Military hospitality suite at local airport gets facelift
The suite was initially opened at the airport back in 2008. “At that time it was very well received,” said Doug Lively, the chairman of the Augusta Aviation Commission. “In fact, it started to look very well used and it was in need of, and has now received, a refreshing facelift.”
“The relationship between Augusta Regional Airport and Fort Gordon dates back to the very genesis of the airport when in 1941, the airport was first established as a flight training school to support the military buildup prior to World War II,” he added.
Fort Gordon has had a positive impact on the Central Savannah River Area in economic terms, and Augusta Regional has served in many efforts to facilitate the air transportation needs of our military, Lively explained. “At the very core of that relationship are the men and women who serve our country. To show appreciation for this vital role they play in securing and maintaining our freedom, we are honored to be a part in providing a comfortable and welcoming area for them to relax while waiting for flights.”
Lively introduced retired Brig. Gen. Stephen E. Joyce, who is on the America Adopt-A-Soldier advisory board. He represented Mary E. Kesser, the founder and chairperson of the non-profit organization, America Adopt-A-Soldier, during the ceremony. He talked briefly about Kesser, a former Army officer. She formed the partnership with the Augusta Regional Airport and members of the Information Protection Technicians warrant officers class at Fort Gordon to renovate the airport’s military suite.
“She considered it a privilege to work with the dedicated team at Augusta Regional Airport and the students from Fort Gordon to redesign, and furnish the military family lounge,” Joyce said. Kesser hoped this lounge would provide a welcoming, clean and safe environment for our service members to relax with their family and friends.
Warrant officer students at the installation participated with the renovations as part of their community project. “We encourage members of our warrant officer courses to select projects that make a significant contribution to help our local communities,” said Chief Warrant Officer Todd Boudreau, the Fort Gordon regimental chief warrant officer. These projects are part of an enduring legacy to the community.
The renovations were made possible by sponsor partnerships with Dell, Augusta Fort Gordon Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, Ashley Furniture, Master Craft Flooring, and Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
“The military hospitality suite now offers a big screen television, new comfortable leather furniture, a children’s play area, a lending library and new computer stations,” said Lauren Smith, the Augusta Regional Airport public affairs officer. “We are really happy to support our military.”
Maj. Gen. LaWarren V. Patterson, U.S. Army Signal Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon commanding general, talked about when he first met Kessler during a flight back from meetings in Washington, D.C. where she expressed her enthusiasm about the project and what the suite will mean to service members.
“This place will be the scene of tearful goodbyes when our men and women leave to deploy and it will be the place for re-uniting families during redeployments, which brings plenty of tears as well,” Patterson said. “It will also be a comfortable place for service members to relax while waiting on a flight to go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas.”
“Today, we are not only witnessing the improvements to an airport lounge,” he added. “What you see here is the continuing story of the strong bonds between Fort Gordon and the Central Savannah River Area. Our neighbors in Augusta, Columbia County, Grovetown, Evans, North Augusta, and so many other communities support the men and women at Fort Gordon.”
“The truth is, in my 31 years in the Army, the CSRA is the most supportive community I have ever seen,” Patterson said. “And our service members like to show their thanks by volunteering in the community. Last year, Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors from Fort Gordon performed more than 100,000 hours of community service in the CSRA.”
“Our service members and our citizens working together is a great partnerships,” he said. “Thank you all.”