Operation Pocket Field Pillow (PFP)

After 4 years and 11 months, I got word a few weeks back that we won’t be able to continue our support operation.

Over the last year, fabric was harder to come by since the mill wasn’t being contracted to make so much ACU for the Army. And now, with the proposed force drawdown and federal defense budget cuts, well, that spelled the end for us.

For those who have followed us, I have a few facts for you.

Since February 2009, when my soldier deployed to the Kunar province for a 12 month tour, working together, our volunteers made a grand total of 18,888 field pillows for American combat troops, sent to 18 different Afghanistan provinces.

If you lined up all the pillows end to end, they would stretch across the center of 62 football fields (with a few yards left over).

To all the wonderful volunteers, those who showed up and stayed the course, the ones who stopped by my house for help packing boxes for their adopted troops, those who reached in and dropped a little something in the basket at the sew-ins, folks who dropped my house constantly to pick up or drop off cut fabric or sewn pillows to be turned and stuffed, folks who helped load up my minivan with bags of finished field pillows to be packed and shipped, folks with different commands, battalions and brigades around the country who helped me coordinate where to ship the boxes, organizations and individuals who generously donated their money to help fund our project, bravo zulu to you all for a job well done.

Our mission: to support American combat troops by making and shipping small camouflage pillows, suitable for use in garrison or in the field.

Weight of stuffing used: 4,722 pounds, costing nearly $4,500

Weight of pillows packed in boxes: 8,268 pounds; price to ship: nearly $8,500

The pride we all felt working to support our troops: priceless

Carol Armstrong

Founder, Operation Pocket Field Pillow and

Proud parent of an American Soldier…signing off.


Two of our regular sewers (to the left is my mom)

For our last sew-in at Beazley, we worked feverishly trying to get as many pillows completed and ready to ship as possible. The folks at the center even planned a lunch for us – and it was GREAT!

Daughter Leah is practically hidden behind a wall of ACU pillows

We heard through the grapevine that the 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley KS needed some travel pillows. We spread the word and had more than our usual share of volunteers.

Lastly, my 2 youngest and a neighbor help carry the boxes out on their way to Afghanistan. The boxes will be there in about 2 weeks or so.

One of my contacts with the FRG folks at FT Drum contacted a good friend of hers at another Army post, and those folks contacted me. The result: lots more field pillows.

Hundreds of ACU field pillows will be headed to troops in one of the outposts in a remote region of Afghanistan. It’s a rough sort of place (but in Afghanistan, where isn’t?); below you’ll see an aerial of what the area looks like (it’s a very, very cool picture)….you gotta love our Army 🙂

Here’s the second group of boxes full of ACU field pillows being shipped to our Marines in the Helmand province (totalling well over 500; lots but not nearly enough).

To our wonderful Marines; I apologize in advance, ACU is all we have. But please take one of our field pillows and use it, knowing that folks back home care about you and want you to come home.

May the Lord bless you and keep you safe.


With the outpouring of requests from folks who read Jennifer Caprioli’s article and passed it along to their Facebook friends, we have way more requests for our ACU field pillows than we have folks who work on them.

If you’ve offered to help, wonderful! If you’re local to the Tidewater area, or know someone who is, and would like to volunteer to help us make pillows, we’d love to have you. If you’ve emailed me and asked me to send pillows to your Soldier’s unit, judging from the requests, it may take us awhile for us to get to your troop.

If you’d like to begin your own pillow project, great! I’ve been telling folks to look for ACU fabric online; you won’t find it in any retail store. And there’s a good reason we choose the same ACU that our troops wear; it’s tough, strong, dense, and durable. That stuff wears like iron — and that’s just what our troops need.

Our field pillows are travel size, about 10″ x 12″. We use only premium polyfil by the Fairfield Processing Corporation; you can find it in any WalMart. Don’t even try to hand sew this stuff; save your hand sewing for the fleece pillows we send to Landstuhl. Just machine sew them shut after stuffing. Don’t even think about getting the cheap stuff; in this case, you most definably get what you pay for. A 50 oz. bag of stuffing will fill 18-20 of our pillows.

If you’re not sure about starting your own pillow project, but want to show your support, contact a chaplain at the nearest post, and ask how you can help. Contact your nearest USO, contact Soldiers’ Angels.

Speaking of which…

Do you know anyone who lives in Germany, near Landstuhl? My contact with Soldiers’ Angels there says they have a really hard time finding volunteers to help unpack boxes of goodies that have been sent for our wounded (including boxes of our pillows). If you know someone who lives near the hospital, and would be willing to become an Angel, please tell them to wander on over and sign up.

Our troops need all the Angels they can get.



It’s not always easy to contact folks up at FT Drum. And sometimes it does get old explaining again and again about our project, trying to verify that I really am who I say I am, yes, I really am a 10th Mountain mom, and asking for personal information about our troops; things would be a whole lot easier if I were physically in NY, and could just walk in and introduce myself. So I was pleased and surprised when I contacted the PAO (Public Affairs Office) at FT Drum, and my contact there, Jennifer Caprioli, referred me to the folks at Division for help with coordination. Since Jenn is a writer, she also suggested writing an article about Operation PFP, and that might help spread the word about the project.

I found Jenn’s article online, and thought I’d share. She did a wonderful job and I love the photos she used. And it certainly did spread the word. I’ve spent all day answering emails and reading comments from folks around the country.

Unfortunately, it’s really hard for folks to join us at one of our sew-ins when they live 1,000 miles away 🙂

I do have several suggestions for folks though; if you have a troop deployed: don’t forget to write to your soldier at least once a week, send him photos of your family, newspaper clippings, magazines, anything that helps him stay connected. If you don’t have a loved one deployed, find one of your own. Contact a Chaplain at the nearest post or base. Ask how you can adopt a troop. And devote some time at least once every day to your troop; keep a care package going and add to it when you find goodies you think he or she might like; always include a letter asking if anything special is needed or wanted, send a drawing the kids made in school, remind your troop that folks back home care and want him or her to come home safely.

If you are outside Virginia, and want to start a pillow project of your own — great! Find the appropriate fabric for your sailor, soldier, marine or airman online. Gather up some funds, buy the fabric and premium polyester polyfil (we only use Fairfield stuffing), decide on the pillow size (we like 10″ x 12″), cut your fabric and make some pillows. Again, contact a local post Chaplain or USO, and ask for help getting your pillows to our troops.

Our friends at Soldiers’ Angels can always use help, and they have chapters all over the U.S. Or visit the Soldiers’ Angels website. They always have ongoing projects that folks across the world can participate in, whether you want to adopt a troop or make a blanket for a wounded soldier. Spread the word to your friends, co-workers and the folks at church.

Together, we will continue to let our troops know that they are not forgotten. And we won’t stop til they all come home.

Someone’s always doing something at my house with ACU; making strips into key chains, cutting pillows, stuffing, packing, writing out those pesky customs forms…

When Nick visited us on his way to FT Gordon for training, he brought his sweetheart (and my beautiful new daughter-in-law) Christine.  No visit to our house is ever complete without a few fresh baked chocolate chips cookies — along with a little cutting or stuffing  🙂

We held a smaller sew-in at the Beazley Senior Center yesterday, and yet still managed to complete nearly 200 ACU field pillows. Along with hundreds more, this group of pocket field pillows will be headed to Afghanistan shortly.

Resurrection Church in Portsmouth is sponsoring the sew-in next Tuesday, and they gener0usly offered me a booth at their Fall Festival to promote Operation PFP this past weekend. I brought all the small ACU key fobs with me, set up a booth with Nick’s picture on it (I swear, my Soldier is SO handsome!) and some info about the project. Folks stopped by all day long to either buy a key chain, drop a few dollars in the pot, or tell me about their own troop.

So, now we have a little more money for shipping, and we might even snag a few  volunteers from that booth. Thank you, Eleanor!

Until Tuesday then…HOOAH!!!

The last of 13 boxes of ACU Pocket Field Pillows is headed to a CAV regiment at FOB Sarkari Karez in southern Afghanistan. This regiment, part of the 10th Mountain Division, belongs to a BCT that will start to redeploy back home in several months.

One of the boxes contains the 12,000th PFP we’ve made and shipped; kinda sounds like alot — until I remember that we have about 100,000 American troops still in Afghanistan, and as they return home, replacements are sent to take their places.

The current administration is talking about withdrawal sometime in ’14…not soon enough for me.

In the meantime, we will continue working to let these young men and women know that we will not forget them.

I received an email this morning from a Soldier with the 2-183CAV. The Soldiers in this regiment, all from Virginia, deployed to Iraq, COS Kalsu (Contingency Operating Station), just south of Baghdad.

Several weeks ago, we shipped several hundred field pillows to this regiment, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the Churchland Lions Club.

Hello Operation Field Pillow!

Attached is a picture of me.  What you can’t see is the fact that I am sitting on one of your fine pillows.  You see, the seats in a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle are not too comfy and the pillow is perfect for taking the edge off.  Several Soldiers use it for the same reason.  We also take them on our overnight trips driving all over Iraq for when it is time to hit the hay.  So, on behalf of my unit, I wanted to thank you for your hard work that went into making all of those.  I know it wasn’t
easy…just please know that the guys got a kick out of them, they were distributed to Soldiers, and that they are being used.  You’re great Americans!


Thanks so much, Brian, for taking your time to write! Your friends and families miss you all; and please know that you are not forgotten.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 404 other followers


Operation PFP is made possible in part by my small business, Just For Baby Gifts, donations of ACU by the Carlisle Finishing Plant, fleece donated by Polartec, supplies donated by Brother International, and by the untold hours of work by hundreds of proud and grateful American volunteers.

...til they all come home
%d bloggers like this: