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
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
“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?”
“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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