My friend Bob Connolly got set up recently. He was told some "senior Army folks" were coming by the Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill where he's a Professor to discuss some programs on organizational change and related topics for the armed services.
Turns out Generals Casey and McNeill were there to honor him for his "outstanding support of Soldiers in Afghanistan."
The letter from GEN Casey continues (emphasis mine):
You sent out a call for support and were able to organize, receive and package, and mail over 4000 pounds of care packages containing snacks, coffee, sundry items, movies, and magazines to our Soldiers in combat.
I know that the Soldiers appreciate your support and commitment to their comfort and well being. It is private citizens, such as yourself, who remind our Soldiers every day of the honor and respect that our Nation has for their sacrifices.
You can see some of what I call "Soldier loot" here - back when Bob was up to about 2400 pounds.
In typical fashion, Bob calls himself nothing but a "conduit" and gives all the credit to others. Not just to the generous donors in and around the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, but also to his contacts downrange.
The truth is that without the help of the 1-503 IN chaplain, CPT Kevin Guthrie, this would not have been nearly as successful. He pointed me to the leadership of the line companies doing the heavy lifting, he counseled on what items really made a difference, and he kept me in the loop enough to know who needed what and when.... all the while, I had no real idea where his paratroopers [of the 173rd ABCT] were really operating so OPSEC wasn’t an issue.
The leadership of the 1SGs, platoon leaders, and company commanders helped, too. Their emails back (and occasional photos) converted the concept of paratroopers working in a tough place into a reality that folks back home could understand. Their thank you’s, descriptions of daily life, stories, vignettes, and occasional photos were more compelling than anything I could ever dream up.
In the end, I functioned as the conduit, connecting generous people back home with some of America’s finest in the field. The recognition rightfully belongs to everyone who participated, and continues to do so.
I had the pleasure of seeing Bob again recently - this time during a trip to Germany with some of his students. He made a point of adding Landstuhl to the group's agenda giving me and Chris, a fellow Soldiers' Angel and nurse at Landstuhl, the opportunity to tell his students about our Heroes and their caregivers.
What a role model. Don't you wish America had more professors like Bob?
A big BZ and many thanks to Bob, his wife Cindy, the good folks at Kenan-Flagler Business School, UNC - Chapel Hill, CPT Guthrie, and everyone else who supported this effort to show the Soldiers of the 173rd how much we care for them. Airborne! Sky Soldiers!