By Sandi Moynihan
When the USO Yokosuka staff first heard about the USS Fitzgerald crash on June 17, they didn’t know what types of support they would be asked to provide to sailors and military families on base.
Nonetheless, they and their volunteers were ready for the call.
Early Saturday morning, the USS Fitzgerald – which is based out of Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan – collided with a commercial container ship off near the Izu Peninsula, about 64 miles from its home port. Seven sailors were killed in the collision and three others, including the ship’s commander, were injured.
According to a series of posts on USO Yokosuka Facebook page, the center sprang into action Saturday evening by providing an impressive spread of donated food, snacks and tasty treats to any Fitzgerald sailors and families in need of a hot, home-cooked meal.
The center also extended its operating hours to 24/7 to provide service members and their families with a safe, comfortable environment to spend the night.
The sign welcoming service members into USO Yokosuka.
Donated toiletry items at USO Yokosuka.
A meal at USO Yokosuka.
Enjoying a hot meal at USO Yokosuka.
Donated supplies at USO Yokosuka.
Cold beverages at USO Yokosuka.
Donated paper supplies from the Yokosuka community.
As additional news from the crash began to unfold over the weekend, the USO Yokosuka staff was able to keep its doors open around the clock to provide sailors with hot meals, cold drinks, hygiene and paper products, connectivity and the comforts of home – all thanks to generous donations, dedicated volunteers and its hardworking staff.
USO Pacific even sent three extra USO staff members from other regional locations to support USO Yokosuka’s extended hours and center offerings.
“[There has been a] tremendous outpouring of support of all kinds, from purchasing food/blankets to taking out the trash,” USO Yokosuka Center Director Dalia Mares-McRae in an email.
“[The service members are] extremely grateful, they love the home-cooked meals.”
USO Yokosuka is currently operating on a 24/7 schedule and is accepting community donations for a variety of items, including home-cooked meals.
If you live in the Yokosuka community and want to help, please visit the USO Yokosuka Facebook page.