Dempsey Accepts USO Award on Behalf of Military Members
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
NEW YORK, Dec. 8, 2011 Last night turned out to be a family affair for Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey as he accepted the USO’s Distinguished Service award on behalf of 2.2 million men and women in uniform, along with his wife, Deanie, who he said has served alongside him for the past 35 years.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was honored here at the 50th USO Armed Forces Gala, where he and Albert P. Carey, CEO of PepsiCo American Beverages, received the USO’s award for service in support of the armed forces.
Lance B. Boxer, chairman of the board for the USO of Metropolitan New York, saluted Dempsey and Carey for earning the prestigious award. “Their outstanding service to our country epitomizes the standard of selfless commitment to others we seek to live by each day,” he said.
Introduced by his son, Army Capt. Christopher Dempsey, a history instructor at the U.S. Military Academy, the chairman expressed pride in his family’s military tradition. All three Dempsey children followed their father into Army service. Dempsey also praised his wife for the key role she has played in helping military families deal with challenging times and become stronger as a result.
Last night’s USO gala proved to be a special treat for Dempsey, who got his first opportunity to meet his month-old granddaughter. “I can’t think of a better place to meet her,” he told the group. Pausing, he added with a laugh, “I hope it makes it into the baby book.”
Turning serious, Dempsey recognized the USO’s establishment 70 years ago and its continued support to the military through many milestones, including the Pearl Harbor attack 70 years ago, Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm 20 years ago, and the 9/11 attacks 10 years ago.
He noted the USO support he and his family have experienced during his career and thanked the organization and its legion of volunteers for their work that benefits all military members and their families. “Keep it up, and thanks for doing it, because it does make a difference,” he said.
Dempsey noted the demands U.S. service members are facing around the world, many of them far from their loved ones and in harm’s way, working to protect the United States and its interests.
Looking to the future, he said he doesn’t expect that requirement to go away.
“We should probably expect to be challenged because of what we stand for, because of who we are,” he said. “We stand for what’s right. And as we stand for what’s right, those that don’t stand for the same things as us will often challenge us. And when we are challenged, we will respond.”
With that response, Dempsey said Americans will strive, in the words of Will Rogers, “to leave the woodpile a little higher than we found it.”
Dempsey said he’s proud of the entire military team -- troops on the ground, carrier battle groups at sea with their embarked Marine expeditionary units, tactical air squadrons, logisticians maintaining and sustaining the force -- who exemplify Will Rogers’ standard.
“It’s a remarkable enterprise, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it, and I couldn’t be more proud of all the services for what they do,” he said. “So I am honored to accept this award on their behalf.”
While acknowledging that he doesn’t know what the future holds, Dempsey said he’s confident that America’s military members will be up to anything that’s asked of them.
“Whatever is next, that group of young men and women … they are out there, and we’ll be OK,” he said.