Lieutenant Commander George Townsend (USN, ret.), Redmond resident, dutifully displays his American flag each appropriate holiday. This August, however, he displayed his flag and didn’t take it down, which prompted his neighbor Alex’s, question. Turns out that LCDR Townsend put out his flag when his son, Will, an Army Captain, was sent on mission to Afghanistan;
Alex’s Cub Scout Pack 581, chartered by The Bear Creek School of Redmond, decided that they would support Will’s Blackhawk and Chinook maintenance platoon in what they called, “Operation Mail Call.” Assistant Cubmaster Professor Tony Gill, who has been sending packages to deployed soldiers for years, suggested appropriate items to donate and supplied the logistical know how regarding the mailing. The pack was asked to bring in items for the care packages. At the start of the effort, Pack 581 leaders and Townsend expected that maybe at best each soldier would get some chocolate (which can actually be sent now since it’s not too hot in Afghanistan this time of year), and maybe a letter from each scout. Alex, hoping to garner even more items for the troops, went to five of Townsend’s neighbors and asked for care package donations.
At the Pack meeting in November each of the about 40 scouts wrote a personal letter to one of the 40 platoon members. There was nearly perfect match between the number of scouts and the number of platoon members. LCDR Townsend gave a presentation on his son’s helicopter maintenance platoon and then the packing began. It was somewhat chaotic, but fun, and when all was said and done, 42 large-sized flat rate boxes were STUFFED with much more than chocolate. Boxes included socks, batteries, DVDs, Xbox games, coffee, blank note cards, and, of course, Scout popcorn!
While the adult leaders of the pack had been making contingency plans for fewer and smaller packages, the Cub Scouts apparently had more faith and had been hard at work collecting items for the care packages. The residents of Redmond and families of The Bear Creek School community also contributed to the care packages during the previous month as they purchased Boy Scout popcorn and gave additional donations to send popcorn to the troops.
The next day at Pack 581’s expense of over $500, forty-two personally-addressed care packages were mailed.
What was accomplished in “Operation Mail Call”?
1 – LCDR Townsend’s neighbors, who generously contributed to the care packages, now know why the flag remains flying and are able to support the family.
2 – Pack 581 scouts fulfilled their desire and duty to serve.
3 – Redmond residents can see tangible results of their generosity during Boy Scout popcorn sales.
4 – All the members of the Maintenance Platoon at Camp Marmal in Afghanistan received a heavily-laden care package for the holidays.
For the scouts of Pack 581, the joy was in the giving. However, that joy was unexpectedly increased when they received a thank you letter from Captain Townsend along with several pictures of smiling soldiers opening their care packages. Captain Townsend’s opening paragraph set the tone of his letter:
On behalf of the Maintenance Platoon of Delta company, 2nd Battalion, 4 Aviation Regiment, Task Force Mustang, thank you for all of the wonderful packages and gifts you sent to us. Your thoughts and efforts are truly patriotic and help tremendously with the men’s morale. Thank you.
According to Captain Townsend, the care packages were so stuffed that the 40 members of his platoon were able to share the contents with an additional 100 members of the larger company. Captain Townsend, having been a scout himself, also took time in his letter to personally encourage the scouts to:
Be proud of the things you accomplish in your community and country. Each act of kindness you carry out contributes to the greatness of our Country, and for that we are all thankful for what you are doing back at home.
Editor’s note - Tony Gill has been sending packages to deployed service members for years, he has a nickname at the Duval post office, “Flat-rate Tony.” Also attached is the letter sent to the pack by Captain Townsend, and the photos he sent.
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The Bear Creek School offers a Christian, college preparatory, liberal arts education where students from preschool through grade 12 are guided to explore their unique talents and abilities.