FORT DEVENS, Mass. – One hundred and sixty Soldiers, slated to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, this spring, received donated iPad minis during a Soldier and family support event here Feb. 7, 2014.
The Military Friends Foundation donated the iPad minis to Soldiers from the 379th Engineer Company, Massachusetts Army National Guard, to help them stay connected to their families while overseas.
The foundation supports deployed and fallen service member’s families with emergency travel, scholarships, job fairs, homecoming events and much more through donations it receives when Massachusetts taxpayers donate $5.00 or more by checking question 32E on their state income tax forms.
One family connected to the MFF was the parents of Sgt. Robert J. Barrett, 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment, Massachusetts Army National Guard. Barrett, of Fall River, was killed in action on April 19, 2010 near Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near him while he was on a dismounted patrol with his unit.
During the event each Soldier presented Barrett’s mother Carlene, and father, Paul, with a flower as a token of condolence and respect for their family’s sacrifice.
Speaking to the Soldiers, retired Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Sellars said, “Stay in touch with your families. One thing I’ve learned in the business of deployments, overseas duty and the return home, is everything you do to maintain contact and communication with your family from the day of the departure to the day of return sets the condition for your life once you're back home.”
One Soldier who got an iPad mini was Spc. Melissa Beaton. Beaton has been preparing for her second deployment in three years. After the event Beaton said, “It was really nice of them to give us the iPads so we can keep in touch with our friends and families.” It was also very touching to meet Mr. and Mrs. Barrett, and to see their reaction to meeting all of the Soldiers,” said Beaton. Previously, Beaton deployed to Kabul Afghanistan with the 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Massachusetts Army National Guard, in 2011.