Love Connection: USO of New York Volunteers Marry After Meeting at the Port Authority Center

Prentice-Faller and Faller pose at the Douglas MacArthur Center USO. Photo courtesy Joy Prentice-Faller

Joy Prentice-Faller and Maj. Joe Faller pose at the Douglas MacArthur Center USO. Photo courtesy Joy Prentice-Faller

Joy Prentice-Faller wasn’t looking for love when she started volunteering at the USO in 2011.

Instead, it found her.

It started one Saturday morning in 2012 at the USO of Metropolitan New York’s Douglas MacArthur Center inside the Port Authority Bus Terminal, when Prentice-Faller showed up early to teach Marine Reserve Maj. Joe Faller how to open the center.

Unbeknownst to Prentice-Faller and Pat Walsh — the USO of Metropolitan New York’s manager of programs and services who coordinated the shift — Faller had already been trained.

“We realized that it wasn’t his first time [opening the center] and that we had just kind of gotten put on the schedule together,” Prentice-Faller said. “But that started more of the first conversation [between us].”

After that shift, the duo started to see each other outside of the USO and eventually began dating.

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“I think volunteering together gave us something in common, or just kinda showed us that we had similar values because we could kinda work together as a team, or work together and be on the same page,” Faller said.

No one at the center knew about their relationship until about six months later, when the couple was walking side-by-side in New York City’s Veterans Day parade.

“[Walsh] kind of figured it out when [she saw that] we were holding hands walking up Fifth Avenue with the USO float,” Prentice-Faller said.

Pat Walsh gives a toast at Prentice-Faller and Faller's wedding. Photo courtesy Joy Prentice-Faller

USO of Metropolitan New York’s Pat Walsh gives a toast at Prentice-Faller wedding. Photo courtesy Joy Prentice-Faller

The two got engaged in 2013 and were married last year. They even asked Walsh to give a toast at the reception and talk about how they met.

“So when nobody was really telling that story [of how they met at the USO], I thought, I have to tell it,’” Walsh said.

“When you put people on the same shift, you don’t know that [they’re] going to get married, of course.”
The couple still volunteers at the USO’s Port Authority location.

Helicopter Rides, Crazy Food Pairings and Troops: Steve Byrne and Roy Wood Jr. Talk About Their USO Travels

Comedians and USO tour veterans Steve Byrne and Roy Wood Jr. have dozens of great stories about traveling the world to entertain troops on USO tours.

At the beginning of May, the duo was part of the USO’s first entertainment tour to Iraq since 2011.

In this video, Byrne and Wood discuss the allure of riding in military helicopters, the wild world of DFACs (dining facilities) and why they keep going overseas to perform shows.

USO Steps in to Help Stranded Military Teen and Give Worried Mom Piece Of Mind

Marlene Kenney and her family. Photo courtesy Marlene Kenney

Marlene Chapman and her family. Photo courtesy Marlene Chapman

Marlene Chapman never thought her kids would need the USO.

But after her 19-year-old daughter, Mareena Brown, found herself alone, upset and stranded overnight in the Denver airport, Chapman, who’s married to Air Force 1st Lt. Joseph Chapman, was relieved the USO was there to lend a hand.

“I can’t explain it, except to say, I am crying (again) thinking how relieved I was knowing she felt safe. Knowing she was safe,” Chapman wrote in an email. “I always thought it was for the ones serving, not their families.”

Chapman and Brown’s USO story began long before any plane tickets were booked.

A few years back, Chapman and her children lived in Colorado. That’s where Brown met her friend Cali Lurvey, whose father was in the Army. But military families rarely stay in one place for long. Eventually, Brown moved to Salt Lake City with her mother, and Cali relocated to Minot, South Dakota, with her family. The girls remained close and continued to grow their friendship, particularly when Brown struggled with health issues and Graves’ disease during high school.

Brown eventually graduated high school and started to regain her health. She resumed everyday activities, too, including getting a job at a local call center. After earning her first paycheck, Brown decided to spend the money to visit Cali. So she booked a flight to Minot, packed her bag and had Chapman drop her off at the airport.

“She was very nervous about traveling alone,” Chapman wrote. “I was even more nervous.”

When Brown landed in Denver, she received a series of flight delay texts, and later, a notification that her connecting flight to Minot was cancelled. Alone, and facing a night in the airport without her luggage, Brown called her mother, who suggested she head to Denver International Airport’s USO center.

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After signing in with a volunteer, calming herself down and fueling up on a sandwich and juice, Brown called her mother to let her know that everything was going to be alright.

“She told me to thank Joe (my husband) for being awesome and in the Air Force,” Chapman wrote. “She said the USO felt safe.”

Even though the center closed 10 p.m., Brown said the USO volunteers gave her plenty of snacks and books to keep her happy in the main terminal until the center re-opened at 6 a.m. The next day, Brown went back to the USO and spent her morning relaxing at the center before catching her flight to Minot.

After her experience with the USO, Brown told her mother that she’d like to look into volunteering at her local USO.

“I told her that we will all look into it as a family,” Chapman wrote. “I am grateful to the USO for helping me find peace of mind while she was traveling. We definitely want to be part of the USO community, family, organization.”

5 Things You Can Do to Thank America’s Troops on Armed Forces Day

DOD photo

Department of Defense photo

Saturday is Armed Forces Day, making it the perfect day to show your support for America’s troops stationed around the world. Here are five ways to show your thanks to America’s troops and their families:

1. Thank a service member: Whether you see someone in uniform traveling through the airport or know one of your neighbors is in the National Guard, take a moment to thank them for their service.

2. Sign the USO flag online: This is perhaps the easiest-to-achieve entry on the list. Just go to USOmoments.org and sign the flag. You’ll get to show our troops your appreciation and help the USO break a Guinness World Record.

3. Share your thanks on social media: The USO has 30,000 interactions with troops every day at our 160-plus centers around the globe. But while we’re making them feel home away from home in person, you can let them know how you feel about them by tweeting or Facebooking your message and then adding the hashtag #USOmoments at the end. And don’t forget to follow the USO on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

4. Head to a Major League game in one of these four cities: The USO will have a significant presence at ballparks around the country on Saturday. If you’re going to a game in Chicago (Cubs), Cleveland, Houston or Washington, take a walk to find the USO booth and sign a piece of the Every Moment Counts flag. Then, take a photo of yourself near the flag table and put it on Twitter or Instagram with the #USOmoments hashtag. We’ll pick one winner next week to send an Every Moment Counts T-shirt.

5. And if you’re in North Carolina … : You can celebrate all day in the Tar Heel state, as Gov. Pat McCrory issued an official citation proclaiming May 17 as Armed Forces Day to celebrate the state’s 800,000 veterans and 132,000 uniformed personnel:

N.C. Proclamation Armed Forces Day

USO on TV: Skype Connections Downrange Keep Families Together

photo“He wasn’t there when she was born, and, almost two months later for him to hold her, she knew his voice.” Those are the words of Brittany Ellridge, wife of Spec. Najee Ellridge, who watched their daughter Nyla’s birth over a USO-provided Skype connection in Afghanistan. The Nov. 10 edition of the CBS Evening News featured a story on how American troops serving across the globe stay in touch with their families back home.

CBS also profiled Allison Simerly, who spoke at a USO/With You All The Way symposium on military kids and post-deployment issues at the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Va., back in April. Simerly, and her father – Army Col. Mark Simerly – keep in touch via online video chats.

The CBS story also featured file footage of Senior Airman Gabriel Time, who had this emotional reaction to watching his child being born via a Skype connection at USO Kandahar in Afghanistan in 2011.