FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Being deployed to Iraq didn't stop Soldiers of the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion from being in the spirit of giving.
The approximately 265 personnel of the Army battalion, who deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom last summer, came up with $900 to buy toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program in San Antonio.
Sgt. 1st Class Viet Nguyen, the top noncommissioned officer in the battalion's rear detachment at Fort Sam Houston, said Staff Sgt. Jose Manzano spearheaded the fund drive at Camp Cropper, Iraq, where the battalion is stationed.
"With all of the support that we receive from children via the elementary schools that are constantly sending us boxes upon boxes of fun stuff such as cards, candy and games on a regular basis ... it's the right thing to do," said Manzano. "Just because we are out here putting our lives on the line for our country, it doesn't mean that we can't take care of those families and children on our own home front. After all, what is Christmas without the spirit of giving'"
After the rear detachment received the funds - wired to them via Western Union
- Nguyen, Sgt. Kendrell Marshall, Sgt. Jesus Garcia and Spc. Christopher Sizemore purchased the toys at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service PXtra store on Fort Sam Houston Dec. 15. The same day, they delivered the toys - which almost overflowed four shopping carts - to the Toys for Tots collection station on Austin Highway. Toys for Tots will distribute the toys as Christmas presents to needy children in the San Antonio community.
The 14th MI Battalion is a subordinate unit of the 470th MI Brigade, based at Fort Sam Houston. Deployed battalion members expect to return home some time in 2010.