Celebrity USO visit supports military Families
October 10, 2013
Military Families had the chance to meet a handful of celebrities at the USO Warrior and Family Center Friday, including Miss America 2014; Miss Maryland 2013; actor Kevin Chapman and Olympic weightlifter and professional wrestler Mark Henry.
The stars were in town for the USO of Metropolitan Washington's 6th Annual Stars and Stripes Casino Night Fundraiser later that evening, and elected to spend the afternoon talking with servicemembers and their Families on Fort Belvoir to show their support for America's Armed Forces.
"There's a number of talented celebrities out there that like to show their support of the military, so it's just a way that they can give back and just say thank you," said Pauline Ray, USO-Metro hospital services and entertainment manager. "We're going to serve lunch and have people come and meet some of these folks that show their support to our military."
More than 200 community members arrived to talk with the celebrities, take photos and get autographs, and stop by the USO kitchen for some tacos in honor of National Taco Day.
As guests walked in, members of the 2013 USO show troupe, the USO Liberty Bells, entertained them with performances of the Andrews Sisters' "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" and other patriotic songs.
Staff Sgt. Jeffery Shiposh, 1st Battalion, Warrior Transition Brigade and wrestling fan, came to meet Mark Henry.
"I was impressed by Mark Henry. I know him from WWE," Shiposh said. "He has huge fists. When we got our pictures taken, his hands are just so much bigger than a normal person's hands."
Henry, who has earned the title of "World's Strongest Man" in the past, said he was happy to visit the USO to show his support for the military.
"(At) the WWE, we pride ourselves in our respect and our support for our armed forces," he said. "I love our military. They're our heroes and we want to support them."
Likewise, actor Kevin Chapman, from the CBS show "Person of Interest," said he was inspired by the stories of wounded warriors, both at the USO and at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which he visited earlier that day.
"It was very inspirational today … to see these warriors who lost limbs in the battlefield but the best part of them is still intact, and that's their spirit. It was amazing to see the work and dedication of people working hard to get back on track. I was definitely moved," he said.
Miss Maryland 2013 Christina Denny and Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri also talked with servicemembers and posed for photos.
"Miss America has always been a symbol of patriotism and a symbol of hope for the country so it's really honoring and special to be here today," Davuluri said.
Denny added that she felt privileged to spend time learning about wounded warrior care and getting to know some of the nation's heroes.
"I support our military members with everything that they do and to have the opportunity to visit the hospital and to visit the USO today is just incredible," she said.
Sgt. Jose Villegas, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), Fort Myer, brought his 4-year-old daughter, Destiny, to see Miss America and the other celebrities.
"I think it's great that the superstars and Miss America come around to talk and show their support of the military," he said. "It's a really good morale booster. I'm sure you've noticed how many people show up -- it's not every day they get to see people like this."