Dawn Hudson, Pepsi-Cola
president, and Donald Kendall,
Pepsico founder

Caroline Rhea and Edie Falco

Edie Falco with Army troops

Dawn Hudson flanked by
Miss USO 2004 Lynelle Johnson
(left) and Miss New York USA
Jaclyn Nesheiwat

Soldiers From Iraq War
Earn Standing Ovation

Story and Photos by Tim Boxer

EVERAL soldiers who returned after a year of fighting for freedom in Iraq got a standing ovation at the USO of Metropolitan New York’s 38th annual luncheon at the Pierre Hotel. They flocked around Carmela Soprano of HBO’s hit series The Sopranos – in the person of Edie Falco – to have their pictures taken.

Falco, who received the USO 2004 Entertainer of the Year Award, said, “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the men and women fighting for our country.”

Comedian Caroline Rhea, who emceed the program, said Edie is one actor you wouldn’t want to meet at an audition. Caroline hailed luncheon co-chair Marylou Whitney whose horse won the Belmont Stakes.

Dawn Hudson, president of Pepsi-Cola North America, received the Woman of the Year Award. She said when she thinks USO, she thinks Bob Hope. Her husband served in Vietnam and ran into Bob Hope and Raquel Welch. That was a special day!

I asked Donald Kendall, chief executive and founder of Pepsico, for his card and he replied, “I’m 82. I don’t have to carry a card.”

The USO Troupe entertained with several generational songs, such as Bei Mir Bistu Shayn, plus the official songs of every military branch. It was so patriotic – and so moving.

Stephen Scheffer, president of film programming at HBO and USO chairman, announced that the luncheon raised $400,000.

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