MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There’s a place inside MSP Airport where traveling members of the military and their families have been able to relax for nearly 50 years.

On Thursday, the Armed Forces Service Center celebrated the grand opening of a new and much larger location in the “C” concourse. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the center is free to retired and active members of the military.

Nothing but smiles greet all who walk into the new service center. Jeanne Murford was one of the first volunteer greeters back in 1970. She still enjoys letting service members know that “this is your home away from home.”

“Everything here is free, there are beverages and snacks in the dining area, we also have hot dogs and turkey and ham sandwiches,” Murford said.

There is access to bathrooms, showers, and even bunks in case you need a place to sleep. There is also space for families, especially kids who often travel with parents who serve.

“This is a place where our service members can just come, be still, and not be bothered by all the wildness that goes on around an airport, to have the support and love of people who understand what they are going through,” Nancy Purdum Hall said.

Hall’s mother, Maggie, piloted the initiative that led to establishing the Servicemen’s Center back in November of 1970. The idea was placed on her heart after her son died in Vietnam.

“I know that my mom and my brother would be really happy,” Hall said.

Maggie Purdum worked with a team of locals to raise the money needed to open the center, now the Metropolitan Airport Commission, Delta Airlines and others help keep this new oasis serving those who serve.

“A tiny feeling of home when you are anywhere but the community you get, the support network, you kind of know what you are going to get when you come into one of these types of lounges,” Air Force Reservist Cpt. Michael Munton said.

He says this oasis is needed during a busy travel week. This feeling of home is what the Purdum family wants for all who pass through these doors.

The Armed Forces Service Center is a nonprofit, not affiliated with the USO or the military. One-hundred-and-eighty active volunteers keep it open year-round.

Reg Chapman

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