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Adventuresome Volunteers Find Love at USO Fort Campbell

Monday, July 21, 2014

By Joseph Andrew Lee 

Love connections can happen in any clime or place.

For substitute teacher and Army Reserve Spc. Gary Yim, a native of Walnut Creek, California, finding someone who shared his passion was the last thing he expected when he decided to volunteer for the USO in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

But that’s exactly what happened when he met Chris — a 26-year-old Dyersville, Tennessee, native – while volunteering at USO Fort Campbell. Six months later, he invited her on the adventure of a lifetime. And true to form, the happy couple just returned from their Hawaiian honeymoon after tying the knot and throwing a huge reception at USO Fort Campbell.

“Our USO family just got a little bigger,” said Yim, 28, who has supported the organization since attending the 2010 grand opening of USO Kandahar. The downrange center impacted him so greatly that he has looked for volunteer opportunities with the USO ever since.

“The USO is really us,” he said. “We’re both real passionate about the organization and everything they do. It was very special to have all of our friends and USO family in the same place to celebrate with us.”

When Yim returned to Fort Campbell from Kandahar, he volunteered for the Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers program and began coordinating with the USO to make sure support programming didn’t conflict or overlap.

When the USO opened a center at Fort Campbell, Yim was one of the first to volunteer. He left active duty in December 2012 and joined the reserves, substitute teaching while going to school to earn his teaching credentials and volunteering when he had time at the USO.

A local schoolteacher also, Chris moved to Clarksville, Tennessee — just across the state line from Fort Campbell — a year earlier and began volunteering at the USO several days per week. Though they volunteered at the same center, it took nearly six months for them to finally meet.  

“I wasn’t sure who I was going to meet [that day],” she said. “I was actually going to take the test to join the Air Force until I met [Gary] one night when we were on the same volunteer shift. He was such a nice person and we clicked so well.”

Dinner and drinks led to movies and popcorn and led to several more tandem shifts at the USO, where their passion for helping out in their community was on full display for one another.

Six months after their first meeting at the USO, Yim knew she was the one. He planned out exactly how he would pop the question while driving back from a concert in Evansville, Indiana.

“It was a Sunday so we started out the day by going to church,” he said. “It was a real nice day out and we changed into shorts and hiking shoes. There’s some wilderness outside the base, so I asked her to take a hike down the dry creek with me.”

He looked for a nice place where the sun shined through the trees and when she asked for some water, he knew the time was right. He knelt down on one knee, reached into his bag, pulled out a ring and asked, “Are you ready for an adventure?”

She was.

“We’re all about adventure and when he asked me that I knew he was the one I wanted to go on an adventure with,” she said. “It’s one of those moments you try and take in because it’s that moment you’ve dreamed about for so, so long.” 

Photo caption: Gary and Chris Yim share a dance during their wedding reception at USO Fort Campbell last month. Photo courtesy Laura Kay Photography   

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