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GUNS Magazine November 2011 Digital Edition - Page 86
• J O h N C O N N O R • A CARd, A CAN, A PlAN s i write, there are about 112,000 US troops deployed A in Afghanistan and another 46,000 in iraq. Countless more Americans serve in lesser known but no less Spreading Christmas cheer to our warriors. critical—and often, no less dangerous—places from Mongolia to djibouti, the Philippines to the Balkans, and Colombia to the freezing waters under the Arctic ice cap. To a grunt squattin’ on a rock in the Hindu Kush, a homesick soldier in a “barracks box” in Iraq, an airman crouched under an F-15 Eagle’s wing, a sun-scorched sailor on the deck of the Vinson in the Arabian Sea, a mysterious parcel arriving anytime during the Christmas season is an occasion of wonder, great pleasure, and a kind of gratitude few civilians can know. Far more than a “gift,” in a way that’s almost inexplicable it is an affirmation that “I exist. I exist even back in the States. I am not forgotten. I am on someone’s mind, and in their heart.” That message alone can be more sustaining than anything packed in a box. Many of you have written to ask, besides the goodies I list in the military Christmas Gift Guides in GUNS and American Handgunner, what kinda stuff do I send to my own pals out in the Far Lonely? Easy! Just ask yourself, “What can’t they get in East Zephyristan?” then let your imagination run amok. While doing your grocery shopping, grab containers of Mrs. Dash Garlic & Onion Seasoning, garlic salt, dried onion flakes, lemon pepper, little plastic (not glass) bottles of hot sauce and Worcestershire, cans of nuts and a huge favorite, canned French-fried onions! McCormick makes a small, disposable, black peppercorn grinder, and if you don’t think that’s lightyears better than pre-ground black pepper, you ain’t been without it long enough—troops can smell it at 10 meters. Get the Sea Salt Grinder too. Sealed, tough plastic bags of jerky always get rave reviews, and Philippine brand dried mango strips are sweet, healthy, and travel well. With a 30-ounce bag, send a half-dozen sandwich-size bags so they can take some out on patrol with ’em. Cans of Pringles potato chips seem to survive shipping better than bags, so I watch for sales on those. There’s lots more, but we have to move on. The Ways & Means If you don’t know exactly who to send goodies to, AnySoldier.Com is a not-for-profit outfit dedicated to putting you in touch with military personnel deployed overseas in DoDdesignated “in harm’s way” areas. You can select the service if you wish; they link to AnyMarine, AnyAirman, AnySailor and AnyCoastGuard too. Giving and sending isn’t complex, but there are some bureaucratic barriers to leap, like local restrictions for certain bases. The folks at AnySoldier have all the info on what to send, what not, and how. On the website you’ll find lists of individual service personnel of both sexes and all ranks and levels of experience, telling you in their own words the conditions they’re living in, the makeup and size of their group, and their specific needs and wishes. Conditions and needs can vary wildly and what’s carried by a PX—if there is a PX available—can be drastically different. Those listed take care of receiving and distributing all goodies, with preference given to those who receive little or no mail from the States. Many are veteran NCOs and officers who may never take anything for themselves; they’re just hoping to make life a little better for their troops. And please remember, if you can’t A Good Start: peanuts, French-fried onions, dried blueberries and mangoes, a pre-paid USO phone card, and a copy of GUNS Magazine! 86 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • NOVEMBER 2011