A new website called GPS for Troops has been launched. The site is part of a now national effort to provide deploying soldiers with GPS and map cards supplied by Operation Waypoint, a Minnesota-based, non-profit program administered by the St. Augusta American Legion Women’s Auxiliary Post 621:
Fully run by dedicated volunteers, the program is committed to increasing the safety of military men and women deploying to the Middle East with the guidance of highly accurate, handheld GPS units and mapping cards for Iraq and Afghanistan. Since its inception, Operation Waypoint has relied heavily on its partnership with Lowrance, a leading GPS navigation systems brand, to provide GPS products and charts to soldiers preparing to serve, as well as generous donations from service and social organizations, and numerous individuals to fund the effort. The redesigned Operation Waypoint website will build awareness for the organization’s work, making it easier for visitors to donate and encourage other organizations to become partners in the project to provide GPS devices for soldiers in their own communities.
The military supplies on GPS device per unit which is vehicle mounted. The non-profit was started by retired educated Ed Meyer who was inspired by the story of soldiers he had obtained handheld GPS units for before they deployed to Iraq. Meyer had trained the three soldiers on how to use the handheld navigation devices which proved to be a lifesaving event:
Shortly after the soldiers arrived in Iraq, while traveling at night, their 24-vehicle convoy took a wrong turn into a very dangerous Baghdad neighborhood following the lead truck’s Army-issued GPS unit. Realizing the mistake, the convoy commander called Sgt. Gaylen Heacock, one of the soldiers equipped with a Lowrance GPS supplied by Meyer. Heacock’s device determined the correct route and was able to guide the convoy to safety. Upon hearing of how the Lowrance units aided in safety, Meyer worked through the American Legion Auxiliary and Post 621 to broaden the idea into a full not-for-profit program.
Operation Waypoint is expanding its outreach to the national level with the launch of the new website. To date, the non-profit has supplied over 200 donated Lowrance Endura Safari handheld GPS units that contain a precision GPS+WAAS antenna with 42-channel receiver and 3-axis magnetic compass:
The combination of the touchscreen, simple menus, and the ability to control one-handed or with gloves, keeps usability fast and seamless. However, the most important benefit is the ability to store up to 2000 waypoints for areas of safe passage, suspected insurgent buildings, and other items that are marked and identified with any of 193 different icons and then shared between GPS units over time or added to satellite maps.
Operation Waypoint seeks to grow nationally by working with other American Legion Posts and organizations with a goal to provide a GPS unit to every deployed unit. For more information on Operation Waypoint, to make a donation or learn about other ways to support the organization’s work, please visit www.gpsfortroops.org or contact (320) 252-6693.