Community, service members, celebrate USO’s 72nd birthday
Music fills the air, mixing with voices of people gathered for a birthday celebration. Laughter erupts from a group playing billiards, while over on the dance floor, guests move to a musical, rhythmic beat.
This was how local residents, Marines and sailors enjoyed their evening Feb. 15 at the USO on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma during a party to celebrate the USO’s 72nd birthday.
The USO is a private, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization with the mission to lift the spirits of U.S. service members and their friends and families around the world.
The party provided Marines and sailors an opportunity to socialize with the citizens of Okinawa and was a good way to boost the morale of all attendees while improving relationships between service members and the community, according to Staff Sgt. Samuel Stevens, a volunteer at the party and fixed-wing aircraft airframe mechanic with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“(This celebration) let everyone come together outside of work and have fun and encourages a positive relationship between our service members and local residents,” said Stevens.
The party featured several forms of entertainment, such as performances by a professional dance team, hula dancers and a beat boxer, as well as games, a live disc jockey and a raffle drawing for assorted prizes.
“I had a good time,” said Shori Goya, an attendee at the party. “I love doing anything that supports (the) U.S. military.”
Marines and sailors played pool with their guests and shared stories with each other while enjoying birthday cake and ice cream.
“Everyone here volunteered to help, and the party went off without any problems,” said Lance Cpl. Carl G. Slack, an attendee at the party and aircraft electrical systems technician with VMGR-152. “These kinds of events are good for getting to know our neighbors and having a good time all at once, so we were happy to help.”
Throughout the evening, music and laughter echoed and when it drew to a close, smiles could be seen everywhere as the attendees departed.
“I am glad we had such a great turnout,” said Slack. “This party was a great success.”