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2012 USO Gala

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The 2012 USO Gala celebrated the courage and honor displayed by the USO Service Members of the Year while giving attendees many lasting – and often humorous – memories through stories and words of appreciation.

 

2012 USO Gala 

Singer and actress Jordin Sparks provided the entertainment for the evening, performing three songs. Sparks participated in Gen. Martin Dempsey's first USO holiday tour in 2011.

2012 USO Gala 

USO Mistress of Ceremonies FOX 5 News morning host Allison Seymour.

2012 USO Gala 

Members of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders assisted with the awards presentation, continuing a long history of cooperation with the USO. The troupe will soon embark on its 75th overseas tour, more tours than any other entertainment group in USO history.

2012 USO Gala 

FOX's "MasterChef" Season 2 winner Jennifer Behm offered her talents to the gala by preparing cakes and cocktails for attendees.

2012 USO Gala 

General Richard B. Myers, U.S. Air Force (Ret.) and 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and USO Board of Governors Chairman and his wife, Mary Jo, are flanked by his daughters.

2012 USO Gala 

Congressmen and USO Congressional Caucus co-chairman Silvestre Reyes (D- Texas), and his wife, Carolina, enjoyed the evening's festivities.

2012 USO Gala 

Sgt. Clifford M. Wooldridge: USO Marine of the Year

2012 USO Gala 

Petty Officer Gregory F. Gaylor: USO Sailor of the Year

2012 USO Gala 

Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Beversdorf: USO Airman of the Year

2012 USO Gala 

Staff Sgt. Jacob J. Perkins: USO Soldier of the Year

2012 USO Gala 

Sgt. Richard Schuh: USO Volunteer of the Year

2012 USO Gala 

Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas A. Beane: USO Coast Guardsman of the Year

2012 USO Gala 

Lt. Gen. William Troy, U.S. Army, and his wife, Paula, took a timeout for the camera. Lt. Gen. Troy had the opportunity to introduce the Soldier of the Year award.

2012 USO Gala 

Gen. Joseph Dunford, U.S. Marine Corps, and his wife, Ellyn, entered the event. Gen. Dunford introduced the Marine of the Year award.

2012 USO Gala 

Vice Admiral Manson Brown, U.S. Coast Guard, and his wife, Hermina, paused a moment on the red carpet reception prior to the program. Vice Admiral Brown presented the Coast Guardsman of the Year award.

2012 USO Gala 

Rear Admiral T. McCreary, U.S. Navy (Ret) from Military.com is a co-chairman of the USO Gala steering committee.

2012 USO Gala 

Former Chairman, President and CEO of Central Newspapers Louis A. "Chip" Weil and his wife, Daryl, (left) joined fellow USO Board of Governors member Debra Langford for a quick photo.

2012 USO Gala 

NFL Hall of Famer and USO supporter Kellen Winslow stops for a photo.

2012 USO Gala 

Cartoonist Bruce Higdon sketches a caricature of a guest during the cocktail hour of the gala. The National Cartoonists Society (NCS) has been working with the USO since WWII. Roughly 100 cartoonists and caricaturists have participated in USO tours since 2005.

2012 USO Gala 

The Presentation of Colors by the Armed Forces Color Guard started the evening.

2012 USO Gala 

"The President's Own" U.S. Marine Corps Band performed the National Anthem.

2012 USO Gala 

Rear Admiral Margaret Grun Kibben, CHC, U.S. Navy, gave the evening's invocation.

2012 USO Gala 

USO President and CEO Sloan Gibson delivered a welcome to all attendees.

"As we look to the future we know the men and women serving our country and their families will continue to face challenges and we will continue to help them meet those challenges. We will be there for them, no matter what. That's today's USO."

2012 USO Gala 

Stephen W. Green, Vice President of Policy, Government and Public Affairs for Chevron introduced the entertainment for the evening, Jordin Sparks.

2012 USO Gala 

Singer Jordin Sparks delivered three of her most popular songs, including "Battlefield" and "No Air."

Sparks said of her USO entertainment tour experience: "It touches people and they remember and for me, I'll never forget."

2012 USO Gala 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey used several Yogi Berra quotations to help describe the types of things that the USO offers to troops and their families.

When mentioning the Yogi-ism of "Little things are big," Gen. Dempsey added: "Think about that and what the USO does … They're not really big things when you really confront them. They're little things. A smile. A place to feel at home. A place to make a phone call. Little things … Yogi was right."

2012 USO Gala 

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta described how the USO affected him as a young boy growing up in Monterey, Calif., during World War II to greet returning troops through Catholic school trips and then as a lieutenant in the Army.

"We pay tribute to the great legacy of the USO, its long history and proud legacy of helping all of those who have served this country in uniform. … We owe it to [the servicemen and women], no matter where duty calls, to honor their service and to support them in every way possible."

2012 USO Gala 

Jane Novak-Cook, General Manager, Customer Business Development, NA Food Channel for P&G, highlighted the popular P&G Beauty and Grooming Lounge event that was held prior to the gala for the troops and their families.

2012 USO Gala 

USO Soldier of the Year: Staff Sgt. Jacob J. Perkins, presented by Lt. Gen. William Troy.

The courage that Staff Sgt. Perkins displayed by entering a burning passenger bus to assist and evacuate civilians from the scene of an accident near Waterloo, N.Y., earned him the prestigious honor.

2012 USO Gala 

USO Marine of the Year: Sgt. Clifford M. Wooldridge, presented by Gen. Joseph Dunford.

Sgt. Wooldridge – this year's USO Marine of the Year – demonstrated courage and extraordinary acts of heroism while serving in Afghanistan as vehicle commander during multiple engagements with enemy forces, including several preemptive attacks and one hand-to-hand combat episode.

2012 USO Gala 

USO Sailor of the Year: Petty Officer Gregory F. Gaylor, presented by Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert.

As this year's USO Sailor of the Year, EOD2 Gaylor heroically distinguished himself as a seasoned combat leader from Dec. 2011 to June 2012 when he expertly led a three-man EOD team during combat operations in Afghanistan.

2012 USO Gala 

USO Airman of the Year: Staff Sergeant Christopher S. Beversdorf, presented by Gen. Mark A. Welsh III.

Staff Sgt. Beversdorf distinguished himself as an exemplary joint terminal attack controller in a harrowing episode during 2011's Operation Hammer Down in Afghanistan, earning him this year's USO Airman of the Year award.

2012 USO Gala 

USO Coast Guardsman of the Year: Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas A. Beane, presented by Vice Admiral Manson Brown.

This year's USO Coast Guardsman of the Year, Maritime Enforcement Specialist Beane, demonstrated bravery and regard for life when he assisted during an F/A-18D crash in Virginia Beach, Va.

2012 USO Gala 

USO National Guardsman of the Year: Senior Airman Evan J. Stevens, presented by Gen. Frank J. Grass.

Senior Airman Stevens earned this year's USO National Guardsman of the Year when he demonstrated initiative and heroic achievement when he served as a squad rifleman, aide and team member for a 20-person dismounted patrol in Afghanistan.

2012 USO Gala 

USO Volunteer of the Year: Sergeant Richard Schuh, presented by Gen. Richard Myers (right) and Chief Talent Officer for jcpenney Daniel E. Walker.

Sgt. Schuh, while recuperating from his injuries in Kandahar, Afghanistan, dedicated more than 200 hours from Aug.-Sept. 2011 to the USO, earning him the recognition of this year's USO Volunteer of the Year.

2012 USO Gala 

TriWest Healthcare Alliance President and Chief Executive Officer David J. McIntyre, Jr. and Gibson presented the Mullens with the Spirit of the USO award following a video tribute from Academy Award-winning actor and USO tour veteran Robin Williams: "From the first met, it's been a great adventure. The USO thanks you, I thank you and your country thanks you for all that you've done and will continue to do."

2012 USO Gala 

Deborah Mullen demurred when given the award for her service. "Really, when you think about it, the heart and the soul and the spirit are really all the staff and volunteers who are serving around the world, around the clock. They're in installations, at airports, they're in theater, they're in harm's way. And they're the ones that really, we need to recognize."

Adm. Michael G. Mullen spoke on behalf of our returning troops as conflicts abroad come to a close. "This has been a great evening and we are honored. All of you who are here, your task is to reach out, find those veterans and figure out how to just give them the start they need as they transition. They won't need much, they will take it over and they will change this country and lead this country time and time again."

USO Photos by Mike Theiler

View the full set on Flickr 

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