Any Soldier Inc. Shows Support for Deployed Troops
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 14, 2004 A family's show of support for their deployed son has evolved into a nationwide drive that a commander deployed to Afghanistan said "epitomizes all that is good in the American people."
A U.S. soldier in Afghanistan gives a young Afghan child a
Beanie Baby sent from the American public through the Any Soldier Inc. effort.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Recognizing that their son, Army Sgt. Brian Horn, a member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, was living under very harsh conditions after parachuting into Iraq last March, retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Marty Horn and his wife, Sue, began sending him care packages as often as they could.
Horn requested additional packages for his fellow soldiers who weren't getting any, and soon his parents were asking their friends and neighbors in LaPlata, Md., to send packages to their son, too. Horn agreed to distribute them to soldiers who weren't getting mail.
The "overwhelming and nearly monumental" show of support "has provided the simple reminder that any one of us would proudly die for a grateful nation in our ongoing fight against terrorism," said Horn, who has redeployed from Iraq to his unit headquarters in Vicenza, Italy. There, he and his fellow soldiers are preparing for another deployment after the Christmas holidays this time to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Meanwhile, Any Soldier Inc. continues to grow. By early June, organization had more than 100 volunteer contact soldiers, and requests for packages continue to pour in from units throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.
The senior Horn attributes the effort's success to the fact that "the American public wants to do something to show support." What makes the program particularly appealing to many, he said, is that it gives people an opportunity to develop one-on-one contacts with deployed troops. "There's no middle man," Horn said, "so people get to feel very attached."
Any Soldier Inc.'s Web site lists supplies that deployed troops need, such as prepackaged food, T-shirts and even Beanie Babies that they can give to local children. The site provides specific information about how and where to send packages.
According to Lt. Col. Rick Mullen, commanding officer of a Marine Corps aviation unit in Afghanistan, these gifts have a "deeply humbling effect on the individual Marines in our squadron."
Mullen said the packages demonstrate that the American public shares in "the price our Marines are paying for freedom" and makes the load deployed troops carry feel "a bit lighter."
Sergeant Horn expressed thanks on the Any Soldier Web site for the "awe- inspiring and frankly quite dramatic display of support from the home front." He said the correspondence and care packages have poured in "at an overwhelming and nearly monumental pace."
The campaign, he wrote, "has seen tears from some, given hope to most and has been inspirational to us all."
The sergeant's father said there's a lot of personal gratification in watching the program grow, "knowing that I'm making a difference -- and allowing a lot of other people to make a difference, too."
More information about Any Soldier Inc. is posted on the organization's Web site.