Robert Patton is a veteran of the US 65th Infantry Division, which helped to start a library in Passau, Germany at the conclusion of World War II – a library that still exists today and helps German students to learn English by providing access to 300,000 books in English.

He recalls how he responded to Brian McNerney’s plea for books to be sent to Iraq….

“On Christmas Day, I received an email from Brian, asking for help. He wanted to take me up on an offer of help that I had made to him while on our 65th Infantry Division Anniversary Tour of our combat route in World War II. He indicated that there were some 20,000 to 30,000 people stationed at (Camp) Anaconda without any books to read and could we help him get a library started. Living in an academic community, the location of the University of North Carolina and Duke University, many of the residents here have wall-to-wall bookshelves of books. My mind ran out of control on the possibilities of providing help.

“Immediate questions for Brian were: What kind of books do you prefer, how many do you need, how do we get them there promptly, and what are you going to do with them when you depart? All the answers to these questions came quickly within a few days.

“The local American Legion Post served as a place to collect the books. The Boy Scouts welcomed the opportunity of boxing them up. The Air Command at Pope Airfield (in North Carolina) heard about it and wanted to help. It was interesting that everyone wanted to help, including the news media. One person went by a local bookstore and purchased a book to send since she wanted to be a part of the effort.”