In Downey, USO plans expansion and fundraising

DOWNEY – For the first time in the 73-year history of the USO, the Bob Hope USO’s Board of Directors recently met in the city of Downey as it discussed a major expansion into Orange County and an upcoming Radiothon to be hosted by Gary Bryan on K-EARTH radio on July 3-4. The Bob Hope USO is one of the nation’s largest USO operations, serving more than 130,000 troops each year at its centers at Los Angeles, Ontario and Palm Springs International Airport…and soon, at John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

“The USO provides a home away from home for our troops and keeps them connected to the families they left behind,” said Bob Hope USO Board Chair Steve Briggs.  “The USO has taken on the task of caring for our wounded heroes, supporting families of the fallen and helping our service members transition back into civilian life.  A decade of war has left more than 400,000 troops wounded, disabled or killed. Our troops and their families need us now more than ever.”

During its meeting at the Rio Hondo Event Center in Downey, the Bob Hope USO Board discussed a major fundraising effort that will be a highlight of Independence Day in Southern California this year.

Noted actors and comedians are set to support the men, women and families of the United States Armed Forces during the upcoming Radiothon, Online Auction and Comedy Festival for America’s Troops on July 3 and July 4 benefiting the Bob Hope USO.  This most special event will be chaired and hosted by K-EARTH Radio’s Gary Bryan, with support from Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada and entertainment industry leader Jimmy Honore.

The event includes live broadcasts on number one-rated K-EARTH from the Laugh Factory Hollywood featuring a special live comedy show with top comedians on July 3 and from the Huntington Beach Independence Day Parade on July 4.  A key element of the fundraiser will be a world-wide online auction of entertainment and sports-related items conducted by Julien’s Auctions of Beverly Hills.  The auction is now underway at and will run through July 14.

Some of the online auction items include:

•Being a star for a night at Laugh Factory Hollywood with your name & likeness on the marquee and up to 30 friends in attendance to enjoy your standup routine on the world-famous Laugh Factory stage

•Having a special hot dog created in your name and placed on the menu by Pink’s Hot Dogs

•Two tickets to the October 3 Eagles concert at the Honda Center plus a pre-concert meet & greet with Eagle legend Joe Walsh

•The Ultimate Grammys experience, including walking the red carpet, VIP seats and attending the official after-party

•A Day at the Dodgers with KCBS Sports Legend Jim Hill, including access to the Dodger Stadium field and press box

•Operation Repo Experience with series star Lou Pizarro and daughter Lyndah during filming of your own “webisode”

•Renowned chef Debbie Matenopoulos cooking a Greek feast for up to 10 guests, with autographed copies of her new book for all attendees

•A Day with “The Simpsons.”  You’ll get a basket of Simpsons collectibles and a sit-in with the cast while they do a “table read” of a new Simpsons script.  The special day will be hosted by Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson

Radiothon listeners can make secure credit card donations online at or by sending checks made out to Bob Hope USO at 203 World Way, Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90045.  Donations can also be made by calling in during the Radiothon or texting to a special number that will be announced live by Gary Bryan during the event.

The Bob Hope USO Board also discussed the progress of its expansion into Orange County.  This will be accomplished during the summer, as the organization recently received approval from the Orange County Board of Supervisors to establish a center in the John Wayne Airport terminal at a cost to the USO of $1 per year.

The center will be located in the airport’s Terminal B, next to the baggage claim area on the Arrivals Level. Staffed by volunteers, the center will feature a canteen, movies, travel assistance and wi-fi. Active and reserve members and their dependents are welcome, as well as military retirees on a space available basis. All services are complimentary for troops and guests. One organization that has come forward to assist in making the new USO a reality is Snyder Langston, which has agreed to design and build out the space as an in-kind donation.

“We thank the Snyder Langston team for this significant donation, which will allow us to provide a USO experience for the more than 20,000 military members traveling on orders who pass through John Wayne Airport each year,” said Bob Kurkjian, executive director of Bob Hope USO.  “We are thrilled that we can now make their travels a little better, whether it’s by helping a soldier about to deploy or one who’s far from home and just looking for some support and comfort.”

“Although the USO is chartered by Congress, we receive no funding from the government or the Department of Defense,” Kurkjian said. “We provide all our services at no charge to our guests, who are often in transit and heading into harm’s way. We are totally dependent on funding from individuals, philanthropic service organizations and generous corporate and foundation donors to provide these services as well as build, furnish and manage our airport centers and support troops and their families in the communities we serve.”

Downey City Councilmember Mario Guerra presented the USO Board with a certificate from the city during the meeting.

“What the USO has done over nearly 75 years has made life better for millions of troops here at home and around the world, and your plans for the future are even more exciting,” he said.  “On behalf of the city of Downey, we welcome you, and we thank you for always being there to provide support for the men and women who are defending the cause of freedom on our behalf.  God bless the Bob Hope USO, and God bless America!”



Published: June 12, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 09