Printing Company Takes Pride in Supporting Troops in Iraq
By Zeno Gamble
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 16, 2003 Many people are seeking copies of the Defense Department's "Iraqi Most Wanted Cards." Unfortunately, many U.S. troops are seeking them as well.
A North Carolina company is working to ensure more troops - 25,000 to be exact - get their own deck.
Defense officials created the cards to help service members identify members of Saddam Hussein's regime, but they had only a limited number printed. PBM Graphics Inc., a national printing company located near Durham, is printing more cards this week.
Company officials decided to donate the cards after reading an article about the military's program in USA Today, said Tom Arnold, PBM's corporate director of marketing. They plan to distribute the new decks through the USO.
"When this came up," he said, "we thought there's got to be a lot of soldiers over there. If there were only 1,700 cards sent over originally, then there are a lot of guys that would love to have a deck of cards."
Community involvement plays an important role in PBM's mission, Arnold noted. The company supports various organizations and groups that raise money for cancer research and other charities.
"One of the philosophies of our owner from Day 1 has been to give back to the community that has given so much to us," he said. "We're also doing some projects for the Special Olympics Team USA that's going to be competing in the World Games in Ireland at the end of this month."
PBM's card division primarily produces game and trading cards such as Pokmon, Harry Potter and Nintendo Game Boy cards. One recent undertaking was the "Heroes" deck of cards they printed for the Air Force, and they are excited about getting these new Iraqi Most Wanted decks to deployed service members.
"It's the first time that I've dealt with the military at the Pentagon," Arnold said, "and I must say that the enthusiasm and the interest have been incredible."
Enthusiasm for the project is high among company employees as well. Many have ties to the military. Arnold's father retired as an Army lieutenant colonel. W.C. Mozingo, PBM's customer service representative, served as a National Guardsman for six years.
Relatives of the company's employees "cross the board" from Army to Air Force, Navy to Marines, Arnold said. Their extended family includes a Marine master gunnery sergeant and even a Navy Seal, both serving in Iraq.
"You don't have to walk far down this hall to find somebody with some attachment to the military," Arnold said. "We're not far from Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune and many of the other military establishments in this state."
When the war started in Iraq, company leaders discovered that many employees had sons or daughters serving in the military - some of them in Iraq. The war touched home, Arnold said, when a family member of three PBM employees was killed.
Marine Lance Cpl. Alan Lam lost his life April 22 while serving with the 8th Communication Battalion. He was deployed from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group at Camp Lejeune. Lam's mother, sister and brother-in-law all work for PBM. The company held a ceremony in memory of Lam at its Greensboro, N.C., facility.
"Our prayers are with the soldiers over there," Arnold said. "I wish we could do more than we did. You see all this going on, and you wonder how you can be a part of it and what you can do."
The PBM folks appreciate the opportunity to support the nation's service members in Iraq, he concluded. "It's a labor of love for our employees, I can tell you that."
(Zeno Gamble is a writer in the Executive Secretariat at the Pentagon.)