, “In my day we were still using cannon balls!”

Then it was off again to meet hundreds more excited military fans. By this point my back and feet had begun to ache and I couldn’t fathom how they were still standing. Yet they were excited to meet more people and ready with big smiles as they spent two more hours taking pictures and autographing items.

Coates, Boone and Callie at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

Coates, Boone and Callie at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

Finally, we spent the evening taking a private boat tour of Pearl Harbor, stopping by the USS Arizona Memorial. Awed by its significance, Coates, Boone and Callie agreed that our men and women in the military sacrifice so much and deserve the utmost respect.

Wrapping up the long day and tour with a dinner, the actors were weary but content… and already contemplating what they’ll do next with the USO! - Vyque White, USO Director of New Media

 

With Her All The Way: USO Hawaii Helps Girl Replace Threadbare Bear

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Lana Griffin clutches her old and new Cuzzie Bears at a USO Hawaii area office. USO photo

You can only sew up a bear so many times.

That’s the dilemma one Hawaii-based family had when their daughter’s Cuzzie bear – a staple of Comfort Crew “With You All The Way” deployment kits – was hanging together by its last threads.

The Griffin family received the bear in a kit given to their son, Lucas, while living near USO Yokosuka in Japan. Their daughter, Lana, inherited the bear from her older brother and has toted it around the Pacific ever since.

Lana’s mother, Shawna, had been searching for a replacement for the bear, but couldn’t find one for a reasonable cost. The family eventually called USO Hawaii and explained the situation.

The staff at the USO dug out a new Cuzzie and had it waiting when Lana and her family arrived at the center.

“Seeing firsthand how meaningful USO programs are to our military families and the comfort they provide was so touching. It was truly a full-circle moment,” said USO Hawaii Programs Manager Kristin Tierney. “We often don’t get to share these moments with those we touch, and hearing the impact that Cuzzie Bear has had on this family just solidifies why we do what we do.”

You can read more about the significance of the Cuzzie bear here.

In other news around the USO:

  • USO Fort Drum was named the Greater Watertown-North County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year in the “nonprofit, 50 or fewer employees” category.

–Story by USO Story Development

Help Support USO Hawaii’s Back-To-School Program

USO Hawaii is happy to announce that they’ll be making the back-to-school process a little better for military kids this year. Director Eva Laird Smith explained the importance of providing free backpacks and school supplies for military families to Hawaii News Now earlier this week. “This is a great opportunity for our community to show their aloha support for our military and their families with their children’s back-to-school needs. It will be one headache less, one challenge less on the homefront for our deployed troops,” said Laird Smith.

Click here to watch her video interview!

The community is encouraged to get involved: now through July 25, donations of new backpacks and school supplies appropriate for any age may be dropped off at the Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange Aloha Desk, ground floor, as well as the USO Honolulu Airport Center.  Click on the poster above for more information or to spread the word.

Online donations are also being accepted online or you can call William Johnson at (808) 836-3351 for information on making a donation via PayPal.

And if you’d like to be one of the families that receives these great back-to-school basics, contact USO Hawaii’s Programs & Marketing Manager Barb Troegner at (808) 256-7744 or via email.  Items will be available for distribution this Sunday from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Hickam Air Force Base Officers’ Club area.

Check out the flyer at left for more info on how to participate.  Aloha!

News & Notes from Around the World

On 29 April, 2010 the CASF USO hosted nine cartoonist from the National Cartoonist Society.  Approximately  50 patients and CASF staff members joined in the fun by having their caricatures drawn as well as their favorite cartoon characters.  The evening was sweetened by a variety desserts.  A great time was had by all.

A servicemember has his likeness done in caricature by one of the visiting cartoonists.

At USO Hawaii, Marines and a Corpsman from the Wounded Warrior Detachment, Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Hawaii were treated to chartered deep sea fishing through USO’s Operation Enduring Care program on Friday April 3.  The sport fishing charter left the Marine Corps Community Service Outdoor Recreation marina promptly at 7 a.m. for the six-hour excursion.  The Wounded Warriors spent the day casting and reeling.  The charter’s captain and his crew were available to assist with the warriors’ catch of the day.

It was a good day for fishing with (left to right) HM2 David Provost, LCpl Perry Crawford, LCpl Blaze Cox, LCpl Jason Grivas, Cpl Beau Parra, Sgt Jacob Cash, and members of the boat's crew.

Sather AB recently hosted a ping-pong tournament.  It was a hard-fought competition taken very seriously by all the 16 finalists.  Sponsored by the USO, the three winners received AAFES gift cards and they must have needed to buy something very special at the PX because they fought long and hard for these prizes!

A1C Josep (l) came in third and MSG Smith (r) came in second. We can't even see the ball!

And finally, here’s a special shoutout all the way from Afghanistan to the USO for our support of the upcoming Warrior Games in Colorado.  Hoo-rah!

more about “DVIDS Warrior Games Group“, posted with vodpod

USO Galas Galore!

It’s been a busy few weeks for USO’s around the world as they celebrate our Troops with galas.  USO of Metropolitan Washington, USO Hawaii, USO Guam, and USO Korea have all put on wonderful events in April.  We’d like to share a few of the highlights!

On April 8, USO Korea hosted their 39th Annual USO Six Star Salute, a salute to the honorable service and sacrifices of military members securing freedom on the Korean peninsula.  Special guests included Washington State Senator Paull Shin; LTG Joseph F. Fil, Jr; Oh, Sae Chang, Mayor of Dongducheon City; Joseph T. McCabe, president of BAE Systems; and the USO Council of Korea.

The Six Star Salute began in 1970 when a group of Korean civic leaders chose to express their country’s gratitude by bestowing the honorary rank of “Six Star” to exemplary enlisted personnel serving throughout the Republic of Korea.  The tradition continues and this year the USO will honor 39 Americans, 39 Koreans, one Filipino and one Thai.  These service members are selected by their commanders for outstanding duty performance, impeccable personal conduct, advancements in education and contributions to the community.

This year, the eighty junior enlisted personnel from the United Nations Command, U.S. Forces Korea, and Republic of Korea armed services were honored and for two days were regarded as VIPs in the City of Seoul; a highlight was the luncheon hosted by the Mayor of Seoul on April 9.  Each honoree received the USO Six Star Medal and also toured the Korean War Memorial, Kyungbuk Palace, the National Assembly of Korea .  Four honorees also received The USO Scholarship Award, an educational grant that will enable them to continue their educational endeavors.

This year's keynote speaker, Washington State Senator Paull Shin, addresses the audience at USO Korea's 39th Annual Six Star Salute.

On April 14th, USO of Metropolitan Washington feted the Troops at their 28th annual awards dinner.  James L. Jones Jr., national security advisor and retired Marine Corps general, and L. Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of intergovernmental and public affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs and disabled Army pilot, presented the USO Merit Award to actor-musician brothers Kevin and Michael Bacon. They often visit wounded warriors recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.  American Forces Press Service covered the event.

Also in attendance were Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Naval Academy graduate Montel Williams, National Football League Hall of Fame offensive lineman Anthony Munoz, Miss American 2010 Caressa Cameron and author and professional wrestler Mick Foley.  Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad W. Allen and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston also attended, and the 82nd Airborne Division All American Chorus performed.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that there were some 210,000 [troops] serving as we speak around the world, many in harm’s way,” the admiral said. “They give us the opportunity to celebrate as we have tonight. … We should never forget, and keep them in our hearts and prayers.”  It was a tremendous event and we’d like to congratulate USO of Metropolitan Washington and all of the men and women in uniform who were honored!

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses the audience at the annual USO of Metropolitan Washington Gala in Arlington, Va., April 14, 2010. (DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)