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News > AMC terminal USO lounge gets facelift
USO facelift
Patrons share a meal in the newly refurbished United Service Organization lounge at Air Mobility Command's air passenger terminal Sept. 20. The renovations offer travelers a chance to relax while they wait. Some of the improvements include Wi-Fi, a Blu-Ray player and big screen television and new furniture. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Maeson L. Elleman)
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AMC terminal USO lounge gets facelift

Posted 9/27/2010   Updated 9/27/2010 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Maeson L. Elleman
18th Wing Public Affairs

9/27/2010 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Each month, thousands of travelers pass through Kadena's Air Mobility Command passenger terminal. The journey usually includes waiting hours on end before heading to their final destinations.

Now, however, people won't have to rely on just their books, MP3 players and personal snacks to get them by because the Kadena United Service Organization recently renovated its passenger terminal lounge - giving servicemembers and families a more comfortable place to wait.

"It looks really nice, and it's an inviting place," Brig. Gen. Ken Wilsbach, 18th Wing commander said at the ribbon cutting ceremony Sep. 20. "In the past, maybe people wouldn't have used it because it wasn't as nice, but now it's more inviting and more comfortable."

Since renovations, volunteers have donated a flat-screen, high-definition TV with a surround-sound system and Blu-Ray player, several new leather couches, free wireless Internet, an Internet phone to make calls back home and a children's room with new furniture as well.

"Volunteers put their hearts and souls into making it a nice place for Airmen and their families to rest," added the general.

Although the AMC terminal was renovated last year, the updates didn't include the USO room.

"It was an old room," explained Deborah Kolstad, a graphic designer who worked on the renovations. "It hadn't been painted in 30 years with holes and gouges in the walls, so we decided to clean the place up."

While the USO couldn't receive military funding for the renovation project, they were able to collect donations from generous patrons looking to support fellow servicemembers and their families. Money given to the organization was used to purchase all of the furniture and electronics now in the room.

Shirley Smiley, volunteer coordinator for the USO, said renovations began when she asked if she could paint over the gray walls the room bore for so many years.

The USO inside the terminal provides an oasis of home, which USOs are renowned for.

"The main thing is that it's going to offer the same things all USOs should offer - respite from the weariness of travel," Mrs. Smiley stated.

The USO has been a part on Okinawa for more than 50 years, providing servicemembers with an entourage of assistance and information to help ease the burdens of traveling.

"If you just pop in on a Space-A flight, and you end up spending a night, you don't necessarily know where everything is, so it's a great source of information," stated General Wilsbach.

The terminal USO will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Gardner Williams, manager of the AMC terminal and Gate 2 USOs, said people can volunteer to help the USO to keep it open longer or more days by going by either USO on base and filling out a volunteer form. People can also donate money or baked goods to either USO to support servicemembers and their families.

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