Winnefeld, Celebrities, Honor the Military at USO Dinner
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., April 1, 2014 Hundreds of people turned out last night to honor military members and their families during the 32nd Annual USO Metro Awards Dinner here.
Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Mary, presented The Legacy of Hope Award to The American Military Spouses Choir at the event.
The admiral described the group, which includes veterans, as “remarkable.”
“I guess we can’t think of this particular group as ‘unsung heroes. All are a well spring of innovation, hard work and resilience.”
Mary Winnefeld lauded the group’s willingness and ability to enhance the military community through music and community outreach.
“We all know the military is truly a family business,” she said. “This group symbolizes the critical role military spouses play in the vital part of our team that serves our country, and in some cases [they give] life-saving support as care givers to our wounded warriors.”
This year’s fundraising gala celebrated the opening of the state-of-the-art USO Warrior and Family Center at Bethesda, Md., which opened today. The Center provides a home-away-from-home for the nation’s wounded, ill and injured active duty service members and Reserve and National Guard troops, as well as their families and caregivers.
The evening’s photo slideshow tribute featured military heroes that USO-Metro has helped since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over a decade ago.
Actor and Lt. Dan Band musician Gary Sinise presented Chef Robert Irvine with the USO-Metro Merit Award, and music prodigy Ethan Bortnick earned the Next Generation of Hope Award. Don Blanchard, father of fallen Army Capt. Aaron R. Blanchard was honored with the Colonel John Gioia Patriot Award.
The elder Blanchard partnered with the USO to create “A Father’s Tribute Ride,” in which he rode his motorcycle to all four corners of the country to honor his son and fundraise for military nonprofit organizations.
(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @lyleAFPS)