Guam USO celebrates service members, volunteers
Service members and island residents gathered to celebrate the Guam USO’s Seventh Annual Six-Star Service Salute at the Hyatt Regency Guam in Tumon Aug. 25.
The event, themed “With You All the Way,” highlighted the support for service members and volunteers.
“The USO Service Salute takes place around the world each year to honor our outstanding enlisted service members throughout all branches of service,” said USO Area Director Hawaii and Guam Leigh Graham. “The event tonight is a culmination of a tremendous amount of donation from our community who absolutely loves our military, our volunteers and our tremendous branches of service, all of who have played a great part in making this happen.”
The event kicked off with The Star Spangled Banner sung by the Victory Belles, official performers of the National World War II Museum.
As guests were seated to enjoy their meals, they were treated to local performer Reed Meyer, who serenaded attendees.
Later in the evening, special guest retired U.S. Army Sgt. Richard Yarosh, who was severely injured while deployed to Afghanistan in 2006, shared his story with attendees.
“I want to say thank you for your service,” he said to fellow service members. “I say that a lot and the biggest response I get is that, ‘I didn’t serve like you did.’ I signed on that same dotted line. I didn’t sign up for this, I didn’t know this would happen. Anything can happen at anytime.”
Yarosh expressed that the time he spent in the military gave him pride, not only in himself but also in his country.
“I’m so proud of my service,” he said. “I’m proud of the flag that I fly under. Now that flag means so much to me.”
The main highlight of the evening was the recognition and awarding of five Service Members of the Year and the Guam USO Volunteer of the Year.
• Navy Service Member of the Year – Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (FMF) Sergio S. Flores, U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) Guam
• Air Force Service Member of the Year – Senior Airman John Matlock, 36th Medical Group, Andersen Air Force Base
• Coast Guard Service Member of the Year – Machinery Technician 1st Class Michael T. Genereux, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam
• Marine Corps Service Member of the Year – Sgt. Albert C. Opena III, Marine Forces Pacific Forward Guam and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
• Guam National Guard Service Member of the Year – Senior Airman Anthony Q. Dulla, 254th Security Forces Squadron
• Guam USO Volunteer of the Year – Maria Williams
Flores was awarded as a Service Member of the Year in recognition of his achievements at USNH Guam and his outstanding performance during his deployment to Afghanistan. He expressed gratitude to his fellow Sailors for their support.
“I know that there are a lot of people who do great things everyday,” he said.” I received the award not only for what I did but because of what we do everyday and the people working with me. For me, getting the award was a team effort.”
Aside from his day-to-day activities at the hospital, Flores takes an active role with the Guam USO and said it is important for service members to give back to an organization that gives so much to them.
“I’d like to thank the USO for the opportunity and recognition for the military and our service members,” he said. “(USO) helps us and we help them. I feel like we’re a family and we should take care of them like they take care of us.”
JRM Regional Command Master Chief (SW) Gregory Vidaurri emphasized the importance of Guam USO and the significance of Guam’s community involvement.
“I’ll tell you, hands down, the USO Guam is the premier USO that the Navy has, that actually, our military services have,” he said. “It’s really great that the community supports our military so much here and I’ll tell you, they really do. Guam, they’re really patriotic here; they love the Navy, they love our military services. They support the military here and this is just another example, tonight’s USO gala, their continued support for our military service members.”
For more information about Guam USO and upcoming events, call 647-4USO (4876) or visit the facility on the first floor of the Royal Orchid Hotel in Tumon.