It’s been a month since the mudslide disaster in Oso, Wash., claimed 39 lives and shattered even more families – many with loved ones still to be recovered.
The loss of Navy Cmdr. John Regelbrugge III of the USS John C. Stennis and Chief Petty Officer Billy L. Spillers stationed at Naval Station Everett brought the mudslide to the military community’s doorstep.
During the emergency, USO Northwest rallied to assist the recovery team and the National Guard. USO Northwest’s Seattle-Tacoma Airport Center and its Shali Center on Joint Base Louis-McChord sent much-needed supplies to those helping with the cleanup.
On April 1, Girl Scout Cookies collected and stored at the Shali Center were loaded into vehicles for the Washington Army National Guard J9 unit. The unit is responsible for deployment cycle support, family readiness and overall service member and family well-being.
“I had been thinking all morning about how nice it would be if some of the cookies could go to the National Guard troops helping out at the Oso landslide,” said USO volunteer Herb Schmelling. “So I was truly delighted when representatives of the WANG J9 arrived to pick up cookies for the Oso troops.”
The SeaTac USO center has donated 10 25-pound bags of coffee, 21 boxes of energy bars and 1,000 candy bars to the National Guard troops assisting in the recovery.
“We will continue to help the recovery team and our military community with anything they need,” USO SeaTac Center Manager Bill Baker said.
–Meaghan Cox, USO Northwest
It’s football season downrange.
While the official NFL season ended last month, a trio of professional football players are continuing the tradition of traveling to the Middle East for an offseason USO entertainment tour. New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Washington Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon and Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields are currently meeting, playing catch with, and even getting carried around by (see the slideshow above) U.S. troops downrange.
“This experience for me has truly been life-changing,” said Graham, who caught an NFL-best 16 touchdowns last season. “The personal connection I’ve been able to make is something that will be with me forever. I grew up in a military home and this just makes me more of a patriot. I have more of an appreciation for the little things we have back home each and every day.”
You may have heard it snowed yesterday on the East Coast. While news of cancelled flights and videos of dogs-playing-in-snow likely snuck into your Facebook feed, we noticed a different, heartwarming trend. Our Facebook feed turned up several photos and notes about tireless USO volunteers and staffers at centers that were able to stay open taking care of stranded troops. Here’s a sampling:
From Liberty USO, which serves Philadelphia International Airport:
The USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore was able to help stranded troops at Dulles International Airport thanks to three dedicated volunteers. (The center at Reagan National Airport stayed open overnight, too, hosting seven stranded troops):
And in Fort Drum, N.Y. – where the temperature was 8 below zero at noon today – the USO continued business as usual by welcoming home returning troops earlier this week:
Like what you see? You can help America’s troops, too, by donating to support USO centers and programs.
The USO and partners Exelis and George Washington University assembled Warrior Care Packs as part of Points of Light’s Family Community Fun Day on Monday at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.