FORT BRAGG, N.C. - A specialist assigned to the 122nd Aviation Brigade, has been in the Army six years. Marquis Bloodworth is not the only Soldier in the Family -- his wife, Angel is assigned to the 1st Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, and is currently stationed in Afghanistan.

The Bloodworths became two of the latest 100 recipients of refurbished computers issued by Operation Homelink. This is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing computers to Families of deployed Soldiers, enabling them to keep in touch by webcams, chat, and email.

By the time Marquis picked up the Dell laptops shortly after 10 a.m., Friday, at the Yntema Club, he had not yet communicated the news to Angel, and therein, lies the significance of the gift.

The computers will help bridge the physical divide between the Bloodworths and link them, although they are stationed more than 7,000 miles apart.

Spc. Brian Wallen, of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, also received a laptop and webcam.

"It feels pretty good. I can use it when I'm deployed and communicate with my wife," he said.
"It's going to help me deal with him being away," said Angelia, Wallen's wife, who is expecting the birth of their child in June.

"I might not be able to be there for the birth, but I can see the child on the computer," Wallen said.

For Spc. Rustam Nafikov, of the 528th Sustainment Brigade, the computer will serve yet another purpose. Nafikov said he plans to use the computer for his accounting studies at Campbell University.

Nafikov was accompanied by his supervisor, Staff Sgt. Dwayne Barrett, who said he showed up to offer moral support.

The computers will go a long way in helping Soldiers, who can't always afford to buy their own computers, so it's good for lower enlisted, Barrett said.

Operation Homelink was founded by Dan Shannon, a father of four, who said he was inspired to start the organization post 9/11 after seeing images of fathers being deployed to serve their country.

The computers that were distributed Dec. 8 were donated by Raytheon (a defense and aerospace systems company) that has become Operation Homelink's biggest donor, said Shannon, who told the crowd of Soldiers that the computers were not free.

"These computers were earned when each of you signed up," he said. "They're earned every morning when you strap on those boots to do the heavy lifting for the other 99 percent."