Former Chairman Honored by USO for Serving Troops, Families
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2012 Retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the 17th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife Deborah were honored here yesterday evening by the United Service Organizations for being staunch advocates for troops and their families.
Retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the military's 17th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta at the annual USO Gala, Nov. 2, 2012, Washington, D.C. The USO recognized Mullen and his wife Deborah for their years of service to troops and their families. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and current chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey attended the 2012 USO Gala, where six service members received recognition for outstanding service.
“I’d also like to acknowledge and thank Mike Mullen and his wife Deborah, who are here with us tonight for all they’ve done to serve this nation,” Panetta said. “Thank you.”
Prior to receiving the honors, Mullen shared his thoughts on being recognized by the USO.
“We're very honored. It's an award that recognized both my wife Deborah and myself,” he said. The USO is a really special organization. And throughout my career -- over four decades -- we were always close to the USO, but never closer than during my time as chairman.”
Mullen also praised USO President Sloan D. Gibson as a “spectacular individual” and one of many people that “care about our men and women.”
“[It's] their singular focus,” he said, “and one of the reasons that we spend so much time with them. So it's very special to be recognized by them.”
Following a surprise video presentation from comedian Robin Williams, Mullen and his wife expressed their gratitude as recipients.
“It's an honor for us to be recognized with the 'Spirit of USO' Award,” Deborah Mullen said. “Really, when you think about it, the heart and the soul and the spirit are really all of the [USO] staff and volunteers who are serving around the world and around the clock.”
“We've watched up closely, and very personally, the USO, for decades affect our lives, but more importantly, affect the lives of those we cared about the most,” the former chairman said. “Both in peace and in war, and at the most-difficult times.”
“If I was going to sum it up in so many ways,” he added, “it would be to bring that smile that support, that little piece of home into the hearts and souls of those who serve around the world.”