USO Legacy: Unveiling the 86th Medical Group Heritage Room

Within the military community, a heritage room serves as a retreat where military men and women gather to relax, typically on Friday afternoons. These spaces are decorated with historic memorabilia reflective of the nearby unit or base. There is always ample seating and fun amenities such as pool tables or dart boards, encouraging camaraderie and connection among service members.

A USO volunteer cooks hot dogs and hamburgers for service members at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. | Photo credit USO Photo

The inauguration of a new heritage room for the 86th Medical Group was a momentous occasion, marked by laughter, upbeat music and the delicious scent of grilled food. Located in what was once a busy USO center, the room now serves as a sanctuary for service members to unwind and destress after a demanding week.

“What’s really cool about this event, is the heritage room is being placed in what used to be a USO center,” said Konrad Braun, USO Area Director. “Our USO center was opened here in 2005. We have been integrated with the 86th Medical Group at Ramstein ever since then. Thankfully, due to the reduction in wounded, ill and injured service members, we deactivated this USO in 2016. We continue to support our wounded service members at our nearby USO Warrior Center.”

The Heritage Room buzzed with activity as officers, enlisted service members and a few spouses mingled and listened to music, their laughter and chatter echoing off the walls. Everyone also enjoyed fresh grilled hot dogs and hamburgers with all the fixings, a gesture of gratitude for their dedication and service from the USO team.

Msgt Latasha Smith first visited this space when it was a USO center, she now serves as a flight chief. | Photo credit USO Photo

Among the attendees was Master Sergeant Latasha Smith, who first saw this space as a patient in the facility. She now oversees the en route patient staging facility as a flight chief. Her journey from patient to caregiver had been guided by the compassionate support of the USO, whose presence has eased the transition for countless service members.

I always had great interactions with the USO,” said Latasha. “They met us here. They took care of us along with the Airmen and when we were getting ready to go onto the flight. Just seeing your faces and seeing you greet us, made that time so much better.

Chief Master Sergeant Tyler Meyenburg shared his own encounters with the USO, as he served drinks to his fellow airmen. He recalled the USO’s hospitality at airports and volunteers’ tireless efforts in supporting returning service members at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

“Just recently, we had the chance to go to the USO in Landstuhl and see the outgoing mission,” said Tyler. “They had patients heading back to Walter Reed. To see what the USO does for all the people coming back from Africa, Middle East and Ukraine is just awesome.”

A service member volunteer helps unload supplies for the heritage room celebration. | Photo credit USO Photo

This space will continue to serve as a morale space, just in a different capacity. Amidst the laughter and shared memories in this new heritage room, the legacy of the USO lives on - its spirit of service prevalent in every corner of the room.

More from USO