USO Honors Some of Our Finest
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Posted by: S. Ward Casscells, M.D.
Wow! How does the USO outdo itself year after year? Since 1941 the USO has supported our troops, and entertained as no one else can. This year the brass and celebrities converged on Washington to honor four enlisted heroes, some dedicated volunteers, and one of the military's—indeed, the nation's—truest friends: Senator John W. Warner of Virginia.
Enlisting in the Navy in January 1945 at age 17, seaman Warner subsequently found time to squeeze in college (William and Mary) and then law school at University of Virginia, which he interrupted in 1950 for deployment to Korea, this time as a Marine 2nd Lieutenant.
From 1972-1977 he served as Secretary of the Navy, then five terms as Senator, compiling an unparalleled record of bipartisan leadership and devotion to the military as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Among the many reasons he was honored with the Spirit of the USO award was his sponsorship of TRICARE for Life.
Honoring Senator Warner and all those who serve were the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen and advocate for military families Deb Mullen, prior Chairmen Peter Pace (Gen., USMC, Ret.) and Richard B. Myers (Gen., USAF, Ret.), VCJCS James "Hoss" Cartwright and predecessor Adm. Ed Giambastiani, ACMC Gen. James Amos, USMC, USCG CDT Adm. Thad Allen, VCNO Adm. Patrick Walsh, Congressional leaders including Reps. Chet Edwards, John Dingell, and Sen. N. Michael Enzi, and Gov. George Voinovich, Sgt. Maj. Ken Preston, USA, and MOAA CEO Adm. (Ret.) Norbert Ryan.
Also present were the former Secretary of Health and Human Services Governor Tommy Thompson, award-winning journalists Kimberly Dozier, an advocate for those who (like her) survived an IED blast, and Mike Wallace, plus Miss America, pro athletes, and celebrities like Robin Williams, who has good-naturedly gotten over the shock of a few thousand soldiers and Marines suddenly turning their backs to him in Iraq (as they about-faced at Colors). He was, as expected, outrageously funny.
What was not expected was the appearance of President Bush, eliciting HOOAHs that the Marines then bested with their OORAHs . His heartfelt tribute to Senator Warner and to the troops and their families was matched by that of Adm. Mullen, who called us to support the families "of all who come home scarred or scared.”
Those of us in the Military Health System took special pride in the fact that the Army service person of the year was our own medic from Texas, Monica Brown, now SSG, whose Silver Star was only the second awarded to a woman since World War II, and the Navy honoree was Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class, Joshua Simpson. Together these heroes saved 22 soldiers and Marines, at great risk to their own lives.
We were also glad to see my predecessor Dr. Winkenwerder, and Dr. Dave Tornberg and so many medical companies supporting the event, including TriWest and its CEO, Dave McIntyre, who chaired the event for the seventh—count ’em—year in a row.
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