A letter to the editor in a Springfield paper wants to know:
"With all the news coverage of the new airport in Branson opening as well as the new flights added to the Springfield/Branson Airport, I've not heard anyone mention about a proper USO being placed in either airport...is this a gross oversight?"
No, it's not an oversight. Different groups have investigated the possibility and then decided not to purse it. We've always told the organizing groups that we would help in any way we can. The reasons they've decided not to set up a USO boil down to this:
- Passengers don't spend a lot of time in our terminal. In other words, we are not a hub airport where customers spend several hours waiting to make connections. Generally speaking, outbound passengers spend less than an hour here. Inbound passengers spend even less—as soon as their baggage hits the carousel, they're out of here! And most soldiers don't even have a checked bag to wait for.
- The number of soldiers using our airport is pretty small. On any given day, you're not even likely to see a member of the armed forces in the terminal. When you do, it's usually just one or two.
What's cool is to see the occasional welcoming party. Family and friends start to show up about half-an-hour before the soldier arrives. There are usually lots of kids, balloons and banners. They congregate outside the security check point and wait for their hero to arrive. It's one of those moments that you want to save and cherish.