USO Gala 2013: Honoring Those Who Serve – Homefront United Network
On October 25th 2013, a gathering was held to honor six members of the Armed Forces and their families. The USO Gala is an annual event that also showcases the USO with some of the amazing things they do for those that serve. The evening’s Master of Ceremonies was Dennis Haysbert, also known as “The Allstate Guy”. It included special guests Wynonna Judd and the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey.
Dennis Haysbert took a moment to speak with me before going into the event. I wanted to know why he was there aside from the fact that it’s the guy from “The Unit”, and the voice of Allstate Insurance. A veteran of the USO Tours, Haysbert began working with the USO many years ago at the request of a friend who had served.
“I wanted to give back what I could to those who do so much for our country,” he said. While on stage he spoke of the effect the tours have had on him. Some of his most prized possessions are the many challenge coins that have been given to him over the years. What I particularly loved about the evening is that it wasn’t about the celebrity, be it the Hollywood celebrity or the military celebrities in the form of all the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was about the evening’s honorees and their families.
The Spirit of the USO isn’t only in those it serves, but in its volunteers. This year’s Volunteer of the Year has the spirit of both service to the country and others. If you are looking for inspiration, you will find it in the strong but soft spoken Gunnery Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson. During his most recent deployment he averaged 223 hours per month of volunteer time. Johnson developed and improved programs on Camp Hansen in Okinawa that were designed to keep troops out of trouble on Saturday night and give them a safe place to hang out.
Solider of the Year, Sergeant Craig D. Warfle, received his award for his heroic actions. Without thought of self or his safety, he laid down suppressive fire, protecting his squad leader and allowing his teammates to complete the task at hand. Sergeant Warfle was injured in the incident.
Marine of the Year, Andrew C. Seif was nominated for his award by making the split second decision to enter a compound alone, because his partner was injured, to eliminate a high-valued target.
Other nominees included; SSgt Peterson (National Guard) and SSgt Broyles (USAF) who saved many lives by their direct actions. Petty Officer 1st Class Christian Munden disarmed 40 IEDs with only the protection of a bomb suit. And last, but not least Petty Officer 3rd Class Peikert who used his training as a rescue swimmer, to save the lives a father and son while hanging out by the river with his friends.
Volunteerism is such an invaluable part of our country, whether it is volunteering to serve our country or to serve those in need. The USO exemplifies that and shows thanks by not only recognizing service members but those that volunteer within their organization. All, doing so without the want or need for that recognition.