Soldier spreads the love with care packages
June 30, 2009
BAGHDAD - Staff Sgt. Dale O'Neill recently received 120 pounds of goods in care packages from friends and family, but the Memphis, Tenn., native didn't end up with any of the items.
O'Neill, the assistant non-commissioned officer in charge for civil and military affairs at Forward Operating Base Falcon, gave away every ounce from those packages to his fellow 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team Soldiers occupying local joint security stations.
"I thought that would be the best place for that stuff to go," O'Neill said. "Take it to a JSS where those guys hardly have anything."
Soldiers from Companies A and B, 252nd Combined Arms Battalion, at JSSs Sadiyah and Doura received the packages; tearing into the boxes packed with soap, hand sanitizer, razors and toothbrushes.
There are no post exchanges at these bases, and simple goods like these seem like luxury items to Soldiers at these outlying stations.
"It feels pretty good," said Pvt. Kevin Shinn, and infantryman from Asheboro, N.C. "It's nice to know they're thinking about us."
As they unpacked the contents, some Soldiers set aside items for their friends who were out on missions.
"I just know a lot of guys in my tent that needed one," Shinn said as he picked out a handful of toothbrushes.
O'Neill's wife started collecting the items through parents, teachers and students at their daughter's elementary school.
"My wife mentioned it at the school," O'Neill said. "And all of a sudden the whole school got involved."
O'Neill said collecting goods for the care packages has been good for his wife and daughter.
"It really helps my wife get an idea of the support that's behind us." said O'Neill.
The O'Neill's have been married for seven years, and his wife had never known him as a Soldier.
O'Neill had been on inactive ready reserve status for nearly 17 years when he was recalled to active duty just before Christmas and ordered to deploy with the 30th HBCT.
"I've been on IRR status forever and a day now," O'Neill said. "We honestly never thought I was going to get called back. That kind of hit us hard. My wife, being Australian, didn't really understand at first."
But, despite that initial lack of understanding, she has embraced it and is mobilizing others to help the 30th Brigade Soldiers by planning another care package drive.
"I emailed her and asked her to expand a little for this next drive," O'Neill said. "I asked her to include magazines, newspapers or books." He said he also requested phone cards and music download gift cards to help keep the Soldiers' busy during their little off time.