Monday, June 02, 2008

What the USO WON'T do, the Marines, Seabee's and Army "Can Do"...A Hospitality Room.

UPDATE: As y'all can see from the below comment section, many fine bloggers from all across our great country have rolled up their literary sleeves and posted/linked to this article, including (Thanks to YankeeMom), the US Army's "Stand To" blogsite ( ), under "whats being said on the blogs."

The word is starting to really get out about this project and there is still plenty of room for more bloggers who might want to join the fun. I (we) can't thank you all enough. I'm certain that all the fine Military folks who will benefit from this project will be extremely grateful as well....Cookie

Please read entirely and "Link" or "Trackback" to.....

Well Sir...a few years ago, Cookie initially worked with a private security firm, and later with the TSA (Transportation Security Agency) at the Syracuse, Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, NY.

While working at the Airport, there were many occasions when myself and other TSA folks would have to process large numbers of fine Military women and men who were shipping out to either Iraq or Afghanistan, or some other duty stations around the world. It should be noted that Fort Drum, home of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division is only about 70 miles up the road a piece. Also located very nearby is a United States Marine Corps Reserve Detachment, a Naval Reserve Training Center, a Navy Seabee detachment and (at the airbase itself), the New York Air National Guards 174th Fighter Wing, whose F-16 Fighters and crews have served in both the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. From the above listings you can easily see that there is a heavy Military presence in our area.

On many occasions, myself and my Marine Corps League's Commandant, Loren Davies (who was a manager with the TSA), as well as an Iraq war vet named Leroy Bowen( US Army Reserve Retired, SFC), would observe many active Military personnel who had been dropped off at the Airport to catch their flights to whatever duty station they were bound for, sitting in the terminal for many long hours, sometimes overnight.

Although there are 3 small restaurants at the airport, they close up shop at about 8 or 9:00 PM, and do not re-open until 7:00 AM the next morning. It was during these long waits or delays, sometimes 14 hours or overnight, that it was glaringly obvious that, for these fine patriotic young men and women, there was no way for them to get a bottle of water, soda, or even a hot cup of "joe". There is also NO entertainment such as TV's to watch and occupy their time.

It should be noted that for these past several years (since Afghanistan), many good folks from the TSA, would have someone make a "coffee and donut run" to a Dunkin Donuts a couple of miles or so from the airport and at least bring back something for the troops. The Syracuse Police Department (my old Alma-mater) also has a large precinct office at the airport, and they would do their best to invite the Soldiers, Sailors and Marines into the precinct and share their coffee and donuts (you know cops and donuts) with these folks, often sending a man on a detail to get some hot sandwiches and coffee for them as well.

Watching these good folks sitting there all night, or long hours with nothing to eat, drink, or entertain them, Loren, Leroy kinda took a personal vow to get the USO into the airport to service these great folks. However, when we contacted the USO about getting a " Military Hospitality Center/Lounge" for these patriotic and dedicated Military personnel into the airport, for whatever reason, the USO refused and wouldn't address the problem at the Syracuse, Hancock International Airport. Most disappointing for us.

Just to be clear, The USO is a very fine organization and has helped many a lonely Sailor, Soldier or Marine over these many years, like myself back in the 60's, and they must have a good reason, probably financial, for their lack of participation in this project.

With the Seabee motto, "Can Do" in mind, Loren (Commandant Marine Corps League, Emerald City Detachment), Leroy (US Army Retired) and myself (Navy Seabee Veterans of America, Island X-19) set out to make this happen without the USO, and thus far, wonderful things have begun to happen thanks to material donations and assistance rendered from our respective organizations. A local VFW post has also expressed some strong interest in becoming involved with the project, and many, MANY, TSA personnel have selflessly offered to volunteer to man the Hospitality Room in their "off-duty" time. With the intercession and assistance of the Commissioner of Aviation, Anthony Mancuso, and the Honorable Mayor of Syracuse, NY, Matt Driscoll have very graciously given us a room (a $1.00 a year Lease), and a few parking spots for our volunteers at the airport terminal where we could begin to set up shop. Commissioner Mancuso has also had this room repainted and the carpet cleaned for us. It's a small room, but adequate for setting up a serving counter, refrigerator, coffee urn and microwave (all donated to us), and for storing whatever drinks and food stuffs such as water, soda, coffee, donuts and sandwiches that we can purchase or have donated.

Below is a picture of Commandant Loren Davies (on the left) with the President Jim English of the Lions Club of Chittenango, NY. BTW...for your own edification, Chittenango, NY is the birthplace of L.Frank Baum, the man who wrote "The Wizard of Oz".

Now Sir....over the past several days, Loren and myself have contacted many large local business, other Vets organizations/councils and The Oneida Indian Nation Casino, just to name few, for ANY assistance whatsoever that they might be willing to render, but have heard nothing as yet.

Now Amigo's and Amiga's, here is where I must make a request of yourselves. At present, to begin stocking up on our food and drink inventory, we desperately need monetary donations as soon as possible so that we may meet our projected Grand Opening date of July 3rd, which will probably be attended by the Mayor and Commissioner, as well as representatives of many Vet's organizations..

If any of y'all could find it possible to give us a donation, any donation at would be greatly appreciated by Loren, Leroy and myself, as well as the fine, Active Duty/Reserve Military men and women who would benefit from this Military Hospitality Room.

If you have a blog, and cannot afford to make a donation at this time, an article on your blog-post, coupled with a link or "track-back" to this post would also be greatly appreciated so that we may get the word out to even more good patriotic folks who would want to show their support for Military folks that may be heading into "Harms Way", OR...if'n yur feelin especially magnanimous...Do Both!

To make your tax deductible donation by check, please make your check out to "The Marine Corps League", and please make an entry into the "memo" line in the lower left of your check, "Airport Project"....

and send your check to:

Loren Davies
Emerald City Detachment #877
Marine Corps League
P.O. Box 393
Chittenango, New York 13037

If you have any questions at all, you may contact Loren Davies directly at either his personal phone at (315) 359-6149


at his E-mail address

My friends...thank you so very much for having taken the time to have read this lengthy post, and thanks for all you have done in the past for our nations Vets and Active Duty Military folks....