Andrew Hansen comes from a family of givers. His mom is a nurse, his dad served on Canada’s horse artillery and several Rim Country fire departments, one brother is a police officer with the Payson Police Department and another a firefighter with the Hellsgate Fire Department.
So perhaps it’s not a surprise that Hansen at 22, volunteered to leave the comforts of home to join the military, fly to Iraq and protect the country.
The Payson Supply Line this week resolved to honor that service, by sending one of Payson’s own its 1,000th care package.
But for this family, service to others is routine. “We are all in the services,” Hansen’s mother Lorna Hansen said. “All three of my boys have decided to serve others and I am so proud.”
Hansen decided to join the military to fulfill his dream of becoming a cop. He hopes the experience he gains with the Army’s Military Police Corps will get him a job in the Payson Police Department alongside his brother Michael when he returns from service, Lorna said.
Hansen never spoke of enlisting, until they day he came home and said he was joining up, no questions asked, Lorna said.
“I always told them they need to be happy in whatever job they choose,” Lorna said. “When he joined he told me, ‘Mom if I sign on I might not come home,’ but I said, ‘Every time you leave the house, I know you might not come home.’”
Hansen went to boot camp on May 14 and in October he graduated from the military academy. Just three months ago, on Jan. 2.
Hansen was shipped over to Baghdad to serve with the military police. The military police provides area and convoy security.
Recently a rocket-propelled grenade was thrown at a vehicle in Hansen’s convoy, but he was uninjured.
“Even with the news, we have no idea what they are going through every day,” Hansen’s older brother Michael said. “Most of us don’t realize what it is like over there.
Michael, who has served with the Payson police for more than a year and a half, said Hansen used to look up to him as the older brother, but now he looks up his kid brother.
“I have never been more proud of anyone,” he said. “He knew he was going to Iraq and he would be shot at, he knew it, but he chose to do it anyway.
“He has something that most of us don’t.”
Butch Klein, co-owner of Quality Movers and co-creator of Payson Supply Line (PSL) agreed with Michael. Anyone who serves in the military has a courage that should be recognized and remembered, Klein said.
Klein started PSL four years ago with friend, Lud Kaftan to show the troops support for their service.
On a weekly basis, Klein sends out boxes crammed full of food, toiletries, books, socks, toe warmers, candy — everything you could want as a soldier, but couldn’t get in the middle of a war zone.
Hansen’s box is number 1,000 for PSL and includes many of the normal accoutrements Klein sends to the troops, including Starbucks Coffee, Girl Scout Cookies, a Bible, a knitted shawl, food, toiletries, movies and a special note from his mom.
Klein also includes a “candy bomb,” a Ziploc bag filled with small candies that the troops often hand out to local children.
“They start chucking these out of the helicopters and they would explode sending candy everywhere to drag the kids out of a building so they could get in there and hurt less children,” Klein said of the candy bombs.
One time a soldier gave a girl some candy and the next time he was in the area, she warned him it was unsafe.
“A bunch of marines came home that day because of some candy,” Klein mused.
Klein got Hansen’s name from his insurance agent who knew that Hansen was serving in Iraq and could use a box. Klein normally receives the names of soldiers who could use a morale boost from Payson parents, spouses and friends.
PSL survives on donations and volunteer efforts. One box costs around $50 to $60 to stock and another $60 to ship, but is received by the soldier within a week.
“We never know who we are sending them to, because the requests come in from everywhere,” Klein said. “But I got a call from Afghanistan from a soldier who had just got a box who let me know how great it was,” Klein said. “I get letters all the time.”
Lorna said Hanson is excited to get a box, but is surprised he was chosen.
“When I told him, he was like ‘why me?’” Lorna said.
Klein said he hopes to show every soldier that gets a box that they are needed and appreciated in whatever way they are helping.
Lorna said she often sends Hansen a package or letter from home, but is grateful her son will receive a box from PSL.
For more information visit, www.paysonsupplyline.com or contact Klein at (928) 474-6968 or Kaftan at (928) 474-6981.