BEDFORD, Va. – It was an emotional sendoff Saturday for nearly 900 troops for Virginia National Guard’s largest deployment since World War II. They’ll spend about a year in the horn of Africa.
Linda and Ken Parker want to make sure the troops aren’t forgotten about.
“When we found out they were going to be deployed, we said, ‘What can we do to help?” said Linda.
The Bedford couple founded the Bedford Boys Tribute Center, honoring 19 local soldiers who died on D-Day.
They decided to start Operation Bedford Remembers for the latest troops deployed. Volunteers can sign up to adopt a soldier, then receive their name, birth date, and hometown. You can write to your service member using custom stationery and have opportunities to send care packages overseas.
“We want their families to know that our collective communities are behind them while their loved ones are overseas,” said Ken.
The Parkers say about 40 volunteers signed up so far.
Bill Watts is one of them.
“I just thought it was a wonderful idea!”
The 74-year-old adopted a Bedford soldier with the initials T.D.
“I can relate to being away from home, and it’s always good to have a letter to tell you that somebody’s out there thinking of you,” said Watts.
The Parkers look forward to sending their first shipment of letters and care packages in January but are already thinking about the troops coming home.
“I can assure you we’re going to have one heck of a welcoming party when they get back, expected to be the first week of November next year,” said Ken.
If you’d like to adopt a soldier, you can visit the Bedford Boys Tribute Center located at 104 N. Bridge Street, Bedford, VA 24523.
You can also call 540-425-5598 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.