USO Manager of Volunteer Operations Sarah Kemp introduces the USO Volunteers of the Quarter for Fall 2016.
Sgt. 1st Class Eand France | USO Kandahar, Afghanistan | SWA Region
Many service members begin their downrange deployments volunteering with the USO, only for other duties to take them away as time goes on.
But Sgt. 1st Class Eand France’s dedication to the USO never wavered.
France was one of only two volunteers during his battalion’s deployment who continued to volunteer daily, completing 561 volunteer hours in just five months.
“Through his unfailing support and devotion, SFC France created a strong bridge between the USO and the 4th ID rotation here from Fort Carson, Colorado,” USO Kandahar Duty Manager Margaret Cowart said. “It’s a bridge that has helped make USO Kandahar an integral part of the fabric of their deployment.”
France became an in-house expert on navigating military regulations for base events. He’s also acted as a USO advocate to base military leadership, including helping get command approval for a super hero-themed Independence Day run and a Halloween Party.
France was there at 0330 to set up registration tables for the Army Ten-Miler. And France volunteered to keep the center open when live UFC fights or NBA games were on in the middle of the night.
William “Bill” Baker | USO Seoul, South Korea | Pacific
William Baker, known around the center as Bill, has earned the unofficial title of CMO for USO Seoul. CMO is an acronym for Chief Marketing Officer. Baker calls in to the Armed Forces Network live radio programs to let everyone know about Hot Dog Wednesdays. He’s also been spotted spreading the word about USO Seoul events at a local coffee shop.
Even though Baker consistently sported the USO Volunteer T-shirts, many service members assumed he was a member of the staff. Service members even returned to the center just to visit with Baker.
“This pillar of the community brings selfless service to USO Seoul every day,” USO Seoul Field Programs Coordinator Sunny Cheon said. “In doing so he has brought immeasurable joy to service members in a foreign country.”
When a large shipment of new furniture – including heavy recliners, desks and chairs – were delivered to USO Seoul at the bottom of a flight of stairs, Baker launched into problem solving mode. He promptly walked to the next door asked a unit commander for assistance, getting the commander to assign soldiers to assist with the furniture delivery, saving USO staff and volunteers the logistical headache of finding numerous available strong helpers before nightfall.
With more than 3,400 hours of service over two years, Baker’s donation of his time and talent is greatly appreciated by USO Seoul.
CW2 Demetrius Lewis | USO Camp Aachen, Germany | Europe
Faced with 59 inedible, burnt hamburgers and a crowd of hungry soldiers, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Demetrius Lewis still found a way to save the day.
Lewis took initiative grilling on two separate grills using a methodical shuffling method presenting perfectly cooked burgers just in time for a USO event.
When the grill master – as he’s affectionately referred to – isn’t manning the barbecue, he’s helping train incoming volunteers, welcoming visitors, cleaning, organizing and innovating.
“He shows genuine concern for all volunteers, service members and staff members,” USO Camp Aachen Center Manager Joseph Duran said. “Having a good sense of humor and sharing his contagious laugh, he seems to light the room up when he arrives.”
Lewis’ leadership qualities serve him well as a chief in the Army and as a role model for new USO volunteers. He naturally draws the best out of other volunteers, holding them to the highest standards of service.
Using his knowledge of fellow soldiers’ work schedules, Lewis advised USO staff on the best time for events at the center, helping the organization draw more soldiers for events like movie night, Taco Tuesday and Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em.
GB Vega | USO San Antonio | Stateside
GB Vega has welcomed service members traveling through the San Antonio International Airport for 15 years.
As soon as Vega arrives, he quickly assesses the needs of the service members in the airport’s USO center. He restocks the refrigerator, straightens chairs, replenishes the candy bowls and tidies the center to make it a more welcoming home for everyone who visits.
And there are plenty of visitors during holidays. Vega has served as watch captain for every holiday season since 2006, taking eight-hour shifts and supervising other 12 volunteers. Vega makes sure each and every one of the 5,000 service members who pass through the center during that time feels appreciated and supported.
“Self-assured, professional, with a can-do mentality, GB will take care of things that other people would see and might ignore, doing so before you may even notice that it needed done,” USO San Antonio Center Operations Supervisor Alan Waterman said.
Vega established a relationship with a local donut shop to donate their donuts prior to closing, bringing in nearly 600 donuts a week for service members and their families to enjoy at both the USO’s airport and San Antonio Military Entrance Processing Station centers.
And as a founding member of the newly formed USO San Antonio Volunteer Advisory Council, Vega will continue to help shape the volunteer force of USO there for years to come.
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.