Rim Country's Generosity Reaches Soldiers In Iraq, Afghanistan

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Greetings from Baghdad,

My name is Captain Don Kyle and I am an activated reservist from Hawaii here in the Baghdad area in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. We have been a little over eight months at this point and we have just about 100 days left before we redeploy and return home to our families.

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Payson Supply Line started in January 2005 with the hope of sending a box of supplies per week to Afghanistan and Iraq. In a year's time, the project has sent 130 boxes of specialty items to men and women serving overseas.

During this deployment we have had the extreme pleasure of receiving numerous care packages from the generous folks at the Payson Supply Line, the latest of which arrived just in the last few days. The goodies were enjoyed by the soldiers here in Baghdad and in the northern areas of Mosul and Irbil.

I have personally been in e-mail contact with Marcy Rogers and her kindness has touched my heart. Phyliss Harper crocheted numerous caps and mittens that were sent to us and will be taken to a local orphanage to be distributed among the needy children during this cold season.

All of us here at the 322 Civil Affairs Brigade want to thank Butch Klein, Marcy Rogers, Phyliss Harper and everyone else at Payson Supply Line for their kindness, especially to the great kids there.

As we say back in the islands, Mahalo and Aloha.

Regards, CPT Kyle

Donald M. Kyle, Community Health Nurse, Public Health Team, 322 Civil Affairs BDE, Camp Slayer

This is just one of the hundreds of letters, notes, cards and e-mail the Payson Supply Line has received in the brief 13 months it has been in operation.

Two retired Marines know from personal experience that the men and women serving overseas don't have all their needs met by the military. To meet those needs, Butch Klein and Lud Kaftan organized the Payson Supply Line in January 2005.

They began collecting items that lift morale and provide comfort, things that are not available by government issue and are either unaffordable or hard to find in the public market places of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We're trying to get them what they need," Klein said.

The original plan was to try to send a box a week to service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the names and addresses coming from family and friends in the Rim Country.

By the time Payson Supply Line celebrated its first anniversary last month, about 130 boxes had been sent out, almost three times the 52 packages Klein and Kaftan had originally anticipated shipping to the two war zones.

"We want to keep these kids comfortable and alert," Kaftan said. "It's not something that's here today and gone tomorrow. This works. I was in Vietnam and it worked for us. It worked for the first Iraq war."

As Captain Kyle's letter indicates, the Payson Supply Line is not just the work of Klein and Kaftan. Residents from around the Rim Country -- from preschool students to retirees -- have contributed supplies, funds and letters of support. There has also been assistance from the Valley and elsewhere, with fund-raisers and contributions.

The recipients in Iraq and Afghanistan are now taking part as well.

"During the last few months, we have had referrals from the troops," Klein said. "As they are getting ready to ship home, they let us know about their replacements and ask us to send them boxes too."

Each box weighs about 35 pounds and costs almost $70 to ship. The Payson Supply Line recently earned nonprofit status for tax purposes, so any donations of materials or funds are tax deductible, Klein said.

The first box went to a friend of the Klein family, U.S. Army Sgt. Jason Watson, who was stationed in Baghdad. Among the items in the box for Watson and his fellow soldiers were batteries, regular and heated socks, long underwear, shooter's gloves, baby wipes, Chapstick and international calling cards.

Later boxes contained such things as sunscreen and canned and packaged foods. Popular foods were Vienna sausages, tuna fish and summer sausage. Payson Supply Line also sent disposable cameras, powdered drinks, feminine hygiene products, mosquito coils and hard candy for "candy bombs." The helicopter pilots use the candy, putting it into plastic bags and dropping it so it scatters. The candy entices children away from a landing area or target and keeps them out of harm's way.

One of the most unusual items the Payson Supply Line has provided for the troops is a television set. The father of a soldier who was killed contacted the organization and asked that his son's television set be returned to where his fellow soldiers could make use of it.

"About 300 men and women watch it every day," Klein said. "And they all see this guy's photo."

To make a contribution of funds to the Payson Supply Line, bring items to the Oasis Christian Book Store at the Twin Pines Shopping Center, 512 S. Beeline, or the Crosswinds Restaurant, 800 W. Airport Road. To learn more, contact Klein at (928) 474-6968 or Kaftan at (928) 474-6981.

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