When you’re trying to uncover new information, you always seek out the experts first. That’s why our search for never-before-seen USO photos started (and ended) with Mike Case, our senior digital archivist. We asked him to dig deep into our archives to track down some rare photos that you – and we – have never seen before.
As always, he found some interesting images that are exclusive to the USO. You won’t find them anywhere else. Boxing legend Joe Louis in Rome? Check. The first USO in Vietnam? We have it. Scroll down for more rare gems from our library.
1. The USO operated several locations in Bermuda from August 1941, prior to America’s entry in World War II, until 1953. During WWII, the USO supported service men and women who participated in the Battle of the Atlantic.
2. The USO had its own chair. During WWII, some USO facilities were built to standardized specifications and had identical layouts, so we had a standard chair to fit perfectly in our centers. Here’s the blueprint for those chairs.
3. When the USO opened its first center location in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1963, it was one of the few air-conditioned buildings in the country.
4. The USO’s second center in Vietnam opened in Da Nang in early 1965 and was housed in a former French Colonial administration building.
5. Near Rome while on tour in 1944, USO Show Troupe 289, nicknamed “Funzafire,” encountered boxing legend Joe Louis, left, serving with the Army. Troupe member Charlie Marino and Joe Louis put on an impromptu boxing match for troops stationed in the area.
6. In 2000, Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw visited troops serving in Bosnia as part of Operation Joint Endeavour.
7. In 1993, during Operation Restore Hope, the USO operated a location in Mogadishu, Somalia.
You can send a message of support and thanks directly to service members via the USO’s Campaign to Connect. Your messages will appear on screens at USO locations around the world.