Our History

About USO California

USO California operates within the third largest state in the nation and aims to reach the +151,000 U.S. Armed Forces personnel and their families stationed across the state, the highest concentration of any state. Our centers, which are visited more than 260,000 times per year, provide a warm and comforting place for service members to connect with loved ones and enjoy the comforts of home. Similarly, USO programs focus on connection, strengthening, wellness and resiliency. Overall, USO California delivered 450,205 total service connections in 2022 not only at our center locations but also across the state in the most remote locations like Bridgeport, Fort Irwin and much more. No matter where their journey takes them, USO volunteers and staff are always by their side.

Honoring Bob Hope’s Legacy

Bob Hope was a legendary American entertainer, actor, showman, comedian, and philanthropist. On May 6, 1941, he performed his first USO Show at March Field in Riverside, California, to do a radio show for the airmen stationed there. For nearly six decades, wherever Bob Hope went to entertain the troops, from the deserts of North Africa to Alaska to the jungles of Southeast Asia, he represented home. And, for an hour or so, troops were home with an old friend and comrade.

His signature shows included Hollywood performers, comedians, singers, actors, and actresses, and led the way for celebrities of every kind to commit to giving their time and talent to service men and women around the world. Hope entertained until December 1990, when he brought laughter and Christmas cheer to troops participating in Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on his final USO tour. The media dubbed him “America’s No. 1 Soldier in Greasepaint.” To the GIs, he was “G.I. Bob” and their hero.

Listen to Bob Hope’s first show for the troops at March Field on May 6, 1941:

Listen to Linda Hope’s Message of Support:

Honoring Clarence Neil Ash’s Legacy

Clarence Neil Ash (February 9, 1925 - June 11, 2021)

Neil Ash and wife June Barrymore Ash had always shared a deep love and appreciation for America’s military service members. Neil served in the Navy during WWII and was recalled to active duty for the Korean War, serving as a military lawyer until the war ended in 1953. Neil remained connected to the military and devoted his life to supporting the men and women serving in the armed forces.

In 2013, when Neil and June learned about the expansion needs of the USO center at the San Diego International Airport, which originally opened in 1990, their initiative and generosity led to the new and improved USO San Diego Neil Ash Airport Center. With 10,000 square feet indoor area and nearly just as big outdoor space, the center serves over 160,000 service members and their families annually. With the support of Neil and June throughout the years, the USO San Diego Neil Ash Airport Center has become a ‘home away from home’ for service members and their families traveling to and from San Diego County.

Bob Kurkjian, USO West President shared,

A giant in the San Diego business and philanthropic community for decades, Neil and his lovely wife June have been consistent and doting benefactors of the USO, displaying a fierce and undeterred commitment to our troops and their families throughout the county. Neil’s memory will endure, of course, every time a guest walks into the USO San Diego Neil Ash Airport Center.