Lengthy overseas deployment can be tough for Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.

To support troops during this time, and to give them something from home to cherish, former RAAF electronics technician, Amos de Pasquale – who died in 2017 – rallied a community of generous “pen turners” in 2008 to form “Pens for the Troops”. 

One of the first to assist in founding the community-based project was current Pens for the Troops coordinator, Bruce Sanders, who said people from all walks of life contribute to the scheme. 

“They do this in appreciation for what the men and women of our ADF do for us in keeping our nation safe,” Mr Sanders said.

“The pens are mainly crafted from Australian timber or handcrafted resin blanks, mostly with Defence Force themes. 

“These pens take an enormous amount of time and experience to produce.”

To receive something that I can carry around with me forever as a memento of my first deployment is special.

Mr Sanders said Pens for the Troops has sent pens to deployed personnel all over the world, from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq and East Timor, to Royal Australian Navy ships and submarines.

“We get a lot of feedback and it’s pleasing to find that the pens are appreciated and used to handwrite letters to send back home,” Mr Sanders said.

“Most say the pens are treasured and it’s wonderful to have a part of Australia with them when they are deployed.

“None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for Amos de Pasquale, the original founder.”

Leading Aircraftwoman Rebecca Harris, who is on her first deployment supporting the C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster aircraft in the Middle East, received a pen.

“To receive something that I can carry around with me forever as a memento of my first deployment is special,” Leading Aircraftwoman Harris said. 

“The fact that it was handmade with Australian Yellowbox makes it even better – it’s like carrying around a piece of home.”

Pens for the Troops provided 2284 pens to deployed personnel for Anzac Day this year, and while the impact of COVID-19 has reduced the volunteers’ capacity to produce more pens, they are striving to create more than 1500 pens for Remembrance Day.