Submitted by:1st Force Service Support Group
Story Identification #:20041019430
Story by Sgt. Enrique S. Diaz
CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq (Oct. 1, 2004) --
As Marines operate in the hundred degree weather here, facing the dangers of living in a combat zone, support from the home front in the form of care packages and “thank you” letters help make their stay a little more hospitable.
Marines assigned to Combat Service Support Battalion 7, 1st Force Service Support Group, have come up with an interesting way of showing their appreciation to their friends and loved ones back home.
Marines are sending American, Marine Corps, and even Iraqi flags that have flown at the battalion headquarters after one day, to return the favor of those who have shown their support to the deployed servicemembers.
Marines who want to send a little something back only have to spend a few dollars at the base store to buy the flags. They then ask the battalion to fly the colors for a gift of a lifetime.
“It’s to show our appreciation to the people who appreciate us,” said Maj. Carlos L. Olivo, CSSB-7’s executive officer, who sent an American and Iraqi flag to the students at Kholberg Elementary School in El Paso, Texas.
After receiving signed posters from the youngsters back home, he wanted to return the favor, said Olivo.
Marines of CSSB-7 are responsible for providing supplies and services like food, ammunition and medical to Marines throughout the Al Anbar province. The mission is a continuous one that most people don’t get to hear about back home.
However, the families and friends of these Marines know they are hard at work and show their appreciation by sending things like snacks, hygiene items, and magazines.
“To me, these people are patriots. They love their country and they love what we are doing for them,” said the 36-year-old El Paso, Texas, native.
The battalion’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Drew T. Doolin, created certificates of appreciation to send back with each flag, thanking folks back home for their support.
The phrase, ‘This flag was flown over Combat Service Support Battalion 7,’ at the top, with the commanding officer’s signature at the bottom, certifies the flags as gifts from a combat zone.
For many back home, the flags were unexpected, but very welcomed gifts.
“My brother didn’t think he’d get anything from me for his birthday since I was out here, but he said it was the best birthday present he ever got,” said Cpl. Derek M. Metzger, a 22-year-old native of Mansfield, Ohio, who sent an American flag from Iraq to his brother in Nashville, Tenn.
The first rotation of CSSB- 7 Marines began their show of appreciation in February, and their replacements plan to continue sending flags back home during their deployment here.
Second Lt. Ed J. Donahoo, a logistics officer for CSSB 7, who recently arrived here decided to send flags back to Alabama Christian Academy Elementary School where his father is a physical education teacher.
“A lot of times, they (the kids) are more honest than adults, they will tell you their feelings and are just trying to be nice,” said the 24-year-old Montgomery, Al., native, after receiving an unexpected package from the school.
“It’s the innocence of it that just kind of brings you back to reality and gets your mind off of Iraq for awhile” said Donahoo.
Donahoo has recently flown the American flag in honor of the students, and says it will be in the mail soon.
Photos included with story:
Service members from the following hometowns are included in either the story or in an accompanying photo:
El Paso, Texas-Mansfield, Ohio-Nashville, Tenn-Montgomery, Ala.
Staff Sgt J.M. Goodwin
Public Affairs Chief
1st Force Service Support Group
Camp Taqaddum, Iraq