Tuesday , 19 November 2019

2017 USO Holiday Tour: Bringing a Piece of Home to Our Deployed Service Members

By Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford

Members of the USO Holiday Tour pose for a photo with airmen assigned to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Dhafra Air Base Dec. 23, 2017. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro

We just wrapped up this year’s USO Holiday Tour where Ellyn and I had the privilege of spending the holidays with our forward deployed troops in Spain, Poland, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). We were joined by USO President Dr. J.D. Crouch II and his wife Kristin; my senior enlisted advisor Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell and his wife Sandra; and Medal of Honor recipient Army Capt. (Ret.) Florent ‘Flo’ Groberg and his fiancée Carsen.

While we can’t bring our troops home for the holidays, we can bring a bit of home to them, and that’s what the USO Holiday tour is all about. It’s also a way to thank our service members for their service and show how much we appreciate their sacrifice.

This year’s tour included professional wrestlers Michael “The Miz” Mizanin and Alicia Fox; actor Adam Devine and comedian Iliza Shlesinger; country singer Jerrod Niemann; celebrity chef Robert Irvine and his wife, Gail Kim-Irvine, a professional wrestler, model and actress. All of them volunteered their time and talent to show our service members that America remembers and values their service.

We made 10 stops across two continents in seven days and met with over 6,000 service members. The 11 USO shows included everything from comedy acts to country music performances—and it made an extraordinary impact.

USO Holiday Tour Aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)

U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Janine F. Jones

Each year, the sentiment I hear from deployed service members has been: “You know, for a couple of minutes, I forgot I was here.”  And that sentiment has been echoed by service members for over seven decades.

The Chairman’s USO Tour 2017 visits Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan

Chairmans USO Tour 2017

Service members from all over Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan gathered in a hanger to enjoy the Chairmans USO Tour 2017. Various celebrities joined the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman to bring a little holiday cheer to the men and women that are deployed away from their families during the holiday season.#ChairmansUSOTour2017 #VulturesLeadTheWay #HolidayCheer #Deployed #ServiceUS Forces Afghanistan 455th Air Expeditionary Wing – Bagram Airfield Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff The Joint Staff USCENTAF USO

Posted by 455th Air Expeditionary Wing on Sunday, December 24, 2017

This year marked the 76th anniversary of the USO, an organization that provides vital support to our men and women of the Joint Force wherever they are stationed around the globe.

I can speak from personal experience of the support that I’ve received from the USO throughout my career.  I remember as a captain in 1985 being in surgery on Christmas Eve in Okinawa. I woke up on Christmas Day and standing around my bed were folks with the USO Holiday Tour who were visiting patients in the hospital that day. I can also remember in 1987, while I was on a deployment to the Mediterranean, I heard “Proud To Be An American,” by Lee Greenwood for the first time. He was performing on USS Inchon (LPH 12).

Gen. Dunford reflects on the impact of the USO and its Holiday Tour

Since WWII, the USO has provided a vital connection between service members, their families and the American people. It could be a Marine making a phone call home from Anbar province on a USO card or a soldier in Kandahar who’s reading a story to his young child on a DVD to send back home. It could also be an Airman who is able to go inside the USO center to get Wi-Fi connectivity after working on the flight line at Incirlik Air Base for 15 to 16 hours a day.

As a nation, we’ve been at war for 16 years.  Despite that, our all-volunteer force continues to recruit and retain high quality men and women from all walks of life. There are many reasons for that, but I believe one of the most important is that our young men and women know that what they do is appreciated, and that America has their backs. The USO has played a key role in that regard.

Gen. Dunford Shares Why the USO Holiday Tour Matters to the Joint Force

On behalf of all our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast guardsmen, I’d like to say thank you to the USO and its volunteers.  No matter where we are, thanks for bringing a little piece of home to our service members — wherever they may serve.

Chairman’s New Year’s Message to the Joint Force

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