USO Service Spotlight: Phil VanEtten

Phil VanEtten, USO Okinawa Area Director
Phil VanEtten, USO Okinawa Area Director

USO Service Spotlight: Phil VanEtten

by Cindy Kirkman
USO Okinawa

Position/Title: USO Okinawa Area Director
At the USO: Jan. 4, 2016 to Present
Office location: Camp Foster

“Phil” VanEtten obtained his B.S. in Aviation Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.  He served as a Marine for 27 years in aircraft maintenance, aviation logistics, and installations logistics billets.  He obtained a M.S. in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces of the National Defense University.  He has numerous years of leadership in Defense consulting, military operations, education, training, family readiness programs, and volunteering in United States Marine Corps, Navy, Joint, and civilian environs to include small, medium, and large organizations.

In July of 2009, Phil retired from the Marine Corps and remained on Okinawa.  He first started as the Naval Aviation Enterprise advisor to the Commanding General of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.   Later, Phil led a major effort to support III Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Installations Pacific as a Program Manager.  He has been the USO Okinawa Area Director since January of 2016.

Phil hails from Bethalto, Illinois and is the father of one daughter named Christal.  He is married to the former Yoshino Hashimoto from the Tokyo area.  His interests include watching sumo and baseball and throwing darts.

Fun Questions for Phil

What’s your favorite spot or activity on Okinawa: Exploring Okinawa with my wife Yoshino.

What are your favorite hobbies: Watching Sumo and baseball, jogging, and throwing darts.

Why do you love working at the USO? I enjoy being part of an organization that gives and the USO is certainly good at giving.  The USO gives food, games, programs, smiles, and happiness to our service members and their families.  But what I really love about the USO are the people.  Our volunteers and staff are amazing and bring me great joy!  They work so hard to create and deliver fun programming every day of the year.  They don’t rest as our mission is just too important!  I can’t wait to get to work every day as I feed off their energy and motivation!  They are truly a wonderful group of professionals.

What is your favorite memory of working at the USO? There are many great memories, but I’ll have to go with a team barbeque at Okuma.  I see our staff working all the time and, for the first time, I saw all our employees relaxed and having fun.  It truly warmed my heart to see them all having so much fun as a team!!!

Which program do you want to feature from the USO?   Operation Holiday Happiness: USO Kadena will deliver stockings to service members at Kadena Air Base, Torii Station and Camp Shields. Loved ones in the U.S. can request the delivery of a stocking to their service member over the holidays. Stockings include candy, holiday messaging and a framed photo submitted by the family member.  Requests can be made at

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