8/20/07: AaSP's Rob, Dahlia and Anthony showing off some of the Rutgers soccer gear donated by Rutgers the State University for Operation Hearts and Minds. A big red Adidas bag was filled with jerseys, shorts, socks, goalkeeper jerseys and a couple of new soccer balls. Thanks Rutgers and thanks Coach B!
Soccer has become an important part of Operation Hearts and Minds. The Iraqi people love soccer and the 412th CA Bn have outfitted local teams and provided equipment to local children. We thank the following sponsors for soccer balls, soccer jerseys and equipment: Piedmont College, the Ragu brand at Unilever, Rutgers University soccer team, and the following MLS teams - the New York Red Bulls, the Kansas City Wizards, the New England Revolution, the Columbus Crew and the Milwaukee Wave.
Happy Baby Mariam in a recent photo after eating solid food. We can take great pride knowing our contributions towards the expenses of her first operation helped make this happen.
On June 6, 2007, AaSP began helping a one-year-old Iraqi girl named Mariam. Mariam lives in the district where our unit works and we deemed it an important part of Operation Hearts and Minds.
Operation Hearts and Minds (9-10-07 Update)
On Saturday, July 21, we learned that 1SG W. and his team were working with the Iraqi Police, the Iraqi Army, the U.S. Marines and a local group to field several soccer teams in the area to foster better relations. AaSP went to work to find the much-needed soccer uniforms.
Piedmont College in Demorest, GA, offered to outfit one of the teams with used (but great condition) jerseys, which were immediately shipped to Iraq. They've arrived and as 1SG W. described them, "they are GORGEOUS jerseys!" What makes it extra special is that Piedmont College are the Lions, a symbol of strength in Iraq. Each of the jerseys has a lion on the front. We thank Linda, Coach Jimmy and the generous folks at Piedmont College for this outstanding donation. The goodwill generated from these jerseys will undoubtedly help our troops develop better relations in the area, which will help save lives!
The connection came from another adoptee, SSG Victor Settles of the 28th CSH, who knew the folks at Piedmont had the jerseys for our soldiers. We'll keep you posted as we hunt for two more colleges or professional soccer teams to donate jerseys for this wonderful effort. We've already sent a pair of soccer nets for the field built by our U.S. Marines and some referee shirts.
9-10-06: The Piedmont College jerseys were seen recently by a soldier who went to Piedmont. This came from our liaison at Piedmont, Linda P: " I just had one of our staff members come and ask where the Piedmont soccer uniforms went to in Iraq. Her son, who was a former Piedmont student and just deployed to Iraq, saw the soccer uniforms on Iraqi's. He had no idea we sent them. He said that was the coolest thing he had seen since he arrived ... brought back memories of home! It's a small world!!!"
On August 15th, we heard from the Rutgers University soccer team and their ass't coach. Coach David Boutilier said that Rutgers is sending us the following: "The package will include a red Adidas bag, 12 numbered jerseys, 24 pairs of numbered shorts (12 red, 12 white), 2 goalkeeper jerseys (basically brand new), and countless number of red socks to complete your kit, and 2 brand new soccer balls. All of us at Rutgers hope this helps in any way possible and sincerely want to thank you for running such a great program. Please give our best to all the troops and Enjoy!!! Let us know if we can do anything else in the future." Now THAT'S support from our state university we Jersey folks can be proud of! Way to go Scarlet Knights and thank you Coach Dave and thanks also to Anthony F. for helping out there.
All the Rutgers equipment arrived on 8-20-07 and after a few pictures were taken, the goodies were repacked and sent off to Iraq for Operation Hearts and Minds! Again, a big thank you to the Rutgers soccer crew!
Also arriving on 8-20-07 were practice jerseys from the professional soccer team, the New England Revolution. They sent practice jerseys and socks too. Thanks Jillian and the New England Revolution! And we also received some T-shirts from the Columbus Crew soccer team. Thanks to the Columbus Crew for helping out. All gear was shipped to Iraq on 8-20-07.
On September 6, 2007, we learned that the MSL team, the New York Red Bulls, is donating 100 Red Bulls soccer balls for Operation Hearts and Minds. These balls will be shipped to 1SG W this week. Thank you Eric, Christina and the Red Bulls for this very generous donation -- it's perfect! This connection came via the office of our Congressman, Steven R. Rothman (NJ -9th Dist.).
This past week we also received jerseys, shirts and equipment from the MSL teams the Kansas City Wizards and the Milwaukee Wave. This equipment was shipped to SSG Settles of the 28th CSH for the local Iraqi children and the local soccer teams supported as outreach by the 28th CSH and SSG Settles. Special thank you to these teams for their very generous donations!
Special PDF file received 8-5-07 from 1SG Wilcock: CLICK HERE
7-21-07: We learned that Baby Mariam took some bites from a muffin the other day. This is the first time the medic from the 412th CA Bn, SSG C., has seen her eat solid food. Needless to say, everyone, including our soldiers, the family and the citizens in the neighborhood, are very excited that Baby Mariam is doing so well. And this has been very important to the overall success of our troops in the area and specifically the 412th, Charlie Company.
"They have set up a "neighborhood watch" and so far (almost 6 months) it has worked well. They have had a few ATTEMPTS on bad guys coming in there town but they have all worked together and basically ceased ALL terrorist activities in their Area. It is amazing; I was there last month just for a day and the people in the area were so friendly it blew my mind. Like being somewhere in the mid-west or something. It was pretty clean and the security was great! This is one of those places you just don't ever hear about on the news or see on TV - it is working in some areas." This from 1SG Paul, 7-21-07
Background: A new part of Operation Hearts and Minds began on Wednesday, June 6. Our contact at Charlie Company, 1SG Paul W., asked if we could help a one-year old local Iraqi girl get an operation in Jordan. She had a hole in the roof of her mouth and she couldn't eat without getting sick. Well, AaSP and a core of supporters went to work raising the money and in one day we raised $1800 that is going towards expenses the family is incurring. All this helps build good relationships with the local people, an important mission for the safety of our troops and restoration of law and order in this country.
Operation Hearts and Minds is run by C Company, 412th Civil Affairs Battalion, a unit in the Al Anbar Province, one of the most dangerous areas in Iraq. This unit has the job of helping the local people, building schools, working on infrastructure, helping local kids, etc.
We have an incredible group of supporters known as the Unilever Ambassadors Club (Unilever retirees and 25+year club) who funded the entire beginning of this project. The leadership of the Ambassadors Club (thanks Kevin, John and team) put out a call for donations and the retirees responded. Over $2,000 was initially donated and some of this money went for soccer balls for the Iraqi kids (delivered directly by our friends at Efinger Sporting Goods of Bound Brook, NJ) and a larger amount went to purchase Internet wireless hardware that the unit (and units in the future) will use for wireless Internet access.
More recently, the Ambassadors provided several more large donations. One funded the purchase of 44 high intensity laser pointers that will enable Charlie Company to avoid danger and improve communication under very stressful conditions. The lasers appear "perfect" for what the unit needs. One of the ways the unit uses these pointers is to communicate with local Iraqis who inadvertently start to drive through checkpoints. The laser pointers get the driver's attention, averting more serious action by our soldiers.
"The Laser Pointers came in the other day - and they are VERY good ones," said 1SG Paul W. "They are perfect, put smiles on the few joe's I gave them to yesterday. They will save a lot of innocent people from having their cars ruined, or even worse, dying. THANK YOU!!!
This Operation is one of our most important projects. Developing good relations with the local populace will save American lives and help deter the insurgency.
One facet of Operation Hearts and Minds is building relationships with the local children. Here, 1SG Paul W. distributes soccer balls donated by AaSP.
8-20-07: AaSP's Rob Evans shows off practice jerseys sent by professional soccer team New England Revolution for Operation Hearts and Minds. Thanks to Jillian and the Revolution for this generous donation! Your jerseys have been shipped to Iraq to help our troops build relationships in the area.