USO Gala Spotlights Service Members, Military Supporters
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., Mar. 15, 2013 Service members, public figures and performers were honored for their service or support of the U.S. military at the USO of Metropolitan Washington’s 31st Annual Awards Dinner held at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel here yesterday.
Professional wrestler Mick Foley speaks with Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. and his wife, Mary, at the USO of Metro Washington's 31st Annual Awards Dinner at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Va., March 14, 2013. Foley attended the event with fellow wrestler Sheamus and Divas Natalya and Rosa Mendes and World Wrestling Entertainment Executive Vice President, Creative, Stephanie McMahon. Other special guests include actors, singers, veterans and military members. DOD photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Chuck Marsh
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
In his remarks at the event, Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lauded the compassion and commitment of people serving in the military medical community.
“We are here to honor a most deserving population of unsung heroes among our troopers … our medical professionals,” Winnefeld said. “They are the quiet heroes: the doctors, the nurses, the medical support staff, who treat everything from the common cold in a U.S. military pediatric ward to the most critical battlefield injuries across the combat zone.”
The admiral said he and his wife, Mary, have witnessed medical professionals in action around the world -- from Kandahar and Bagram in Afghanistan, to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
“In every visit, in every room, we meet warriors who are hopeful about the future,” Winnefeld said. “Each of these wounded warriors recognizes the difficult road to recovery that’s ahead.”
Service members receive the best possible care from the military’s medical professionals, the admiral said.
“Because of that spectrum of care, and the unique blend of military professionalism and medical acumen, we’re bringing warriors home from the battlefield today that never would’ve made it in previous wars,” Winnefeld said.
“It’s all because of our outstanding military medical professionals and the caregivers for our wounded warriors,” he said of the people and teams who provide care to some 9 million beneficiaries of the military health system.
Honorees at the event dinner included actor and director Lou Diamond Phillips, a stalwart USO supporter who received the organization’s Legacy of Achievement Award for his years of public support and involvement with the military community.
Born at the Subic Bay U.S. Naval Station in the Philippines, Phillips said his upbringing and current work on the Military Channel’s “An Officer and a Movie” have strengthened his bond with the military.
While “incredibly humbled” by the USO honor, Phillips said he finds his fame can best “highlight and uphold the real heroes,” the military members who wear the uniform.
Phillips noted the complexities and challenges that military members of an all-volunteer force face in a post-9/11 world.
“It’s very much a part of our national consciousness that we are at war and have been … for a long time, that we have young men and women in harm’s way on a daily basis,” Phillips said.
As such, America is entering a new age of respect for its armed forces, he said, and a greater awareness of how military people touch so many lives.
Fellow actor, director, and honoree Joe Mantegna echoed Phillips’ comments, noting he has great respect for those who serve in the U.S. military.
Mantegna, who’s slated to perform his 12th annual Memorial Day concert with his friend and fellow USO supporter Gary Sinise, shared why he, too, was humbled by the USO’s recognition.
“It’s the people who do this job day-in and day-out, the volunteers, the people who … keep organizations like the USO thriving … those are the people that really deserve credit,” Mantegna said. “I remember you, and I accept this on your behalf.”
This year’s USO honorees include:
-- Army Maj. David Larres, Occupational Therapy Clinic at Irwin Army Community Hospital, Fort Riley, Kan.;
-- Navy Cmdr. Angela Earley, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va.;
-- Air Force 1st Lt. Sarah Batzer-Frye, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Va.;
-- Navy Lt. Cmdr. Trevor Petrou, Marine Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, N.C.;
-- Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Randy Haba, U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C.;
-- National Guard: Army Lt. Col. Laura Wheeler, Army National Guard, Va.;
-- Civilian: Linda Odierno and certified pet therapy dog, Tootsie;
-- Special Recognition: Legacy of Hope Award -- The Military Channel;
-- Legacy of Achievement Award: Lou Diamond Phillips;
-- Merit Award: Joe Mantegna; and
-- Col. John Gioia Patriot Award: Kathleen Causey.