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The Mountaineer Online

USO will celebrate 70 years of supporting service members

Paul Steven Ghiringhelli

Staff Writer

In the years since 1941, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped create the United Service Organizations, the way troops relax, write letters or even read a book has changed dramatically. But the organization’s mission – lifting the spirits of America’s troops and their Families – has not.

To honor 70 years of exceptional support and entertainment for U.S. military communities worldwide, Fort Drum’s USO will kick off a two-day, birthday celebration event beginning at noon today.

“The Fort Drum USO’s 70th birthday celebration honors all those who serve in the military and all the patriotic Americans who have supported them through the years by volunteering or donating to a USO,” said Karen Clark, Fort Drum USO director.

Today’s event will take place inside the Fort Drum Heritage Center on South Riva Ridge Loop. USO organizers say active-duty Soldiers and their Family Members will be treated to birthday cake, punch, popcorn, nachos, giveaways and random drawings for prizes that include a 32-inch, flat-screen TV; ski lift tickets; local restaurant gift cards; and much more.

In addition, the USO will host the live broadcast of Johnny Spezzano from radio station The Border 106.7 WBDR-FM as well as a musical performance by Dawn Azotea, one of last year's Watertown Idol finalists.

Friday’s event is free and open to all active-duty military members and their Families.

The USO 70th anniversary festivities continue Saturday with a variety of vendors and organized activities offering family fun at the Watertown Fairground Exhibition Hall beginning at noon. Dubbed the Mid-Winter Thaw, Saturday’s event also will feature live performances from bands including Cain, Dirty Frank and Queen August.

The downtown event is open to the public. Admission fee is $1. Proceeds will go to support Soldiers through the USO Fort Drum.

As another option to support the work of their local USO, organizers ask North Country community members to donate online at

“Since the USO started in 1941,” Clark said, “I am hoping Watertown and the surrounding North Country will support their local USO (at Fort Drum) by donating $19.41 to help us continue serving and supporting the troops.”

The USO Fort Drum is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations and volunteerism to support the troops and their Families, “Until Every One Comes Home.”

The Mountaineer



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