GeoWorld October 2011

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BY JIHAN HILL GPS for Troops: OPERATION WAYPOINT A nonprofit provides GPS guidance for the safety of American soldiers preparing for active duty in the Middle East. G etting lost can be a frustrating, time-consuming endeavor. In a war zone, it can mean life and death. Operation Waypoint, a Minnesota-based, nonprofit program administered by the St. Augusta American Legion Women's Auxiliary Post 621, works to address this scenario for military men and women deployed in the Middle East. During the last five years, the pro- gram has worked in Minnesota and has delivered more than 300 handheld devices and cartography cards with Iraq and Afghanistan maps to soldiers scheduled for deployment to these counties, providing more than 50 units in just the last few months. With aspirations to become a national program, Operation Waypoint is fully run by dedicated volunteers and relies heavily on its partnership with Lowrance, a GPS navigation company, to provide GPS products and charts to soldiers preparing to serve. The program also receives donations from service and social organizations as well as numerous individuals to fund the effort. A Service Request Operation Waypoint was started in 2005 by Ed Meyer, a retired Army veteran and industry-technology high- school teacher, when a former student of Meyer's, Sgt. Gaylen Heacock, approached him for advice. Heacock was preparing for deployment to Iraq and asked Meyer which GPS unit that would be best suited for his mis- sion. Heacock recalled watching the news about Nick 26 GEO W ORLD / OCTOBER 2O11 Hardware

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