Mail, Connection and the USO: A Military Supporter's Story

By Heather Huggins

As troops filed into USO’s Luau Bingo event at Al Asad, Iraq, it didn’t take them long to get into the “aloha” spirit.

While many service members came to the event simply hoping to score big during the blackout bingo round, as soon as they saw the bevy of Hawaiian shirts, coconut tops and grass skirts sitting on each chair, the main goal quickly became assembling the perfect outfit.

Their enthusiasm was a sight to behold. Some wanted their leis to match their tops, while others wanted to mix and match straw hats with the wildest designs. No matter their style, each service member loved living in the moment.

In that moment, no one was in Iraq. No one was thinking about the next mission at hand. They were just friends, hanging out together, being silly and enjoying life.

It is these moments that the USO strives to provide for the men and women deployed on the front lines, and it wouldn’t be possible without the aid and support of our donors.

USO Al Asad’s Luau Bingo was a success not only because of the staff on the ground but also thanks to the generosity of USO supporters, including the group the Airborne Angel Cadets of Texas, which was founded by Nancy Carter. The group donated all the festive decorations and outfits, which were the highlight of the event.

Portrait of Military Supporter

Nancy’s journey toward becoming a military supporter began when she was a child growing up on Army bases in Japan during the Vietnam War. Later, when she grew up and became a flight attendant supporting troop movements, her pride for the military grew.

During an October flight in 2004, Nancy struck up a conversation with a service member on his way back to Iraq. After chatting briefly, she asked him what he missed most about home. His response was “mail,” and it made her heart drop. When she found out this was true for many of the men and women deployed to these combat zones, she committed herself to do something about it.

Upon returning home to Dallas, she gathered all the moms she knew who were gathering monthly to send care packages to their college kids and asked them to change direction a bit and support the troops overseas. There was a resounding “yes” to her suggestion. The group adopted their first platoon of 35 soldiers in January of 2005 and haven’t looked back since.

Today, Nancy and the Airborne Angel Cadets actively support several USO locations with in-kind donations, among their other efforts to boost the morale of deployed service members.

Creating Special Moments for Deployed Service Members Through Generosity from Back Home

Over the years, the Airborne Angel Cadets of Texas have supported thousands of soldiers throughout Southwest Asia via the USO with care packages and supplies for countless fun, seasonal programs and events.

The Airborne Angel Cadets have been excellent partners while the USO team was on the ground in Afghanistan, and the group continues to support places like Iraq and undisclosed USO locations.

When the USO team in Southwest Asia needed marshmallows to help feed Rice Krispie Treats to the masses, they sent plenty of the tasty treats. When USO centers in the Middle East needed cake mix to help service members celebrate birthdays, they sent boxes by the dozens. And, thanks to the amazing volunteers at Airborne Angel Cadets of Texas, USO Al Asad was able to host the recent and very-popular Luau Bingo event.

Because of support like this, the USO able to do what we do best – keep our service members connected to family, home and country.

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