Stars and Stripes


USO San Diego will host its annual Stars & Stripes Gala, on Saturday, October 23, 2021, to celebrate 80 years of the USO’s mission to strengthen America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation.

The USO San Diego Stars and Stripes Gala promises to be a unique event hosted at the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego (the Coast Guard Base we see on the way to Lindberg Field), with an extraordinary view of the San Diego harbor and our downtown skyline. A USO show style celebration of our military, community leaders, including a special line-up of entertainment, a performance by the iconic entertainer, Wayne Newton, comedians, and special guests, will be an event you won’t want to miss.

This year’s honorees will be recognized for their leadership and advocacy of our military and the San Diego community. The San Diego Padres will be presented with the American Eagle Award for their ongoing support, collaboration and generous contributions that have boosted the morale of countless military service members with tickets to Padres games, meet and greets with their players and critical holiday programming for military families in the community.

Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, Chancellor of National University System, will receive the Patriot Award for championing the educational needs of the military community. With the added challenge of deployments, relocations, and work schedules, Dr. Cunningham empowers military service members to achieve their goals while serving our nation at National University.

The USO’s Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented in memoriam to Neil Ash, for his commitment to our troops and their families. Since 2013, the USO San Diego Neil Ash Airport Center has served hundreds of thousands of troops and military families thanks to his initiative and generosity in expanding the center. We are delighted his widow, June Ash, has allowed the USO to continue to highlight his legacy of support of his beloved USO San Diego.

“Our Stars and Stripes honorees exemplify what it means to be a Force Behind the Forces℠. Through their work with the USO, they have lifted the spirits of our troops and their families in countless ways over many years” says Bob Kurkjian, USO West President.

A special thanks to our Gala Chairs, Sherry Ahern and Brianna Ahern, for bringing their leadership to our Gala Committee this year. They join Fern Murphy, celebrating fifty years of gala committee support to the USO San Diego, National University’s Nancy Rohland, San Diego Gas Company’s Andrea Smith, Board Chair Joe Craver, and the San Diego USO Board in their commitment to raising funds.

Since 1941, the USO has been the nation’s leading organization serving the men and women in the U.S. military and their families, throughout their time in uniform. USO San Diego has five USO Centers that include USO San Diego Neil Ash Airport Center, Liberty Station, San Diego Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), USO Camp Pendleton and a warehouse facility. Through their centers and mobile outreach, USO San Diego serves as a ‘home away from home’ for our heroes and their families. The USO’s work through their centers, programs and services is America’s most powerful expression of gratitude to the men and women who secure our nation’s freedoms.

For Stars & Stripes Gala information, sponsorship, table and tickets, please visit


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Esteban Villanueva