Behind the grit and determination of a tough soldier making dangerous, daily patrols outside Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, is a vibrant, charming USO volunteer who seems to bring everyone he meets into his circle.

Army Spc. Derin Vrana | Photo credit Courtesy photo

Specialist Derin Vrana began volunteering with the USO soon after arriving at his duty station in August 2013, quickly amassing 450 service hours. He has an uncanny ability to engage with people, regardless of rank or background and make them feel like part of the USO family. And he’s tireless. He comes in when he is available—any time of the day or night—to ensure the center is running like a well-oiled machine. Sometimes his volunteer stints occur right after a tiring patrol. Other times, he stays late to close down the center, only to head back out on patrol a few hours later.

Vrana’s friendly, easygoing manner makes him an excellent recruiter. Once he’s brought new volunteers in the door, he serves as their lead trainer, conducting orientation classes to make sure they deliver the same high-quality customer service that has become his trademark.

Vrana does everything from welcoming visitors to overseeing Waffle Sunday, Kinect Dance and Texas Hold’em tournaments.

Though not every visitor coming through the doors of USO Camp Leatherneck may remember his name, they will always remember Vrana’s vibrant energy and gracious manner that ensured his fellow service members had the feeling they were at home at the USO.

You can send a message of support and thanks directly to service members via the USO’s Campaign to Connect. Your messages will appear on screens at USO locations around the world.