Eagle Scout’s dream comes alive as Ontario Airport, Bob Hope USO reopen renovated center for visiting troops
ONTARIO, Calif: The newly renovated Bob Hope USO at Ontario International Airport was formally unveiled Friday and the Center re-opened after its temporary closure due to COVID-19, offering guests, dignitaries and servicemembers a first look at the Southern California airport’s beautiful new home away from home for our troops.
A cornerstone of the USO center is the new Patriot Patio – a labor of love for Eagle Scout and USO supporter Christian Thorpe, who in 2019 envisioned an enhanced outdoor patio area for traveling military personnel. Christian, the son of ONT Chief Executive Officer Mark Thorpe, raised a total of $7,500 in donations, and with the support of USO Inland Empire Manager DJ Stanhope, San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman, the City of Ontario and the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA), was able to put his plan into action.
Marines and airmen from March Air Reserve Base pitched in to repaint the center itself, move furniture and install floorboards.
“We owe our servicemen and women such a debt of gratitude for their sacrifice and courage, and hope that this new center will provide a warm and welcoming experience during their travels,” said Wapner, who serves as president of the OIAA Board of Commissioners. “We’re extremely grateful for our partnership with the Bob Hope USO, the support we’ve received from all of our volunteers and donors, and, of course, to Christian, whose dream has now come alive.”
“Our USO Airport centers are one of the many ways the USO is committed to supporting America’s service members and their families by keeping them connected to the people, places and values they cherish,” said Paul Estrada, Bob Hope USO Board Chair and US Army Veteran. “We’re thankful to our partners at Ontario International Airport, for helping the USO provide the over 25,000 men and women who put their lives on the line for us with a warm welcome when they come home or pass through.”
The Patriot Patio replaces the old outdoor seating area, consisting of concrete benches dating back many years, with new patio tables and umbrellas. Christian held a community BBQ, raising the initial $7,500. Hagman, the City of Ontario and OIAA each contributed $5,000.
“Especially now, during the pandemic, having a safe, comfortable outdoor space for our visiting servicemembers is so very important. We are thrilled to be able to dedicate this beautifully refurbished center, and to let our military heroes know how much we appreciate them,” said Hagman, who serves on the OIAA Board of Commissioners.
“The Patriot Patio is a great example of the strong community in Ontario,” said DJ Stanhope, USO Inland Empire Manager. “What started with one Eagle Scout hoping to make a small, but important difference by adding tables for our military to enjoy inspired a community of others and led to the creation of an entire new patio area and the possibility for us to serve many more troops even during this global pandemic.”