In 2004, Santa Barbaran Sally Brown started sending care packages twice a month to a family friend who was serving in Iraq. Word spread about what she was doing, and soon people inquired as to how to get their loved ones on the list — and so began the group effort, headed by Brown, called the Santa Barbara Angels. The parcels sent to the servicemen and women are themed (e.g., Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Super Bowl, etc.), and each contains a personal letter, as well as snacks, candy, socks, DVDs, magazines, and other goodies. Although each package is mailed to the name of the servicemember Brown has been given, it’s filled with enough to share with the entire unit.
The following are snippets of emails sent between 2004 and 2006 to the Santa Barbara Angels, thanking them for their kindness and telling a bit about life in Iraq.
As you have no doubt read in the news, it was a tough summer here in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. Our soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen performed marvelously. They are truly making a difference here for the people of Iraq. These young men and women continue to set the conditions for peace and prosperity among a people with tremendous potential. … The 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division (Ready First Combat Team) has been extended for a short time. We will be here through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The soldiers have taken this news in stride. They fully understand how critical this mission is. — U.S. Army Chaplain
Your love within every letter and package lives in us throughout the deployment and keeps us strong. … All is well here. We now have a bigger area to operate in since GdF Company is heading south. So we will be that much busier. Our company, Echo, is doing well. We have pushed the enemy out of our area, and had a 90 percent voter turnout … for the elections. We are constantly making progress here. Thank you for praying for our safety and guidance. — U.S. Marine, Texas
[T]hings have been … pretty busy out here. There have been some events that have taken place lately that I like to call nirades [as in night raids]. Our platoon got in a firefight a few nights ago and everyone came out alive. We had one marine injured by the fragmentation of a grenade blast, but he’s been back from Fallujah surgical for a few days now with a hole in his lower shin and one in his right arm. He thinks the piece is still in his leg, but said he’s fine. … [He’s] from Amarillo, Texas. He’s one of the platoon’s favorite characters. We’re all very glad to see he walked away from the incident. We had a few confirmed kills and one Iraqi detained for questioning. We are winning this war. God is truly on our side. — U.S. Marine, Texas
I am a Black Hawk helicopter crew chief, which means I am one of the mechanics for my company’s Black Hawks, and I am part of the aircraft crew as a flight engineer on our mission. … I grew up in Santa Barbara for 18 years. I attended Monroe Elementary, La Cumbre Middle School, and Santa Barbara High, graduating in 2000. I then went to college at UC Santa Cruz and earned a BA in art. After graduating, I was inspired to do something important with my life and help out for the greater good, so I joined the army. I feel like we are really helping the people over here, and the attitude of the Iraqi people toward us is much more positive than how it is portrayed in the media. I’ve seen such generosity from the soldiers to Iraqis that it’s truly heartwarming, and I feel like we are making a positive impact in their lives. — U.S. Army Black Hawk Crew Chief, Santa Barbara
We really appreciate the boxes of goodies you all have sent to us. When I received the Girl Scout cookies … I handed them out to the soldiers who were going on six- and eight-hour patrols and they were delighted. … We are a recon troop … from Fort Hood, Texas. We patrol the streets and neighborhoods in Baghdad. We work with the Iraqi Army and the Ministry of Interior forces. We make the streets and neighborhoods safer for the Iraqi people. … We have been here since January 2006 and already have made a big difference in this area. This is my second time here and I’ve already seen a difference in this country for the better. — U.S. Army Soldier, Texas
If you know of anyone who would benefit from the support of the Santa Barbara Angels, or you’re interested in donating to the fund, call 682-6760 or email email@example.com.