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USO Europe Assists U.S. Embassy Evacuees from Yemen

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

By Eric Brandner  

Konrad Braun is used to walking out into the Kaiserslautern twilight to greet planes full of troops returning from deployment. 

But in the last year, Braun’s USO Kaiserslautern team has become familiar with serving a new, niche group of arrivals: evacuees.  

Six USO employees and one USO volunteer were waiting to greet 77 diplomatic evacuees from Yemen who touched down at Ramstein Air Base the evening of Aug. 6. And just like when the Algerian hostage crisis evacuees landed at Ramstein in January, the USO Kaiserslautern team had already anticipated their needs.  

“Our preparedness is also a result of over 10 years of experience in regularly and frequently supporting unannounced deployments and redeployments,” Braun wrote in an email Monday.  

The precautionary evacuation was mandated by the U.S. State Department, which ordered non-essential personnel to leave the country after reportedly intercepting an al-Qaida threat. Sixty-two Americans and 15 British citizens departed Sana’a, Yemen, at dawn aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 and were greeted by the USO team with snacks, coffee, a case full of Coca-Cola products and bottled water. While the majority of the evacuees had time to pack, several were told to leave with little time to spare. Braun and his team had them covered, too, with USO Warrior Care Packs featuring a change of clothes, along with toiletry kits.  

“The USO partnered with the U.S. military to take care of U.S. civilians that are serving our country in far away and sometimes volatile places. Usually, it’s the other way around,” Braun said. “The USO’s effort during this recent evacuation represents our ability to do the right thing – quickly, efficiently, and professionally.”  

USO Europe partner TKS also came through by providing free, pre-paid cell phones to evacuees who either lacked a communication device or had a phone that didn’t get service in Germany.  

“Literally, only a few minutes separated the moment we requested the phones from the moment we received an affirmative response,” Braun wrote. “And it was only two hours later that we had 50 free, pre-paid cell phones on our desk.”  

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