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Wounded U.S. Soldier Visited By Ozzy Osbourne (7/21/2005)

The USO is famous for its 63 years of teaming with celebrities, businesses and organizations nationwide to support and entertain U.S. soldiers overseas.

Sometimes, that takes the United Service Organization bedside.

Sgt. Joe Bowser, a small-town Kentuckian who served in Iraq, didn't expect a visit from rocker Ozzy Osbourne while being treated at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C.

The amputee, who was injured in April 2004, enjoyed baseball games and dinners with USO volunteers. Then his experience got even more interesting.

"Ozzy told me before he got there (the hospital) that his view on the war was way down here," Bowser said.

Seeing wounded troops in the hospital changed the MTV star's view, Bowser said.

"It's just amazing the friendships you make," he said. "A lot of people came there not knowing what to expect."

Bowser will be one of about 30 soldiers from all areas of the country to be honored at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse on Sept. 4 for the second annual USO Riverfest Fireworks Gala.

The dinner, sponsored by UBS Financial Services and HSR Business to Business, Inc., is the only event in the nation to raise money for injured troops.

The proceeds from the event will go to USO programs to support wounded soldiers and their families.

Elaine B. Rogers, president of USO in Washington, D.C., hopes to sell 900 tickets to patrons this year and raise about $150,000. Last year, the event raised $110,000 for the USO hospital programs.

The USO sponsors programs for troops including a "Girls Time Out" and airport support programs to assist soldiers at major airports across the country.

"Girls Time Out" is a session of beauty and counseling designed to provide relief and support to the wives of injured soldiers.

Families receive vouchers for airfare, hotel bills, and taxis to visit hospitalized soldiers through USO.

Comedian Colin Quinn, country music star Toby Keith and singer Billy Joel are a few of the celebrities who volunteer for USO programs.

While serving in the third infantry in Balad, Iraq, Bowser was struck by pieces of shrapnel during an attack.

He had just made a call to his family on a phone at nearby a restaurant.

Bowser, who still resides at the hospital in Washington, D.C., has endured 13 surgeries on his upper leg. The lower part of his leg was amputated in April.


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