October 19, 2016 - It's official, USO Sigonella is now open and providing much needed support to our service members and their families at its brand-new home within the Air Passenger Terminal on Naval Air Station Sigonella (NAS Sigonella). The USO's newest location will increase offerings to U.S. service members, civilian personnel and family members assigned to the military community in Sicily, Italy, provide the comforts of home to those transiting through this key southern European military air hub, and expand outreach to forces deployed to the region.
The grand opening ceremony included words of gratitude from the base commander, Captain Brent Trickel, his command master chief, Mike Kaszubowski and USO Europe Regional Vice President, Walt Murren. The event culminated with a cake cutting and home town BBQ for service members and their families.
As the doors opened and community members flooded the center, you could hear the excitement and amazement in everyone's voices. "I'm proud to see this terrific organization come to Sigonella where they can provide so much comfort and hope for our military and families of this community," said one of USO Sigonella's first customers, Air Force Major Aaron Krizek.
The installation is home to more than 4,000 U.S. service members, civilian personnel and family members and that number is likely to increase as NATO stands up a headquarters here. The area is positioned to be at the epicenter of U.S. naval air operations in the Mediterranean and is one of the most frequently used stops for U.S. aircraft bound from the continental U.S. to Southwest Asia and the Indian Ocean. The growing population and strategic location provided a natural opportunity for the USO to deliver support and augment the resources already being offered by the local military commands.
This new "compact" USO center is equipped with a high tech two station internet cafe, four free voice over internet phones to call friends and loved ones back home and five smart TV's distributed throughout the air terminal. These will connect folks with their favorite TV programs, news and sports streamed directly from the United States using easyTV provided by our USO strategic partner TKS. TKS provides pivotal communications support to the USO across Europe and equipped this new center with more than 150 channels of free television. The location also provides high speed internet access throughout the air terminal with bandwidth capable of providing uninterrupted Skype and Face Time capabilities for hundreds of passengers. The center will offer complimentary coffee, soft drinks and snacks to bring that important touch of home to our military and family travelers.
NAS Sigonella, "The Hub of the Med," is situated within NATO Base Sigonella and an Italian Air Force base in Sicily, Italy. Although a tenant of the Italian Air Force, NAS Sigonella acts as landlord to more than 40 other U.S. commands and activities. Among the largest are a rotating P-8 patrol squadron; a Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station; and a U.S. Naval Hospital.
NAS Sigonella is located 15 km west and 11 km south of the city of Catania, and some 40 km south of Mount Etna. Its location near the center of the Mediterranean Sea allows NAS Sigonella to support the U.S. 6th Fleet, other U.S. military units, as well as U.S. allies and coalition partners. It also serves as an Italian base for their 41st Antisubmarine Warfare Wing (41º Stormo Antisom).
As the USO celebrates its 75th year, its mission of strengthening America's service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country is as vital today as it was in 1941. With the opening of USO Sigonella, the USO will be able to increase its offering to traveling service and family members, improve outreach of our existing programs and expand our reach in support of the deployed military community transiting these important air hubs overseas.