Just before Christmas, six packages arrived in the hands of Keith Gauthier in Iraq.
Six packages were sent to Wacie Laabs in Afghanistan and another six to Alex Clift in Iraq.
Each of the 18 boxes was packed full of homemade cookies and elk jerky: a small taste of Craig the three men had left behind to serve in the Armed Forces.
Cory Phillips, mother of a local veteran, organized the effort in early December to assemble and send the care packages to local soldiers stationed overseas.
Since the holidays, she has received thank-yous and greetings from the men, who were grateful for the taste of home.
“It was great to get the packages sent from home,” Clift wrote in an e-mail. “Everyone really enjoyed the ‘home cooking.’ The jerky was fantastic and a popular item. Tell the community thanks for thinking of us.”
Phillips said it warmed her heart to read the responses.
“I thought it was really awesome,” she said. “It made their day, and they took it as it was meant; that the whole community came together in support of our guys over there. They’re not thanking one person, they’re thanking the entire community.”
Laabs also wrote an e-mail home, updating his friends and family about how his life is going overseas, and how much his battalion enjoyed the goodies.
“Thanks for taking the time and energy to send us the packages,” he wrote. “We all appreciate the support. Our campaign is going as expected right now. We are doing a lot of positive things for the people. A counter-insurgency is a difficult situation to say the least, but, rest assured that the Marines of the 3rd battalion 4th Marines are fighting the way you expect us to and your support is greatly appreciated.
The packages “were awesome, the elk jerky was the best. The city boys loved it, too. Thank you for everything.”
Phillips, whose son was stationed overseas in Bosnia and Kuwait, said she understands the importance of providing soldiers with the little things they might not know they need for comfort.
“They’re our hometown citizens, and they’re out there defending freedom and risking their lives for us,” Phillips said. “You can never say thank you enough for that dedication.”
But Phillips wasn’t the only one saying thank you.
Gauthier, who was stationed in Iraq during the holidays, responded to the care packages with an e-mail and a thank-you card.
“I would like to thank all of the good people who sent a little ‘Taste of Home,’” he wrote. “The soldiers of the 172D Brigade enjoyed all of the goodies that were sent. As we get ready to deploy to Germany, we would like to thank you for your efforts in making the year here in Iraq a little more bearable.”
Gauthier said when he received the packages, he brought them into the soldiers’ living area where they were devoured in “mere seconds.”
Like other soldiers, he said the homemade jerky was a hit with his comrades, who were all curious as to where the goodies came from.
“After telling them that it came from the food people of Craig, Colo., they immediately went into stories about skiing in the mountains and doing outdoor adventures in our great state,” Gauthier said. “There are many soldiers here that have been to Iraq two or three times, and I know I can speak for most when I say I can’t wait to come home and enjoy the cool Colorado air.”
Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793, or firstname.lastname@example.org.