USO Wraps Up Annual Holiday Tour Show in Germany
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
STUTTGART, Germany, Dec. 18, 2012 Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior advisor to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, hosted the final stop of this year's USO holiday tour show here yesterday on behalf of the chairman, the tour's sponsor.
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, hosts this year’s final USO holiday tour show on behalf of the chairman at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, Dec. 17, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Battaglia attended the show with his wife, Lisa.
Service members’ wives, husbands, sons and daughters attended the event to see their favorite celebrities.
This year’s USO holiday tour show featured Washington Nationals Major League Baseball players Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen; Matt Hendricks from the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals; comedian Iliza Schlesinger, winner of NBC's Last Comic Standing and country music singer Kellie Pickler and her band.
And USO President Sloan D. Gibson and Shane Hudella of “Defending the Blue Line,” an organization that donates hockey equipment to military families, accompanied the tour show.
“It was certainly a different sort of demographic, and dynamic [when compared] to the other shows that were more troop oriented because they were in-country, in Afghanistan,” Battaglia said. “So, I think it provided the entertainers and athletes another side of their U.S. armed forces overseas, and [they saw] that protection and defense of the nation doesn't only come from the service member.
“It also comes from the sacrifice of the family, having to serve overseas and away from home as well,” he added.
Lisa Battaglia, a former Marine herself enjoyed the family aspect of the final show.
“I liked it a lot, because most of the time we see the military members,” she said. “I know they truly appreciate the USO, but [I enjoyed] being able to see these young kids out there, able to enjoy what's going to be a great holiday season … [and] let their hair down and hang out with their friends.
“I think it was great, and a nice ending to the tour,” she added.
The sergeant major deemed the USO tour a hit, with stops coming in Bahrain, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and two stops in Germany -- Stuttgart and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
“It was a great success,” he said. “Just having the opportunity to witness troops across the [area of responsibility] -- Afghanistan and beyond -- with smiles on their faces especially around this time with Christmas.
“You know, with a comedian telling a joke, or singing a country song that may be one of their favorites, or a sports fanatic getting an autograph or a handshake from one of the athletes,” he continued. “Just seeing a smile on their faces is pretty invaluable, and it accomplishes the USO's mission, writ large, with providing morale to the troops.”
The USO holiday tour’s entertainers came all the way from the U.S. and maintained a strenuous schedule, the sergeant major said.
“The [itinerary’s] ruggedness was only driven by trying to get them to as many [bases] as we possibly can, even if we had to split them up to see as many troops as we could so they could have that face-to-face engagement,” Battaglia said.
“Nobody wants to watch this on AFN,” he added. “They want to see it in person -- that was the objective, that was the goal, and it was accomplished.”