The USO said goodbye to one of its biggest champions last week when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey retired after 41 years of service.
The Army general served a pair of two-year stints as the highest ranking officer in the military and went on several USO Chairman’s Tours during that assignment, bringing celebrities overseas during the winter holidays to lift the spirits of deployed troops. Dempsey’s final USO tour in December visited five countries in six days and included country star Kellie Pickler, comedian Rob Riggle, “Glee” co-star Dianna Agron, former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, “Suits” co-star Meghan Markle and Washington Nationals pitcher Doug Fister.
“In my dealings with the USO over the past few years, spearheading tours around the globe, I can confidently say that the USO is as helpful and comforting today as it was back [when I joined the Army],” Dempsey said at the time.
Dempsey also gave some of the most memorable speeches at recent USO galas, including a story relating how a USO volunteer helped him find his first duty station in Germany in 1970s and the memorable Irish Ditty he sang at last year’s event.