Donation Surprises Paratroopers

By Army Spc. Juliana Morrison
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq, June 19, 2007 - Soldiers here recently received a special gift from a complete stranger who had read about them in a newspaper.

Mark Thompson, a resident of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, donated $5,000 to the paratroopers of the 25th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, after reading an article in a local newspaper.

The article focused on local resident Nancy Allen, whose son, Sgt. Matthew Allen, is deployed in Iraq with the battalion.

"This gift was an unexpected surprise, especially coming from a total stranger in a small town ... where there isn't much military life," the sergeant said.

Thompson said he decided he wanted to do something for soldiers in Iraq and saw Nancy Allen as a link. He contacted her immediately and set up a fund for the donation. Sgt. Allen and HHC 1st Sgt. Terwan Crawley put their heads together and decided how the money should be spent.

"We decided to get company T-shirts made, because it's something all of our troopers can use," Crawley said. Allen came up with a logo to go on the shirts, and Crawley found someone to do the embroidery.

A friend of Crawley's, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Cravis Taybron, owns Taybron's Sweaters Unlimited in Fayetteville, N.C. Taybron was more than happy to make a deal and do the embroidery for the T-shirts.

"It does great things for paratroopers' morale when the American people take the time to do something like this for us," Crawley said.

Paratroopers in HHC came together and took a company picture with the shirts to show their gratitude. They're also sending him a U.S. flag that flew over their forward operating base.

Spc. Stephanie Colomer said she is touched that someone would take the time to be so generous.

"It makes me feel like people actually care about us; not many people would take the time to do something like that," she said.

With the money left over from the donation, the company purchased two X-Box game consoles for soldiers to enjoy in their free time.

Crawley said he's reminded of the act of kindness every time he sees the shirt.

"We're so grateful for Mr. Thompson and his gesture," he said, "and now when we see our company T-shirt, we'll know it came from an act of kindness."

(Army Spc. Juliana Morrison is the public affairs representative for the 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion.)

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