[caption id=“attachment_1391” align=“alignright” width=“225” caption=“SI Columnist Peter King”][/caption]

A chance conversation five years ago with the guy seated next to him at a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game led Peter King - a popular columnist with Sports Illustrated - down an unexpected path.  He developed a friendship with Army First Sgt. Mike McGuire, who - as King explained in his column last week - “specializes in ridding the landscape of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) on the roads of Iraq and Afghanistan, so others in the military can do their job safely.”

The two men stayed in touch and King recently learned that Sgt. McGuire and the men of Havoc Company, 40th Engineers, will be deployed to Afghanistan later this year.  "I asked Mike just before the holidays if there was anything I could do for him and his troops. At first he said, ‘We’re fine.’ Then he said it would nice if the base that will likely be invented for his company – as are many in remote areas of Afghanistan – could have some or the comforts that the big bases have: a TV with video games, and weight equipment for the soldiers in the company to use in their downtime.“  With that in mind, King knew just what to do: partner with the USO and John Ondrasik for the "Five for Fighting” initiative, which asks for a donation to get Sgt. McGuire, his company, and other Troops the amenities of the USO2Go program.

USO2GO takes some of most popular offerings of a stand-along USO Center - snacks, coffee, toiletries, phone cards, DVDs, XBox®360, PlayStation® 3, Wii, laptops, musical instruments, art supplies, and footballs just to name a few - and packages them in customized, deployable kits that can be delivered to Forward Operating Bases.  These kits can make all the difference for Troops stationed in isolated, remote locations.

King’s ask went out on February 28th and within just twenty-four hours, YOUR donations resulted in enough for three USO2GO kits!  King put it best when he said, “I’m in awe of your generosity. As is the USO.”

[caption id=“attachment_1392” align=“aligncenter” width=“499” caption=“USO2GO being delivered to FOB Brassfield-Mora. Samarra, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ian Terry)”][/caption]

It’s true.  We are humbled by these donations and grateful to King for bringing attention to such a great program.  King promises to continue to update his readership on Sgt. McGuire and his men, and had this quote to share in yesterday’s column: “I don’t even know what to say,” [McGuire] wrote from Germany, where his 135-troop Havoc Company, 40th Engineers, is training for deployment in Afghanistan later this year. “I am speechless, really. We are just soldiers. Never expected anything like this. Please tell everyone, 'Thank you.’ I wish I could describe the emotions better. This just proves that the American people have not forgotten about the soldier. WOW!!!”

To date, you’ve helped us raise over $125,000, but we’re just getting started.  Your donation means so much to our Troops!

We’ll continue to keep you posted on the latest from Sgt. McGuire and his company.  In the meantime, take a moment to leave a message for them and read what others have posted.  And follow @the_USO and @SI_PeterKing on Twitter for all the latest info.

Thank you.