|Pictured (l-r) are:
Joe Nichols with 1st Lieutenant Patricia Morton, USO-Metro Special Salute Honoree; her husband Sergeant First Class William J. Morton, US Army Retired and Dennis Muilenburg, President & CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security.
Joe Nichols was a featured guest and performer at the recent USO of Metropolitan Washington’s (USO-Metro) 29th Annual Awards Dinner, held April 12th at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City. The evening was devoted to honoring outstanding individuals from each branch of service, as well as the exceptional people who support our nation’s service members through volunteerism and USO-Metro’s countless charitable programs, with a special emphasis on the military families served.The artist performed his single “The Shape I’m In.”
Nichols was invited to attend and perform at the event after Elaine B. Rogers, President of the USO of Metropolitan Washington, saw the moving music video for Nichols’ single “The Shape I’m In,” and felt its portrayal of military personnel “truly represents who we serve.”
“I was honored to receive the invitation to be a part of such a wonderful event that pays tribute to those who serve our nation,” Nichols said. “I also have to thank Meg Stevens from WMZQ for making me aware of the event, and telling me about the calls she was getting from listeners telling how much the song and video impacted their lives. Getting to spend time with those honored by the USO as well as other military folks attending the dinner was truly one of the most humbling and important evenings I have ever been a part of. “
Attended by senior government and military leaders, celebrities, business and community leaders, more than 500 guests joined with USO-Metro to honor our nation’s heroes and their families. The Boeing Company served as the evening’s presenting sponsor and the sold-out gala raised over $572,000 for USO-Metro, once more exceeding expectations.
In addition to Nichols, special guests at the star-studded event included actor Gary Sinise, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan, Redskins Hall of Famer John Riggins, Super Bowl champion Michael Strahan, National Guard Panther Racing driver J.R. Hildebrand and President and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, Mr. Dennis Muilenburg.
During the event, Rogers noted, “Throughout our history, the USO has been a ‘home away from home’ for service members worldwide… Military families endure tremendous sacrifice to ensure our freedom and security. The USO’s role is to do the little things that help them know they are supported and appreciated. We need your help to do that.”
One of the evening’s memorable moments included the celebration of USO-Metro’s 70 years of service. USO-Metro was incorporated in 1941, ensuring that local troops and their families in the Baltimore-Washington region benefitted from signature USO service from the beginning of the organization. Actor and USO volunteer Gary Sinise made a special presentation to the Surgeon General of the Army and the Commanding General of Walter Reed, celebrating the tradition of service of USO-Metro and its involvement with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, noting Walter Reed’s 100 years of service – and its relocation this fall to new state-of-the-art facilities, where the legacy of service will continue.
This year, USO-Metro presented one of its highest honors, the John Gioia Patriot Award, to John Riggins, his wife Lisa Marie and her brother, Colonel Joe Felter, for their commitment to service, outstanding volunteerism and support of our nation’s service members.
USO-Metro’s program also included a Special Salute to our Nation’s Heroes, honoring active-duty service members from each branch of service. Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged these service members for their courage and selfless service to our nation. Honorees included:
- AW2 Commander, Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, US Army
- Ohio Army National Guardsmen Master Sergeant Sean Clifton and Sergeant First Class Mark A. Wanner
- Corporal Todd A. Nicely, US Marine Corps
- Hospital Corpsman Third Class Kevin Baskin, US Navy
- First Lieutenant Patricia A. Morton, US Air Force
- Marine Science Technician1st Class Anthony Matulonis, US Coast Guard
Funds raised at the awards dinner will be used to support and enhance USO-Metro’s many programs and services, including celebrity visits to local military hospitals, programs for families with deployed loved ones and emergency support for active duty troops facing financial hardship.