Palm Springs International Airport plans better welcome for military – In the coming months, soldiers assigned to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms likely will get a treat when passing through Palm Springs.
The Palm Springs International Airport is proposing a $165,000 renovated and expanded USO facility for traveling service members.
“We have worked so closely with the airport and with the city manager and with the city in designing this, and kind of thinking this through, said Bob Kurkjian, executive director of USO Greater Los Angeles, the organization overseeing USO facilities across Southern California and north of San Diego. “It’s certainly everyone’s intent that everyone ends up being pleased with the results. And I think that will be the case.”
The USO – a nonprofit organization that is largely volunteer-led and does not receive federal funds – operates facilities in airports across the
United States for traveling service members.
In Palm Springs, most of the military personnel going through the airport are coming to, or leaving the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms. They often have lots of luggage and other gear, or have to wait long periods for a scheduled ride to the base. Or, if the Marines have an early morning flight, they arrive at the airport the night before.
“And we’re there to provide them with a place to stay, some great food, and some super-friendly volunteers,” Kurkjian said.
“So they’re not like the average person using the airport,” remarked Thomas Nolan, executive director of the Palm Springs airport.
Therefore, the airport commission agreed to fund the renovation and expansion of an existing airport building on the south side of the terminal. The project – which is expected to get City Council approval – and would double the size of the 1,000-square-foot structure as well as upgrade it with a kitchen, game room, washing machine area, lobby entry,and outdoor patio.
The current facility, which is about 4,000 square feet, is too large and inefficient for the Marines’ needs, Nolan told the Palm Springs Airport Commission at its Wednesday meeting.
“The mission of the of the USO in Palm Springs is do whatever we can to tailor our services and tailor what the USO does for those junior Marines,” said Kurkjian. The USO serves about 18,000 service members a year at its Palm Springs facility. And the peak periods happen around holidays.
“It’s a win, win, win,” Kurkjian remarked. “A win for us, a win for the airport and a win for the Marines.”