It’s been a busy few weeks for USO’s around the world as they celebrate our Troops with galas.  USO of Metropolitan Washington, USO Hawaii, USO Guam, and USO Korea have all put on wonderful events in April.  We’d like to share a few of the highlights!

On April 8, USO Korea hosted their 39th Annual USO Six Star Salute, a salute to the honorable service and sacrifices of military members securing freedom on the Korean peninsula.  Special guests included Washington State Senator Paull Shin; LTG Joseph F. Fil, Jr; Oh, Sae Chang, Mayor of Dongducheon City; Joseph T. McCabe, president of BAE Systems; and the USO Council of Korea.

The Six Star Salute began in 1970 when a group of Korean civic leaders chose to express their country’s gratitude by bestowing the honorary rank of “Six Star” to exemplary enlisted personnel serving throughout the Republic of Korea.  The tradition continues and this year the USO will honor 39 Americans, 39 Koreans, one Filipino and one Thai.  These service members are selected by their commanders for outstanding duty performance, impeccable personal conduct, advancements in education and contributions to the community.

This year, the eighty junior enlisted personnel from the United Nations Command, U.S. Forces Korea, and Republic of Korea armed services were honored and for two days were regarded as VIPs in the City of Seoul; a highlight was the luncheon hosted by the Mayor of Seoul on April 9.  Each honoree received the USO Six Star Medal and also toured the Korean War Memorial, Kyungbuk Palace, the National Assembly of Korea .  Four honorees also received The USO Scholarship Award, an educational grant that will enable them to continue their educational endeavors.

[caption id=“attachment_1978” align=“aligncenter” width=“500” caption=“This year’s keynote speaker, Washington State Senator Paull Shin, addresses the audience at USO Korea’s 39th Annual Six Star Salute.”][/caption] On April 14th, USO of Metropolitan Washington feted the Troops at their 28th annual awards dinner.  James L. Jones Jr., national security advisor and retired Marine Corps general, and L. Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of intergovernmental and public affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs and disabled Army pilot, presented the USO Merit Award to actor-musician brothers Kevin and Michael Bacon. They often visit wounded warriors recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.  American Forces Press Service covered the event. Also in attendance were Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Naval Academy graduate Montel Williams, National Football League Hall of Fame offensive lineman Anthony Munoz, Miss American 2010 Caressa Cameron and author and professional wrestler Mick Foley.  Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad W. Allen and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston also attended, and the 82nd Airborne Division All American Chorus performed. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that there were some 210,000 [troops] serving as we speak around the world, many in harm’s way,” the admiral said. “They give us the opportunity to celebrate as we have tonight. … We should never forget, and keep them in our hearts and prayers.”  It was a tremendous event and we’d like to congratulate USO of Metropolitan Washington and all of the men and women in uniform who were honored! [caption id=“attachment_1985” align=“aligncenter” width=“500” caption=“Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses the audience at the annual USO of Metropolitan Washington Gala in Arlington, Va., April 14, 2010. (DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)”][/caption]