WADE: Send A Book To A Soldier

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SEATTLE — Finding that special Valentine’s Day gift often can cause anxiety. However, longtime auto-racing writer Louis Brewster, sports editor of Southern California’s Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and The San Bernardino Sun, has a suggestion for you — and it will ease someone else’s fear.

The gift is not for your sweetheart, though. It’s for American soldiers and their families. Brewster’s son, U.S. Army Sergeant Bryan Brewster, was killed May 5, 2006, just five days after his 24th birthday, as his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed during combat operations in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y. Louis Brewster has remained in touch with many of those who served with his son.

Capt. Jenn Mahoney, the Brewster family’s casualty assistance officer from Fort Drum, has become active in the Army’s “United Through Reading” program in her third deployment in Afghanistan.

Brewster said the Army’s “United Through Reading” program, designed to ease some of the stress of separation for military families, is “a circle of communication that allows both child and parent to connect with one another, despite the thousands of miles.”

He’s enlisting the help of anyone who would like to donate new or “gently used” books appropriate for children roughly ages 2-12. The books will go to the library at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

The American soldier will select a book from the donations, then read it aloud as he/she is filmed on a DVD. The soldier will send that DVD home, along with the book. The child at home can watch the DVD and read along. The parent at home will capture the reaction via DVD or photos sent back to the war zone.

“Our family will be sending books next month through the Bryan Brewster Foundation, as I believe this is truly a worthwhile effort,” Brewster said. “If you wish, you can forward your books to me at my office: 2041 E. Fourth St., Ontario, Calif., 91761.

“I would also encourage you to inscribe a note in the book to show your appreciation of their military service to our country and thanking the children for their sacrifice,” he said.

Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher, who just signed a sponsorship renewal agreement with the Army in late November, said, “I’ve often said I would not want to drive for anyone else. There’s nothing more gratifying than to be representing the Army Strong way of life.”

He has said, “People tell me, ‘Oh, the Army — I couldn’t do that.’ But I tell them, ‘They’re doing it for you, so you don’t have to. You ought to love them even more for that.’”

Sgt. Bryan Brewster did it for you, so you don’t have to. So please take a few minutes and send a children’s book to the Army’s “United Through Reading” effort.

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