By Danielle DeSimone
David Eigenberg knows what it’s like to serve. Long before he played Lt. Christopher Herrmann on NBC’s “Chicago Fire” or Steve Brady on HBO’s “Sex & The City,” the actor was an enlisted Marine.
So, when the USO asked if he wanted to head on a tour to Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois in October 2019 – and speak at the USO of Illinois Star-Spangled Gala – it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“It’s a gift and a privilege to be invited to work with the USO, because our service members are outstanding, special Americans,” Eigenberg said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to see one of the things that’s best about this country.”
Stepping Back on Base with the USO
During his USO tour to Naval Station Great Lakes, Eigenberg relished in the opportunity to re-immerse himself in the military community he joined fresh out of high school. Along with learning about today’s military, touring the base and participating in meet-and-greets, Eigenberg was also able to spend time meeting the current members of his old unit, MAG48, and reflected on when he used to visit the USO as a young marine.
“When you’re first coming into a duty station, you don’t know anyone, and then there’s this place: the USO! Civilians don’t understand that when you’re a recruit and living out of the barracks, you don’t have too many places to go [so the USO is very helpful],” he said.
He explained that the USO is a good place for all service members, but especially for young recruits, at is can help them feel grounded during a particularly tumultuous time in their lives.
“As a new recruit, it’s a time when you feel really uprooted…You’re suddenly an adult, but you’re also isolated,” Eigenberg said. “You’ve left your family and your friends, and you’re trying to make new friends. It’s just really nice to see that they have a place to go that can be something close to ‘home.’”
Additionally, during his visit, Eigenberg, who portrays a fireman on “Chicago Fire,” made a special point to meet with members of the Naval Station Great Lakes Fire Department and thank them for their service. Eigenberg says he and his co-stars work closely with real firemen to create a show that is as realistic as possible as a sign of respect for those in the line of duty.
“They understand that you understand service,” he said.
A History of Giving Back to the USO
Today, Eigenberg remains just as committed to supporting our service members as ever; this trip was not his first, or hopefully last, USO tour experience.
In the wake of 9/11, and after seeing the effects of the attacks firsthand while living in New York, Eigenberg felt compelled to join a USO tour only few months later. Little did he know that, in addition to lifting the spirits of reservists called into action during the tour, he would also meet his wife, who was serving in the military at the time.
But meeting his wife while on a USO tour is not why Eigenberg continues to give back to those who serve.
“[It’s] an opportunity to spend time with people who go above and beyond, who understand sacrifice in service,” he said. “They are people who are committed to making our country a better place, making our country a safer place, making sure this country works.”
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