Books to Troops
GMC Library sending books to troops in Iraq
By Ross Couch – The Union-Recorder
MILLEDGEVILLE – Sometime between 1957 and 1975, a United States helicopter pilot fighting in Vietnam found refuge from the war around him in the tales of the wild, wild west through the words of Louis L\’amour, commonly referred to as the father of the western genre of literature.
That soldier fell in love with the written word in the jungles and battlefields of Vietnam, pulling out his paperback novels from the pocket of his fatigues during times of boredom.
Now, some 30 or 40 years later, our country once again finds itself in conflict with a foreign power – instead of the Chinese and Soviet nationalists and communists in Vietnam, we are now fighting Al\’Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents in the Middle East.
Jane Simpson is the director of Georgia Military College\’s Sibley-Cone Library and a friend of that soldier who spent his spare time in Vietnam engrossed in western novels. From his experiences she, along with others at the GMC campus and library, developed the idea of providing that experience to today\’s soldiers.
\”We knew that people around the community were sending care packages to the soldiers in Iraq, so we wanted something the library could do,\” Simpson said. \”My friend had told me his story about learning to love books while in Vietnam, so we started collecting paperbacks to send to the 48th Infantry Brigade (out of Fort Bragg).\”
Many cadets and former cadets from GMC are members of the 48th, including former GMC director of cadet recruiting and 1971 graduate David Bill, who is now the public affairs officer for the 48th. They are stationed at Camp Striker in Iraq.
\”I talked to David (Bill) before he left for training and he thought (sending books) was a good idea,\” Simpson said. \”He and another former cadet from GMC are in a position there to distribute the paperbacks to the soldiers there. We can\’t just send them over – they must be addressed to a specific soldier – so we address the packages to those two soldiers.\”
Janeen Garpow, GMC director of public relations, said Bill has identified 57 soldiers in the 48th who were once members of the GMC family. She, Simpson and the library are attempting to reach each and every one of them through literature.
\”We want to get every one (of the GMC cadets in the 48th) a book to read,\” Simpson said.
And Simpson believes they are well on their way to that goal. The Sibley-Cone Library has been collecting paperback books since the fall of 2004 and have around 150 books.
\”We have asked people on campus and around the community to donate books to the project,\” Simpson said. \”We\’ve had a good response, but we need more. Eight or 10 books brought in is a tremendous amount, but even three books is great. That means three soldiers will have something to read.\”
Two packages of books have already departed from the library and are on their way to the soldiers. A third package is in the process of being packed and prepared for shipment.
\”We sent the first package of books about two or three weeks ago,\” Simpson said. \”They are somewhat small packages – about two shoe boxes worth of books – and we try to send them fairly frequently.\”
In each package is a wide variety of books from all genres of literature. Simpson said this will give each soldier the opportunity to read what they enjoy.
\”We send books of every kind in each package – westerns, science fiction, romance and just novels in general,\” she said. \”We do this so that no matter what the soldiers like to read, something will be there for them.\”
GMC and the Sibley-Cone Library are open to book donations from anyone in the community interested in doing so, but they are in need of two genres in particular.
\”We\’ll take any books people are interested in donating, but we are really in need of science fiction and westerns,\” she said. \”The only stipulation is that we request the books be in good taste. We don\’t want to send over any X-rated material.\”
Another similar project, Ashley Mangus\’ Operation DVD, recently had a shipment of DVDs destroyed by a rocket propelled grenade attack. When asked how this will affect the book project, Simpson said, \”All we can do is keep sending.
\”I would rather have the books destroyed than the soldiers,\” she said. \”If some (books) are lost, then some are lost. All we can do is keep sending packages and hope most of the paperbacks make it to the 48th.\”
And word has reached GMC that the soldiers are looking forward to their arrival.
\”David Bill recently e-mailed Col. (John) Anderson (dean of students), thanking everyone at GMC for the support and care packages,\” Garpow said. \”He also wrote that they are looking forward to the arrival of the books that Jane (Simpson) and the library is sending over.\”
Garpow said the one thing the supporters at GMC are looking forward to is the soldiers\’ return to the United States.
\”I also talked to (Bill) and he said that they would appreciate anything and everything they received from home,\” she said. \”We are just looking forward to them returning home, but until then we are trying to do everything we can to help them while they are in Iraq.
\”We are hoping everyone returns home safe,\” she added. \”And we are looking forward to the cadets\’ return to GMC to finish their education.\”
If you are interested in donating books for the soldiers or making a monetary donation to help with the shipping costs, contact Col. Jane Simpson at (478) 445-2718.
To reach Ross Couch, call him at (478) 453-1465 or e-mail him at email@example.com
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