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USO aims to bring fun to soldiers

The United Services Organization (USO) is in town on Victory Drive. The USO supporting soldiers is not new. It has been around for 67 years, starting in 1941, and now we have a center in a new hotel on Victory Drive.

The Suburban Extended Stay hotel is hosting the USO. I had the pleasure of dropping by on July 4 just to see the place and say hello.

The USO has done great work over the years. I remember seeing films of World War II USO shows with Bob Hope and other famous entertainers who traveled all over the world to bring a little joy to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines wherever they happened to be. The same was true in Korea, Vietnam and both Gulf Wars. The USO never stops. You can read about the USO on the Internet at http://www.uso.org/.

The USO travels in peacetime as well such as when they brought the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders to Camp Humphreys when I was in Korea 1998 to 2000. Most people only see these young ladies as cheerleaders during fall football games.

With attention on the game, no one really sees them very much. However, the traveling team puts on a great variety show. Of course the predominantly male audience in the installation gymnasium during those performances probably would have enjoyed seeing the young ladies whether they could carry a tune or not. Nonetheless, they can sing and dance and tell jokes.

They were impressive. Of course, I still get an occasional elbow in the ribs and watchful eye from some people in my family when I talk about my cheerleaders.

They even gave me an autographed calendar and a cap. In my experience the USO does great work and never truly rests when soldiers are deployed in some unpleasant place.

The USO is no stranger to terrorism either. In 1988, a car bomb blew up the center in Naples, Italy, killing five people. In unpleasant and dangerous places, a few entertainers from home go a long way toward bringing a smile to a deployed soldier’s face.

I still talk about Steve Martin visiting my battalion during Desert Shield. He only stayed a few minutes and rode around in a HMMWV. I will always think well of Steve Martin for visiting a bunch of guys sitting in the sand. For a few minutes one hot day, a reminder of home was right there with us.

Our city now has a USO center in town. The USO Web site states that there are more than 130 centers around the world. Our center has only opened recently, so the staff is still sorting out how best to support soldiers.

They absolutely are looking for volunteers. If you want to help with a program like the planned Christmas in July on the 25th, please call 706-687-5111. Someone will be happy to take down your name.

We need to help the USO serve our soldiers. We also should thank the USO for all of the great work that it has done for many years.

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