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America Supports You: Walter Reed Troops to Get Super-Sized Chess Set

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2005 – The servicemembers recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here will receive a unique gift this holiday season: a larger-than-life chess set adorned with signatures and messages of support.

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Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England signs a chess piece for Operation Interdependence. The oversized chess set will be delivered to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center for wounded troops to use as part of their rehabilitation process. Operation Interdependence brought several chess pieces to the Pentagon last week and asked interested employees to pen notes of encouragement and sign their names. England signed several pieces thanking the men and women of the armed forces for their service. DoD photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The 8-by-8-foot chess set is being donated by Mega Chess, a private company in California, and delivered by Operation Interdependence, an organization that supports regularly scheduled deployments of troops with care packages.

This is about the 20th chess set Operation Interdependence is delivering to troops, said Albert Renteria, Operation Interdependence founder and president. Each set is donated by Mega Chess and bears the signatures of hundreds of American citizens, he said.

The chess set going to Walter Reed was signed by Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England and other officials while it was circulated around the Pentagon.

A large chess set is quite a departure from what troops overseas usually receive, Renteria acknowledged, but the important thing is the signatures, not the actual object, he said.

"It's the idea behind it," he said. "When you take the time to write something, that takes emotional delivery. When the troops see that, it only sends one message: that we care about you, and we're thinking about you."

The chess set will be used at Walter Reed to help patients with recovery and rehabilitation, Renteria said.

"We're hoping it provides humor, comfort and, (for) a serious chess player, a good way to play chess," he said.

Operation Interdependence, a partner in DoD's America Supports You program, sent the first chess set to 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, in Iraq in April, Renteria said. Since then, chess sets have gone to units from all branches of the military around the world, he said.

Operation Interdependence staff take the chess sets to schools, churches, special events and organizations to get signatures for the chess pieces, he explained.

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Related Sites:
Operation Interdependence
America Supports You

Click photo for screen-resolution imageA U.S. servicemember ponders his move on an oversized chess set delivered to Iraq by Operation Interdependence, an organization that supports deployed troops with care packages. Courtesy photo  
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