June 27, 2005
By Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hampton
BLACKSTONE, Va. -- Soldiers from the 1032nd Transportation Company and the 1030th Engineer Battalion rolled out of Fort Pickett on Jun. 21, headed to Northern Virginia on what would be the first leg of a long journey for 96,000 pounds of books. The journey was part of a joint effort under the Books to Africa Program to get valuable educational materials and books in the hands of needy children in the impoverished city of Monrovia, Liberia. Books, audio-visual learning aids and other educational materials were donated by hundreds of organizations.
The idea came when a member church of the Richmond Baptist Association (RBA) sent several of its members to do missions work in the African city. While there, the missionaries were touched by the eagerness and thirst the children had for learning and wanted to help. With the assistance of the RBA and several other organizations, an appeal went out to corporations, organizations and individuals.
The result was an outpouring of support which materialized into thousands of books and educational materials. However, this was only the beginning of a huge logistical undertaking. Getting 96,000 pounds of books to Africa is no small task, neither is it cheap. So when the call was made to the Virginia National Guard for assistance, Soldiers from the 1032nd and 1030th, stationed in Gate City Va., answered the call.
In two separate convoys, the Soldiers traveled to two Northern Virginia cities, Loudon and Alexandria, to pick up the books. Once loaded, they transported the items to a Richmond, Va. warehouse where they were unloaded and stored for shipment. A long, hard days’ work that didn’t end until well past 9:00 p.m. but the gratification the Soldiers displayed, just knowing that their efforts would have far reaching implications, made it all worth while.