Kauaians ready last shipment to Iraq

If everything goes according to plan, the citizen soldiers from Kaua’i in Iraq will get one last shipment of goodies from Kaua’i before the December holidays.

They will be welcome packages, made that much sweeter by the fact that the Kaua’i men and women of the Hawaii Army National Guard Company A, 2nd Battalion, 299th Infantry Regiment, are staring at their final weeks in Iraq.

Many are expected to begin coming home in January.

Members of the Kauai Veterans Council this week will make one final drive to collect food, toiletries, and other items for the 100 or so Kauaians deployed to Iraq, said retired Sgt. Adam Britto.

Leaders of Operation Morale have gotten permission from U.S. Postal Service officials in Honolulu to place collection boxes in every post office on Kaua’i, from the U.S. Navy Base at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, near Mana and Kekaha, to Hanalei, this Wednesday, Nov. 16, and Thursday, Nov. 17, said Britto.

Lists of desired items, including local-style snacks like beef jerky, to sanitizing wipes, baseball caps and much more, are at the post offices.

Those who cannot afford to drop those kinds of items at the post offices are encouraged to write personal letters or postcards, addressed to “Any Soldier” if they don’t have a specific Kaua’i citizen-soldier in mind, he said.

“Let us show our soldiers that Kaua’i cares,” he said.

The letters should express messages to the troops “that we love them and support them, and we’ll see them soon,” said Britto, of Kapa’a, a Persian Gulf and Vietnam veteran.

Johnny Rabasa of Hanama’ulu, a Vietnam veteran who writes a monthly Veterans Corner column exclusively for The Garden Island, has offered to deliver the drop boxes to post offices on the Westside of the island, Britto continued.

Rabasa is a former postmaster at the Makaweli post office.

A “packing party” to box up all the donations will take place this Sunday, Nov. 20, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Kauai Veterans Center on Kapule Highway in Lihu’e.

While this may be the last Operation Morale push for the citizen-soldiers of the Hawaii Army National Guard unit in Iraq, Britto pledged to continue collecting, packing and sending care packages to Kauaians in the military abroad until they all come home.

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