Did you know that Tacoma was once home to five United Service Organizations, all of which operated during World War II?
It’s true! The first two opened on February 9, 1942, providing recreation and assistance to soldiers pouring into Fort Lewis to serve in the war. The USO offered Tacoma’s soldiers dances, movies, games, coffee hours, camera clubs, talent nights, variety shows, quiz nights and more. The first two opened at 13th and Fawcett, the third on South Tacoma Way. A USO for black soldiers opened in September of that year. By 1947 all of Tacoma’s USOs were closed, save one. The Fawcett club stayed in operation until 1971. •
Illustration by Regina Volpi Baerwalde for City Arts.