USO celebrates its 81st birthday and reopening of USO Grafenwoehr
Col. Christopher Danbeck (left) and Gen. Joseph Hilbert were joined by USO Grafenwoehr Center Manager Gabe Foist and Pfc. Axel Sandoval, a small arms artillery repairman with Bravo Company, 553rd Division Sustainment Support Battalion, who is on a rotation from Fort Hood, Texas, to cut the cake in celebration of USO’s 81st birthday. (Photo Credit: Julian Temblador) VIEW ORIGINAL

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — USO Grafenwoehr reopened its doors with a brand new look on Feb. 4, just in time to celebrate the USO’s 81st birthday. In cooperation with U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria leadership, the Directorate of Public Works, tenant units and local contractors, USO Grafenwoehr worked tirelessly to remodel its new home on Tower Barracks.

During the opening ceremony, USO Area 4 Director Carly Harris detailed the long journey USO Grafenwoehr undertook to get to this point.

In October 2019, an underground pipe burst beneath USO Grafenwoehr — wreaking havoc and causing the organization to shut down temporarily and lose a large portion of its operating space. Since then, the organization worked tenaciously to remodel and upgrade its facilities, while also maintaining the ability to provide services to the community.

“Since that day, we have worked very closely with USAG Bavaria leadership and DPW to lay out the planning for this beautiful center that you see today,” Harris said. “This is the best birthday present the USO could have. We are so grateful!”

USO Grafenwoehr celebrated the USO’s 81st birthday and the ‘respawn’ of the organization’s facilities on Feb. 4. In attendance were Gen. Joseph Hilbert, commanding general of the 7th Army Training Command, and Col. Christopher Danbeck, garrison commander for USAG Bavaria.

“Thank you for what you do for the community, every day,” Danbeck said. “We are so happy that our community members can now have the full USO Grafenwoehr experience.”

Hilbert also shared remarks during the ceremony, reflecting on 81 years of USO history. He shared a memory from his childhood explaining how his grandfather, a Marine that served in WWII, had photographs from a USO event in Hawaii before he deployed in 1943.

“My personal experience with the USO is the Pat Tillman center in Bagram. When I needed a break, that’s where I would go to hang out.” Hilbert said. “I’m certain that all of you out there have your own USO stories, either from your family’s history or your own personal experience … To the USO team that’s here, thanks very much. To be a home away from home for Soldiers — that’s what the USO has done for the past 81 years.”

Danbeck and Hilbert were joined by USO Grafenwoehr Center Manager Gabe Foist and Pfc. Axel Sandoval, a small arms artillery repairman with Bravo Company, 553rd Division Sustainment Support Battalion, who is on a rotation from Fort Hood, Texas, to cut the cake in celebration of USO’s 81st birthday.

USO Grafenwoehr’s newly remodeled facility features a movie room, a gaming room (with four PlayStation 5s), a ping-pong table, a pool table, the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program and a children’s area. Additionally, readily available are snacks, drinks and food, multiple TVs, computers, chairs, tables and booths to relax in. This location will also serve as the region’s gaming hub, where service members can participate in online gaming events.

Watch video highlights of the reopening on the USAG Bavaria Instagram Account.