Dempsey Lauds USO’s Service, Support to ‘America's Finest’
By Tyrone C. Marshall, Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON November 02, 2012 - The United Service Organizations has earned its reputation for taking care of service members and their families through 71 years of unbelievable service, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.
During his remarks at the 2012 USO Gala, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey used anecdotes and quotes from prominent baseball players as he praised the USO for its committed support of America's troops for over seven decades.
Dempsey used an example of Ted Williams, a former U.S. Marine, and Major League Baseball player with a reputation for hitting, as he explained the USO's legacy of serving troops.
“He was incredible. He interrupted his career to serve both in World War II and later in Korea ... [an] incredible patriot,” the chairman said. “Ted Williams had a certain reputation. And you know what, so does the USO.”
“Seventy-one years of service has created a reputation in which they and we should be very proud,” Dempsey said. “Unbelievable.”
The chairman also used quotes from former New York Yankee player and manager, Yogi Berra, who said, “Little things are big.”
“Little things are big,” Dempsey said. “But think about that and what the USO does. Young men and women deploying, redeploying, families, wounded warriors, this event. All of the things they do.”
“They're not really big things when you really confront them,” he said. “They're just little things -- a smile, a place to feel at home, a place to make a phone call. Yogi was right. Little things can really be big. And we're awful proud of what the USO does to make little things big.”
The chairman noted there were representatives of the Joint Chiefs and service secretaries also attending the USO Gala to present honors to the USO's Service Member of the Year.
“Now tonight we're going to honor six of America's finest,” Dempsey said. “Young men and women who have served their countries and distinguished themselves in ways that I know all of the service chiefs and representatives here should be proud.”
Dempsey, again quoting Yogi Berra, said, “The future ain't what it used to be.”
“We've all heard that one,” he said. “But you know that's the truth in many ways. In fact, I'm absolutely convinced the future ain't what it used to be.”
“But the future is bright, and it is bright because we've got young men and women of the kind you're going to see here standing on the stage tonight,” Dempsey said.
Following the chairman and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta's remarks, the six service members were honored by a representative from their respective branches of service.
Army Lt. Gen. William J. Troy, director of the Army staff, presented Army Staff Sgt. Jacob Perkins his award; Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, recognized Marine Corps Sgt. Clifford Wooldridge; and Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of Naval Operations, honored Navy Petty Officer Second Class Gregory Gaylor.
Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force Chief of Staff, recognized Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Beversdorf; Coast Guard Vice Adm. Manson Brown, deputy commandant for mission support, honored Petty Officer Second Class Nicholas Beane; and Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, vice chief of the National Guard Bureau, presented Senior Airman Evan Stevens his award during the gala.
Dempsey reminded the audience that as they enjoy their dinners, a new day is just beginning for “young men and women in Afghanistan.”
“And they're going to strap it on,” he said. “They're going to put on their rucksacks, they're going to leave their forward operating bases and they're going to do what we've asked them to do. And so I'd just ask that you keep them in your prayers.”
Additionally, Dempsey said, America's men and women, mostly members of the National Guard and reserves, are helping citizens recover from Hurricane Sandy.
The chairman ended his remarks with the revelation that his own son is redeploying and will likely use the services of a USO along the way.
“Right now, while Deanie and I are sitting here, my son is coming back from Afghanistan,” Dempsey said. “And I know that somewhere along the way the USO will help him make it home.”