GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Usually when someone comes through the door at the USO lounge inside the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport they are either deploying or coming in for training, but during the holidays the troops are going somewhere extra special.
"All of the students are being dismissed from Keesler Air Force Base and from the Seabee Base and we're here hosting them at the USO before they go home for the holidays to spend some much needed and appreciated time with their families," said Director Felice Gillum.
Many troops consider USO Lounge at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport relaxing. The lounge is always packed before Christmas. Service members use the lounge to eat snacks, catch up on reading and watch a football game or use the WIFI.
"The USO allows us a chance to like, relax a little bit before going home because we're always expected to hold a standard back at the squadron. So it's nice to be able to relax a little bit before going straight home," Airman Benjamin Edgell said.
Benjamin Edgell says basic military training and tech school in the Air Force has kept him very busy this year. That's why his trip back home to Pennsylvania is his time to catch up with loved ones. It's the same story for Airmen Timothy Sherrell who is planning on surprising his parents in Texas.
"Like, um I haven't told anyone that I was coming home, but the person who is picking me up from the airport. So like, I'm a just show up at the house and just knock on the door," said Sherrell.
USO officials say there mission is to lift the spirits of the troops and their families particularly during Christmas time.
"There are so many that are geographically separated and won't be with their family during the holidays and that's where the USO comes in and we offer ourselves as there extended family," said Gillum.
The USO Office is run by volunteers year round. If you are interested in volunteering, you can find and message them on Facebook at: USO Gulf Coast.