By Maj. Cindi King, S.C. National Guard Public AffairsJune 2, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C., June 3, 2011 -- The S.C. Army National Guard prides itself as “neighbors helping neighbors,” and stands ready to lend a hand when called upon. Thursday, it answered a “special delivery” request and supported an organization that has done so much for the military, the USO.
The USO donated a “USO in a Box,” a portable morale center to assist deploying servicemembers, at the McCrady Training Center, S.C.
The S.C. Army National Guard brought the container in via “sling-load” under a Chinook helicopter from McEntire Joint National Guard Base. As the sand-colored container’s wheels touched the ground after it swayed gently under the aircraft, hundreds of servicemembers and USO volunteers in attendance cheered.
The USO-in-a-Box will be set up at McCrady and will support servicemembers of all military branches in training there, many of whom will be completing their final training prior to an overseas deployment.
“We got the call and were requested to assist in rigging a special container from the USO,” said Master Sgt. Joe Clavon, the operations sergeant for the 351st Aviation Battalion. “At 13,500 pounds, it was the biggest and heaviest load we’ve ever rigged, and we were looking forward to helping.”
Clavon said the operation was “picture perfect” and his team of five riggers from the unit did an outstanding job.
“In a year, this facility (McCrady Training Center) can have more than 20,000 servicemembers pass through who are completing their training and going straight overseas to a deployment,” said Barbara Richburg, protocol and facilities management specialist at McCrady. “And for Soldiers in training who can’t get off post for social activities, this USO in a box gives them a place to come in, watch movies, play video games and just relax.”
The center also has a “reading room” where service members can get a recording of themselves reading a book to their child. A DVD is then made and mailed to the member’s home, Richburg said.
Col. Craig Currey, Fort Jackson’s deputy commanding officer, said the USO in a Box will be a great addition to help military personnel feel a bit of home as they train before a deployment.
Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, South Carolina adjutant general, shared a similar sentiment.
“This is a great tool for McCrady. It demonstrates the USO’s commitment and capability to project downrange and support all of our troops, especially those in theater.”