Aircraft Carrier Captain Turns Pens at Woodcraft Turn-a-Thon

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Photo: Vietnam veteran and Lenexa, Kansas, Woodcraft manager Charlie Wilson (above) and USS George H. W. Bush Captain Will Pennington turned pens at the 2017 Turn for Troops event.

Navy Captain Will Pennington of the USS George H. W. Bush aircraft carrier was among volunteers who turned 12,661 pens at the 14th Woodcraft Turn for Troops National Turn-a-Thon on Veterans Day weekend. The captain turned pens at the Virginia Beach Woodcraft. The 2017 pen total brings the grand total since 2004 to 158,742.

Last year Capt. Pennington and his crew were on the receiving end of 4,840 of these unique wood pens that are sent annually as thank-you gifts to US military personnel on active duty and recovering in rehabilitation centers.  “I much enjoyed the opportunity to turn a few pens to contribute to your great program,” Capt. Pennington said.

“Woodcraft is honored to have Capt. Pennington among the ranks of the volunteers who made the Turn for Troops program successful for the 14th year,” president Jody Garrett said. “Woodcraft commends him and the hundreds of other volunteers of all ages who cared enough to spend time turning pens for the people who are defending the US. Without these caring volunteers, many who show up every year, Woodcraft would not be able to say thank you in such a personal way to our military.”

Volunteers Who Care

Volunteers who participate in the Turn for Troops National Turn-a-Thon, as well as those who turn pens year-round for the program, are a diverse group of people who often are retired military or have family or friends in the military.

For example, Charlie Wilson (opening image), who manages the Woodcraft store in Lenexa, Kansas, is a Vietnam veteran and a turn-a-thon volunteer. Jeff Brockett, who has a nephew in the military, volunteers at the Nashville store turn-a-thon and has turned over 1,000 pens in the past three or four years. Sean Bramer, a retired Navy veteran, brought his 13-year-old daughter Cyndi to the Virginia Beach Woodcraft turn-a-thon this year as a father/daughter outing to give back to the troops. It was Cyndi’s first turning experience, and she turned four pens.

Photo: Jeff Brockett, a veteran pen turner, watches as a volunteer turns a pen during the Nashville Woodcraft Turn for Troops Turn-a-Thon.

Cyndi Bramer shows one of the four pens she turned in her first time at the lathe during the Virginia Beach Woodcraft Turn for Troops Turn-a-Thon.

Darrell Jones shows a pen he turned at the Richmond, Virginia, Woodcraft store Turn-a-Thon.

2017 Store Leaders

The same four Woodcraft stores that have led in the highest number of pens turned annually and overall for the past several years kept their top spots in 2017 with one switch – Nashville, Tennessee, is the top store for 2017 with 2,313 pens turned, while Grand Rapids, Michigan, is second with 2,268. Rounding out the top four are Tucson, Arizona, third, 1,480, and Boise, Idaho, fourth, 1,127. Tucson leads the stores in number of pens turned over the past 14 years: 17,544. Nashville is second, 17,531; Boise is third, 15,068; and Grand Rapids is fourth, 12,701. 

Photo: These gorgeous pens were turned by Ellen Davis, president of the Montgomery County Woodturners, for the Woodcraft Turn for Troops program. She and other members of the club turned hundreds of pens on their own and at the Rockville, Maryland, Woodcraft store during the turn-a-thon in November. Her note of appreciation, included with each pen, is pictured also.

Woodcraft of San Carlos is the closest store to the top four with 792 pens in 2017 (a jump from 475 in 2016) and 9,318 in 14 years. Three other stores achieved major increases over their previous year totals: Rockville, Maryland (235 in 2016; 760 in 2017), Milwaukee, Wisconsin (75 in 2016; 641 in 2017), and West Atlanta, Georgia (89 in 2016; 216 in 2017).

Photo: Luke Saner turns a pen at the Seattle, Washington, Woodcraft store as Craig Chatterton observes. Chatterton is a volunteer who assisted with the Turn for Troops Turn-a-Thon. 

Photo: Some of the pens turned by the Milwaukee Area Woodturners Club are packaged and ready to be sent out by the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Woodcraft store to military personnel worldwide.

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