RUMFORD — River Valley region military personnel deployed to Afghanistan are now being honored with large patriotically painted wooden shields, thanks to J. Arthur Boivin and the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary.

Currently, there are eight shields representing eight people, but auxiliary President Tricia Thurston said she believes there are many more deployed whose names they don’t yet have.

If someone is deployed and someone wants to add that person’s name to a shield, Thurston urged them to contact her at 369-0831.

The eight names they do have came from the auxiliary’s Comforts From Home program, in which members send care packages to those deployed.

Boivin, a former Rumford selectman, presented the project to selectmen at the board’s Thursday night meeting while holding up Felicia Bell’s shield.

He sought and received unanimous permission to place the shields on town lamp poles just below the lamps, and then put all eight up by Friday afternoon.

“Should you allow these to be installed on the poles on Congress Street, for example, I would venture to say that the amount would grow considerably,” Boivin read from a prepared statement.

Using marine plywood donated by Mexico fire Chief Gary Wentzell, Boivin said he cut and painted each shield at his house, and then auxiliary members hand-painted the names of deployed military personnel across the shield’s center.

The shields are modeled after one atop the Rumford fire station from the Operation Desert Storm deployment in the early 1990s.

Boivin said that when those deployed return home, their shield would be taken down and either presented to them by the town manager and selectmen or presented during a patriotic celebration, such as the Fourth of July.

“I think it would be good for the town of Rumford to show their support for the troops,” Selectman Jeremy Volkernick said prior to the board’s vote.

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