Skip to main content

If you're interested in putting smiles on the faces of troops halfway around the world, read on...

My friend's husband, SFC Brandon Harding, is in Iraq on a 12-month deployment with the 49th MP Brigade, a unit of over three thousand soldiers.  SFC Harding, normally a Special Forces Combat Medic, took a temporary assignment with the Intel shop of the 49th MP BDE out of Fairfield, CA so he could spend a year at home before this current Iraq deployment with his wife & twin boys, who just turned 2.  My friend writes, "He likes his job but he wants to be the grunt out in the field fighting, NOT sitting in a FOB [forward operating base].  True soldier."

I've spent holidays deployed away from home, and it's always tough.  You say you'll "make it up later", but it's never quite the same, celebrating a year's worth of missed occasions all at once.  You string lights and wear Santa hats and try to make your unit as festive as possible, and everyone in your unit feels kind of like brothers and sisters (a big dysfunctional family!), but you can't evade the emptiness entirely.

But this is meant to be an upbeat diary.

On behalf of my friend, her husband, and the 49th MP brigade, I asked my friend's permission to share her husband's information so other people can send holiday cheer too.  SFC Harding has no idea that care packages might be arriving for him and his buddies!  I just mailed my box today, after standing in line with a couple dozen other people all carrying big boxes labeled "APO" or "FPO".  Here's the info:

SFC Brandon Harding
49th MP BDE
Camp Liberty, Iraq
APO, AE  09344

If you're interested, rest assured that SFC Harding will share everything he gets with the entire brigade.  What should you send?  Well, figure these are a bunch of ordinary guys aged mainly 18-35.  They have the basics (chow halls and PXs) but not a lot of frills.  Anything local's always nice - something they wouldn't be able to get at the PX, which just stocks the most common, big-name stuff.  Sauces, like BBQ or hot sauce, a big hit (chow hall food gets bland and boring).  Video games (any system), music, iTunes gift cards (they have internet access), or accessories for video game systems or iPods.  UnderArmour shirts for their uniforms or for working out (it's really hot and sticky in the summers).  In fact, any kind of special workout gear or Camelbaks - they spend a lot of time staying in shape.  Snacks are huge, particularly anything that's not mainstream (smaller companies, local foods, etc.).  Just remember that chocolate will melt!  And it's always great to have a hand-written card, a kid's crafts, or other touch of home.  Please, feel free to add your own suggestions or thoughts in the comments below.

For mailing, I recommend using one of the variously-sized Priority Mail boxes.  If you use the large-size one, there's a cheaper rate than normal, when you mail to APO/FPO addresses.  You'll have to fill out a customs form at the post office when you mail your package.  Cards go normal US postage rate.  Or, if what you really want to send is online, you can always have it shipped directly to the address above.

If you have an important person in your life who's deployed over the holidays, and they don't mind you sharing their name/unit, I encourage you to list them below.  I'll send anyone who's listed at least a card, and if you tell me what they like, a gift from "Santa" as well.

Update - MA Liberal made a great point below...anysoldier.com will link you to hundreds of points of contact in the Middle East who are collecting mail on behalf of their buddies who don't get so much.  I encourage you to visit that site too.

Postscript: A few years back, when we were deployed over the holidays, we got a box of Christmas cards handmade by school kids.  Most were the usual mix of touching, cheesy, and adorable, but my favorite was one that on the inside read "Peace on Earth" and on the outside boasted an excellent drawing of a determined Santa Claus dressed in fatigues and hoisting an AK-47.  Gotta love kids!

Originally posted to Square Knot on Sun Dec 13, 2009 at 05:45 AM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site