Johns Creek has united to support a Georgia-based artillery unit in Afghanistan by providing treats and hard-to-get basics.
The City of Johns Creek, the Johns Creek Veterans Association, Park Place at Newtown School volunteers, Taylor Road Middle School and State Bridge Elementary School teamed up to provide care packages to the 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Alpha Battery in Kandahar Province.
About 90 boxes were mailed to soldiers on March 29. Each soldier received an individual box of food, snacks and games. Boxes with field-grade socks and T-shirts were sent to platoon sergeants to distribute.
"We all sincerely appreciate the heart-felt words and the generosity of support for all that you’ve given our troops," said 1SGT Alvin Benjamin with the 41st Field Artillery. "A few days ago we received the multitude of personalized box-filled snacks, shirts, socks, batteries and more. It was like manna from heaven!”
“When you’re deployed on the front lines, it can be really a challenge to get something as simple as socks,” said City Manager John Kachmar, a former Marine and Vietnam War combat veteran. “When you’re over there, it’s a big thing to know you’re not forgotten. We at the city wanted to show our support for our troops.”
JCVA member Wayne Kidd, who conceived and helped spearhead the project, said the veterans were anxious to show their support.
“It sounded like a fun thing to do and it’s the right thing to do,” said Kidd, an Airborne Ranger combat veteran who served in Vietnam. “It makes us feel good and it boosts their morale. We’re just being appreciative of the sacrifices they’re making.”
City officials worked with America Supporting Americans, a non-profit dedicated to bolstering service members deployed overseas, to select a unit. The “Alpha Aces,” as the unit is called, was selected because they are based in Georgia at Fort Stewart.
Deputy City Manager Buzz Boehm, a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran, visited Dobbins Air Reserve Base and talked with soldiers who had been deployed to Afghanistan, and came up with a list of items sought by troops in the field. The list of treats and food was given to Taylor Middle School and State Bridge Crossing Elementary School, which responded enthusiastically. Some wrote personal notes to the soldiers as well.
“The ongoing partnerships we have with our local schools are quite extraordinary," Boehm said. "On this project, it was students from State Bridge Crossing Elementary and Taylor Road Middle schools who stepped up to the plate and collected all the food and toiletries that we shipped to the ‘Alpha Aces.’ These young people did an amazing job.”
Boehm and Mayor Chief of Staff Patty Hansen helped raise money among city staff, and the JCVA ponied up several hundred dollars. They arranged for the purchase of the t-shirts and socks from the commissary at Fort Stewart.
JCVA President Gerry Lewis said he hopes the Care Packages are the first step in establishing a long-term relationship with the Alpha Aces.
“I’d like to see a dialogue develop between ourselves and the unit so we can find out what else we can do for these guys,” Lewis said.
– This story appears courtesy of the City of Johns Creek