By Stewart Bernard
The TOP GUN of Digital Marketing
Today, I want to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart:
USO Central Florida
I am the Digital Marketing Director for USO Central Florida and through this relationship, I have had the pleasure of working with great people with an even greater mission.
Manned entirely by volunteers, USO Central Florida’s mission is to lift the spirits of both our active military and our veterans.
As a 15 year military veteran(Marine Corps Officer and Naval Aviator), I can personally attest to how critical the USO is to both our troops and our veterans.
I had three encounters with the USO during my 12 year active military career.
My first encounter with the USO was at Subic Bay Naval Base in the Phillipines. After two months isolated in our vast ocean system (on an aircraft carrier with 3000 other male military counterparts), the USO show featuring Lou Rawls and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders was a welcome respite for 3000 men away from their friends and families for months. I cannot overstate how warm their welcome was to me personally, being thousands of miles away from my home and family.
My second encounter was even more special.
As a Search and Rescue pilot stationed at El Toro, CA, I was tasked with the mission of flying a Marine Corps family from Camp Pendleton, CA to the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA. This particular mission had a critical time limit involving getting a donated organ to UCLA Medical Center within 45 minutes in order to save the life of the military families’ 5 year old daughter. Normally civilians are not allowed to fly on military aircraft but through the efforts of the USO, I was able to transport the Staff Sergeant, his wife and his ailing daughter to UCLA Medical Center on my aircraft.
The USO orchestrated the entire package, including coordinating with flight operations to clear our flight through three California air traffic areas(ATA), (including the very busy Orange County and Los Angeles ATA). I flew 200 ft above Interstate 5 from Camp Pendleton, CA to UCLA Medical Center in 30 minutes, saving the life of the 5 year old. Including flying underneath the flight path of heavy airline aircraft at LAX, the Los Angeles Air traffic controllers guided me straight to the top of the UCLA Medical Center without incident. Of all the rescues and saves I had accomplished, this was the most gratifying, all through the efforts of the USO.
My third encounter with the USO was heartwarming and exemplified the USO spirit.
As a United Airlines Airbus 320 Captain, I was preparing for pushback from Washington Dulles International Airport. The lead flight attendant approached the cockpit and informed me that a first class passenger selflessly gave up his seat to a soldier in uniform. The honor and class exhibited by this passenger was unparalleled. His act exemplified the entire spirit of the USO. I personally, had never experienced such a feat. I pulled my airline business card out and wrote a famous Marine Corps quote on the back of the card:
Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue
I handed the scripted card to the flight attendant to give to the selfless passenger and asked him to visit the cockpit after the flight. At the end of the flight, I relayed my pride and feelings to that passenger and ensured him that United Airlines would be aware of his selfless act.
Recently, we had a fundraiser based on the theme from MASH (depicted in the video above). At this particular fundraiser, we raised over $26,000 in support of USO Central Florida.
We conduct presentations across Central Florida in an attempt to solicit donations and/or volunteers for active military and veterans.
Recently we conducted a presentation in front of a very large crowd in March at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, FL. Sheriff Jerry Demings of the Orange County Sheriff Department was present at that presentation.
Providing for our troops and veterans is paramount and cannot be understated.
In October 2014, we are opening a USO Center for our troops and veterans at the Orlando International Airport.
If you believe in our troops and veterans, you too can donate your time and/or your resources to USO Central Florida:
You can contact us at:
TColeman@USOCentralFlorida.org or 407-566-2082
Stewart Bernard Productions, your Orlando based Digital Marketing Company, believes strongly in our military, veterans, and the USO.