GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A U.S. Marine from Gulfport was honored as the 2013 USO Volunteer of the Year. Gunnery Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson received the award Friday night at a star studded gala in Washington, D.C., accompanied by his wife and other family members.
Johnson is an active duty Marine credited with spending more than 1,000 hours volunteering at USO centers while deployed to the island of Okinawa, Japan. While stationed there, he helped the USO weather a typhoon, served as a mentor to young Marines and kept deployed parents connected to their children through reading.
"The USO Volunteer of the Year award is an honor reserved for those individuals who truly go above and beyond and embody USO's mission of lifting the spirit of America's troops and their families," said Alan Reyes, Senior Vice President, USO Operations.
For Johnson, a father of eight, the United Through Readings Military Program, is close to his heart. The program allows service members read a book to their children, record it on a DVD and send it back home.
"GySgt. Johnson gives of himself each and every day he puts on the Marine uniform to protect our freedoms here at home. Yet, it is his nearly decade long career as a USO volunteer, giving back to help his fellow troops and military families, that makes him so deserving of this honor," Reyes said.
Gunnery Sgt Johnson is currently deployed to Africa. He's headed back there, after running the Marine Corps Marathon Sunday.