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The United Service Organizations Inc. (USO) is an American nonprofit-charitable corporation that provides live entertainment, such as comedians, actors and musicians, social facilities, and other programs to members of the
United States Armed Forces The United States Armed Forces are the Military, military forces of the United States of America. The armed forces consists of six Military branch, service branches: the United States Army, Army, United States Marine Corps, Marine Corps, Uni ...

United States Armed Forces
and their families. Since 1941, it has worked in partnership with the Department of War, and later with the
Department of DefenseDepartment of Defence or Department of Defense may refer to: Current departments of defence * Department of Defence (Australia) The Department of Defence (DoD) is a Government department, department of the Government of Australia charged with ...
(DoD), relying heavily on private contributions and on funds, goods, and services from various corporate and individual donors. Although it is congressionally-chartered, it is not a government agency. Founded during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, the USO sought to be the GI's "home away from home" and began a tradition of entertaining the troops and providing social facilities. Involvement in the USO was one of the many ways in which the nation had come together to support the war effort, with nearly 1.5 million people having volunteered their services in some way. The USO initially disbanded in 1947, but was revived in 1950 for the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It b ...

Korean War
, after which it continued, also providing peacetime services. During the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
, USO social facilities ("USOs") were sometimes located in combat zones. The organization became particularly known for its live performances, called camp shows, through which the entertainment industry helps boost the morale of servicemen and women. From the start,
Hollywood Hollywood is a neighborhood A neighbourhood (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of An ...

Hollywood
was eager to show its patriotism, and many celebrities joined the ranks of USO entertainers. They went as volunteers to entertain, and celebrities continue to provide volunteer entertainment, in military bases in the U.S. and overseas, sometimes placing their own lives in danger, by traveling or performing under hazardous conditions. In 2011, the USO was awarded the
National Medal of Arts The National Medal of Arts is an award and title created by the United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, po ...
. The USO has over 200 locations around the world in 14 countries (including the U.S.) and 27 states. During a gala marking the USO's 75th anniversary in 2016, retired Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the current chairman of the USO Board of Governors, estimated that the USO has served more than 35 million Americans over its history.


History


Mission and goals

The USO was founded in 1941 by Mary Ingraham in response to a request from President
Franklin D. Roosevelt Franklin Delano Roosevelt (, ; January 30, 1882April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American politician who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A member of the De ...

Franklin D. Roosevelt
to provide morale and recreation services to U.S. uniformed military personnel. Roosevelt was elected as its honorary chairman. This request brought together six civilian organizations: the
Salvation Army Salvation (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the R ...

Salvation Army
,
YMCA YMCA, sometimes regionally called the Y, is a worldwide youth organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, with more than 64 million beneficiaries in 120 countries. It was founded on 6 June 1844 by George Williams (philanthropist), Sir G ...

YMCA
,
Young Women's Christian Association The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) is a movement working for the empowerment, leadership and rights of women, young women and girls in more than 100 countries. The members and supporters include women from many different faiths, a ...
(YWCA), National Catholic Community Service,
National Travelers Aid Association The Travelers Aid movement began in St. Louis St. Louis () is the second-largest city in Missouri Missouri is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published ...
and the
National Jewish Welfare Board The National Jewish Welfare Board (JWB) was formed on April 9, 1917, three days after the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental Uni ...
. They were brought together under one umbrella to support U.S. troops. Roosevelt said he wanted "these private organizations to handle the on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces." According to historian Emily Yellin, "The government was to build the buildings and the USO was to raise private funds to carry out its main mission: boosting the morale of the military."Yellin, Emily. ''Our Mothers' War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II'', Simon and Schuster (2005) The first national campaign chairman was
Thomas Dewey Thomas Edmund Dewey (March 24, 1902 – March 16, 1971) was an American lawyer, prosecutor and politician. Raised in Owosso, Michigan Owosso is the largest city in Shiawassee County, Michigan, Shiawassee County in the U.S. state of Michigan. Th ...

Thomas Dewey
, who raised $16 million in the first year. The second chairman was future senator
Prescott Bush Prescott Sheldon Bush (May 15, 1895 – October 8, 1972) was an American banker as a Wall Street Wall Street is an eight-block-long street in the Financial District This is a list of financial districts in cities around the world. ...
. The USO was incorporated in New York on February 4, with the first facility erected in DeRidder, Louisiana, 1941.John Whiteclay Chambers II. "USO." ''The Oxford Companion to American Military History''. Oxford University Press (2000)
highbeam.com
/ref> More USO centers and clubs opened around the world as a "Home Away from Home" for
GIs A geographic information system (GIS) is a conceptualized framework that provides the ability to capture and analyze spatial and geographic data. GIS applications (or GIS apps) are computer-based tools that allow the user to create interactive ...
. The USO club was a place to go for dances and social events, for movies and music, for a quiet place to talk or write a letter home, or for a free cup of coffee and an egg. The USO also brought
Hollywood Hollywood is a neighborhood A neighbourhood (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of An ...

Hollywood
celebrities and
volunteer Volunteering is a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labour for community service. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such as medicine, education, or emergency rescue. Others serve on an ...

volunteer
entertainers to perform for the troops. According to movie historian Steven Cohan, "most of all ... in taking home on the road, it equated the nation with showbiz. USO camp shows were designed in their export to remind soldiers of home." They did this, he noted, by "nurturing in troops a sense of patriotic identification with America through popular entertainment."Cohan, Steven. ''The Road Movie Book'', Routledge (1997) An article in ''Look'' magazine at the time, stated, "For the little time the show lasts, the men are taken straight to the familiar Main Street that is the goal of every fighting American far away from home."
Maxene Andrews The Andrews Sisters were an American close harmony singing group of the Swing music, swing and boogie-woogie eras. The group consisted of three sisters: contralto LaVerne Sophia (July 6, 1911 – May 8, 1967), soprano Maxene Anglyn (January 3, 1 ...
wrote, "The entertainment brought home to the boys. ''Their'' home." Actor
George Raft George Raft (born George Ranft; September 26, 1901 – November 24, 1980) was an American film actor and dancer identified with portrayals of gangsters in crime melodramas of the 1930s and 1940s. A stylish leading man in dozens of movies, Raft i ...
stated at the beginning of the war, "Now it's going to be up to us to send to the men here and abroad real, living entertainment, the songs, the dances, and the laughs they had back home." USO promotional literature stated its goals: :"The story of USO camp shows belongs to the American people, for it was their contribution that made it possible. It is an important part in the life of your sons, your brothers, your husbands, and your sweethearts." In 2011, the USO was awarded the
National Medal of Arts The National Medal of Arts is an award and title created by the United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, po ...
by President
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician and attorney who served as the 44th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government ...

Barack Obama
"for contributions to lifting the spirits of America's troops and their families through the arts".


World War II

After being formed in 1941, in response to World War II, "centers were established quickly ... in churches, barns, railroad cars, museums, castles, beach clubs, and log cabins."Clairday, Robynn. ''Postcards from World War II'', Square One Publishers (2001) Most centers offered recreational activities, such as holding dances and showing movies. And there were the well-known free coffee and doughnuts. Some USO centers provided a haven for spending a quiet moment alone or writing a letter home, while others offered spiritual guidance and made childcare available for military wives. But the organization became mostly known for its live performances called ''Camp Shows'', through which the entertainment industry helped boost the morale of its servicemen and women. USO Camp Shows, Inc. began in October 1941, and by that fall and winter 186 military theaters existed in the United States. Overseas shows began in November 1941 with a tour of the Caribbean. Within five months 36 overseas units had been sent within the Americas, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and during 1942 1,000 performed as part of 70 units. Average performers were paid $100 a week; top stars were paid $10 a day because their wealth let them contribute more of their talents. These overseas shows were produced by the American Theatre Wing, which also provided food and entertainment for the armed services in their Stage Door Canteens. Funds from the sale of film rights for a story about the New York Canteen went toward providing USO tours of shows for overseas troops. Following the
Invasion of Normandy Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the Allies of World War II, Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Front (World War II), Western Europe during World War II. The operat ...
on June 6, 1944,
Edward G. Robinson Edward G. Robinson (born Emanuel Goldenberg; ; December 12, 1893January 26, 1973) was a Romanian American, Romanian-born American actor of stage and screen during Classical Hollywood cinema, Hollywood's Golden Age. He appeared in 30 Broadway pla ...

Edward G. Robinson
was the first movie star to travel to Normandy to entertain the troops. He had already been active back home selling war bonds, and donated $100,000 to the USO. During his show, he said, "This is the most privileged moment of my life, the opportunity to be here with you." The following month, Camp Shows began in Normandy. Until fall 1944 overseas units contained five performers or fewer; ''
The Barretts of Wimpole Street ''The Barretts of Wimpole Street'' is a 1930 play by Rudolf Besier, based on the romance between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, and her father's unwillingness to allow them to marry. The play gave actress Kathar ...

The Barretts of Wimpole Street
'', using local theaters in France and Italy, was the first to use an entire theater company, including scenery. At its high point in 1944, the USO had more than 3,000 clubs, and curtains were rising on USO shows 700 times a day. The USO's fundraising efforts were controversial. An
MGM Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (also known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures or MGM) is an American media company, founded in 1924, that produces and distributes feature films and television programs. It is based in Beverly Hills, California ...

MGM
film, ''Mr. Gardenia Jones'', created to assist the USO in its fundraising campaign, was nearly withdrawn from theaters due to objections by the War Department, mainly because of scenes showing soldiers jumping with joy at the opportunity to shower in canteens and rest in overstuffed and comfortable USO chairs. The Army, noted the ''
New York Times ''The New York Times'' is an American daily newspaper A newspaper is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of Serial (publishing), serial published, publicatio ...
'', "feels this is not good for morale as it implies that there are no showers or other comforts for soldiers in military camps." The film starred
Ronald Reagan Ronald Wilson Reagan ( ; February 6, 1911June 5, 2004) was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the and of the . The president directs the of ...

Ronald Reagan
, then a captain in the
Army Air Force The United States Army Air Forces (USAAF or AAF) was the major land-based aerial warfare service component of the United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forc ...
. Fundraising was also aided by non-USO entertainment groups. Soldier Shows, which troops – often experienced actors and musicians – organized and held their own performances, were common. The army formed a Special Services unit that organized such shows and supervised the USO, and the experience from the Soldier Shows led to
Irving Berlin Irving Berlin (born Israel Beilin; yi, ישראל ביילין; May 11, 1888 – September 22, 1989) was a Russian American composer and lyricist, widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in history. His music forms a great part of th ...
's Broadway show ''
This Is the Army ''This Is the Army'' is a 1943 American wartime musical film, musical comedy film produced by Hal B. Wallis and Jack L. Warner, and directed by Michael Curtiz, adapted from a wartime stage musical with the same name, designed to boost morale in ...
''. Performers and writers from throughout the army were recruited for the production; they remained soldiers and continued drills. Berlin, who had written and produced the similar '' Yip, Yip, Yaphank'' during World War I, took the entire 165-person cast on tour in Europe in 1942, raising nearly $10 million for the
Army Emergency Relief 200px, Seal of the Army Emergency Relief Army Emergency Relief (AER), often referred to by the longer title ''Army Emergency Relief Fund'', is a non-profit organization, non-profit, charitable organization independent of, but closely associated with ...
Fund. The following year the show was made into a film by the same title, again starring Ronald Reagan. The ''This Is The Army'' stage production toured worldwide until it closed in October 1945 in
Honolulu Honolulu (; ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lo ...

Honolulu
. War correspondent
Quentin Reynolds Quentin James Reynolds (April 11, 1902 – March 17, 1965) was an American journalist A journalist is an individual trained to collect/gather information in form of text, audio or pictures, processes them to a news-worth form and disseminates ...
, wrote in an article for ''
Billboard magazine ''Billboard'' (stylized in all lowercase Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the Letter (alphabet), letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formal ...
'' in 1943, that "Entertainment, all phases of it – radio, pictures and live – should be treated as essential. You don't know what entertainment means to the guys who do the fighting until you've been up there with the men yourself. ... You can quote me as saying that we should use entertainment as an essential industry so long as it's for the boys in service. Anybody who has been there would insist on it. ... Hell, you should have seen how happy the G.I.s were when they heard the ballplayers were coming over. And
John Steinbeck John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. (; February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) was an American author and the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature ) , image = Nobel Prize.png , caption = , awarded_for = Outstanding contributions in literatu ...

John Steinbeck
, just back from a chore as war correspondent, ... also applauded show business as part of the war effort and its importance as a morale builder.""Quentin Reynolds Talks on Terrific Job Big and Little Showbiz is Doing Overseas"
''Billboard'', October 30, 1943 p. 4
According to historian Paul Holsinger, between 1941 and 1945, the USO did 293,738 performances in 208,178 separate visits. Estimates were that more than 161 million servicemen and women, in the U.S. and abroad, were entertained. The USO also did shows in military hospitals, eventually entertaining more than 3 million wounded soldiers and sailors in 192 different hospitals. There were 702 different USO troupes that toured the world, some spending up to six months per tour.Holsinger, Paul. ''War and American Popular Culture: a Historical Encyclopedia'', Greenwood Publishing Group (1999) In 1943, a
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
Liberty ship Liberty ships were a class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a collection of individuals or objects * Class (philosophy), an analy ...
named the SS ''U.S.O.'' was launched. She was scrapped in 1967. Twenty-eight performers died in the course of their tours, from plane crashes, illness, or diseases contracted while on tour. In one such instance in 1943, a plane carrying a USO troupe crashed outside
Lisbon Lisbon (; pt, Lisboa ) is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with an estimated population of 544,851 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km2. Grande Lisboa, Lisbon's urban area extends beyond the city's admin ...

Lisbon
, killing singer and actress
Tamara Drasin Tamara Drasin (c. 1905 – 22 February 1943), often credited as simply Tamara, was a singer and actress who introduced the song "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" in the 1933 Broadway musical ''Roberta''. Tamara Drasin is sometimes confused with two ot ...
, and severely injuring Broadway singer
Jane Froman Ellen Jane Froman (November 10, 1907 – April 22, 1980) was an American singing, singer and actress. During her thirty-year career, Froman performed on stage, radio and television despite chronic health problems due to injuries sustained in a 1943 ...
. Froman returned to Europe on crutches in 1945 to again entertain the troops. She later married the co-pilot who saved her life in that crash, and her story was made into the 1952 film '' With a Song in My Heart'', with Froman providing the actual singing voice.Goldstein, Richard
"Answers About World War II in New York"
''New York Times'', September 29, 2010
Others, such as
Al Jolson Al Jolson (born Asa Yoelson; c. 1885 – October 23, 1950) was an American singer, comedian, and actor. Jolson was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer" at the peak of his career and has been referred to by modern critics as "the king of bl ...

Al Jolson
, the first entertainer to go overseas in World War II, contracted
malaria Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. Malaria causes symptoms Signs and symptoms are the observed or detectable signs, and experienced symptoms of an illness, injury, or condition. A sign fo ...

malaria
, resulting in the loss of his lung, cutting short his tour. One author wrote that by the end of the war "the USO amounted to the biggest enterprise American show business has ever tackled. The audience was millions of American fighting men, the theatre's location: the world, the producer: USO camp shows" Performances continued after the end of the war in 1945. 60 new units went to Europe after
V-E Day Victory in Europe Day is the day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II : Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill meeting at the Cairo Conference (1943), Cairo Conference in 1943 ...
, and 91 new units went to the Pacific after
V-J Day Victory over Japan Day (also known as V-J Day, Victory in the Pacific Day, or V-P Day) is the day on which Imperial Japan surrendered in World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was ...
. The USO dissolved in December 1947, after having spent $240 million in contributions on Camp Shows, canteens, and other services. Special Services productions grew in number as replacement. In 1991,
20th Century Fox 20th Century Studios, Inc. (also known as 20th Century for short, and nicknamed 20th Pictures, formerly Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation) is an American film studio A film studio (also known as movie studio or simply studio) is a maj ...
produced the film '' For the Boys'', which told the story of two USO performers, and starred
Bette Midler Bette Midler (;''Inside the Actors Studio'', 2004 born December 1, 1945) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, author, and comedian. In a career spanning over half a century, Midler has won four Golden Globe Awards, three Grammy Awards, t ...
and
James Caan James Edmund Caan ( ; born March 26, 1940) is an American actor. After early roles in Howard Hawk's ''El Dorado El Dorado (, ; Spanish for "the gold Gold is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Au (from la, aurum) ...
. It covered a 50-year timespan, from the USO's inception in 1941 through
Operation Desert Storm Operation or Operations may refer to: Arts, entertainment and media * ''Operation'' (game), a battery-operated board game that challenges dexterity * Operation (music) upright=1.5, Set 3-1 has three possible rotations/inversions, the normal ...

Operation Desert Storm
, in 1991. Another movie was planned in 1950 but never made. Just 10 days after
Al Jolson Al Jolson (born Asa Yoelson; c. 1885 – October 23, 1950) was an American singer, comedian, and actor. Jolson was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer" at the peak of his career and has been referred to by modern critics as "the king of bl ...

Al Jolson
returned from entertaining troops in Korea, he agreed with
RKO RKO Pictures was an American film production and distribution company. In its original incarnation, as RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. (a subsidiary of Radio-Keith-Orpheum, aka: RKO) it was one of the Big FiveBig Five may refer to: Animals * th ...

RKO
producers to star in a new movie, ''Stars and Stripes for Ever'', about a USO troupe in the South Pacific during World War II. Unfortunately, he died a week later as a result of physical exhaustion from his tour.


Women in the USO

According to Emily Yellin, many of the key foot soldiers in the USO's mission were women who were "charged with providing friendly diversion for U.S. troops who were mostly men in their teens and twenties." USO centers throughout the world recruited female volunteers to serve doughnuts, dance, and just talk with the troops. USO historian Julia Carson writes that this "nostalgic hour," designed to cheer and comfort soldiers, involved "listening to music – American style" and "looking at pretty girls, like no other pretty girls in the world – American girls." African-American women scrambled to rally the community around the soldiers and create programs for them. By 1946, hostesses had served more than two thousand soldiers a day while also providing facilities for the wounded and convalescent who were on leave. They went to black businesses and fraternal organizations in order to find sponsorship for their USO group, and later expanded to fulfill the needs of soldiers during the Korean War. Moreover, they worked to merge black and white USOs into one desegregated unit. As black historian Megan Shockley noted, "Their work for the desegregation of USOs had begun during World War II, and it finally paid off." Women were also key entertainers who performed at shows. Stars such as
Marlene Dietrich Marie Magdalene "Marlene" DietrichBorn as Maria Magdalena, not Marie Magdalene, according to Dietrich's biography by her daughter, Maria Riva ; however Dietrich's biography by Charlotte Chandler cites "Marie Magdalene" as her birth name . (, ; 2 ...

Marlene Dietrich
,
Judy Garland Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress, singer, vaudevillian, and dancer. With a career spanning 45 years, she attained international stardom as an actress in both musical and dramatic rol ...
,
Betty Grable Elizabeth Ruth Grable (December 18, 1916 – July 2, 1973) was an American actress, pin-up girl A pin-up model (known as a pin-up girl for a female and less commonly male pin-up for a male) is a model whose mass-produced pictures see widespr ...

Betty Grable
and
Rita Hayworth Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Carmen Cansino; October 17, 1918May 14, 1987) was an American actress, dancer, and producer. She achieved fame during the 1940s as one of the era's top stars, appearing in 61 films over 37 years. The press coined the ...
had traveled over a million miles. Yellin notes that on one tour, Hayworth visited six camps, gave thousands of autographs, and "came back from Texas with a full-fledged nervous breakdown from over-enthusiasm!" Opera singer
Lily Pons Alice Joséphine Pons (April 12, 1898 – February 13, 1976), known professionally as Lily Pons, was a French-American opera Opera is a form of theatre in which music is a fundamental component and dramatic roles are taken by Singing, sin ...
, after she had performed a "serious" opera song to troops in
Burma Myanmar (; my, မြန်မာ ) or Burma ( my, ဗမာ ), officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a country in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by Bangladesh and India to its northwest, China to its northeast, Laos a ...

Burma
, "an applause erupted that stunned even the most seasoned performers." She later wrote in a letter, "Every woman back home wears a halo now, and those who represent her had better keep theirs on, too." Author Joeie Dee pointed out that "for women entertainers, traveling with the USO made it possible to be patriots and adventurers as well as professionals." She adds, however, that the G.I.s in the USO audiences "tended to see these women in a different light – as reminders of and even substitutes for their girls back home, as a reward for fighting the war, as embodiments of what they were fighting for."Dee, Joeie. ''Hi GI'', Xulon Press (2005) Edward Skvarna remembers 1943, when he met
Donna Reed Donna Reed (born Donna Belle Mullenger; January 27, 1921 – January 14, 1986) was an American actress, comedian. Her career spanned more than 40 years, with performances in more than 40 films. She is well known for her role as Mary Hatch, Mary ...

Donna Reed
at a USO canteen and asked her to dance. "I had never danced with a celebrity before, so I felt delighted, privileged even, to meet her. ... But I really felt she was like a girl from back home." Jay Fultz, author of a biography of Reed, states that soldiers "often wrote to her as if to a sister or the girl next door, confiding moments of homesickness, loneliness, privation and anxiety."


Women entertainers

One female entertainer wrote about conditions while performing: Singer-actress-dancer
Ann Miller Johnnie Lucille Collier (April 12, 1923 – January 22, 2004), known professionally as Ann Miller, was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the Unite ...

Ann Miller
described performing for badly wounded soldiers. She did forty-eight shows for "broken soldiers," who were mostly lying on stretchers in the lobbies of hotels, watching as she entertained them. Yellin writes, "During her last show she collapsed and had to be taken home on an Army airplane." Afterwards, Miller described the experience:


Korean War

In 1947, the USO was disbanded, due partly to lack of funds.Freedland, Michael. ''The Story of Al Jolson '' (1972), pp. 283–84 In 1951, when the United States entered the Korean War, Secretary of Defense
George Marshall George Catlett Marshall Jr. (December 31, 1880 – October 16, 1959) was an American soldier and statesman. He rose through the United States Army to become Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Chief of Staff under presidents Franklin D. Ro ...
and Secretary of the Navy
Francis P. Matthews Francis Patrick Matthews (March 15, 1887 – October 18, 1952) was an Americans, American who served as the 8th Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus from 1939 to 1945, the 50th United States Secretary of the Navy from 1949 to 1951, and ...

Francis P. Matthews
requested that the USO be reactivated "to provide support for the men and women of the armed forces with help of the American people." According to war historian Paul Edwards, between 1952 and 1953, not a day went by without the USO providing services somewhere in Korea. At home or overseas, in 1952 it was serving 3.5 million in the armed forces using much the same methods of operation as it did in World War II. Many stars, both well-known and new, came to perform, including
Bob Hope Leslie Townes "Bob" Hope (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was a British-American British American usually refers to Americans Americans are the Citizenship of the United States, citizens and United States nationality law, nati ...

Bob Hope
,
Errol Flynn Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn (20 June 1909 – 14 October 1959) was an Australian-American actor. Considered the natural successor to Douglas Fairbanks Douglas Elton Fairbanks Sr. (born Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman; May 23, 1883 – December ...

Errol Flynn
,
Debbie Reynolds Mary Frances "Debbie" Reynolds (April 1, 1932 – December 28, 2016) was an American actress, singer, and businesswoman. Her career spanned almost 70 years. She was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer for her portraya ...

Debbie Reynolds
,
Piper Laurie Piper Laurie (born Rosetta Jacobs; January 22, 1932) is an American stage and screen actress known for her roles in the films ''The Hustler (film), The Hustler'' (1961), ''Carrie (1976 film), Carrie'' (1976), and ''Children of a Lesser God (film ...
,
Jane Russell Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell (June 21, 1921 – February 28, 2011) was an American actress, singer, and model. She is known as one of Hollywood's leading sex symbols in the 1940s and 1950s. Russell moved from the Midwest The midwestern ...
,
Paul Douglas Paul Howard Douglas (March 26, 1892 – September 24, 1976) was an American politician and Georgist Georgism, also called in modern times geoism and known historically as the single tax movement, is an economic ideology holding that, although ...
,
Terry MooreTerry Moore may refer to: *Terry Moore (actress) (born 1929), American film actress *Terry Moore (Australian footballer) (born 1951), Australian rules footballer *Terry Moore (baseball) (1912–1995), American Major League Baseball player *Terry ...
,
Marilyn Monroe Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson; June 1, 1926 – August 4, 1962) was an American actress, model and singer. Famous for playing comedic " blonde bombshell" characters, she became one of the most popular sex symbol A sex ...

Marilyn Monroe
,
Danny Kaye Danny Kaye (born David Daniel Kaminsky; yi, דוד־דניאל קאַמינסקי; January 18, 1911 – March 3, 1987) was an American actor, singer, dancer, comedian, musician, philanthropist, and cook. His performances featured physical comed ...

Danny Kaye
,
Rory Calhoun Rory Calhoun (born Francis Timothy McCown, August 8, 1922April 28, 1999) was an American film and television actor, screenwriter and producer. He starred in numerous Westerns in the 1950s and 1960s, and appeared in supporting roles in films such ...
,
Mickey Rooney Mickey Rooney (born Joseph Yule Jr.; September 23, 1920 – April 6, 2014) was an American actor, producer, radio entertainer and vaudevillian. In a career spanning nine decades and continuing until his death, he appeared in more than 300 films, ...

Mickey Rooney
, Linda Coleman,
Al Jolson Al Jolson (born Asa Yoelson; c. 1885 – October 23, 1950) was an American singer, comedian, and actor. Jolson was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer" at the peak of his career and has been referred to by modern critics as "the king of bl ...
and many others. were entertained by artists such as Pérez Prado's Show featuring Evita Muñoz as his invited
mambo Mambo most often refers to: *Mambo (music), a Cuban musical form *Mambo (dance), a dance corresponding to mambo music Mambo may also refer to: Music *Mambo section, a section in arrangements of some types of Afro-Caribbean music, particularl ...
dancer. Jolson was the first to volunteer, but due to lack of USO funds traveled to Korea at his own expense (he was also the first to entertain troops during World War II). Veterans have recalled many of the USOs events, sometimes in vivid detail: Author Linda Granfield in describing the show, writes, "For two hours, the men could forget they were soldiers at war. After the show, they returned to the fighting in the hills. Some in that audience never made it back." By the end of the war, over 113,000 American USO volunteers were working at 294 centers at home and abroad.Edwards, Paul M. ''The Korean War'', Greenwood Publishing Group (2006) And 126 units had given 5,422 performances to servicemen in Korea and the wounded in Japan.


Vietnam War

The USO was in
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...
before the first combat troops arrived, with the first USO club opened in Saigon in April 1963. The 23 centers in Vietnam and
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
served as many as a million service members a month, and the USO presented more than 5,000 performances during the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
featuring stars such as
John Wayne Marion Robert Morrison (May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979), known professionally as John Wayne and nicknamed Duke, was an American actor and filmmaker who became a Pop icon, popular icon through his starring roles in films made during Hollywood's ...

John Wayne
,
Ann-Margret Ann-Margret Olsson (born April 28, 1941), known mononymously as Ann-Margret, is a Swedish-American actress, singer, and dancer. As an actress, Ann-Margret is known for her roles in ''Bye Bye Birdie ''Bye Bye Birdie'' is a musical theatre, st ...

Ann-Margret
,
Sammy Davis Jr. Samuel George Davis Jr. (December 8, 1925 – May 16, 1990) was an American singer, dancer, actor, vaudevillian and comedian whom critic Randy Blaser called "the greatest entertainer ever to grace a stage in these United States". At age th ...
,
Raymond Burr William Raymond Stacy Burr (May 21, 1917September 12, 1993) was a Canadian-American actor known for his lengthy Hollywood film career and his title roles in the television dramas '' Perry Mason'' and '' Ironside''. Burr's early acting career in ...
,
Phyllis Diller Phyllis Ada Diller (née__NOTOC__ A birth name is the name of the person given upon their birth. The term may be applied to the surname, the given name or to the entire name. Where births are required to be officially registered, the entire n ...
,
Martha Raye Martha Raye (born Margy Reed; August 27, 1916 – October 19, 1994), nicknamed The Big Mouth, was an American comic actress and singer who performed in movies, and later on television. She also acted in plays, including Broadway. She was honored ...
,
Joey Heatherton Davenie Johanna "Joey" Heatherton (born September 14, 1944) is an American actress, dancer, and singer. A sex symbol A sex symbol is a celebrity or Character (arts), fictional character widely considered to be Sexual attraction, sexually att ...
,
Wayne Newton Carson Wayne Newton (born April 3, 1942) is an American singer and actor. One of the best-known entertainers in Las Vegas, he is known by the nicknames The Midnight Idol, Mr. Las Vegas and Mr. Entertainment. His well known songs include 1972's "D ...

Wayne Newton
,
Jayne Mansfield Jayne Mansfield (born Vera Jayne Palmer; April 19, 1933 – June 29, 1967) was an American film, theater, and television actress. She was also a singer and nightclub entertainer as well as one of the early ''Playboy'' Playmates. She was a major ...
,
Redd Foxx John Elroy Sanford (December 9, 1922 – October 11, 1991), better known by his stage name Redd Foxx, was an American Stand-up comedy, stand-up comedian and actor. Foxx gained success with his raunchy nightclub acts during the civil rights mov ...
,
Rosey Grier Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier (born July 14, 1932) is an American actor, singer, Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of ...

Rosey Grier
,
Anita Bryant Anita Jane Bryant (born March 25, 1940) is an American singer and anti-gay rights activist. She scored four Top 40 hits in the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including " Paper Roses" that reached No. 5 on the charts. She is also ...
,
Nancy Sinatra Nancy Sandra Sinatra (born June 8, 1940) is an American singer and actress. She is the elder daughter of and Nancy Sinatra ( Barbato), and is best known for her 1966 ". Nancy Sinatra began her career as a singer and actress in November 1957 w ...
,
Jimmy Hawkins James F. Hawkins (born November 13, 1941) is an American former actor, producer and writer. He is probably best-known for his TV roles in shows like '' Annie Oakley'', ''The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet'', ''Leave It To Beaver'' and ''The Donn ...
,
Jimmy Boyd Jimmy Devon Boyd (January 9, 1939 – March 7, 2009) was an American singer, musician, and actor known for his recording of the song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". Early years Boyd was born in Mississippi to Leslie and Winnie Boyd. His fath ...
,
Lola Falana Loletha Elayne Falana or Loletha Elaine Falana (sources differ) (born September 11, 1942), better known by her stage name Lola Falana, is an American singer, dancer, model and actress. Early life and career Lola Falana was born in Camden, New ...
,
George Peppard George Peppard (; October 1, 1928 – May 8, 1994) was an American actor. He is best remembered for his role as struggling writer Paul Varjak in the 1961 film ''Breakfast at Tiffany's (film), Breakfast at Tiffany's'', and for playing command ...
and
Bob Hope Leslie Townes "Bob" Hope (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was a British-American British American usually refers to Americans Americans are the Citizenship of the United States, citizens and United States nationality law, nati ...

Bob Hope
.
Philip Ahn Philip Ahn (born Pil Lip Ahn (), March 29, 1905 – February 28, 1978) was an American actor and activist of Korean descent. With over 180 film and television credits between 1935 and 1978, he was one of the most recognizable and prolific As ...

Philip Ahn
, the first actor of Korean descent to become a Hollywood star, became the first Asian American USO performer to entertain troops in Vietnam. In addition, the USO operated centers at major U.S. airports to provide a
lounge Lounge may refer to: Architecture * Lounge, the living room of a dwelling * Lounge, a public waiting area in a hotel's lobby (room), lobby * Lounge, a style of commercial alcohol-Bar (establishment), bar * Airport lounge, or train lounge (e.g., ...
and place to sleep for American servicemen between their flights. Vietnam historian James Westheider noted that the USO "tried to bring a little America to Vietnam." Volunteer American civilians, who did 18-month tours, staffed the clubs. According to Westheider, "The young women wore miniskirts – no slacks were allowed." Each club had a snack bar, gift shops, a barbershop, photo developing, overseas phone lines, and hot showers.Westheider, James E. ''The Vietnam War'', Greenwood Publishing Group (2007) When providing entertainment, the USO did its best to attract known stars from back home to help relieve the stresses of war. Senator
John Kerry John Forbes Kerry (born December 11, 1943) is an American politician and diplomat, currently serving as the first United States special presidential envoy for climate. He previously served as the List of Secretaries of State of the United S ...

John Kerry
recalled how important this kind of diversion would become. He remembered a "Bob Hope Follies" USO show, which included actress
Ann-Margret Ann-Margret Olsson (born April 28, 1941), known mononymously as Ann-Margret, is a Swedish-American actress, singer, and dancer. As an actress, Ann-Margret is known for her roles in ''Bye Bye Birdie ''Bye Bye Birdie'' is a musical theatre, st ...

Ann-Margret
, Miss America, football star
Rosey Grier Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier (born July 14, 1932) is an American actor, singer, Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of ...

Rosey Grier
, and others. According to Kerry biographer Douglas Brinkley, "When the Swift finally made it back to the My Tho River, the crew confronted the heartbreaking sight of a huge Navy landing craft ferrying the troops back. The USO show was over." Kerry later wrote, "The visions of Ann Margret and Miss America and all the other titillating personalities who would have made us feel so at home hung around us for a while until we saw three Chinook helicopters take off from the field and presumed that our dreams had gone with them." But for GIs who saw the show, it was worth it: "We turned to watch Ann perform, and for about two minutes of American beauty, the war was forgotten. Everyone fully understood just what was really worth fighting for. ... The show was fantastic, but the escape the Bob Hope tour provided us in expectation for days before, and after, helped us keep in touch with what we were there for – God, Country, apple pie ... and Ann-Margret!" The visits by the stars meant a lot to the men and women in Vietnam. "It was not just the entertainment; it meant that they were not forgotten that far away from home," writes Westheider. He adds that the tours made a "deep impression" on the stars as well. Singer and actress
Connie Stevens Connie Stevens (born Concetta Rosalie Ann Ingolia; August 8, 1938) is an American actress, director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor and singer. Born in Brooklyn, New York City to musician parents, Stevens was raised there until ...

Connie Stevens
remembered her 1969 tour with Bob Hope, when she decided to go despite the fact she had two children both under the age of two. Today, she claims that "veterans were still stopping her and thanking her for visiting Vietnam over 30 years later." Similarly,
Ann-Margret Ann-Margret Olsson (born April 28, 1941), known mononymously as Ann-Margret, is a Swedish-American actress, singer, and dancer. As an actress, Ann-Margret is known for her roles in ''Bye Bye Birdie ''Bye Bye Birdie'' is a musical theatre, st ...

Ann-Margret
during a book signing was approached by a veteran who asked her to sign a photo he took of her performing in Vietnam. Although the book's publishing representative for the signing event would not allow her to sign anything other than her book, the veteran's wife recalls: In November–December 1968 the Sig Sakowitz troop from Chicago performed over 36 shows in South Vietnam with the USO in: Pleiku, Dalat, Danang, Cam Ran Bay, Phu Bai, Phu Loy, Hue, Natrang, Tan Son Nhut Airbase, Saigon and places in the boonies known only to military intelligence and the lonely soldiers yearning for a taste of home. The troop consisted of Doublemint Twins Terrie and Jennie Frankel, Gaslight Club singer Sara Sue, Comedian Tony Diamond and personality Sig Sakowitz. Shows were also performed with comedian Joey Bishop of the Rat Pack. George Peppard, successful star of stage, TV and motion pictures, arrived in Vietnam for a USO HANDSHAKE TOUR in 1970 to visit the military in the hospitals and out in the "boonies."... He showed a keen interest in the men's mission while they were hungry for news of life back in the "World."... Polaroid pictures were taken by Mr. Peppard's escort officer, autographed, and given to the men.


Lebanese peacekeeping

In 1983, a bloody
civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publis ...
was raging in Lebanon. In an effort to stop the violence in the region a
Multinational Force A Multinational force is a multinational operation which may be Defense (military), defensive, Offensive (military), offensive, or for peacekeeping purposes. In multinational operations, many countries form an alliance to carry them out. Multinatio ...
of peacekeepers composed largely of U.S., Italian and French armed service members was created and sent to the region to attempt a restoration of order. As part of the multinational force the United States mobilized an expeditionary force composed of members of the
United States Marine Corps The United States Marine Corps (USMC), also referred to as the United States Marines, is the maritime land force service branch Military branch (also service branch or armed service) is according to common standard the subdivision of the na ...
and elements of the United States Sixth Fleet which operated out of the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
. Carrying on a tradition he had begun in World War II of spending Christmas with U.S. forces overseas,
Bob Hope Leslie Townes "Bob" Hope (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was a British-American British American usually refers to Americans Americans are the Citizenship of the United States, citizens and United States nationality law, nati ...

Bob Hope
and his troupe of entertainers gave a show on board the battleship on December 24, 1983. Four hundred Marines stationed in Beirut attended the show.


Italy

American troops have been deployed in
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
since the end of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. In 1988, a car bomb targeted the USO club in Naples, which killed five people including a U.S. Navy officer.


Gulf War

To support troops participating in
Operation Desert Shield The Gulf War was a war waged by coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States against Iraq Iraq ( ar, ٱلْعِرَاق, '; ku, عێراق '), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِر ...
, USO centers opened in
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...

Saudi Arabia
. Entertainers performing for the troops included
Bob Hope Leslie Townes "Bob" Hope (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was a British-American British American usually refers to Americans Americans are the Citizenship of the United States, citizens and United States nationality law, nati ...

Bob Hope
,
Jay Leno James Douglas Muir Leno (; born April 28, 1950) is an American television host, comedian, and writer. After doing stand-up comedy for years, he became the host of NBC's ''The Tonight Show with Jay Leno'' from 1992 to 2009. Beginning in Septemb ...

Jay Leno
,
Steve Martin Stephen Glenn Martin (born August 14, 1945) is an American actor, comedian, writer, producer, and musician. He has earned five Grammy Awards The Grammy Award (stylized as GRAMMY, originally called Gramophone Award), or just Grammy, is an aw ...

Steve Martin
,
Delta Burke Delta Ramona Leah Burke (born July 30, 1956) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), c ...
,
Ann Jillian Ann Jillian (born Ann Jura Nauseda; January 29, 1950) is an American actress whose career began as a child actress in the 1960s. She is best known for her role as the sultry Cassie Cranston on the 1980s sitcom '' It's a Living''. Early life and ...
,
Gerald McRaney Gerald Lee McRaney (born August 19, 1947) is an American television Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome (black and white), or in color, a ...

Gerald McRaney
,
Marie Osmond Olive Marie Osmond (born October 13, 1959) is an American singer, actress, author, philanthropist, talk show host and a member of the show business family the Osmonds The Osmonds are an American family music group who reached the height o ...

Marie Osmond
, the
Pointer Sisters The Pointer Sisters are an American R&B singing group from Oakland Oakland is the largest city and the county seat A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or Parish (administrative division ...
, country singer Gina James, and Bob Hope on his final USO tour.


Afghanistan and Iraq

To support troops participating in Operations
Enduring Freedom Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) was the official name used by the U.S. government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the national government of the United States The U ...
and
Iraqi Freedom The Iraq WarThe conflict is also known as the Second Gulf War or the Third Gulf War by those who consider the Iran–Iraq War , commander1 = Ruhollah Khomeini , commander2 = , units1 = see Order of battle duri ...
, USO centers opened in
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
,
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
,
Kuwait Kuwait (; ar, الكويت ', or ), officially the State of Kuwait ( ar, دولة الكويت '), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regi ...

Kuwait
and
Qatar Qatar (, , or ; ar, قطر, Qaṭar ; local vernacular pronunciation: ), officially the State of Qatar,) is a country in Western Asia. It occupies the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and shares it ...

Qatar
. USO centers number more than 160 around the world. In those years, the USO opened centers at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Carson, Colorado; and Afghanistan. The USO provides a variety of programs and services, including orientation programs, family events, free Internet and e-mail access, free drinks and snacks, free phone calls home and recreation services. One of the newer programs, called "USO in a Box," delivers program materials ranging from DVD players and videos to musical instruments to remote forward operating bases in Afghanistan. U.S. military personnel and their families visit USO centers more than eight million times each year. Bruce Willis visited Baghdad, Camp Kir Kush and Camp Caldwell, Iraq around December 2003. Mr. Willis visited military bases in Iraq during his visit in Iraq. From June 8 to 11, 2009, TV personality
Stephen Colbert Stephen Tyrone Colbert ( ; born May 13, 1964) is an American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor, and television host. He is best known for hosting the satirical Comedy Central program ''The Colbert Report'' from 2005 to ...

Stephen Colbert
traveled to Iraq to film his show ''
The Colbert Report ''The Colbert Report'' ( ) is an American late-night talk Talk may refer to: Communication * Communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy ...
'' for four days in a USO sponsored event. Other entertainers who have traveled to the Middle East to perform include
Al Franken Alan Stuart Franken (born May 21, 1951) is an American comedian, politician, media personality, and author who served as a United States senator The United States Senate is the Upper house, upper chamber of the United States Congress, w ...
(who made six USO tours in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan before being elected a United States Senator from Minnesota),
Robin Williams Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951August 11, 2014) was an American actor and comedian. Known for his improvisation Improvisation is the activity of making or doing something not planned beforehand, using whatever can be found. Impro ...

Robin Williams
,
Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson (born 17 May 1962) is a Scottish-born American television host, comedian, author, and actor, best known for hosting the CBS late-night talk show '' The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson'' (2005–14), for which he won a Peabod ...
,
Gary Sinise Gary Alan Sinise (; born March 17, 1955) is an American actor. Among other awards, he has won a Primetime Emmy Award The Primetime Emmy Awards are bestowed by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences The Academy of Television Arts & Sci ...

Gary Sinise
,
Zac Brown Zachry Alexander Brown (born on July 31, 1978 in Atlanta, Georgia Atlanta () is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Georgia (U.S. state), most populous city of the U.S. state of Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia. With ...

Zac Brown
,
Five Finger Death Punch Five Finger Death Punch, also abbreviated as 5FDP or FFDP, is an American heavy metal Heavy metal may refer to: *Heavy metals, a loose category of relatively dense metals and metalloids **Toxic heavy metal, any heavy metal chemical element ...
,
Artie Lange Arthur Steven Lange Jr. (born October 11, 1967) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, and radio personality best known for his tenures on the sketch comedy series '' Mad TV'' from 1995 to 1997 and '' The Howard Stern Show'' from 2001 to 2009. R ...
,
Gary Dell'Abate Gary Dell'Abate (born March 14, 1961), also known by the nickname Baba Booey, is an American radio producer who has been the executive producer of ''The Howard Stern Show ''The Howard Stern Show'' is a radio show hosted by American radio persona ...

Gary Dell'Abate
,
Nick DiPaolo Nicholas Rocco Di Paolo (born January 31, 1962) is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor, radio personality and podcast host best known for his appearances as a regular on '' Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn'', the '' Comedy Central Roasts'', ' ...
,
Jim Florentine James Florentine (born August 18, 1964) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book or play, and is also considered a writer. More broadly defined, an author is "the ...

Jim Florentine
,
Jim NortonJim, Jimmy, or James Norton may refer to: Actors * James Norton (actor) (born 1985), English actor * Jim Norton (Irish actor) (born 1938), Irish actor * Jim Norton (comedian) (born 1968), American comedian and actor Politicians * James Norton Jr. (1 ...
,
Dave Attell David Attell (born 1965) is an American stand-up comedian, actor and writer best known as the host of Comedy Central Comedy Central (Formerly Styled As COMEDY ꓶⱯꓤꓕNƎꓛ) is an American basic cable television channel, channel owned ...
,
Avenged Sevenfold Avenged Sevenfold (sometimes abbreviated as A7X) is an American Heavy metal music, heavy metal band from Huntington Beach, California, formed in 1999. The band's current lineup consists of lead vocalist M. Shadows, rhythm guitarist and backing ...
,
Jessica Simpson Jessica Ann Johnson (née Simpson; born July 10, 1980) is an American singer, actress, fashion designer, and author. After performing in church choirs as a child, Simpson signed with Columbia Records in 1997, at age 17. Her debut studio album, ...

Jessica Simpson
,
Carrie Underwood Carrie Marie Underwood (born March 10, 1983) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, author, entrepreneur, and record producer. She rose to prominence after winning the American Idol (season 4), fourth season of ''American Idol'' in 2005. H ...

Carrie Underwood
,
Drowning Pool Drowning Pool is an American Rock music, rock band formed in Dallas, Texas in 1996. The band was named after the 1975 film ''The Drowning Pool (film), The Drowning Pool''. Since its formation, the band has consisted of guitarist C.J. Pierce, ba ...
,
Toby Keith Toby Keith Covel (born July 8, 1961) is an American country music, country singer, songwriter, actor, and record producer. Keith released his first four studio albums—1993's ''Toby Keith (album), Toby Keith'', 1994's ''Boomtown (Toby Keith alb ...
(with special guest Gina James),
Montgomery Gentry Montgomery Gentry is an American country music Country music is a blend of popular musical forms originally found in the Southern United States and the Appalachian Mountains. The term also includes Western music (North America) which had similar o ...
,
Kellie Pickler Kellie Dawn Pickler (born June 28, 1986) is an American country music Country music is a blend of popular musical forms originally found in the Southern United States and the Appalachian Mountains. The term also includes Western music (North Ame ...

Kellie Pickler
, Mayra Veronica,
Carlos Mencia Ned Arnel Mencia (born October 22, 1967), known professionally as Carlos Mencia (and previously Ned Holness) is a Honduran-born American comedian, writer, and actor. His style of comedy is often political and involves issues of race, culture ...
,
O.A.R. O.A.R. (short for of a revolution) is an American rock band, founded in 1996 in Rockville, Maryland Rockville is a city that serves as the county seat of Montgomery County, Maryland, Montgomery County, Maryland, United States, part of the Baltim ...
,
Trace Adkins Tracy Darrell Adkins (born January 13, 1962) is an American country music Country (also called country and western) is a genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences throu ...

Trace Adkins
,
Kathleen Madigan Kathleen Madigan (born September 30, 1965) is an United States, American Stand up comedy, comedian and celebrity, TV personality. In addition to her stand up comedy performances, she is a regular guest on a variety of U.S. television programs. Ear ...
,
Louis C.K. Louis Székely (; born September 12, 1967), known professionally as Louis C.K. (), is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor, and filmmaker. C.K. won three Peabody Awards The George Foster Peabody Awards (or simply Peabody Awards or t ...
,
Dane Cook Dane Jeffrey Cook (born March 18, 1972) is an American stand-up comedian and film actor. He has released six comedy albums: ''Harmful If Swallowed''; ''Retaliation (Dane Cook album), Retaliation''; ''Dane Cook: Vicious Circle, Vicious Circle''; ...

Dane Cook
,
Lewis Black Lewis Niles Black (born August 30, 1948) is an American stand-up comedian. His comedy routines often escalate into angry rants about history, politics, religion, or any other cultural trends. He hosted the Comedy Central Comedy Central (Formerl ...
,
Third Day Third Day was a Christian rock band formed in Marietta, Georgia during the 1990s. The band was founded by lead singer Mac Powell, guitarist Mark David Lee, Mark Lee (both of whom were the only constant members) and Billy Wilkins. Drummer David ...
,
Colin Quinn Colin Edward Quinn (born June 6, 1959) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, and writer. On television, he is best known for his work as a cast member on ''Saturday Night Live'', where he anchored Weekend Update; on MTV's 1980s game show ''Remo ...
,
Kathy Griffin Kathleen Mary Griffin (born November 4, 1960) is an American comedian and actress who has starred in television comedy specials and has released comedy albums. In 2007 and 2008, Griffin won Primetime Emmy Awards for her reality show ''Kathy G ...
and Neil McCoy. The USO has provided services for the annual "
Tribute to the Troops ''WWE Tribute to the Troops'' is an annual professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically between performe ...
" special of World Wrestling Entertainment. They have aired WWE RAW from Afghanistan and Iraq every Christmas in the United States in a pre-taped show from the combat zone. On July 16, 2012, Hollywood actor Charlie Sheen announced that he would donate at least $1 million to the USO. This would be among the largest single monetary donations ever given to the organization.


Services

The USO provides services to troops before, during, and after deployment through staffed and unstaffed USO centers inside and outside combat zones.


Operation Phone Home

USO centers in combat zones provide free phone calls home and internet access to service members through its private telephone network and high-speed internet.


Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program

The Bob Hope Legacy Reading program allows service members record and send a video of themselves reading a book to their children at home.


USO Care Package Program

The organization sends toiletry and snack care packages to servicemen including travel-sized hygiene products of which 170,000 were shipped in 2019, healthy snacks, and drink mixes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization assembled thousands of care packages for troops in mandatory 14-day quarantine en-route home.


USO Special Delivery

The USO hosts baby showers for military parents-to-be. The baby showers allow pregnant military spouses to network and form a community while their spouses are deployed.


USO2GO

USO2GO is a service that provides customizable kits to military servicemen stationed in areas without a USO Center containing toiletries and snacks, furniture, electronics, and/or anything else they might need. Since 2008, the USO has shipped more than 2,000 kits to places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, and others.


Entertainment

The USO has hosted more than 8.1 million center celebrity visits across the world.


Honoring Bob Hope

In 1997, the U.S. Congress honored
Bob Hope Leslie Townes "Bob" Hope (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was a British-American British American usually refers to Americans Americans are the Citizenship of the United States, citizens and United States nationality law, nati ...

Bob Hope
by declaring him the "first and only honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces."Faith, William. ''Bob Hope: A Life in Comedy'', Da Capo Press (2003) According to Hope biographer William Faith, his reputation has become ingrained in the "American consciousness" because he had flown millions of miles to entertain G.I.s during both wartime and peace. His contribution to the USO began in 1941 and ended with Operation Desert Shield (Gulf War), Operation Desert Shield in 1991, spending 48 Christmases overseas with American service personnel. He was always treated as "an asset to the U.S. Government with his willingness to entertain whenever they needed him."Faith, William. ''Bob Hope: A Life in Comedy'', Da Capo Press (2003) After WWII was declared over, the USO had sent out an "impassioned bulletin" asking entertainers not to abandon the GIs now that the war was over. Hope was among the first to say yes. The Military Order of the Purple Heart notes that "his contributions to the USO are well known: they are legend." As a result of his non-stop entertainment to both the civilian population and the military, he received numerous other honors over the years: a C-17 Globemaster III, C-17 Air Force plane was named ''The Spirit of Bob Hope''; a naval vessel was named the USNS Bob Hope, USNS ''Bob Hope''; and streets, schools, hospitals, and a golf tournament were also named in his honor. A Senate resolution declared him "a part of American folklore." The ''Guinness Book of Records'' called him the most honored entertainer ever. And during his 1993 televised birthday celebration, when he turned 90, General Colin Powell saluted Hope "for his tireless USO trouping", which was followed by onstage tributes from all branches of the armed forces. General William Westmoreland spoke about his loyalty to the GI throughout the gritty Vietnam years. And bandleader Les Brown (bandleader), Les Brown, who was with him during many of his tours, mentioned that his band "had seen more of Hope's ass in the last forty years than any of Hope's immediate family." War correspondent Quentin Reynolds wrote in 1943, "He and his troupe would do 300 miles in a jeep, and give four shows ... One of the generals said Hope was a first rate military target since he was worth a division; that that's about 15,000 men. Presumably the Nazis appreciated Hope's value, since they thrice bombed towns while the comic was there." During the Vietnam War years he gave a number of high-rating television specials and sensed that the media had given him a broad endorsement for continuing on his GI mercy missions. Soon after his Christmas show in Saigon in 1967, he learned that the Vietcong had planned a terrorist attack at his hotel against him and his entire troupe, missing him by ten minutes. He was later "mystified," writes Faith, "and ... increasingly intolerant of the pockets of dissent. Draft-card burnings on college campuses angered him ..." "Can you imagine," Hope wrote in a magazine article, "... that people in America are burning their draft cards to show their opposition and that some of them are actually rooting for your defeat?" In the spring of 1973, Hope began writing his fifth book, ''The Last Christmas Show'', which was dedicated to "the men and women of the armed forces and to those who also served by worrying and waiting." He signed over his royalties to the USO. His final Christmas show was during Operation Desert Shield (Gulf War), Operation Desert Shield in 1990. The show was not easy, notes Faith. "There were so many restrictions. Hope's jokes were monitored by the State Department to avoid offending the Saudis ... and the media was restricted from covering the shows ... Because in Saudi Arabia national custom prescribes that women must be veiled in public,
Ann Jillian Ann Jillian (born Ann Jura Nauseda; January 29, 1950) is an American actress whose career began as a child actress in the 1960s. She is best known for her role as the sultry Cassie Cranston on the 1980s sitcom '' It's a Living''. Early life and ...
,
Marie Osmond Olive Marie Osmond (born October 13, 1959) is an American singer, actress, author, philanthropist, talk show host and a member of the show business family the Osmonds The Osmonds are an American family music group who reached the height o ...

Marie Osmond
, and the
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were left off Hope's Christmas Eve show." In 2009,
Stephen Colbert Stephen Tyrone Colbert ( ; born May 13, 1964) is an American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor, and television host. He is best known for hosting the satirical Comedy Central program ''The Colbert Report'' from 2005 to ...

Stephen Colbert
performing his last episode of weeklong taping in Iraq for his ''
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'' show, carried a golf club on stage and dedicated it to
Bob Hope Leslie Townes "Bob" Hope (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was a British-American British American usually refers to Americans Americans are the Citizenship of the United States, citizens and United States nationality law, nati ...

Bob Hope
's service for the USO.


Accountability

The USO has a paid staff of approximately 800. Additionally, more than 44,000 USO volunteers provide an estimated 371,417 hours of service annually. As reported by the USO, the unpaid volunteer to paid employee ratio overseas is 20 to 1. Within the United States, the number is "significantly higher." The Charity Navigator gave the United Service Organizations a 3-star overall rating, a 2-star financial rating and a 4-star accountability and transparency rating.United Service Organizations
- Charity Navigator


See also

* Gilla Gerzon (Former director, USO Haifa) * Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA), an organisation established to provide entertainment for British armed forces personnel during World War II


References


External links

*
bobhopeuso.org

USO Clubs in World War II

"Entertaining the Troops" film
public television, 1 hour
Bob Hope USO studio show video recording
* Movie clips
WWII tour
from ''Jolson Sings Again'' (1949) * USO World Gala, 2008

Text and video, October 1, 2008 * * *
USO Camp Shows publicity records, 1941–1955
held by the Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts *
United Service Organizations, Inc. : hearing before the Subcommittee on Administrative Law and Governmental Relations of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Ninety-fourth Congress, first session ... December 9, 1975.
' {{Authority control United Service Organizations, Organizations established in 1941 Non-profit organizations based in Arlington, Virginia United States military support organizations United States National Medal of Arts recipients Entertainment organizations Patriotic and national organizations chartered by the United States Congress Cultural history of World War II