The woman who served as the first president of Lawton’s USO club in 1942 is in a sense still supporting the mission of USO Oklahoma today, according to Jennifer Kirby, senior director.

The late Nadine Mynes’ niece and nephew, Shirley Atkins and Bob Finley, have presented USO Oklahoma a check for $15,000.

The money will go directly to USO’s program support at Fort Sill. It will go toward troop movement support at deployment and redeployment ceremonies, networking events for military spouses and morale-boosting events both at the Fort Sill USO Center and at duty stations on post. The staff deploys its USO sprinter van to take snacks to soldiers when training takes them out on the range. In “Cadre Call” they visit drill sergeants at the end of a basic training cycle.

USO also operates a Pathfinder site inside the Soldier for Life Transition Complex, where Tarina Pleasant helps soldiers exiting the military and spouses of active-duty military find employment in the civilian world.

In a 2015 interview with The Lawton Constitution, Nadine Mynes recalled that the original USO canteen in downtown Lawton “was a social club where soldiers from Fort Sill went to relax. It had a TV and couches like a living room. It was a club for military and ladies and no drinking was allowed. The club also offered dance classes and the girls from the club went to take part in the dances that were organized at Fort Sill.”

The girls went to Fort Sill in buses and the tour was well organized to make sure all the girls got back home safely. It was during one of the dances that Mynes met her future husband, Clarence Mynes Jr. She was impressed by his dancing moves, and they married in 1946. A career serviceman and retired major, he died Sept. 26, 1997. Nadine Mynes died at the age of 93 on May 25, 2016, in Lawton.

Her nephew, a resident of Duncanville, Texas, emailed Kirby Dec. 28 to say he and his sister would like to make a donation. She called him immediately, and he told her the check would be in the mail. Like a belated Christmas present, it arrived here Dec. 31.

“I was so gratefully surprised,” Kirby said Wednesday. “This is the single largest individual donation that USO Oklahoma has received.”

It will have significant impact on the Fort Sill USO Center’s continuing mission to Department of Defense cardholders because USO is a nonprofit organization.

“We rely on patriotic generosity of individuals and corporations. It’s also significant and very meaningful to me and to the USO volunteers and staff that it was given in memory and honor of the first president of the USO in 1942,” Kirby said.

Six nonprofit organizations merged into the United Service Organizations and in 1941 received their congressional charter to support U.S. service members going into World War II. The local USO Club began life in a brick building at Southwest 4th and D Avenue. Under the ownership of Fort Sill, the building later housed the Armed Services YMCA for many years, until ASYMCA relocated to the former Army Reserve Center at 900 NW Cache Road.

If you wish to donate to USO Oklahoma, visit its web page at oklahoma.uso.org and click the red button to make an online donation using a credit card. To donate by check, mail it to USO Oklahoma, P.O. Box 33621, Fort Sill, OK 73503.

“Or if you prefer cash, you can come into the center and put it in our donation box or make an appointment with me,” Kirby said. “It’s all tax-deductible and goes directly to our programming here in Oklahoma.”

The USO Center is at 3265 Crane Ave., immediately west of Sheridan Theater.

Although all of the $15,000 donation will stay here, USO Oklahoma also has a site at the Oklahoma City Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in the federal building there, where it tallies roughly 20,000 visits a year and supports the newest members of all five military services and the service liaisons who recruit them.

Foot traffic at the Fort Sill USO Center Kirby estimates to be about 1,700 a week. USO Oklahoma reaches out to places all across the state: Tinker, Altus and Vance air force bases as well as the Oklahoma National Guard.

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