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(Top photo, Seoul, courtesy of Sgt. Brian Gibbons; bottom photo, Camp McCready, USO photo by Michael Clifton)
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USO Celebrates Openings at Camp McCrady, Seoul

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

From Staff Reports  

The USO goes where the troops go. Last week, that meant a celebration in both rural Eastover, S.C., and the technology capital of Seoul, South Korea.

The doors to the newly renovated USO day room at the McCrady Training Center in South Carolina opened Sept. 13 with a barbecue and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Like regular USO centers, USO day rooms offer a comfortable place where troops can connect, watch TV, play video games, have a snack or just put their feet up and relax. The McCrady Training Center day room supports troops from of all branches who use the area for readiness and pre-deployment training. While the USO stocks the room with supplies, the day-to-day operations of the room will be managed by the South Carolina National Guard.

“[The USO’s] steadfast dedication to our military and their commitment to professionalism and care for all service members, deployed or not, is a testament to their value in the world we live in,” said Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr., The Adjutant General of South Carolina. “We are fortunate … to have such a wonderful asset they provide and look forward to a continued long and prosperous relationship.”

One day prior – and 13 time zones away – USO Seoul officially opened its doors. The celebration included military leaders and troops, a performance from the USO Show Troupe and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Seoul center is located at the heart of Yongsan Garrison, which serves as the hub for U.S. military operations in South Korea.

“Serving half a world away from home is challenging, and as we maintain our military readiness, it is important to stay mentally and emotionally fit, and to remain connected to our loved ones back home,” said Gen. James D. Thurman, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea. “The USO offers our military families a variety of programs, services, and facilities to help our service men and women thrive.”

The opening is the culmination of a move for the USO from Camp Kim to Yongsan, which allows the USO to better serve the troops and military families living in the region. More than 100 volunteers have worked since January to facilitate the move, painting, cleaning and moving furniture, electronics and supplies.

“We wanted to create a place where troops and military families could relax and spend time with their friends and family back home,” said Carly Harris, Regional Vice President USO Pacific. “They can bring their own computers and use our WiFi or take advantage of our Skype phones to call home.

“We also want to create a sense of community for those younger service members serving their first overseas tour. Our many activities and volunteer opportunities are great ways for them to get involved during their time in country.”

Photo caption: Top, military officials and USO team members cut the ribbon to officially open USO Seoul at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, on Sept. 13. Below, an inside look at the USO day room at McCrady Training Center, S.C. (Photo courtesy of Sgt. Brian Gibbons; USO photo by Michael Clifton)  

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