By BILL MCCLELLAN
The Herald recently received a letter from H. Scott Davis, chairman of Christmas For Our Troops Inc. In the letter, Mr. Davis thanked the Herald for helping get the word out about the organization, which provided gift boxes to U.S. military deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq during the holidays.
More important than thanking the Herald, Mr. Davis wrote “I cannot begin to express my deep appreciation for all that the citizens of Big Spring did to help our troops. Suffice it to say that your readers set a new standard for volunteer support.”
Mr. Davis included some letters from military personnel and I'd like to include excerpts from a few of them for you here:
“What a wonderful treat to receive some good old Texas treats all the way over here for Christmas,” wrote LCDR C. Aycock, USN. “Everything in the box was shared among the Marines and Sailors and enjoyed by all. The thing I believe that is appreciated the most is the fact that all of you great Americans took time out of your busy schedules to volunteer, collect, sort, pack and label and mail a gift box out to a Marine (or Sailor, Soldier or Airman) whom you've never met but want to support all the same.”
“I have seen many boxes from this organization that have brought excitement and smiles to all of our Marines here,” wrote Cpl. Jessica L. Cox. “Not having a store, combined with limited showers and laundry bring morale down a bit. We rely on packages for the things we want and need. As you can imagine, not everyone has a good family so in some cases the things you sent made their Christmas more exciting.”
“Thank you all so much for the Christmas box! That was awesome to receive. The variety was quite amazing, too — from candy, snacks and cookies to hygiene items to a pocket knife!” wrote Travis Plummer. “The guys in my unit were ecstatic to receive these type of items, especially the knife. Every day now, too, we're walking around with the mugs drinking coffee, tea and hot chocolate — those were another favorite.”
“I wanted to say thank you for the Christmas package. I was not expecting anything out here (Afghanistan), e-mailed HM3 Joshua Munchbach. “You guys made my Christmas. We are out here by ourselves doing patrols every day, thinking we are on our own. It is nice to know that people care.”
“Your organization and volunteers are truly great Americans and the time, generosity and prayers are all appreciated,” wrote Maj. Bill Conde. “As you know, our Soldiers are doing amazing work and we hope to bring a touch of the freedom and peace we cherish so much to a land and people that have not seen it in some time.”
“I wanted to say thank you for everything that you are doing,” said Robert Hofer 3 MAW G-2. “It really made my Christmas something special when I received the box that Christmas For Our Troops sent. I thought it was going to be an everyday usual day again today and when I received this box and opened it my eyes lit up. The things we do here are meaningless unless we have the support of those back home.”
And many of those writing had another message:
“All I ask of you is to pass along to anyone you talk to in conversation that we are here for a good reason and people here really appreciate us being here,” wrote SFC John Luck, with the Iowa Army National Guard. “Everything you see or hear on the news isn't always true. The people of Afghanistan have a long was to go but have come a long way. I can honestly say that we are making a difference. It will be a slow process, but millions of people are better off because of it.”
“Please rest assured that our troops, along with our Coalition Force partner nations, are making great and positive strides over here,” Aycock, who is deployed to Afghanistan, wrote. “The quality of life of the Afghan peoples has been significantly improved by the roads, bridges, water wells, schools, court houses and local markets that are being constructed, for the most part by local national contractors. The government services are responding to the needs of the local people and the Afghan National Security Forces have excelled under the training programs we have in place and are increasing their abilities to protect themselves, the people and the government of Afghanistan from terroristic threats. This is a very rewarding time to be here and I look forward to seeing even greater accomplishments in 2011.”
I know the people of Howard County did not donate to Christmas For Our Troops in order to be thanked, especially so profusely. But it is rewarding to know how much the gifts, thoughts and prayers mean to our service men and women.
Wrote Plummer in closing, “I hope next Christmas to be home, but I know other Soldiers will be here to receive your packages. Thanks for what ya'll do!”
You're welcome Mr. Plummer, and thank you for what you do. We'll look forward to having you stateside as soon as possible. And yes, I think I can speak for the people of the Crossroads area when I say we'll keep the packages coming.
Bill McClellan is managing editor of the Big Spring Herald. He can be reached at 432-263-7331 ext. 230 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org