Contrary to the impression Phil McCombs left in his Nov. 16 Style story "USO Desert No-Show," the response to comedian Steve Martin's visit to the Desert Shield troops was overwhelmingly positive.

Martin and his wife, actress Victoria Tennant, spent six days in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia entertaining more than 15,000 military personnel. The USO has found that the best way to reach widely dispersed troops is to move from site to site quickly, visiting as many sites as possible. This Martin did, signing more than 10,000 autographs and being photographed by and with 5,000 service men and women. Small, mobile handshake/autograph visits like his, with brief monologues or performances at numerous isolated sites, are exactly the type of program USO should be providing for Desert Shield at this time.

Since the USO's founding in 1941, it has entertained millions of troops under a variety of circumstances. Through it all it has followed Department of Defense guidelines and respected the customs of host countries, while gearing its tours to please service personnel. From what the troops told us while we were on tour with Steve Martin and on a subsequent tour with boxer Tommy Hearns, we're doing just that. As long as the troops are there, it'll be show time. -- Kevin McCarthy The writer is the USO's director of marketing and communications.