Operation Gratitude

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posted on Dec 31 2006 0 Comments



Caption: Lance Cpl. Jordan Richards, a turret gunner with Regimental Combat Team 5″s Team Gator, examines the gifts, which included a note announcing a car was awaiting his return to California, he received from Operation Gratitude. His package was the 200,000th Operation Gratitude has mailed to troops in Iraq. (photo by 1st Lt. Lawton King)

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Dec. 29, 2006) – The magi are stirring with envy.

Lance Cpl. Jordan Richards, a turret gunner with Regimental Combat Team 5’s “Team Gator,” received a belated Christmas package in the mail from donors at Operation Gratitude here Dec. 29. The real present, though, is still awaiting his return to California.

“This Dodge Caliber is yours,” announced the first document he removed from the package after knifing it open in front of his fellow Marines.

“I was not expecting that whatsoever,” said the 19-year-old M-2 .50 caliber gunner from St. Louis. “It was actually a car!”

“Don’t lose it,” one of the Marine said.

Richards continued to rifle through the contents of the box and methodically produced cigarettes, autographed hats, a DVD player, a flash drive, batteries, phone cards and scores of letters and notes from the home front.

“You have a lot of thank-you notes to write, my friend,” another Marine bystander joked.

One of the notes informed him that several other gifts in addition to the automobile would be lavished upon him when he redeploys to the United States.

“Wait ’til the fiancee hears about this one,” he said.

Operation Gratitude, an organization devoted to promoting the wellbeing of U.S. troops abroad by mailing them care packages, sent Richards their 200,000th package and celebrated the landmark by showering with gifts ranging from a car to tickets to a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game.

“We’re excited for the Marine,” said 1st Sgt. Mark Massey, the 40-year-old company first sergeant from Lansing, N.C. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

Massey earlier remarked that the package apparently endured “some trial and tribulations coming over here,” though it remained intact and unopened.

The observation seemed apt and layered in meaning, for the Marines themselves had returned from a mounted patrol earlier without incurring any casualties.

“It was a cold one, too,” Richards said.

Richards said he went from patrolling a combat zone to receiving a car in addition to other gifts, including a personalized gift signed by a U.S. Senator from Virginia.

After he had emptied the box of all its surprises, Richards expressed his appreciation, which was echoed by Team Gator’s leadership, and the Marines scattered in all directions.

“These packages make deployments livable,” he said. “The support is worth more than anything else.”

“A young enlisted Marine got something for keeps. That’s awesome,” Massey said.

Capt. Eric Dominijanni, the 34-year-old company commander of Team Gator from Queens, N.Y., discussed the impact of the gesture and how it registered with the Marines present.

“It really means a lot to know that people are thinking about us during the holidays.”

A Maryland Heights Marine on Duty in Irag Wins a New Car
Fox 2 News-St Louis
Last Edited: Tuesday, 02 Jan 2007, 12:45 AM CST
Created: Monday, 01 Jan 2007, 9:19 PM CST
Maryland Heights, MO  —  A Maryland Heights Marine serving in Iraq received much more than he could have ever imagined when he opened a care package last Friday.

Inside the box, among L.A. Lakers tickets and a letter from Liz Taylor was a note that he was being given a new car.

Lance Corporal Jordan Richards was selected as the 200-thousandth service member to receive a care package from Operation Gratitude, a California-based charity that sends gifts to the troops overseas.

“He said guess what,” tells his step-mom Diane who took the Marine’s excited call, “I had no idea but he was just bubbling.”

Also in the box a randomly selected beanie lobster which held special meaning to Richards because his fiancé works at Red Lobster. “He said it made him think of his fiancé and brought a smile to his face,” says his father Tad.

19-year-old Lance Corporal Richards can pick up the 2007 Dodge Caliber when he returns to his base in Twenty-Nine Palms, California in May.
See Video: http://www.myfoxstl.com/myfox/MyFox/pages/sidebar_video.jsp?contentId=1939196&version=1&locale=EN-US

When you care enough to send the very best
BY DENNIS MCCARTHY, Columnist, L.A. Daily News
The phone in Carolyn Blashek’s Encino home rang early last Friday – a call the founder of Operation Gratitude had been anticipating.
“I just want to thank you and all your volunteers for everything you’re doing for us,” Lance Cpl. Jordan Richards said from his base at Camp Fallujah, Iraq.
The 19-year-old Marine had just returned from patrol and learned that his was the 200,000th care package sent by Operation Gratitude, the volunteer organization Blashek started three years ago to support U.S. troops in Iraq.
In Richards’ box was a baseball cap autographed by all the Angels players, a DVD player, phone cards, and plenty of holiday cards and letters of support, along with a scale-model of a Dodge Caliber.
A real Caliber will be given to Richards when he returns in May to his duty station in Twentynine Palms.
“He was so excited,” Blashek said Thursday. “He had already called his fiancee and told her to go on the Internet to see what a Dodge Caliber looked like.
“She said it looked cool. He told her that was good because they owned one now.”
The car was a gift from Checkers-Rallys, a national restaurant chain and a corporate sponsor of Operation Gratitude.
“We could not have reached this 200,000 milestone without our great sponsors, and the thousands of individual volunteers and donors who have helped us over the last three years,” Blashek said.  http://www.dailynews.com/dennismccarthy/ci_4953562


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