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OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — For as long as anyone here can remember, the USO has operated from a desk tucked away in the base’s air passenger terminal.

They kept hot coffee and doughnuts on hand at a nearby table, had some local travel brochures set out, got up the occasional barbecue, but they weren’t equipped for much more.

That, officials say, has finally changed.

The United Service Organizations now has its own building on base with amenities it couldn’t offer before: wireless Internet connectivity; a cybercafe with stations for four computers; a TV lounge area with a big-screen TV; a sitting area where people can relax and read; and a multimedia room where up to 16 people can watch TV or a movie as if in a private theater.

“So folks can go in there and plug in the DVD, the movie of their choice, and sit in the actual theater seating with an overhead projector and screen and the ambiance of being in the theater,” said David R. Proch, country director for USO Korea.

The new quarters occupy about 1,800 square feet in Building 429, a short walk from Osan’s main gate. The project cost $162,000, which also covers a small structure that will be added to the building to house a kitchen, Proch said. USO won’t be setting up a canteen, but the kitchen will help when they hold barbecues and similar events, he said.

The Air Force hired a contractor to refurbish the one-story building, Proch said.

The work began in late October and finished in December. The USO opened Dec. 19, but because of holidays and a recent weeklong training exercise, officials held off on a formal ribbon cutting ceremony until Wednesday. The ceremony coincided with the USO’s 68th birthday, Proch said.

“This is the first time that I can tell in the past six years or more that this has been a dedicated building” for the USO. “We’ve had a dedicated desk.”

Proch said former 51st Fighter Wing commander Col. Jon A. Norman was “a big proponent and … the visionary” behind getting the USO into its own building. Norman moved to a new assignment at the Pentagon in October.

The USO will eventually host barbecues, live bands and other events, Proch said.

The center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“But we’re currently looking at ways to expand our operation through the use of volunteers,” Proch said.

More information is available by calling the facility at DSN 784-0469, he said.


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