Military Salute: USO celebrates 73rd birthday - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Military Salute: USO celebrates 73rd birthday

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Volunteers with Savannah's USO cut and served birthday cake at the Savannah Hilton Head International Airport to mark the world wide organization's 73rd birthday.

"It was started back in 1941 through a presidential proclamation. We've been serving and entertaining troops for 73 years now," explained local chairman Ray Gaster.

On the local level, the volunteers, many of them retired military themselves, are often the last civilians troops see as they deploy and the first to welcome them back when they return.

That sendoff includes food, comfort supplies, and a smile and thanks.

The local group also operates a welcome station in the airport where individual troops and their families can relax during a journey.

"Sometimes, they find themselves here for hours in between flights and many of them make this their hang out," Gaster noted.

It's all accomplished through private donations. Today, members of the Small Business Assistance Corporation attended to present a gift.

"The USO provides a place of comfort and welcome and we want to be able to support that," explained Tony O'Reilly.

"Savannah's a great community and is supportive of the military. Our volunteers are part of that and I couldn't be prouder," Gaster added.

Copyright 2014 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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