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The Gregory J. Harris Military Courtesy Room at Syracuse's Hancock Airport
We thought you all might enjoy the attached photos. As some of you know, a local Marine Corps League Detachment decided that the troops traveling in and out of Syracuse needed some space and a comfortable setting during some long lay overs, often even over night. There is a large Army base, Ft. Drum, just an hour north of here, whose soldiers use Syracuse Airport as their primary source for commercial air travel. So, the Commandant of the Emerald City MCL Detachment, Loren Davies together with hsi friend and Army Veteran Leroy Bowen, coordinated with the airport and the City and were given space at the airport and a $1 a year lease for the space for 5 years.
As the Commandant of the MCL learned about a local Marine Corps family whose loved one, Cpl. Gregory J. Harris, was captured in 1966 in South Vietnam and was still unaccounted for, he insisted that the room be named in his honor. The Harris Family were all beyond words and so proud that Greg's name was attached to something that would have a positive impact on our military.
On July 7, 2008, the City Common Council approved the project unanimously and on July 29th we had our official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, attended by representatives from all branches and the Mayor was on hand to cut the ribbon. This Military Courtesy Room is one of only two known rooms like it in airports across America, run solely by local folks with a heart for our troops.
Now, three months later, the Military Courtesy Room is in full swing and thanks to the wonderful donations from local folks and many local companies and organizations, we are in a very good place. We estimate that to date some 2500 troops have passed through our door. We like to say that we are like a USO, only better. We have not connection with the DoD and can make all of our decision on a local level and everything in our rooms, from the plastic forks to the microwave to the laptop computer were all donated or paid for from monetary donations. Additionally, we do not charge the troops a cent for anything in the room, everything is complimentary. We also have coordinated a shuttle which leaves from the Room twice a day between the airport and Ft. Drum providing free transportation for the soldiers. Other branches of service who are simply traveling through the airport have all the ammenities of home and the Room is staffed by a group of some 60 volunteers who take 4 hour shifts from 7 am to 2 am or even later if need be. They are, without a doubt, the best group of volunteers ever.
Finally, something positive has come from Greg's loss…