Last summer, when we were laying the organizational groundwork for E-Books for Troops, SSgt Michael F. Garcia was beginning a year-long deployment in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. That’s when he first filled out a Unit Sponsorship Form requesting three Kindles. He later described his team, which is training the Afghan National Army‘s 215th Corps, as follows:
We have every branch of service on our team except the Coast Guard. We have a big task of standing up the Afghan army and hopefully allow the US to pull out of Afghanistan once we train and mentor the Army to a point that they can do everything on their own. We have a lot of Marines on our team who like to read. But we don’t have a lot to choose from. I think the E-readers will be a great morale booster for my junior members – giving them a chance to escape somewhere and read a good book. It will give them a chance to decompress.
As we received donations of used Kindle 2s, we have been able to fulfill requests like SSgt Garcia’s. I shipped three Kindles to him on December 23, 2010. We received the following e-mail from him on January 27:
I’m proud to say that we gave out the Kindles yesterday and they were a big hit. … I would like to thank you and everyone that has made this happen. It’s programs like E-Books For Troops that let our young troops know that people really do care about them. Most importantly that they aren’t forgotten. Thank you!!!!!
SSgt Garcia included the photos shown here, of the entire team gathering for the unboxing of the Kindles as well as more formal portraits of two of the recipients who are Marines, LCpl John Kennedy and Cpl Joshua Wohlfert. Shown with the new Kindle owners are the team’s Commanding Officer, COL Jeffrey Endicott, and CPT James Moore, as well as SSgt Garcia.
The third recipient, SSgt Farrah Kaufmann of the Air Force, was out on a mission, so she is not in the photos. She was scheduled to receive her Kindle a few days later.
Ken Clark and I have been working on E-Books for Troops for nearly a year now, and we have now entered a deeply rewarding phase of the project, where we are able to see the direct impact of our program on the servicemen and women who are defending our nation overseas.
It’s very satisfying to see a box that I taped up here in Denver and left at the Post Office, sitting on the ground in a camp half a world away, in Afghanistan, opened with considerable ceremony. I also loved the fact that the camo covers donated by M-Edge Accessories (along with lights for the Kindles) turned out to be a perfect match with the uniforms of the Marines.
These scenes, along with messages like SSgt Garcia’s, make us want to spread the word and ramp up this effort, so we can hit our internal goal of distributing at least 120 Kindles this year. Thanks to all of you who have donated Kindles or money to enable us to purchase new Kindles. If you haven’t had a chance to participate yet, please join us!