The USO as an institution has been around for years. Since 1941
The USO was founded in 1941 in response to a request from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide morale and recreation services to U.S. uniformed military personnel. Roosevelt was elected as its honorary chairman. This request brought together six civilian organizations: the Salvation Army, Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), National Catholic Community Service, National Travelers Aid Association and the National Jewish Welfare Board. They were brought together under one umbrella to support U.S. troops. Roosevelt said he wanted “these private organizations to handle the on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces.” According to historian Emily Yellin, “The government was to build the buildings and the USO was to raise private funds to carry out its main mission: boosting the morale of the military.” (this Wikipedia article is worth reading)
(as a matter of fact providing not just “entertainment” but centers around the world supporting troops. Earlier this fall, I mentioned the new building supporting the USO in Kandahar and that the one here in Bagram is across from the PAX terminal.
They have computers, they have phones for stateside morale calls. There are movies running 24 hours a day. Of course, these continually seem to be of the variety that require loud noises and a density of at least 10 swear/cuss words per 60 second interval. Acting is of the “say it louder” method of conveying information.
Did I mention WiFi? It is one of the few places left where you have to manually configure the connection and try different IPs till you find one which no one else is using What is even more impressive is the number of really neat people as anyone who has figured out how to get on the network helps the next person in line. Army, Air Force, Marines – it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Flight engineers helps grunts, meanwhile talking about what their families have done for the holidays. . I have been able to pull some smaller files.
A reward for me for finishing up all those awards, leaving only the D Dari to complete. (ignoring 3 meetings this afternoon). Holidays are over, at least till New Years.
We really enjoy your informative and personal reports, and appreciate all that you are doing.
You got that pegged right, the USO was, for all intents and purposes, our home away from home in San Antonio in the late ’60’s. No, we didn’t get the big entertainment being stateside, but it was a place to watch tv, eat at the snackbar (sunday morning breakfast of onion rings), Sat nite dances, and a staff that was incredible (being a more or less ‘permanent’ resident over 2.5 years, became personal friends with the director and his wife. His daughter was probably 15-16 and would hang around with us older folks and her brother was a year or so older and made sure we ‘behaved’… Of course, there was no drinking allowed…, but as long as we didn’t carry anything IN and we behaved, you can just imagine…(I mean, how could anyone tell when the band was playing InnaGoddaDaVidda…) One feature was they also had a HAM shack. Remember this was in the days of $$Long$$Distance$$ calls, so as a rule, I’d get to call home, Debbie, etc via the ‘phone patch’. Nothing like having your say and then ‘over’. We all loved it, many times getting the same HAM on the folks side as well. At one point, the antenna rotor crapped out and since I was a regular, and an Aviation Electrician, I was volunteered to climb the tower on top of the building to change out the rotor. I have the picture of me hanging off it, but won’t attach it for obvious reasons. Anyway, the building was old, had been the USO for many many years, and as Deb and I were leaving in March of ’70, were treated to viewing the NEW USO by the director…what had been one of the pavilions of the Hemisfair. I’m not sure how long that lasted, but they’ve since moved to another location over the river, I had walked by on my last trip. (interestingly, the original location, about a block from the Alamo grounds, is still there and is now a night club. don’t know the entire history, but it’s interesting looking at some of the glasswork on top, if it had been a shul or something in the years past…)
When i was depolyed to Bosnia in 1996 we had several shows by the USO travel through McGovern Base, Brcko, Posavina. One show was very memorable. It was the 49er’s football Cheerleaders. My partner at the time was Trent. Trent and I were both on the front row for the show. Their producer twisted her ankle right in front of us. We both jumped up to help her get back on her feet.
They met that day. They were married about 16 months later and remain so to this day. He went on into Ortho as did I. I am not one to usually believe in the concept of fate, bit it makes you wonder does it not?
I take care of several performers in Las Vegas. Talked a couple of them into doing a USO tour. Both had a very positive experience. They got as much out as the troops they entertained. Gave them a different prospective on life and citizenship
Enjoyed this post and was very interested in the knowledgeable comments.
Been meaning to ask around about this…I have no idea where the USO building is in San Antonio…but I do know that with the brand new wing of the San Antonio International Airport (FINALLY completed) there is a new USO inside the terminal which I hear is unmatched in terms of what it provides for Soldiers waiting for flights or for families to pick them up. More to follow on this.