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Donated GPS units give directions to Minnesota troops

It wasn't exactly Christmas in July, but for five members of the Minnesota National Guard who ripped open their presents -- it was even better.


July 12, 2008
By Boyd Huppert

The troops from Camp Ripley - soon departing for Iraq - are the latest recipients of GPS units being given to them by the St. Augusta American Legion Auxiliary.

It all started with Legion member Ed Meyer. The retired high school shop teacher does GPS training part-time for outdoor retailer Gander Mountain. Ed was approached two-and-a-half years ago by a former student seeking a GPS unit before his deployment to Iraq.

Months later that same student shared in an e-mail how his GPS had saved the soldiers in a 24 vehicle convoy.

"We were in a very bad part of Baghdad and needed to get out of their fast," Ed read from the e-mail. "Our convoy commander screamed ? and said 'do you have this on your GPS.' I answered, 'yes,' and directed them back out of the there." Ed chocked up as he finished reading the soldier's e-mail. "What I'm trying to say is everybody in the convoy owes you a big thank you. I was scared to death." Ed was so moved by the e-mail that he made it his mission to get GPS units into the hands of every Minnesota soldier who requests one.

"Somebody has to do this, and nobody's doing it," he says.

With fundraising help from the St. Augusta's American Legion Auxiliary, Ed has now presented 60 of the $160 GPS units to departing troops and personally provided GPS training.

"You get lost over there, what do you do?" Ed asks. "You can't read the signs. You can't ask for help."

Ed has set up a website, gpsfortroops.org , hoping other American Legion post will also adopt his idea. In the meantime he continues to seek donations for his own efforts. "When I see these people and get the e-mails back from people using them over there I say we got to keep doing it until everybody that wants one over there should have one. That's my goal."

A goal set... a man determined to find a way.