KILLEEN — Recently retired Don Felt supports the USO, because of the support he’s seen the organization provide service members during his career.
“To me it’s important to support those who support us,” he said of attending the USO Fort Hood’s second annual gala Friday night at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
More than 350 people showed their support for the troops at this year’s event, themed the “Yellow Ribbon Gala,” which aimed to raise $50,000 to be used for troops at Fort Hood, said Robin Crouse, local director.
“Each year we gain more momentum,” she said. “It’s a magical night.”
Alex Jarbouh, chairman of the USO Fort Hood’s advisory board, said it was exciting to see so many people in attendance.
“I know they care about the soldiers,” he said. “The military deserves it.”
Money raised through ticket sales, a silent auction and donations will be used to support programs, such as family game night, which brings families together to play games and enjoy dinner with the USO, said Isabel Hubbard, programs manager.
“It allows programs and services to keep functioning and keep carrying on for another year,” she said.
“(Our donors) recognize that the USO is a vehicle for them to make a difference in the lives of soldiers and families.”
It’s not just the programs though, Felt said. As Fort Hood’s command sergeant major from 2008-2010, he said he saw the USO and Crouse wrap their arms around the military community through the tragedy and triumph, including the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting, large fires and every deployment and redeployment at the airfield.
“The USO has always been there when you need them,” said Felt’s wife, Angie Felt.
Howard Konetchy, a member of the USO Fort Hood’s advisory council, said he got involved because the USO positively impacted his life as a 17-year-old sailor in World War II. “It was a place to hang out,” he said. “It’s very important if you’re away from home and a young kid to have a safe place to go.”
The evening’s guest speaker was Tony Orlando, singer of the 1970s hit, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree.”
He said he spent Thursday visiting Fort Hood with Crouse.
“I wish every American could have the experience of touring this unbelievable place, because you walk out of there swelled with American pride.”