Meet the 2021 USO Service of the Year> US Department of Defense> History
Almost 2.3 million active and reserve service members serve in the United States military. While most of these service members are exceptional at what they do, only a few are chosen to be their branch’s USO Service Member of the Year.
Each year since 2003, a junior enlisted member from each branch – E-5 or less – is nominated by the leadership of the command to be honored for an act of bravery. Whether it’s saving the life of a comrade or a stranger or leading during a critical time, these men and women have proven their commitment to helping others in times of need. In doing so, they embody the values ââdefended by the armed forces.
“By showing selflessness and bravery, these men and women went above and beyond the ordinary course of their duties to be recognized as USO’s Service Member of the Year,” said the CEO and USO President JD Crouch II. “We are proud to honor their accomplishments and to encourage all Americans to join us in doing the same.”
The recipients of the USO Service Member of the Year 2021 awards are:
Army Staff Sgt. Breanna J. Jessop
Army Staff Sgt. Breanna J. Jessop, of Myton, Utah, played a key role in the evacuation operations at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan last August. When the 82nd Airborne Division was called in to support the mission, Jessop became the NCO in charge of the airport chapel. Despite limited or no resources, she used her ingenuity to ensure that 4,000 members of the coalition force, including US troops, had access to items used for basic hygiene.
Jessop also oversaw the orphanage which was formed following the increase in the number of unaccompanied minors brought to the area, and she led the charge to help care for children aged 7 days to 17 years old. . According to the USO, she protected their well-being and dignity as human beings. Through Jessop’s dedicated and selfless leadership efforts, more than 400 displaced children have been protected from enemy attacks and the unrest that unfolded during the operation.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Johnnharley S. Delacruz
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Johnnharley S. Delacruz is a hospital corpsman from Fountain Valley, Calif. He serves with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.
On July 30, 2020, an amphibious assault vehicle began to sink off San Clemente Island, Calif., During routine Marine Corps training operations. Delacruz was on a rescue vehicle that went to the aid of the ship, and he quickly jumped into action to help the Marines trapped inside. He helped save a life by giving a distressed patient several rounds of CPR, epinephrine, and other intubation medications.
As Delacruz helped evacuate the patient by helicopter, he noticed that the injured Marine’s eardrums had ruptured and his oxygen tank was running out. Drawing on his medical training, Delacruz protected the patient’s airways, monitored vital signs and found IV access. Delacruz then covered the patient with his own body to prevent hypothermia. Thanks to his quick wit, the patient survived.
Marine Corps Sgt. Seth A Dewey
Marine Corps Sgt. Seth A. Dewey, from Hesperia, Mich., Serves with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. During Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq, Dewey was part of the Embassy’s Rapid Reaction Force that led a team tasked with securing the perimeter of the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad. During this time, hostile militias in the region often targeted DOD and State Department personnel, so they came under several indirect fire and attacks from unmanned aerial systems.
During an attack, Dewey calmly transmitted critical information that allowed the Embassy’s operations center to sound its shelter-in-place alarm in a timely manner. Thanks to his leadership, a plane was able to take off unscathed from the embassy’s helicopter runway, and a unit was able to eliminate an enemy drone. Dewey’s squad also identified another enemy drone that was being used in conjunction with a rocket attack to target the Embassy. According to the USO, Dewey’s leadership and actions helped shape the rules of engagement for future units and security personnel.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan T. daggett
Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan T. Daggett, from Greeley, Colo., Serves at Kunsan Air Force Base in South Korea with the 8th Security Forces Squadron, but he earned the honor for an incident that took place at his former hometown. assignment in the island chain of the Azores off the coast of Portugal. .
Daggett was on a spiritual resilience trip to the island of Sao Miguel when he witnessed a three-vehicle accident involving nine people. Daggett quickly stepped in to help. After checking some of the victims, he noticed an unconscious victim trapped inside a vehicle. He forced open a disabled door, pulled the person out of the vehicle, and began essential first aid which ultimately saved the person’s life.
It wasn’t the first time Daggett had helped save a life. During a joint exercise a few years earlier, Daggett rescued another parachutist who got entangled in his parachute. Later, in 2019, Dagget was chosen as a member of the airborne team that would parachute into Normandy, France as part of the 75th D-Day commemoration.
Army Staff Sgt. Francisco Javier Luna, Massachusetts National Guard
By day, Massachusetts National Guard Sgt. Francisco Javier Luna is a police officer with the Springfield, Massachusetts Police Department. One cold morning, Luna was on patrol when she received a call to 911 to help an infant who had stopped breathing. Within minutes, Luna arrived at the scene to find a panicked mother and an unconscious 3-month-old boy whose skin had turned blue.
Luna quickly began infant CPR while awaiting the arrival of emergency teams. After about three minutes, the boy regained consciousness and began to breathe on his own. Luna’s steady hand and leadership helped save the baby.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Gerrod J. Britton
On July 5, 2020, Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Gerrod J. Britton, a Boatswain’s Mate stationed in Morro Bay, Calif., Was off duty and was driving when he saw a vehicle ahead of him cross the median and crash into oncoming traffic. . The Plattsmouth, Nebraska native immediately stopped to help. He took two people to safety and returned for a third, who was seriously injured and trapped under the vehicle as it started to catch fire.
Despite the growing danger, Britton and another passer-by lifted the vehicle aside long enough for Britton to pull the unconscious man through a broken window. Seconds later, the entire vehicle was engulfed in flames. Britton dragged the man to a safe place, administered CPR, and attempted to control the bleeding from several wounds before rescuers arrived. His courageous actions earned him the Coast Guard Medal of Honor.