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USO Helps Father and Deployed Son Reunite After 2 Years Apart

Monday, March 24, 2014

From staff reports 

Dubai is a long way to go for a family reunion – especially if you’re from Florida.

But that was the scenario facing Airman 1st Class John Flatley in February when he found out his father – who he hadn’t seen since his 2012 high school graduation – was scheduled for a one-night layover in the Arabian Gulf city on March 1.

What followed was a moment only the USO could make happen.

As luck would have it, Flatley was already in the right part of the world. The Middleburg, Fla., native is on a six-month special duty assignment to the Middle East. Once he heard his dad was coming through town, he went to his command for ideas. Lacking options there, Staff Sgt. Kira Otero suggested he check the USO Events Office at Al Dhafra Air Base, about 20 miles south of Abu Dhabi.

“Airman Flatley picked up the USO trips and tours calendar for March hoping that there may be a trip going to Dubai to give him the chance of meeting up with his father,” USO Events Coordinator Pauline Moffett wrote in an email. “The smile disappeared from John's face as the opportunity seemed to have slipped away from him, as no trip was planned for that day.”

But Moffett wasn’t about to let Flatley miss his opportunity. She told him to create an itinerary, get permission to leave from his command, and the USO would take care of the rest.

On March 1, Flatley and Staff Sgt. Caroline Fleming hopped into a USO-provided taxi for the nearly two-hour trek to Dubai to meet up with his father, Kevin Flatley.

 “I hadn't gone on any USO trips before,” Flatley wrote in an email to the USO, “and to be honest, I didn't know the USO was there until this happened.”

The father and son got to spend four-and-a-half hours together, grabbing dinner, talking and even posing for a photo before the younger Flatley had to head back to base. Kevin Flatley – an electrician contractor – left for Afghanistan the next day.

“I had a great time, and I was in disbelief that the USO would [facilitate] my trip,” John Flatley said.

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