Xin Xin Liu, News9.com
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan — A group of Oklahoma Army National Guard soldiers in southern Laghman province have found a common interest, they are learning to play music with guitars donated by a store in Tulsa.
According to Spc. Leslie Goble with the Task Force Thunderbird Public Affairs, soldiers at the Forward Operating Base recently received a donation of eight guitars to learn to play music, and help relieve stress.
Spc. Goble said when guitar lessons first started at the base, soldiers were required to bring their own guitars. They had to order the guitars and have them sent from home.
"People were asking where they could get guitars to come to practice," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Todd Chisum, a combat advisor with the Stability Transition Team from the Oklahoma Army National Guard.
According to Spc. Goble, the guitars were donated by Todd Cooke, the manager of Guitar House in Tulsa.
"This is a good example of a business that supports the troops," said Chisum. "He went above and beyond. We never asked for a donation."
According to Spc. Goble, because of the growing interest in obtaining guitars for classes, Chisum got in touch with Cooke to try to find out what the prices are on four guitars.
"I was hoping my church would help me pay for them," said Chisum. "He [manager of the Guitar House] then did something better."
Cooke originally agreed to donate six guitars. But he added two smaller ones for the soldiers who have trouble stretching their fingers.
"I did get a guitar when I got here but I can't stretch my fingers that far," said Sgt. Lori Smith of Norman, a network operator for Company C, 45th Brigade Special Troops Battalion. "I'm thankful we are getting smaller guitars."
Chisum's wife helped ship the guitars through her church.
"It's something I look forward to," said Smith. "It keeps my motivation up, I get a little upset if I get called in during class or if something goes wrong and I can't make it to class that day."
Cooke said the guitars should stay in Afghanistan when the 45th brigade soldiers come home, so the next group of soldiers can make use of them.