Know Your Military

Delivering Christmas to Deployed Troops

Dec. 21, 2018 | BY Marine Corps Sgt. David Staten

The Chairman’s 2018 USO Holiday Tour is bringing live acts ranging from athletes and actors to musicians and comedians to troops deployed overseas for the holidays.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is on his fifth USO holiday tour since becoming chairman. The tour’s first stop: Norway, where performers will bring a little bit of home to the Marines and sailors deployed there in support of NATO and U.S. European Command.

Milo Ventimiglia holds up a phone and poses for a selfie with a smiling service member.
Selfie With Milo
Actor Milo Ventimiglia takes a selfie with a service member in Vaernes, Norway, Dec. 21, 2018, during the Chairman’s 2018 USO Holiday Tour.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro, DOD
VIRIN: 181221-D-PB383-009Y
Kellie Pickler performs on a stage with a USO logo in the background.
Pickler's Performance
Musician Kellie Pickler performs for deployed service members in Vaernes, Norway, Dec. 21, 2018, during the Chairman’s 2018 USO Holiday Tour.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro, DOD
VIRIN: 181221-D-PB383-077Y

“While we can’t bring our troops home for the holidays, we can bring a bit of home to them – that’s what the USO holiday tour is all about,” Dunford said.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford talks on a stage to an audience of troops.
Talking to Troops
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks with deployed service members in Vaernes, Norway, Dec. 21, 2018, during the Chairman’s 2018 USO Holiday Tour.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro, DOD
VIRIN: 181221-D-PB383-059Y

The USO holiday tour was started in 2003 by then-chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers to express appreciation to deployed service members during the holidays.

This year’s tour includes Olympian Shaun White; NCIS star Wilmer Valderrama; singer and television host Kellie Pickler; comedian Jessimae Peluso; “This Is Us” star Milo Ventimiglia; three-time CrossFit champion Mat Fraser; and DJ J.Dayz.

Troops laugh as Comedian Jessiemae Peluso performs on a stage.
Sharing Laughs
Comedian Jessiemae Peluso performs for deployed service members during the Chairman's 2018 USO Holiday Tour in Vaernes, Norway, Dec. 21, 2018.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro, DOD
VIRIN: 181221-D-PB383-063Y
DJ J.Dayz sits and eats with troops in a dining hall.
DJ Dining
DJ J.Dayz talks with deployed service members during the Chairman's USO Holiday Tour in Vaernes, Norway, Dec. 21, 2018.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro, DOD
VIRIN: 181221-D-PB383-003Y

Service members smile and pose for a group shot.
Troops in Vaernes
Service members deployed in Vaernes, Norway, pose for a photo during a visit from the Chairman’s 2018 USO Holiday Tour, Dec. 21, 2018.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro, DOD
VIRIN: 181221-D-PB383-050Y
Performers sing on a stage with a USO logo in the background.
Vaernes Stage
Entertainers on the Chairman’s 2018 USO Holiday Tour perform for U.S. troops in Vaernes, Norway, Dec. 21, 2018.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro, DOD
VIRIN: 181221-D-PB383-085Y

About 190,000 service members will be away from home this holiday season, ashore in places such as South Korea, Iraq, Germany and Japan, and aboard ships in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. Overseas troops have been provided with traditional American Christmas dinners since World War II, no matter where they are stationed or deployed.

In addition to the USO tour visiting select worldwide locations, the troops will be well-fed.

During the 2017 Christmas season, the Defense Logistics Agency served up:
Pounds of turkey: 112,092
Pounds of beef: 59,430
Pounds of ham: 38,430
Pounds of shrimp: 29,304
Cases of cookies: 690
Assorted cakes and pies: 16,002
Pounds of marshmallows: 6,564
Gallons of juice: 3,743
Gallons of eggnog: 2,145

This year, agency officials said they plan to send even more food.

During the 2018 holidays, the U.S. Postal Service said it expects to ship about 16 million pounds of mail to deployed service members and other Defense Department employees.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford and his wife pose for a photo with troops and performers in the snow.
Norway Photo Op
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Ellyn Dunford, pose for a photo with service members and entertainers during the Chairman’s 2018 USO Holiday Tour in Vaernes, Norway, Dec. 21, 2018.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro, DOD
VIRIN: 181221-D-PB383-031Y