Thursday, December 21, 2017

USO Troupe Commences Holiday Tour at Spanish Air Base

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

MORON AIR BASE, Spain, Dec. 21, 2017 — Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford and Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell arrived here today with the 2017 USO Holiday Tour in tow, bringing a little bit of America to service members.

This is the third year that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his senior enlisted advisor have led troupes of performers overseas to thank service members for their sacrifices. It is the first USO Holiday Tour visit to Moron -- a strategic military hub and home to airmen, Marines and sailors.

Medal of Honor Recipient

Also accompanying Dunford is retired Army Capt. Florent Groberg, a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in Afghanistan in 2012.

The 2017 iteration of the Holiday Tour features professional wrestlers Michael “The Miz” Mizanin and Alicia Fox; actor-comedians Adam DeVine and Iliza Shlesinger; country singer Jerrod Niemann and his band; and celebrity chef and talk show host Robert Irvine and his wife, Gail Kim-Irvine, a professional wrestler, model and actress.

Like the forces they are visiting, the performers are all volunteers.

At the Spanish air base, the troupe will meet with service members from the 469th Air Base Squadron and the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response – Africa.

The stop in Moron is the first of a weeklong trip to the U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command areas of operations, Joint Staff officials said.

USO Holiday Tour History

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers began the chairman’s holiday tour in 2003. Myers remembered fondly the USO shows he had seen as a young airman and worked with the USO to make it happen. The event gives service members tangible proof that the American people love them, miss them and value them.

Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey and now Gen. Dunford successively led USO tours.

Last year, Dunford led two Holiday tours -- one in early December that visited Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan and Germany -- and another that put on four shows in Iraq over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

New York Air National Guard, Canadian Airmen Will Track Santa on Christmas Eve

By Timothy Jones New York National Guard

ROME, N.Y., Dec. 21, 2017 — New York Air National Guardsmen and Royal Canadian Air Force personnel from the Eastern Air Defense Sector will play a key role Christmas Eve as the North American Aerospace Defense Command tracks Santa Claus and his reindeer.

“NORAD has supported Santa Claus’ Christmas Eve operations for 62 years, and we are always delighted to help,” said Air Force Col. Emil Filkorn, EADS commander. “I can assure everyone that EADS will do everything in its power to assist Santa with his critical mission.”

EADS’ Battle Control Center will monitor Santa constantly as he travels across the eastern U.S. delivering toys and gifts. These activities are in support of the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, which leads the Santa monitoring effort.

Santa’s Christmas Eve Travels Website

The NORAD Tracks Santa website, launched Dec. 1. The site features Santa’s North Pole village, a holiday countdown, games and activities. The website is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese.

NORAD starts its Santa tracking operation at 2:01 a.m. EST on Dec. 24. At 6 a.m. EST, children and parents can call the NORAD operations floor at 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or send an e-mail to for live updates. Any time on Dec. 24, Amazon Alexa users can ask for Santa’s location through the NORAD Tracks Santa skill for Amazon Alexa and OnStar subscribers can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to locate Santa. Bing and Cortana users can also find Santa's location on Dec. 24.

Media interested in covering NORAD tracks Santa can send e-mail requests to Broadcasters interested in b-roll, video or audio downloads, or historical footage can visit the Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System at The NORAD public affairs office also is available to assist and can be reached at 719-554-6889.

History of Santa Tracking Mission

It all started in 1955 when a local media advertisement directed children to call Santa direct -- only the number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center. Thus began the tradition, which NORAD carried on since it was created in 1958.

The Eastern Air Defense Sector is a NORAD headquarters unit located at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome, New York. Responsible for the air defense of the eastern United States, EADS is composed of New York Air National Guardsmen from the 224th Air Defense Group, a Canadian Forces detachment, Army, Navy and Coast Guard liaison officers, and federal civilians. EADS also has two detachments located in the National Capital Region.