The USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore honored Medal of Honor recipients at the organization’s annual gala and also honored Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford and Ellyn Dunford for their lifetime of support to the group.
In addition, the USO recognized newly retired New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski for his contributions to the organization.
The gala was held at the Omni-Shoreham hotel, with Terry Bradshaw and USO-Metro President Elaine Rogers sharing master of ceremonies duties.
The Dunfords received the award on behalf of service members and their families everywhere. They also said they looked on it as an opportunity to thank the USO for all it has meant to service members over the general’s 40-plus year military career.
The chairman said that if people had told him in 2001 that the military would still be fighting in 2019, he would have questioned whether an all-volunteer force could handle that strain. "But they have done it," he said. "They do it because they believe in the mission. They believe in our country. They do it because of the men and women on their left and right.
"They also do it for you," he continued. "Over the last 18 years, our men and women who have been in harm’s way have never had to look over their shoulders to wonder if they had support. There is no clearer physical manifestation of the support of the American people than the USO. For generation after generation now, men and women have gone around the world to do what our country has asked them to do, and the USO has been with them bringing a little piece of home to them wherever they happen to be."
The USO is integral in connecting Americans with their sons and daughters serving overseas and at bases far from their homes. The men and women serving in Afghanistan or Iraq or in Djibouti or other bases "know that you appreciate and admire what they do," Dunford said.
The USO and the people affiliated with it are taking care of military families, the general said. "For that," he added, "Ellyn and I will be eternally grateful."
The event raised more than $1.4 million for the USO-Metro. In addition to the Medal of Honor recipients recognized at the event, Jon Stewart, Robert Irvine, Washington Redskins luminaries and WWE stars also lent their talents to the proceedings.