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The parcels of Christmas goodies sometimes arrive all at once to the headquarters of Eastern Oregon’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry here. Sometimes only one or two parcels are delivered. The packages bestow jerky and M&Ms and gum and suckers and crackers and Fruit Roll-ups and popcorn and candy corn. And every package is greater than the sum of its parts for the 3rd Battalion soldiers who receive one.
PAT CALDWELL photo CARE PACKAGES: Spc. 4 Chris Jones, Medford, laughs with 1st Sgt. Todd Gorham, La Grande, as they open boxes of Christmas care packages at their Forward Operating Base near Balad, Iraq. Gorham and Jones are both members of La Grande’s Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Oregon Army National Guard.
“People are sending a lot of things. Soldiers love it. The volume of people who want to give us stuff is amazing,” Command Sgt. Maj. Bill Wyllie, the highest ranking enlisted man in the 3rd Battalion, said.
Wyllie, John Day, said the packages mean the public at home has not lost sight of Oregon Guardsmen.
“The soldiers appreciate that everyone back home is thinking about them,” he said.
Sending packages to troops engaged on foreign shores is nothing new to America, but for the soldiers from the 3rd Battalion — many of them on their first deployment — the gifts mean a great deal as Christmas hovers on the horizon.
“(The packages) are great. It helps soldiers to know that people at home are thinking about them,” Capt. John Qualls, Heppner, said.
The packages arrive from different entities and individuals.
One group, dubbed Oregon Posse, of Eugene, worked with Wyllie to get goodies delivered to the 3rd Battalion. Another group from Albany, “Give to the Troops,” sent Christmas parcels.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Edtl, a former Wallowa County resident received packages from the organization “Hometown Heroes” and a Christmas card from Dean and Joyce Hines.
Another group, “Operation Holiday Stockings,” from Bellevue, Wash., sent a set of packages to 3-116th Guardsmen.
Sgt. 1st Class Tim Vandervlugt, La Grande, said he recently received a slew of Christmas cards, through the American Red Cross, from area residents. “It is very much appreciated,” he said.