"Service members are out every day, giving everything," said star Milo Ventimiglia, who has participated in three USO tours

By Lanford Beard
May 24, 2017 02:36 PM

This Is Us gave back to some very important fans.

Stars Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Chris Sullivan and Susan Kelechi Watson recently teamed up with the USO to visit the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

The stars of NBC’s breakout hit drama took a tour of the base’s military units and even got a hands-on demonstration by the 87th Logistics Readiness Squadron before breaking bread with service members.

Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Austin Knox

“It’s really such an honor to even be invited to be here. We jumped at the opportunity to do it,” said Kelechi Watson.

“We don’t get opportunities like this,” Moore added.“This is all new territory and it is super exciting, and it’s fun for us to get to meet people and see how this joint base operates.”

FROM PEN: This Is Us’ Chrissy Metz on Finding Happiness After Years of Dieting and Depression

The experience was personally touching for Metz, whose father was in the military during her childhood. “We get to live our dreams, [and] the only way we could do that is if we have freedom and security of our country. So … to even see how all of this is run, is such a gift that we get to provide and hopefully we get to bring entertainment to [service members and military families],” she said.

Hartley particularly the one-on-one time with the troops. “It’s wonderful to be here and be able to look our service men and women in the eye and say, ‘Thank you for your service’ and have them smile and be excited,” he shared.“They work so hard. It seems like they are always working and to see them check out in their minds just for a second and interact with us and have fun and laugh. It feels good.”

For his part, Ventimiglia has already been on two USO outings, including a tour in 2008 and visits with more than 6,800 troops and military families stationed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Germany and Turkey.

“Service members are out every day, giving everything,” he said. “It’s the smallest and easiest thing to do to recognize the great work that all of our service members do for us. So, to show up, shake some hands, hold some babies is awesome.”

Before This Is Us returns this fall to NBC, watch the stars on Red Nose Day Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.