The USO is honored to name the 2021 USO Service Members of the Year, who are being recognized for their heroic and selfless actions. Get to know this year’s honorees:
Sgt. Breanna J. Jessop | USO Soldier of the Year 2021
Hometown: Myton, Utah
When the 82nd Airborne Division was called to support noncombatant evacuation operations at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, in the fall of 2021, U.S. Army Sgt. Breanna Jessop assumed the role of noncommissioned officer in charge of the Karzai Airport Chapel. Always putting the well-being of soldiers first, Jessop used her ingenuity to ensure 4,000 U.S. military personnel and coalition forces had access to basic hygiene items when resources were limited or nonexistent.
At the height of the mission, Jessop also provided phenomenal leadership to oversee the operations of an orphanage, which had been recently formed due to the increased number of unaccompanied minors following the events in Afghanistan. She led the mission to assist in caring for all children in the orphanage, who ranged from ages seven days old to 17 years old. She ensured the protection of over 400 displaced children who were safeguarded throughout noncombatant evacuation operations and enemy attacks. She not only protected the well-being of these children but also protected their dignity as human beings. Jessop displayed devoted and selfless leadership under duress, carrying out military operations as well as humanitarian efforts. Her work left an indelible mark on the evacuation mission of American citizens and designated Afghans.
Sgt. Breanna Jessop serves with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and is from Myton, Utah.
Sgt. Seth A. Dewey | USO Marine of the Year 2021
Hometown: Hesperia, Michigan
As a squad leader in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Seth A. Dewey led a team responsible for securing the U.S. embassy compound perimeter in Baghdad. He and his fellow Marines were subject to multiple indirect fire and unmanned aerial system attacks while serving as the Embassy Quick Reaction Force.
Hostile militia groups in the region frequently targeted U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Defense personnel. During one complex attack, Dewey provided critical reporting that allowed the Embassy Operations Center to sound the shelter-in-place alarm in a timely manner. His calm leadership and superior communication enabled vulnerable aircraft to depart the embassy helicopter pad unharmed, and directly facilitated the successful engagement of the enemy drone by an adjacent unit. His squad also identified a drone during another encounter that was being used in conjunction with a subsequent rocket attack, an unprecedented enemy tactic used to target the embassy. His exemplary actions helped shape the rules of engagement, benefiting future units and security personnel.
Sgt. Seth Dewey serves with the U.S. Marine Corps’ 2D Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division and is from Hesperia, Michigan.
Hospital Corpsman Petty Officer 2nd Class Johnnharley S. Delacruz | USO Sailor of the Year 2021
Hometown: Fountain Valley, California
U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Petty Officer 2nd Class Johnnharley S. Delacruz was conducting training operations off the coast of California when an amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) began to take on water and eventually sank 350 feet to the bottom of the ocean. As the embarked Marines attempted to escape the AAV, many needed immediate lifesaving intervention. Upon receiving a patient in distress, Delacruz performed multiple rounds of CPR, administered epinephrine and various intubation medications — reviving and stabilizing his patient.
The pinnacle of his actions occurred when Delacruz was activated to execute an in-flight casualty evacuation independently. During the flight, his patient’s health status began to decline. Relying on his training and medical advice, Delacruz quickly sprang to action, protecting the patient’s airway, monitoring vital signs and obtaining IV access. Using his own body heat to impede hypothermia, Delacruz covered his patient with his own body to help the patient regain warmth. His actions were carried out with precision in a chaotic environment, enabling his patient to survive and recover.
Hospital Corpsman Petty Officer 2nd Class Johnnharley Delacruz serves with the U.S. Navy’s Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, MEF Camp Pendleton and is from Fountain Valley, California.
Staff Sgt. Ryan T. Daggett | USO Airman of the Year 2021
Hometown: Greeley, Colorado
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan T. Daggett currently serves at Kunsan Air Base, Gunsan, South Korea. However, at his last duty station in Azores, Portugal, Daggett was on a spiritual resiliency trip to the nearby island of São Miguel when he witnessed a major vehicle collision involving three vehicles and nine local nationals. Without hesitation, he established priorities of care and identified a nonresponsive victim trapped inside a vehicle. He pried open the disabled car door, safely extricated the patient from the vehicle and rendered critical first-aid treatment. Daggett’s immediate actions and quick decision-making ultimately saved a life.
Previously, Daggett served at Osan Air Base, South Korea, and at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. His technical expertise and experience led directly to his selection to serve as an airborne member in the 75th D-Day anniversary celebration, where he was able to jump into Normandy, France. During a separate exercise with the Army, Daggett saved a fellow paratrooper’s life by sprinting toward a soldier who had become entangled within his parachute and freed him.
Staff Sgt. Ryan Daggett serves with the U.S. Air Force’s 8th Security Forces Squadron and is from Greeley, Colorado.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Gerrod J. Britton | USO Coast Guardsman of the Year 2021
Hometown: Plattsmouth, Nebraska
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Gerrod J. Britton was off-duty and traveling on Highway 101 in California when he witnessed the vehicle in front of him cross the median and crash into oncoming traffic lanes. Without hesitation, he pulled over, contacted emergency response and assessed the scene. The vehicle was overturned and resting on its roof with three male occupants still trapped inside.
Britton immediately jumped into action, extracting two of the individuals and getting them to safety. The third individual was severely injured and trapped underneath the vehicle when it began to catch fire. Without regard for his own personal safety, Britton and an additional bystander were able to lift the unstable vehicle on its side. This gave Britton the room needed to extract the now-unconscious male through a broken window, just seconds before the vehicle was completely engulfed in flames. Recognizing the threat posed by the growing fire, he pulled the victim away, performed CPR and attempted to control bleeding from multiple severe injuries. His actions demonstrated unparalleled levels of courage to rescue those in peril.
Chief Petty Officer 3rd Class Gerrod Britton serves with the U.S. Coast Guard at Station Morro Bay and is from Plattsmouth, Nebraska.
Sgt. Francisco Javier Luna | USO National Guardsman of the Year 2021
Hometown: Springfield, Massachusetts
U.S. National Guard member Francisco Javier Luna was on patrol with the Springfield Police Department in Massachusetts on a chilly morning in April. Like many other National Guard members, he was performing the duties of his civilian occupation as a law enforcement officer. He and his fellow officers received a call from the 911 dispatcher, alerting them of a young child who had stopped breathing. Luna was on the scene moments afterward.
The officers rushed up several stairs to find the three-month-old child unresponsive and a mom fearing for the child’s life. Luna sprang into action and began infant CPR while waiting on emergency medical services to arrive. The baby was motionless, and his skin had turned blue. The team gently palpated the young child’s chest while periodically checking for a pulse and providing oxygen. It took about three minutes before the infant regained consciousness and began to breathe on his own. Luna’s calm demeanor and steadfast leadership were critical in saving this baby.
Sgt. Francisco Javier Luna serves with the Massachusetts National Guard’s 972nd Military Policy Company and is from Springfield, Massachusetts.
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