I was touched by the response I received from my last posting, especially from Reddunappy. And as someone who took the time to leave a comment and has a child heading to Iraq, I was prompted to write this story for them and anyone who has family serving in the military overseas.
First of all I want to clarify something. We called our nephew Chuck after his Grandfather he was named for, although after he joined the Army he wanted to go by Charlie. So that is what his friends and team mates called him.
At Chuck's funeral I learned that one of his team mates was present. After the service I asked the Army Chaplin to point him out to me. I saw this sad, young soldier standing alone in the parking lot. So I went over and introduced myself. His face suddenly brightened and he very excitedly exclaimed, "Uncle Gary....I mean Charlie's Uncle Gary" as he shook my hand enthusiastically.
He said he was very happy to meet me and wanted to thank me.
I was blown away.
Not only that he knew who I was, but why in the world would he want to thank ME???
He said,"Charlie always shared the packages you and your wife sent, and that last one was amazing. It was like a mini Christmas in our tent. The food and cigars were great but the TOYS were a real hit. To see a bunch of soldiers playing like school kids! I have got to tell you about those airplanes, we had a blast throwing them around. Then one day Charlie took them up to the observation post we had on top of one of the tallest motels in Baghdad. He was pulling the evening watch and would have got into a lot of trouble for this. Any way about an hour before sundown, somebody noticed those airplanes floating in the thermal drafts around the top of the motel. We all watched them rising and falling with the air currents all around the OP. Finally as the sun was setting they floated off, high over Baghdad. It was one of the most memorable things I saw there. I'll never forget it!!!"
We talked a little more and then he was called away to his duties as poll barer.
When my wife and I were at the store getting items for Chuck's "CARE PACKAGE", along with the snacks, personnal hygiene stuff, and cigars, I grabbed a bunch of toys. My wife thought I was crazy to want to sent water guns, Nerf balls, cards, and styrofoam glider airplanes, etc., to a bunch of soldiers. I tried to explain that they needed stress relief too! But she still thought I was "nuts".
So Reddunappy, when you send your daughter packages, be sure to add some toys....GO NUTS!