SSG Albert Moreno | SWA Region: USO Camp Buehring
They say it's all about who you know, and SSG Albert Moreno knows a whole lot of people who love supporting our service members!
As a volunteer at USO Camp Buehring in Kuwait, Moreno knows that unlike at home, you can't just run down to the corner store when you need something. Therefore, Moreno rallies all his friends and family stateside to donate and send supplies for USO events.
Trying to put on a Neon Splash Dash for Suicide Awareness Month in a desert? Not a problem! Moreno had boxes of water guns, glow bracelets, and fluorescent paint sent from home. Hosting a Ladies Night for female troops to have a spa-like experience while deployed? Moreno has got you covered, with donations sent including beauty and toiletry items, candy and snacks, raffle prizes, and even decorations, gift bags, and plates and napkins! Moreno has arranged for more than $1,000 worth of donated products to be sent to USO Camp Buehring for events.
Not only does Moreno rally the people at home, he brings that same spirit of camaraderie and enthusiasm to the USO when he volunteers. Describing his work at USO Camp Buehring, Volunteer Coordinator Christina Ambrose said, "He wanted her (a troop in the center) to know that there were still good people in this world who care…that the USO is the one place soldiers can go to relax, feel safe, and not have to worry about the stresses of military life."
Moreno began volunteering with the USO on Mother's Day. He stumbled upon a USO staff member struggling with a sophisticated camera as she was setting up for a Mother's Day photo shoot of deployed troops sending shout outs to their mothers back home. The always humble Moreno said he dabbled in photography and volunteered to help, which resulted in him spending 5 hours photographing, then editing the pictures, and posting them to the USO Camp Buehring Facebook page. He helped more than 70 troops connect with their family at home.
The kindness never ends with Moreno, who just recently dropped off bottles of slushy mix to the center to host a homemade slushy night for the troops. Moreno's relentless advocacy of the USO will continue to ensure that USO Camp Buehring's events are executed and exciting long after he's returned home.
RP2 Bradley Smith | PAC Region: USO Futenma, Okinawa
Our military chaplains take on the daunting task of watching over the souls of the brave service men and women willing to risk their lives in defense of our country. But who watches over those who watch over our service members' souls?
Religious Program Specialist Bradley Smith, that's who.
Although much of a religious program specialist's time is devoted to supporting a chaplain in administrative and other duties, an RP is also responsible for a chaplain's physical security in combat situations. So obviously, it takes a special kind of person to walk that fine line between the combatant and non-combatant world. And Smith is one of those rare individuals, who can do just that.
As soon as he arrived at the USO at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, RP2 Smith started watching over his fellow Marines with the same dedication he brings to supporting the chaplain. He helped transform dinner nights into comprehensive events that combined dinners with activities such as dominoes and pool tournaments. As a result, these events attract up to 175 Marines and their families at a time. His insights have turned the dinner nights into "must see" gatherings for the entire installation.
His determination to keep the quarterly blood drive going strong gave him the idea to promote it during Flapjack Fridays and the BBQ at Noon. But if he can't get you to part with your blood, he'll try to help you part with your money on behalf of USO Okinawa – although it would be great if he could get you to part with both!
As you might expect from someone with the rank of a religious program specialist, Smith volunteers completely from his heart. He's at the USO center almost every day, welcoming visitors with his big smile and making them feel like they are truly at a home away from home. He is more like a big brother or a friend to all who enter, and he has made it cool to be a volunteer for the younger Marines and sailors. As a result, Smith has helped build a bigger and stronger volunteer corps at USO Futenma.
RP2 Bradley Smith may not wear the collar of an ordained chaplain, but his ministry is, nonetheless, touching the souls of service members and their families who are a long way from home.
Mark Saxe | EUR Region: USO Warrior Center
It's 4 a.m. in Kaiserslautern, Germany, do you know where your neurophysiologist is? If he is Mark Saxe, he's on his bike pedaling the 4 miles to the Deployment Processing Center to assist USO staff with preparing the center for a busy day ahead.
By day Saxe is a neurophysiologist and neurosonographer at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center helping our troops who have suffered nervous system damage. But by night, or very early morning, Saxe is a dedicated volunteer for USO Kaiserslautern. Saxe doesn't own a car, yet even in the snowy German winters, he makes the trek by foot or bike to the USO to volunteer. Saxe not only volunteers at multiple centers in the area and at special events, but he also takes the time to be the best volunteer he can by attending all special trainings provided including courses on Traumatic Brain Injury, Suicide Prevention, and CPR.
Since October 2012, Saxe has been a lead volunteer at the USO Warrior Center, the USO's home for wounded warriors during their stay at the Medical Transition Detachment. Saxe knows all the procedures to open and close the center, sometimes completing both in one day as he spent 14 hours volunteering.
Saxe is also there for our wounded troops cooking them warm breakfasts at the USO CASF where troops are staged before being placed on a flight back to the states.
While his specialty homemade spicy garlic chicken pizza he makes for troops and his knack for speaking Russian to wounded service members from the country of Georgia make Saxe stand out, it is truly his dedication to our wounded troops that sets Saxe apart. Saxe not only donates time to volunteer for the USO, but also manages to volunteer with other non-profits including the American Red Cross.
Saxe has logged 903 hours as of October, and can't wait to reach his goal of 1,000 hours by December 31st. With his spirit and work ethic, we have no doubt he'll go above and beyond.
John "Jack" Horvath | CONUS Region: USO Georgia
Neither snow nor rain nor hurricanes nor volcanoes stays John "Jack" Horvath from the swift completion of his appointed rounds. Jack, a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Army's Transportation Corps, is a virtual one-man expeditionary force for USO Georgia when it comes to attacking the most difficult jobs.
With his vast experience getting things from "Point A to Point B" Jack instituted the USO Rapid Response Team when the region was hit by a devastating hurricane. His skill at mobilizing people, equipment, and supplies helped provide relief to those in need in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, literally using the USO Mobile as a vehicle to deliver goodness on the ground.
Jack, a volunteer with more than 18 years of USO service, has jumped in on many occasions to assist as a USO Center Manager during other emergencies and weather-related events. He was on duty for five days straight during the infamous winter ice storm of 2011 to ensure stranded travelers were safe and cared for. Then close on the heels of that disaster, the eruption of a volcano in Iceland in the spring of that year disrupted international flights, leaving over 200 soldiers headed on R&R stuck at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport. Jack once again stepped up to the plate, managing the center for three consecutive days, taking charge of providing food, blankets, and communications assistance to visitors with nowhere to go.
Over the years, Jack has accumulated more than 10,000 hours of volunteer service. When not responding to some kind of emergency or natural disaster, he is serving as a USO host for kids at Camp Good Grief, sponsored by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, and escorting Families of the Fallen. His kind nature is a natural draw for recruits, and he is constantly bringing new volunteers into the fold.
For Jack Horvath, every day he goes about his life with duty, honor, and pride. He asks nothing in return other than to serve our troops and their families, regardless of rain or shine.