Try telling that to the thousands of 3rd Infantry Division troops who have been boarding planes for Afghanistan for the last couple of months. When those planes leave Hunter Army Air Field in Savannah, the soldiers on board won’t be back for nine long months. And when the soldiers arrive in country, the bad guys will still be trying to mow them down or blow them up.
The war is almost over? Oh please. The “end of 2014” is two years away.
In the next few weeks — right before Christmas for heaven’s sake — thousands of troops in the 3rd ID Combat Aviation Brigade will be leaving for the war zone. How can we in good conscience give them nothing more than a passing thought?
Actually, we can give them more — something personal and concrete that will work miracles for their morale. Listen to this comment from former soldier Chris Stock, who fought in Desert Storm:
“Care packages from the states and from strangers were like manna from heaven. It meant even more because they weren’t family and had no reason to give you anything at all ... no obligation to support us, but they DID. By the hundreds of thousands, packages were sent all over the Middle East from fellow Americans at home. Watching that C130 fly over and drop a pallet of those for our little 150-man outpost in Zakho, Iraq, was sheer joy.
“These little gifts filled the space between sheer boredom and pure terror, and made life a little more bearable. I still appreciate them to this day.”
Chris’s dad is Don Stock of Tallahassee, Fla. Don has “adopted” two 3rd Infantry Division soldiers in Afghanistan. He sends them occasional care packages, he emails them hilarious stories about his fishing trips — like the time he accidentally set his shoe on fire with a can of sterno — and he has recruited his daughter’s second grade students to write them letters.
Don says, “I consider myself lucky to be a part of this effort.”
The best thing we can give our troops who are facing the possible loss of their lives is simple: to remember them. To let them know that we have not forgotten them as they lie down to an uneasy sleep in a hammered-together, sandbagged outpost in the remote reaches of Afghanistan.
Maj. Gen. Abe Abrams, the commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division, recently sent me a list of addresses for six of the most austere, isolated combat outposts in his area of responsibility. It’s not too late to get a Christmas package off to the guys posted in these places. It’s never too late.
Email me at email@example.com and I’ll give you the addresses along with mailing instructions.
And if you want to adopt a soldier for the whole nine months, I’ll give you a soldier’s name, his or her email address and instructions for getting started. Check out our effort at www.adoptasoldier3id.com.
You don’t have to set your shoes on fire to make a soldier smile.
Carol Megathlin is a writer living in Savannah. She coordinates the Adopt-a-Soldier program. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.