The annual USO Holiday Tour is an important connection with America for service members, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.
“Christmastime is a tough time for our men and women who are deployed and what’s important is we let them know that what they are doing out there every day really matters, that it is appreciated and the folks back home are paying attention to them,” Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said.
The tour departed from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland yesterday. There are about 150 airmen based at this Spanish air base, in addition to Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa. The USO show went on in a large vehicle bay.
The USO was founded just before American involvement in World War II. For 76 years, “wherever our men and women are deployed, the USO is there with them,” Dunford said. “The USO label absolutely adds to it.”
The performers had a chance to mix it up with the Marines and airmen here, and most of the talent have taken part in other USO shows. “These are people who volunteered to come over the holidays and spend time with our soldiers, sailors airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, and I think they do have a sense of who our young men and women are, and they are looking forward to spending time with them,” Dunford said.
The show is America’s attempt to touch as many service members as possible. It is “to let them know that what they do every day is appreciated, is recognized and that it really matters,” he said. “I want them to know that the sacrifices their families are making during this holiday season is also appreciated.”