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Remembering Robin Williams’ USO Trip

CARBONDALE TOWNSHIP — Throughout the day we have received calls, emails, and posts on social media about the way Robin Williams affected the lives of people in our area.

Lackawanna County’s deputy coroner Jesse Van Deusen is a naval reservist he was deployed to Kuwait with the Army in 2008 and got an assignment he says he’ll never forget. He was on security detail for Robin Williams who was there doing what he did best, making people smile.

Van Deusen serves as Lackawanna County’s deputy coroner but before he filled that post, he had the assignment of a lifetime when he was serving with the army in Kuwait six years ago. For two days, he served as Robin Williams’ security detail.

“His whole goal was to entertain the service members, the men and women of the service. That’s what he wanted to do,” Van Deusen recalled.

Williams made several stops in the Middle East in 2008 on a USO tour performing for crowds of service members. Van Deusen says the toughest part of his job during his two-day detail was to keep from getting star struck.

He looked after Robin Williams and singer Kid Rock.

Williams left an impression, proving quite a few times that he was only human.

“Shockingly, he was nervous before his one show. That took me a little bit. Who would ever think that he would be nervous?”

Looking back on it now, Van Deusen can’t help but see the similarities between Williams himself and one of his most memorable roles.

In the movie “Patch Adams,” he played a medical resident who believed laughter was the best medicine. The actor believed the same was true for those who suffered the scars of war.

“The men and women who saw bad things, I think he just made them forget about it for a little while. He was just that good.”

Van Deusen saw a lot of famous people perform when he was working with the USO but he says his interaction with Robin Williams will always be one of the most memorable.

There will be much more on the death of Robin Williams tonight on World News with Diane Sawyer, and an ABC news special edition of 20/20 at 10 p.m.

Williams’ death brings to light the dangers of depression. We look closer at that in this Healthwatch 16 report.

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