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Helping Make Dreams Come True with a Visit to Arlington and WWII Memorial

Operation Supply Drop is known and recognized as one of the premiere not-for-profit military and veteran support organizations within the United States and around the world. Most know the organization as one that provides service members and veterans support through gaming-related events, care packages, and meetups. So it may come as a surprise to some when they learn about some of the other behind-the-scenes support OSD provides to the community. That’s exactly what happened with WWII veteran Arthur Best.

Arthur, 90, an Army veteran who served in Europe from 1943 to 1946,dreamt of the day he could visit Arlington National Cemetery. After leaving service, the Maine native continued his tradition of serving his community by becoming a firefighter for the city of Portland for 27 years. Even after retirement, he continuously visits the local firehouses to chat with current members, becoming something of an icon within the local firefighting community and lifting spirits whenever he’s around. He and his wife had plans to visit Arlington, but sadly his wife and best friend for over 67 years passed about a year ago and the plans they laid out never came to fruition.

While saddened by the loss of his beloved wife, Arthur continued to chat and spread joy to the local firehouses. It was during these visits, the firefighting community learned of Arthur’s desire to visit Arlington. The Portland Fire Department quickly convened and determined their goal was to help fulfill Arthur’s wish. They set up a GoFundMe page to gather the necessary funds to send Arthur on his way. In the meantime, Wreaths Across America, a not-for-profit whose mission iscarried out in part by coordinating wreath laying ceremonies in Arlington and across the United States, granted Best the honor of laying a wreath at the Maine WWII Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.

It only took 48 hours to fund Arthur’s trip thanks to generous donations through the GoFundMe page and several other social media outlets. It was during this time that Don Noble, Military Veteran and Live-Event Coordinator of Operation Supply Drop, heard about the campaign to help Arthur realize his dream. After discussing it internally, OSD realized that this trip was exactly what they had in mind when they started the Thank You Deployment program. So, the team over at OSD decided to put their resources behind the campaign to ensure its success.

Shortly thereafter, the drive to fulfill Best’s wish was triumphant and, on December 11, 2015, he was on his way to visit Arlington for the first time, just as he had envisioned so many years ago. Upon arrival, the official ceremony to kick off the wreath laying event was held at the Vietnam War Memorial. Arthur, a recipient of the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart, was given the first wreath to lie.

He laid it at the bottom of panel 48E in memory of the uncle of one of the men who accompanied him on his trip, Todd Libby. Best continued his tour of Washington, D.C. by visiting several other memorials, most notably the Lincoln Memorial, before arriving at his final location, the Arlington National Cemetery. It was there that Arthur was given the honor of laying the first wreath at the Maine pillar. On the second day of his visit, Arthur continued laying wreaths on many headstones across the cemetery and ended the day with the distinct honor of laying his last wreath on the headstone of Senator Ted Kennedy.

The ability to provide the resources to help this dream come true is such an honor to us here at Operation Supply Drop. Arthur
Best, and so many others, have selflessly given so much to our country so it’s the least we could do to give back to him.

After the trip, Arthur and the group that helped put together the fund raising campaign expressed their thanks and gratitude for the support we provided. However, the thanks and appreciation should not be directed toward us. Instead, we want to thank you, Arthur Best, for your service to our nation. Without service members like you selflessly serving our country, we would not be the great nation we are today.