Army Veteran inducted into the USO Alaska Volunteer Hall of Fame
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It was a quiet evening outside the USO on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, but inside military families were enjoying taco night for “Tasty Tuesday,” a dinner for service members and military families.
However, on this night, dinner was extra special because one of its volunteers was being recognized. Joe Principe, an Army veteran, was inducted into the USO Alaska Volunteer Hall of Fame. In 2022 alone, he logged 2,082 volunteer hours.
“He’s just amazing. If you ask anybody that’s in here, everybody, all the kids know Mr. Joe,” JBER Center Operations Supervisor Barbara Knaak said.
Principe’s connection to the USO started when his father joined the Air Force. It quickly became his home away from home, so it was no surprise after he retired from 21 years in the Army, Principe signed up to become a volunteer.
“It’s like a checking account that we opened up when we were a kid using the USO and now I’m retired, now it’s time to pay back the USO for all of what they did for my family and my soldier’s families,” Principe said.
Principe’s put in a lot of time and has the awards to prove it, but he said it’s not about the hours, it’s about setting an example and encouraging others to volunteer.
“The feeling and the reward is you’re serving your country and what our generations of service members have done, you’re darn right it’s great to serve and protect and defend our people of this great nation,” Principe said.
Just ask any of the USO Alaska staff, they’re just as happy to have Principe as a volunteer as he is to be there.
“He is definitely very humble and just an all-around good guy,” Knaak said. “You know, we love having him here and I feel very blessed that he’s here helping.”
Principe’s been a USO volunteer since 2017 and first volunteered with the USO Alaska in 2020.
“He does everything,” USO Alaska Executive Director Brett Banks said. “Anytime we have a need, we know Joe will step up and do it. He’s been a wonderful advocate and ambassador for the USO and we’re just so thrilled to have him on our team.”
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