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Stars and Stripes Prints 'Messages of Support'

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2001 – Operation Enduring Freedom troops are being flooded with messages of love, caring, concern, appreciation and encouragement from home and abroad. And they don't have to worry about dealing with suspicious-looking mail.

Titled "Messages of Support," the notes are printed on special pages of the GI daily newspaper, the European and Pacific editions of The Stars and Stripes.

Stripes editors spread the word about "Messages of Support" through press releases to daily newspapers near military installations from where troops are being deployed. They also sent notices to Veterans of Foreign Wars, Elks Clubs, Lions Clubs, American Legion and other organizations.

The effort worked. The European edition received more than 800 messages in less than two weeks. Sixty-two appeared in the Oct. 11 edition. Most of the messages were sent by e- mail, according to Fred Benson, the newspaper's international marketing director.

The Pacific edition's first special message page is scheduled for Oct. 24. "We're coordinating another page of messages starting on the Veterans Day federal holiday, Nov. 12, out of our central operations here in Washington," he said.

"Our office is coordinating the messages from folks stateside and will run on an international page," Benson explained. "Our European and Pacific offices are coordinating messages from their theater."

The e-mail address is supportmessages@estripes.com. E-mailed messages can be sent 24 hours a day. Letters can be sent to The Stars and Stripes, ATTN: Advertising-Messages, 529 14th St., Suite 350, Washington, DC 20045-1301.

Replicas of the special pages are posted on the Stars and Stripes Web site so sailors and Marines on ships at sea can read them, Benson said.

The messages currently are being printed on Mondays and Wednesdays. Messages are limited to 30 words and are not normally edited.

"The only thing we might edit, for security reasons, would be names and destinations," Benson said. "We don't want to put anybody in the field in jeopardy at all. Neither do we want folks who may be stateside be put in any kind of jeopardy as well."

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