America Supports You: Couple Sends Love, DVDs to Deployed Son, Comrades
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2004 Wisconsin couple Bernie and Kathy Hintzke wanted to do something special for their 22-year-old son, Adam, who was away in the Army serving in Iraq.
The Milwaukee residents knew that Adam and his comrades with the 601st Aviation Support Battalion were enduring harsh conditions in the Iraqi desert, so they considered how to send some entertainment to the deployed servicemembers.
Subsequently, the couple initiated "Operation: Take a Soldier to the Movies," on Sept. 13. Donations enabled the couple to send 3,000 red and white popcorn boxes filled with a new or used DVD movie, microwave popcorn, candy and pre- sweetened powdered drink mix to all 550 soldiers in their son's battalion and about 80 soldiers in the 45th Medical Company.
"We wanted to give them something on Thanksgiving Day to say 'thank you' from the people back in the states," Bernie Hintzke explained.
"Take a Soldier to the Movies," Hintzke observed, "has taken on a life of its own," noting the initiative has been written up in the Army Times, the Washington Times, The New York Daily News and other newspapers.
"This thing," he said, "just keeps kind of growing." Hintzke said a woman who wants to be the local contact for the project at Fort Hood, Texas, had contacted him.
Hintzke and others around the country ship donated popcorn boxes, DVDs and other items to his son's family readiness group in Germany, where volunteers put them together to make the movie packages.
Hintzke noted that he'd recently received a "thank you" phone call from the 601st's commander, Lt. Col. Samuel J. Ford.
"They have now received the packages, which they will be handing out next week on Thanksgiving Day," Hintzke said.
The program is expanding, Hintzke noted, to include deliveries to more deployed troops in Iraq, including Marines, and to U.S. military members deployed to Afghanistan.
And due to the heightened interest, Hintzke said, the program will be expanded to include Christmas. "So whatever units we can't cover for Thanksgiving," he said, "we will give them a movie package as a Christmas present.
"And where it goes after that, I have no idea," he added.