Tommy, US Army, 25 July

Dear Great Americans,
A simple “thank you” and a few photos seems hardly enough but given the present circumstances I am afraid it is all we have at the moment. I cannot, in words, describe the feeling Soldiers get when mail call happens and a parcel is given out. Even in this age of high speed internet and global communication and email, Facebook, Twitter etc., there will always be something about a deployed Soldier getting a little bit of home in a box. We are fortunate enough to have many allies and partners next to us in this fight to defeat ISIS and free the people enslaved under them; we would not have been as successful as we have been without them. They are always amazed at the amount of support American Solders get from people they have never met. More than once our foreign partners have related stories about how they seem invisible sometimes to their own people and are in awe of the American public’s unabashed love and admiration for their troops. We too are taken aback, humbled and grateful.

I can’t say I know why this is so, but my assumption is that our military came from the people, a people yearning to be free. The Army was constituted a year before our country was even declared. Its ranks were filled by all–farmers, merchants, immigrants, freed slaves, professional Soldiers and mountain men. They were not pressed into service by a king’s decree or raised to conquer, but rather they formed small, local companies and militia to stand their ground and do what was right and it has been that way throughout our history. Our Soldiers come from the ranks of our people and to our people we are held accountable and to which we will return someday. Our Soldiers here are so great, so amazing, so loved and respected by those we have liberated because they have come from the ranks of people like yourselves. Simply put, we are as good as the people we serve, and we serve the best there is.

These boxes didn’t fill themselves; these items didn’t magically appear out of thin air and they didn’t get mailed by elves. We all know the amount of logistical and physical support that went into these and are humbled by the generosity and commitment. We get mail here infrequently due to a number of factors, but when it does come it is called “Christmas Morning” as that is what it feels like, and you can see a marked increase in morale. The slightest change in the mundane, repetitive world of a deployment is a most welcome gift. Again, we thank you all for that. Please find a few photos of some of the many recipients of your generosity. Know that your items get passed around and shared as Soldiers are quick to give their fellow comrades half of what they have, and sometimes their last item if asked. You all–every single link in this chain–have played a part in our success here. Please know that and feel a sense of pride in it. The extra candy we have gets handed to local children when we are out on patrol; children who knew nothing but fear and horror from the last men with guns who ruled here now get jelly beans and cookies from different men and women with guns, always with a smile and a wave. People ran from ISIS; children run to American Soldiers. You all are responsible for that. Thank you again for your hard work. God bless and all the best, Tommy