I am the Staff Sergeant in a Military Intelligence unit here in Iraq. I am in the Utah Army National Guard back home, I was called up to active duty for this deployment. I’m 29 years old, so a little bit older than most Soldiers. I have been in for about 6 years, I joined in 2005, I am proud to say that I joined the National Guard during a time of need for our country, recruiting and retention levels were very difficult for the Guard during that time. I am single and have never married. I have never read the Lord of the Rings series, however I have long heard nothing but good things about the books, and I have an opportunity in my free time here to catch up on some good reading. I am truly touched by the “Books for Soldiers” program in general and specifically by people like you, who provide words of encouragement and books for entertainment, by request, to Service members who are in need. The lens cleaners truly are such a useful item! When I opened your package, one of my fellow Soldiers was very surprised that there were lens cleaners in the package, and asked me to have one (and of course I gave him two). He wears glasses and so they are especially useful, but everyone here has to wear either Sunglasses or Eye-protection, and I frequently use the cleaners to clean mine. It has been a few days and I am already making quick progress reading “The Hobbit,” I understand how you mean about power! I see “The Hobbit” as well as being a book about how adventure can come to folk of any age, as well as being a great fantastic read. As you may have deduced, I joined the military when I was 24, a little older than most, because I wanted adventure! The mundane and ordinary life was not always for me! Much like our hero Mr. Bilbo Baggins.
Staff Sergeant Sam, USAR, Iraq, March 2011
One of the hot chocolate packages ruptured in shipping. It was quite fortunate because now everything smells like chocolate! I haven’t gotten to Catcher in the Rye yet, as I only have about 30 minutes a night to read, given my work schedule. Even with that limitation I’ve been able to finish seven books in almost three months. The days are quite busy. I’ll pass the books along when I’m finished.
Phil, USAF, The Perfume Palace, Iraq, April 2011
Letter included a Postcard showing President Bush walking with the President of Afghanistan, Karzai.
Thank you for all your support, specially the lens cleaners and constitutions.
From the Marines w/Marine Wing Communications, Afghanistan, April 2011
Several Soldiers have asked for a copy of the Constitution pamphlets that I keep on my desk. That was thoughtful to include so many excellent choices of reading material. The majority of our unit has or is within a year of graduating with a Bachelor’s degree. Twenty percent of us have a Master’s degree and one Doctorate. Almost everyone in our unit speaks a second language. These books will be read and enjoyed.
Lieutenant Colonel David, USMC, Balad, Iraq, April 2011
I am a Chaplain Assistant. It is funny you sent the book for me (the book was The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis). I pulled the book out and read it. I really liked it. It was amazing. It has been through a lot of people since then. I love to read. I don’t even own a tv. I read. I understand about reading more then one book at a time. I am reading Frank Pertti book This Present Darkness. Reading it I have stopped reading the other books. I hope all is well there.
“Get fired up or die”, Specialist Anthony, USA, Afghanistan, April 2011
I’ve already distributed the boxes accordingly and the days already are starting to look better. Though we’re barely at the half way mark, some take it harder than others and mail plays a big part in morale, so very ingenious idea doing it like that (small individual packages). We’re thankful for the cloths and everything else…I’m sure we’ll definitely come up with something to use them for that may not have been used for previously. That’s a funny story…I guess now you can add me to the end of it…I’m surprised the Military doesn’t have it’s own talk show. Everyone talks about everyone like it’s an episode of Jerry Springer just because we’re all not in the same branch or all enlisted or all officer. I have some funny stories as well…being in the belly of the beast.
As for me, I’ve been in the military for 4 years 4 months. Got married 2 years ago (May), no kids and 3 dogs. Right now I’m stationed in Louisiana, deployed to Afghanistan, originally from SC, but spent the last 3 years in Germany. I hope I didn’t confuse you Were you prior service? (no) I wish there were more people like you in the US who know what the soldiers feel like…it’s like people forget you’re gone…your life is in danger everyday…and you can’t communicate like you want to because communications are down, etc. I won’t bore you anymore….just wanted to let you know that YOU are appreciated by us as well.
(From a separate, later email) Though you’re not prior military, you’re very sharp on how soldiers are feeling and actually putting yourself in our situation (not a lot of people do that). Yeah, hearing bullets and even firing your weapon is like the norm and even second nature in this kind of environment…hearing mortar rounds or artillery happens nearly every day, so you get used to it.
Pro Deo et Patria!
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
Sergeant Travis, 10th MT Division, 3/89 Cavalry Regiment, USA, Afghanistan, April 2011
This is my third deployment. I spent a year in Iraq and 15 months here in Afghanistan for 2008-2009. When I read letters like yours, it makes me proud to serve my country. I am fortunate that I only have to spend a year here for this rotation and though the days can be long, reading some good books really makes the time go by. The books will be passed along to other soldiers.
Victor (rank unknown), USA, Afghanistan, April 2011
I definitely appreciate George W. Bush’s autobiography. I presume you received my request through the website I registered at, I believe it was www.booksforsoldiers.com or something like it anyway. If it was not through that request, then all I can say is, it is a truly miraculous coincidence. lol.
I have seen the book 1776 numerous times on the shelf at the PX and various bookstores and have often wondered what it was really about. Now I will certainly find out. I passed on a lot of the ‘goodies’ you included to others stationed here with me. I kept out 6 copies of the pocket Constitution, to pass on to my children and wife. My oldest son is in the Navy and my middle son has intentions of joining the Army in the near future. I have a daughter who was married to a guy in the Navy and my wife and I have two 16 month old twin boys, who if they choose to give the military a try, I will support them every step of the way as well. One thing is for certain, ALL of my children will know what this great Country was founded on!! Your support for the military is greatly appreciated and you are 100% correct when many of the American people have no clue as to what our Country would be like if it weren’t for US standing up for what is right in this world.
Anthony, USMC, rank unknown, Afghanistan, May 2011
I’m currently serving at a small base near Mazar-i-Sharif as a liaison officer at an Afghan national police training center. My unit is from Baumholder, Germany, and we’ve been in country for nearly 6 months. There are only two US Army guys on the base, and so we’re constantly interacting with the nearly 50 Polish, Dutch, Spanish, and French soldiers here. Having worked with Afghans, Europeans, and contractors from around the world on a daily basis, my natural love of history has been stimulated by the many conversations with and observations of the other nationals here on the base. I majored in history in college, during which I focused on European and Middle Eastern history, but now I’m looking to enrich my knowledge of the areas that I neglected, like Latin America and Asia.
Your support means a lot to people like me serving downrange. We would serve here regardless of the support of people back home—and the generation of Vietnam did just that—but it raises morale so much to know the country is with us. We here are proud to be a part of a mission that set the captive Afghan people free from a murderous and barbaric regime in the Taliban, and we are committed to ensuring that Afghanistan will never again become a safe haven for murderers. Again, I appreciate the books and weapons cleaners that you sent, and hope that you know that you are raising morale for soldiers here in Afghanistan.
1st Lieutenant Matthew, Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, May 2011
As I said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. My intentions, I had meant to physically write you back but know now it is not likely to happen. I am just too busy or tired to ut pen to paper. We work 13 to 16 hours a day 7 days a week. I do have t be on a computer part of the time for my job so I thought I would just jot off a quick note. I am 46 and on my 3rd deployment. I have 3 kids, two still at home and quite young. I do sometimes enjoy the Army but I am getting too old for this. It was 100 degrees at 0730 this morning! I am leaving a book or two on the counter and like to observe who and how soldiers take them. I find it interesting as to how people will check out the books you sent me. I have also given out a lot of the glasses cloths. We are all required to wear protective eye wear ALL the
time so those are being put to good use. Thank you very much again.
P.S. Believe it or not all your copies of the Constitution went pretty fast too.
Sergeant Caleb, Forward Operating Base, USA, Iraq, June, 2011
Surprisingly, the U.S. Constitutions are a big hit! I keep them in front of the aid station and have had leaders come in and grab a few. I still have a few left. There is so much dust here we use the lens cleaners all the time. The candy went quick. I took it around to the Commander and he actually took some Lemon Heads.
Ryan (rank unknown), USA, Afghanistan, June, 2011
I am a medical provider attached to the 256th Combat Support Hospital in Al Asad, Iraq and I have three medics attached with me that appreciated the books and other items as well. We have been up here in Al Asad for several months and in about a week or so we will make a jump to another part of the country to continue to provide medical care to the troops. It lifts our spirits to get the packages that people like you are kind enough to send to us.
June 6th is always quite a day of reflection for myself too. I have spent the night in Arromanche sur Mer where you stated you had lunch with your father and it is quite moving to imagine the troops walking up those shores in droves to rid the continent of the tyranny of the Nazis. Your father was truly a part the THE greatest generation and it is people like him who inspire many of us over here. Anytime we think we have it bad we can look back and know that they had it 10x worse than us. It is nice to know that some people realize that we are still over here…..47,000 in Iraq and 100,000 in Afghanistan. God Bless you and your family.
Captain Daniel, 265th Combat Support, USA, Al Asad, Iraq, June 2011
The lens cleaners are an added plus. We all use them. I would have to agree with the SGT in Afghanistan, two officers that know something is strange. One of my NCOs took the copies of the Constitution you sent and make his Soldiers carry them as a reminder of why we are here and what we do. I have driven across Montana several times when I was stationed in WA State. It sure is one long drive across, but an enjoyable one. I’d take some weather from the States any time. The dust storms here kill me, but at least it isn’t as hot in Afghanistan as Iraq. Once again thank you for taking the time to support Service members such as myself. It is nice to know many Americans still stand behind us.
Sergeant 1st Class Stephen, USA, CJTF-1, 1CD Afghanistan, July 2011
I do apologize on the amount of time that it had taken to respond to say thank you. The lens cleaners do serve a world of help on the dusty roads as I use them also for a million and one reasons. I serve as a EWO (electric warfare officer) and a gunner so seeing is vital for me to see the screens of my equipment and to keep my Goggles clean and clear. I store a few in my ACH (Helmet) to keep sweat from falling in my eyes and have a moist wrap to clean off my screens when I am testing my devices before and after convoy. As far as the Marine Cpt and LT not knowing what to do with anything extra I have to agree with the SGT. Officers are usually LOST until we show them the ropes. Everything we get is used down to the Boxes they arrive in.
I also would like to say thank ou for the Books. They are something that I use for my studies as well as my TRAVELS. My Bros. and I usually trade off on books and papers we get from just about every corner of the world. The ones you sent me will be in my holding due to the past few weeks have been hot as hell and there was too much to do to support mission,(no reading time) I am going to hit the Hebrew Letters 1st then move on to the others. Some parts of your letter do suggest you know a deal about the Fraternity. If so whatever knowledge you would like to share would be very appreciated. /G\
Again if nobody else has ever said thank you for supporting us, we do appreciate it. Sometimes we do feel the brunt of the public but we must push forward for what we all feel is right.
Sergeant DaShaun, USA, Afghanistan, July 2011
Your box arrived in perfect condition and the books, snacks and lens cleaners were a big hit. Believe it or not the pocket constitutions were the first things that were snatched up. As you probably know we in the military are a patriotic bunch. We all know that there are some great Americans who are still thinking of us, but it is very surprising that there are a lot of people back home who forget what we do on a daily basis. For that reason, on behalf of my entire unit, I thank you for your thoughtful gifts and the time it takes to put it all together. I have never been to Montana, but I plan on taking a cross country trip to the west coast from New York. I was going to cross over on the top half of the U.S. on the way there and the bottom on the way back. No particular itinerary, but I have to try to squeeze it into 4 weeks. In any case it should be a relaxing ride after dealing with this dusty excuse for a country.
Master Sergeant Dean, USA, Afghanistan, August 2011
There are quite a few avid readers in my battalion, so every one of us chose a book to read. Then when we finish one, we can swap. So we should enjoy the books for some time to come. Please let everyone involved with your organization know that we really appreciate this. Thank you. Your whole care package was a huge success. Everyone loved the pocket Constitutions as well as the lens cleaners. We haven’t had any opportunities to come up with creative ways to use them yet. I’ll let you know if anyone comes up with a unique use for them that you hadn’t heard.
Things here in Iraq are a lot different than the last time I was here, but that’s to be expected when the mission is to “draw down”. But little things make it all bearable. You’d really be amazed by how much packages from the states lift spirits around here.
Sergeant 1st Class Adam, USA, Iraq, August 2011
Today is my day off and I’m doing routine chores while I have the time. I’ve been in the air force for 3 years, and have been deployed to Afghanistan and now Kuwait. I’m from a small town outside of Austin, Texas and I miss it very much. Sadly I will be missing Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s with my family and friends. However it is comforting to know how much they support and love me. I googled pictures of Mcleod, and it looks like a very nice place to be. I bet you have a lot of fun up there. Thanks again. I would have rather used snail mail, but I have the ability to use internet so I use email to save time, they keep me really busy here.
Andrew (rank unknown), USAF, Kuwait, August 2011
I will be sure to put the little cleaning cloths to very good use. they seem soft enough to clean my computer screen with out scratching it, a real bonus in this environment. I was touched by your letter also. Sometimes one can just go through their day, whether here or back home, and forget that there are other people who really do care, and what we do really means something to some people. For those people like you sir, I am proud to be an American soldier, for it is awesome people like you that give meaning to what we do. I will be sure to share what you sent with the other soldiers in my platoon.
Staff Sergeant Frederic, Oklahoma Army National Guard, Afganistan, August 2011
It’s always nice to know that people still remember there’s a conflict over here; and that American are still sent over to fight it. I’m currently majoring in history with intentions to some day become a high school teacher on the east coast. I’ve always been a fan of the subject and I think that education may be one of the greatest factors in our continuing status as a great nation. I’m hoping to inspire tomorrow’s youth to take on push forward with our country and take pride in the things we have accomplished.
Michael (rank and deployment unknown), September, 2011
This is my first deployment and I would have never guessed how happy I would be to receive mail, it means more than you know. I am from Norman, Oklahoma where the University of Oklahoma is. I am married with three children and yes, that is the worst part about deploying is being away from your family. I am on mission daily however, in my down time I love reading about American history (not real big on fiction). I have always wanted to visit Montana, my wife and I really like hiking and camping. It sounds like a great place, I do fish, but never been fly fishing. Being here makes me really appreciate how great our country is. I see that other people in the world don’t have the same opportunity that we have. The Band of Brothers set is great I watched some of it when I was at basic training at Fort Knox. Again, thank you for your support.
Jarrett (rank unknown), Oklahoma National Guard, Afghanistan, September 2011
The lens cleaners were a great addition. We Mortars of the C Troop, 1-180th Cavalry will undoubtedly be using them to clean our frequently dirty eye pro and optics on our M4’s. I feel as though I should repeat the sentiments of both the Lieutenant in 010st and the Sergeant in Afghanistan, although I am hesitant to declare a Marine or a Lieutenant competent based on one, single story. Further evidence would be required.
We are infantry soldiers assigned to a Calvary Squadron in the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma National Guard. Being infantry in a Cav Squadron sometimes makes things difficult, but we do the best we can to get by. Specifically, I am a Mortar Squad leader in a squad of 5. We are currently stationed in Kuwait and are supporting operations in Iraq among other things. For some soldiers in the mortars, this is their first deployment. For others, their second. This is my third. Your part of the country sounds nice. I’ve never been to Montana but it is certainly something I’d like to do.
C Troop Mortars, Specialist Casey, Corporal Richard, Specialist Justin, Private 1st Class Jesse, Private 1st Class David, Oklahoma National Guard, Kuwait, September, 2011
Thank you for your gift. I have been wanting to read this book (Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell) for a long time, and finally getting around to it. It’s hard to believe, but before I joined the Army I had never read a real book cover to cover. Now I find myself reading all the time. My friends and I were also looking over your copies of the Constitution, and were all happy to get the lens cleaners as well. They work great at keeping our laptops clean. I got a good laugh out of the many uses of the lens cleaners. I have to agree with the Sergeant, it was amazing that you found two officers that new anything. Well a little about me. I am 28 as of a few days ago, and I have 3 kids. I am pending divorce, and hope to have it final soon. Not every marriage can withstand the military. I gave it a good run, but in the end my ex never understood my work, and the stresses of my job. I would often come home to fighting and bickering. NOT what I wanted to do when coming home from a long day in the 82nd ABN DIV. Well I PCS’ed from there a few years back, and currently work for CENTCOM HQ. We are the top command for the region. We are led by Marine 4 star Gen Mattis. I was just in his Qatar office a few minutes ago doing some work. I am a IT technician. I tell you there is not a day goes by that I am not proud to be a American. When I travel all over the world and often work with foreign troops they ask me “Who sent you those packages?”, and I reply someone who has never met me. It always shocks our foreign counterparts who have never received any gratitude for their service in their countries.
My mother was from Costa Rica, and I have 5 brothers. All 6 of us have served in the Army. My mother had a fourth grade education from Costa Rica, and went to night school for 4 years in America to be able to pass the test to become a citizen. When she did pass it wasn’t a paper she through in a dresser drawer, she had it framed and it was displayed proudly on the wall. She was always proud of our service. She passed away some years back, but my brothers and I all turned out pretty good because of her I believe.
I grew up in the hills of Tennessee. I love the rolling hills, and have always wanted to go and see the Rocky Mountains. It sounds like there is some nice game in your part of the woods. It’s hard to believe that I have been all over the world, but never to the Rocky Mountains. So far I have been to 22 countries, and even through a rock into a 23rd which was from Jordan into Israel. Your note makes you sound like a Republican. I tell you I loved George Bush. He did some things that I didn’t agree with, but over all I think he did what he thought was best for America. I pray our leaders get stronger and learn to make hard decisions that are sometimes against public opinion. It’s glad to see some people aren’t naïve. Well, feel free to write me back anytime. Thank you so much for the support.
Sergeant O’Reilly, USA, Qatar, September, 2011