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1,000 USO volunteers greet troops at Hartsfield 24 hours a day, 7 days a week | News

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1,000 USO volunteers greet troops at Hartsfield 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

ATLANTA (WXIA) -- With troops movements to and from Iraq and Afghanistan getting scaled back, the military is now centralizing its charter flights into one major airport -- Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International.

As each flight arrives or prepares to depart, USO volunteers are always there to welcome those in uniform. They've been at it non-stop for 8 years.

Just back from Kuwait, Army Specialist Jeff Pell was in for a surprise -- a rousing welcome home from USO volunteers.

"It makes one feel happy. Makes me feel proud of what I do. thankful for what they do. Without them this would be another day job," said Pell.

But its no surprise for the more than 1,000 USO Hartsfield-Jackson volunteers who have been giving the high-fives, big hellos and hugs non-stop since trooops first started traveling between Atlanta and the war zones.

"Look at these men and women in uniform. they volunteer to take care of me and my family and they dont know any of us. They never met us and probably never will. How can you go wrong by saying thank you to people like that," said USO volunteer Pat Solomon.

It doesnt matter what time of day or night, because the USO is on a 24-hour military clock.

"Sometimes a flight will come in at two in the morning, or it will be late at night, our volunteers are here. We have never missed a flight," said Mary Lou Austin, President of the Hartsfield-Jackson USO. 

The welcome does not stop there.

The USO Hartsfield Jackson Lounge opens its doors every day with food, comfortable chairs, televisions and computers.
On special holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, guest chefs -- all volunteers -- come in from some of Atlanta's top restaurants to prepare festive holiday meals.

Will more flights coming to Atlanta change things? The USO says they'll keep doing what they've been doing 24-7 and never missing a beat.