USO Staff Spotlight: Jeff Pitt

Jeff Pitt, USO Camp Hansen/Center Operations Specialist
Jeff Pitt, USO Camp Hansen/Center Operations Specialist

USO Staff Spotlight: Jeff Pitt

by Cindy Kirkman
USO Okinawa

Position/Title: USO Camp Hansen/Center Operations Specialist
At the USO: January 14, 2019 to Present
Center/Office location: USO Hansen

Jeff Pitt was born on July 16, 1955 in Yuma, Arizona.  He was raised in Kearny, Arizona, a small copper mining town in Pinal County until he joined the US Navy in 1974. He had on brother who was 10 years older. Coming from a Navy family, he knew which branch service he would be joining. His father was as World War II Pearl Harbor survivor and his mother worked in the Goodyear Manufacturing Plant outside of Phoenix, Arizona as a “Rosie the Riveter” on PB2Ys.

Jeff was trained as an Aircraft Structural Mechanic, AMS, at his A school where he was awarded the rank of E-4 upon graduating in the top 5% of his class. It was at his A school, where he volunteered for a flight position and was selected to become a SAR Swimmer upon passing the required physical and swim tests. He, along with three other classmates, received orders to NAS Pt Mugu PMTC in California after aircrew training which included SERE school. He was awarded his wings and Crew Chief in 1975 where he crewed on the Navy CH/HH-3s and UH/CH/HH-46s of which he spent most of his flight hours. He was awarded two Boeing Vertol Rescue citations during his time as NAS Pt Mugu as part of the air stations SAR unit. He also received a letter of commendation for his work as a crew chief on VIP flights for General Alexander Haig. Haig requested that he be his crew chief, whenever possible, when Haig attended conferences flying into Pt Mugu. Pitt was also stationed at North Island with HC-11 when his enlistment ended.

After the Navy, Pitt spent time in Colorado working, before accepting a position in his uncle’s company where Pitt lived outside Manilla in the Philippines. He enjoyed traveling to various Pacific Rim countries as a sales representative for Aviation Enterprises.

Later he went back to the states, to attend an electronics school where he received an Associates Degree in electronics and where he met his wife Melinda. They met while working together at Savin Office Equipment of Arizona and were later married. Jeff, Melinda and their adopted son Brett moved to Pennsylvania. The couple both worked for several copier service companies over the years including Ricoh North America outside Philadelphia when they retired after over 35 years in the industry.

During this time in Pennsylvania, Brett graduated from Exeter High School. Brett followed in family’s tradition of service joining the Navy where he became a Corpsman. Brett’s last duty station was in Okinawa and when he could not extend, he opted to end his enlistment here. This decision would eventually impact Jeff and Melinda as Brett met and married his wife, local Okinawan. Jeff and his wife started taking trips to Okinawa in 2011 and made a total of five trips to the island before retiring in 2018 from Ricoh, selling their home, and moving to Okinawa.

Upon arrival to Okinawa, one of Jeff’s son’s business contacts told him about an available position with the USO. Jeff applied and was accepted for the position of Center Operation Specialist at USO Camp Hansen which is where he still is today.

Why do you love working at the USO?

  1. I love meeting and interacting with the men and women who come into the USO. I like listening to their stories and backgrounds. I especially enjoy talking and getting to know our staff and volunteers. They all have great stories to tell.
  2. Although my primary job is center focused, I also enjoy being able to be involved with our remote programs. It makes me feel like a larger part of the team in supporting, not just the uniformed members of our services, but their families as well.
  3. Being a team-oriented person, I am very proud and enjoy working with the other members of the staff at the USO in carrying out our mission. It is without a doubt the best team experience I have had since I was an active duty service member myself.

What is your favorite memory of working at the USO? 
I have had many memorable moments here at the USO. But, the COMREL event last Halloween where we, as a team, dressed up in costumes from Peter Pan was so fun.  I was really enjoyed being Captain Hook. Seeing the smiles on the faces of the local children was priceless.

Which program is your favorite?
If I had to pick one program, from the past, it’s serving dinners for units that are working late. I think that program had the biggest response and reaction from those who received its benefits.

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