Thanks for the memories
The Bob Hope USO opens a brand-new facility at LAX
Four service members, each hauling 50-pound duffle bags, maneuvered their way through the excited crowd. A USO volunteer spotted them in the chaos, and rushed to welcome them.
Even as they entertained more than 500 people at the opening celebration of its new facility, the people of Bob Hope USO at Los Angeles International Airport did not skip a beat in service of their mission.
Since 1941, the USO has provided a touch of home for those who serve – and memories that last a lifetime.
“There was a sea of people welcoming us home when I deployed back from Iraq during my mid-tour leave,” said Glen Dare, a U.S. Army veteran and leader of Raytheon’s employee resource group for veterans, as he recalled a visit to the USO in Dallas. “All of a sudden, my mom comes out and hugs me, and I start recognizing more people in the crowd. It was absolutely amazing.”
Named after, well, Bob Hope, the Bob Hope USO previously operated in temporary buildings at LAX. Yet despite those modest accommodations, it was hosting more than 100,000 service members and their families every year.
Those numbers are why the Bob Hope USO needed to find a bigger facility as it continued its namesake’s legacy of offering entertainment and comfort to the troops. After a sustained giving campaign, the new facility in the iconic Theme Building at LAX opened in September.
The USO makes itself available “not just in airports, but in communities, working to help people,” said Wayne Kauffman, a member of the Bob Hope USO board of directors and a Raytheon employee.
Spanning nearly 80 years, the USO’s legacy is felt across generations of service members.
“I loved being able to pick up a sandwich as a 20-year-old while passing through the USO,” said Joe Wyckoff, Raytheon employee and U.S. Army National Guard veteran. “As a student of history, what kept me coming back were the various patches from other units that had gone through the USO.”
That shared history is immediately evident in the new Bob Hope USO at LAX. Letters from troops line the walls. Down the hall, there is an interactive touch screen, a first of its kind in any USO. The screen allows troops to type in their zip codes and see how many other folks from home have checked in.
“It is designed to salute the past, but also embrace the future,” said Bob Kurkjian, president of Bob Hope USO.
Raytheon contributed to the campaign to build the new facility and its volunteers frequently visit to lend a hand. Some once entered the USO in uniform.
“The USO is an amazing organization,” said Wyckoff. “It was there for my grandfather during World War II, and it has been there for me since 1985.”