Unsung Hero: Veteran donates books to troops overseas

Jessica Yanesh

KentWired Video

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Former soldier Thomas Monroe sent 11,070 books to troops stationed overseas last year.

Monroe, who served in the Army from 1963 to 1966, is in the American Legion Post 193 in Mantua, Ohio. As a member of the post he said he accepted the service to provide books for troops stationed overseas, which he has done for over three years.

Monroe said when he was overseas he noticed some of the guys he was stationed with didn’t receive any mail from home. He said now it is his turn to help those guys get something.

Monroe said he chose books because he enjoys reading and knows what it is like to be on an isolated site several hours away from a home base. He said books give the troops a chance to escape to a different place that they can pick up or put down whenever they please.

Monroe purchases books from library book sales, Half-Price Books and other thrift stores with his retirement savings. He said he pays for about 85 percent of the expenses, and people who donate pay for the rest.

Monroe said he has five people who volunteer to pay for parcel postage.

“I don’t turn down help,” Monroe said. “But I never ask for it.”

Monroe said he travels as far east as Warren, Ohio and as far west as Lakewood, Ohio on the west side of Cleveland to find his favorite authors.

Monroe has expanded this project from 2,320 books sold in 2008 to 11,070 books sold in 2010.

Monroe said he spends approximately 80 hours a month finding, organizing, packing and sending books for this project, but he couldn’t do it alone.

Monroe said what makes the project work best is getting those who work with him to feel involved and part of a team.

“The sharing of the experience is one of the better things that come from this,” Monroe said. “The best one is that the troops feel supported.”