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Sesame Street/USO Moment Maker of the Month: Senior Chief Petty Officer Joseph Mackey

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

By Karen Hart  

In celebration of the six-year run of the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families tour and the USO's Every Moment Counts campaign, Sesame Street and the USO are spotlighting one service member each month who volunteered their time to create a special moment for some of our youngest heroes. 

Sesame Street/USO Moment Maker of the Month: Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Joseph Mackey

Q: How long have you been in the military?  

16.5 years

Q: Where are you originally from?  

Vancouver, Washington. (I am) not too far from home, but it took me 16 years to get here (to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington).

Q: What made you want to enlist?  

At the time, it seemed like a way to get out of the small town I was from and my father, uncle, and grandfathers had all served in the military, so there was a little history behind that. And it was kind of an opportunity to find myself before embarking in life.

Q: Did you move around a lot?  

I did not. My dad was out of the military prior to me being born. 

Q: Why did you volunteer to help with the Sesame Street/USO tour?   

I have always found an opportunity to give back to the community in any way possible is satisfying. I have a history of volunteer work with Big Brothers and Big Sisters in some of the other places where I’ve been stationed and this was the first real opportunity here. And having a young child of my own, and being able to attend something that was for the children, I thought was an amazing circumstance that I had not experienced previously.

Q: Military personnel have lots of experience loading and unloading material. What does it feel like and why is it meaningful to do so for the joy and education of military children?  

It is hard to put into words because it’s just such an amazing experience to be able to watch children relate to the story being told, especially about Katie and getting ready to move. Knowing that is something that my son will eventually have to experience and being able to relate [to], it is something a child can understand. Looking at some of the other sailors and their children, and watching them interact with their children and talk about their PCS moves was really an eye opening experience for me.

Q: How many times have you had orders to move?  

Six times. My son was born here, in Washington, so he has not had to deal with a PCS yet.

Q: Is it difficult to move around a lot or to be separated from your family during long deployments?    

Undoubtedly. And it’s a testament to the Navy spouses and their ability to deal with the home front when we’re gone. My wife and I have been married six years and I’ve been gone multiple times. Prior to our son being born, our dogs were our children, and knowing that everything is taken care of when I’m gone is such a relief that I think us military personnel take for granted sometimes. 

Q: Did your son Joey have fun at the Sesame Street/USO show?  

He had a blast. He is a year and half old almost. My wife and I have been fortunate enough to have him be at home most of the time, so he really hasn’t had a lot of interaction with kids his own age. So, to see him see kids his same age and interact with them and babble back and forth, and hold a conversation of some sort was amazing.

Q: Did Joey like one character more than another?  

You know we have all these Elmo toys and when Elmo came out I was holding him up on my shoulders and he got so excited and started pointing. In his way he was trying to say Elmo and the look on his face was amazing.

Q: Who is your favorite character and why?  

I was more of a Grover fan growing up. I don’t know why he’s my favorite. Maybe it’s because blue is my favorite color and maybe I can understand Grover better than Cookie Monster.

Q: What is your favorite memory from your experience helping with the Sesame Street/USO tour?    

I think it was the look of excitement and joy on the children’s faces when the characters initially came out. It was just unabashed joy, and the smiles on their faces, the waving of hands and the excitement. It was a great experience for my family, but looking out at those faces being so excited was amazing … especially Joey’s reaction.

Q: Is there a special message you would like to share with your friends or family back home?  

I think that message is that the USO and MWR have all these programs and activities for military spouses whether we are home or away, and that any opportunity to get out there and mingle with other military spouses and children and share experiences, is undoubtedly an important aspect that these opportunities provide us.

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