Airport dedicates waiting room to fallen Clifton Park soldier

Albany International anticipates opening of the Capt. John J. McKenna Military Courtesy Room

The scene is familiar to all frequent flyers traveling military personnel stranded in airport lobbies, waiting for their next deployment. This situation is one that John McKenna of Clifton Park and Albany International Airport hope to change.

McKenna, whose son, Captain John J. McKenna IV, died while serving with the Marines in 2006, wanted to give back to the servicemen and women who depart and return through Albany Airport. Slated to open in mid-April, Albany Airport's Capt. John J. McKenna Military Courtesy Room will offer a place for military personnel to relax while waiting for their flights.

We can do something to offer them a few minutes of rest and relaxation," said McKenna. The room will provide a place for military personnel to wait for flights, relax, have computer and phone access, refreshments, and most importantly, escape from the chaos. The room will be staffed by community volunteers who will offer an inviting atmosphere and a well-deserved thank you.

"Most people don't understand the sacrifice that not only {the soldiers} make, but their families make as well," McKenna said.

The Military Courtesy room will depend on families and communities in order to operate. According to Joseph Pollicino, of Tri-County Council Vietnam Veterans, the project has involved about 80 volunteers. The Tri-County Council Vietnam Veterans serve as the "umbrella organization" which insures and sponsors the initiative. However, many local volunteer groups such as Blue and Gold Star Mothers and several American Legions as well as the Tri-County Council Vietnam Veterans will donate their time and effort. The volunteers will staff the room and have donated everything from electronics to furniture.

"It's an awesome project," said Kay Moody of Blue Star Mothers. Moody, whose son served in the Army, said that Albany Airport previously had less services for military personnel than most other airports, so the addition of the military courtesy room will be a much-needed change. Moody said she expects the room to be "a fantastic place for military to rest as they come through." Volunteers will play an integral part in the room's operation; offering a warm and inviting community atmosphere to the room's patrons, and assistance with travel, as needed. The volunteers took part in a training course to prepare them for the upcoming opening of the room and their responsibilities. "The volunteers are very patriotic and appreciative Capital Region residents," said Moody.

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