Back To The Desert

A Marine I met two years ago is deploying for the fourth time. But this is his first time doing so as a dad. Before, one of the things he missed most was color. Like the green of grass and trees. Of course, this time, he is already pre-missing his baby girl. So I tried to take that into account as I thought about what to send him. This is what I came up with:

Essential gear

1. I LOVE NY coffee mug- Nothing says, “I’m a friendly guy, please sit down and chat a while” like something that screams New York. I am laughing on the inside because I know this Marine can be a bit difficult when he wants to be. After he shared a few work-related stories, I jokingly asked, “You’re kind of a pain in the a**  aren’t you?” He replied, “Only to people who try to mess with my Marines.

2. 1lb of coffee and assorted snacks. This is essential gear.

Dad factor

1. Notes from dad- I included a box of cute cards for him to send to his daughter. Sure, she can’t read yet, but I thought it would be nice for his wife to receive them. Maybe she’ll put them in a scrapbook or maybe just save them for later. Either way, I think it would be sweet for his daughter to have them.

2. Simple durable frame for super-adorable photo.

3. Motivation tip from my daughter Sofia. To help him at work.

Name blurred for privacy. Smiley-faces blurred so I don't get in trouble with some Sticker Cartel for copyright infringement.

Name blurred for privacy. Smiley-faces blurred so I don’t get in trouble with some Sticker Cartel for copyright infringement.

4. More help from Sofia: groovy, multi-patterned pencils for sharing. You know, in case the other Marines forget to bring theirs.

I thought about sending him a parents’ magazine and labeling it, “INTEL” but I didn’t know if seeing those other kid pics would bum him out or not. Plus, I wasn’t sure how interested he’d be in the articles.

Welcome back?

I don’t really expect smiley-face sparkle stickers to become part of his official routine. I think it would be hilarious, but I don’t expect it. However, this Marine may as well learn now that he’s got all kinds of sparkle ahead of him. But as he arrives in the desert, we’ll “welcome” him back with the certainty that many people care. Even strangers. I’ve never met this Marine in person, we became pen pals through Soldiers’ Angels. Like my fellow volunteers, we hope to send a few extra smiles until we can say, “welcome home” again.

Update: He loved the box and followed Sofia’s advice! Two of his Marines did a very good job and he told her to imagine them in a combat zone with smiley face stickers on their uniforms. He said, “that should bring a smile to your face.” It most certainly did!

© Gina left the mall, 2013

20 thoughts on “Back To The Desert

  1. Gina you are such an inspiration. It is a kindness we can not fully understand unless one of your readers has been deployed, thousands of miles from the comfort of home and love of their family.. I am sure he will see each item and offering you and Sofia send as a treasure. A new father will surely miss the little one more, but knowing she will have mail from him will certainly help his loneliness.

    • Joe, thank you so much for your kind words. While I have never been deployed, many troops and families have described it to me. I feel I have a small understanding. One army wife told me how her husband tends to withdraw during deployment. She said how anything that helped him stay connected was good for all of them. That’s how I got the idea for the cards. (Also, I know how Sofia loves seeing things like that from when she was younger.) Knowing how even a postcard can deliver a touch of home, I think he will like this box very much. Maybe the stickers will decorate his letters home 🙂

  2. During WWII my dad sent my brothers (aged 4 & 5) and me (age 3 mos) post cards,. I still have them. His daughter will cherish each and every thing she receives. God bless our troops and their families!

    • Darlene,
      I think it’s wonderful that your dad wrote to you kids and that you still have these treasures! I hope this Marine’s daughter will feel the same way. I hope she’ll feel in his words (once she can understand them) how much he loved and missed her. That being far from home did not make her far from his heart. Our troops and their families endure many things on our behalf. God bless them, indeed. And I thank your father for his service and your family as well.

  3. The note cards are a great idea; his daughter will want to read these again and again when she’s a little older. The smiley face stickers are a wonderful, self-effacing for everyone to chill out and not take themselves too seriously.

  4. I so love the fact that you include Sofia when you send things to your soldiers. What an awesome rolemodel you are !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Pingback: Writing to Service Members", sent to Military Mom Talk Radio by Gina Sclafani | MilitaryMomTalkRadio

  6. Gina I am a SA but I live in New Zealand. I have just been reading your blog and I can relate to so much of it. When one of my soldiers was worried his 4 year old daughter wouldn’t remember him I sent him recordable books so he could send them home to her. Currently in the mail to another of my soldiers is a doll for her to send home to her daughter.

    I read how you got involved in SA and how I discovered them is equally as random. I was researching online my fathers WW2 records. I knew he had been fighting with the US troops in the Pacific and when I talked to my mother about the war she told me my grandparents used to look after the US troops stationed in their town in NZ. Next time I went online to find out a bit more about my father’s company I found the Soldiers Angels website.

    I love that for a short time I can take my soldiers out of where they are and for some lately its been a very hard place to be.

    • Hi Ruth,
      It is very nice to meet a fellow “angel.” I love the recordable books and that you enabled both these soldiers to do something special for their children! I know the kids (and Moms!) will treasure these gifts. I am also happy to hear that I am not the only person who randomly found their way into this 🙂

      I think it’s wonderful that you are carrying on your grandparent’s tradition of caring for troops. The ability to “transport” people from a difficult place, even if only for a short time, is the part I love too. It’s amazing that we all can do this for people we’ve never met at a time they need it most. We all have the power of kindness. Thank you for using yours. And thank you for reading!

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