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Deployed Needs

United States of AmericaWhat do Deployed Troops Need?POW/MIA.  You are not Forgotten


It's August 15, and although the press isn't covering it nearly as much there are still American troops in Iraq and yes, some of them are dying. Many more of them are finding out that they don't have a definite rotation date, and the weather still sucks.

Now is not the time to forget the Marines, airmen, sailors and soldiers still there. Some units have gotten so much 'stuff' from well-intentioned donors that they can't carry it, or have so many razor blades that they aren't able to shave with all of them. If you plan to send a package, please try to find out what that particular unit needs before sending 'stuff'

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Although it sounds like things are getting better, many of the military personnel are not in areas where they have ready access to hot showers and shopping, so they often run short on the little things we take for granted. Here is a list I've collected from personal experience and the generous help of the Marines and family/friends of Marines on www.grunt.com. Again, check with them if at all possible to see what is actually needed before sending items they either can't use or have too many of already.

I've broken the items into easily divided bags that make distribution much quicker. When putting a box together, remember that the recipient may not have the time to break open and re-pack numerous items so why not take the trouble to do it for them? After all, they're out there taking the time and trouble to defend our rights and Constitution. In the case of the Marines, many of the infantry and armor units carried everything on their backs, so they don't have room for a big box of whatever you're sending...

"Grab-n-Go" bags
Put the contents in a large (quart-sized) Ziploc, so they can be quickly distributed to the unit personnel without any need for additional sorting or breakdown. Each Ziploc can then be given to an individual so they will have the necessities available to throw into their pack immediately.

  • babywipes - with a shortage of water, babywipes are often the only way to "freshen up"
  • Batteries - AA are most common, but AAA, C and D are also used
  • hand sanitizers - waterless hand cleaner
  • Phone cards - AT+T or globally usable
  • disposable razors
  • bar soap
  • shampoo
  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • gatorade or drink powders to kill the treated water flavor
  • gum
  • Sunscreen - no garish colors, please
  • lip balm
"Unit" bags
Figure on enough for a dozen people. A single bag of snacks, etc that can easily be traded among the members of a platoon or fireteam.
  • Duct tape - green or black. Silver and other colors aren't "tactical"
  • hard candy
  • jerky / Slim Jims - won't spoil, adds flavor to the day
  • individual snacks
  • cashews/peanuts
  • crackers
  • toilet paper
  • Tea and coffee bags
  • fast-food seasoning packs - Taco Bell sauce, ketchup, mustard, salt/pepper

If you send food items, please keep them in the manufacturers packaging or seal. Thanks.

Other good things to have
There's no question that combat and deployment away from family and friends are serious stressors. During the downtime they need to be able to relax and even let those of us at home know how they're doing:

  • pens, pencils
  • stationery
  • puzzles or puzzle/crossword type books
  • playing cards
  • nerf footballs - nerfs are compressible and can be thrown in a backpack more easily than leather
  • frisbees
  • disposable cameras
  • batteries - all sizes, but AA is most commonly used
  • video tapes / Music CDs - this depends on the receiving unit. Obviously not everyone has access to a VCR or CD player. Forward-deployed units may not have as much access to 'toys' but welcome any support from home

How can I get more stuff to send?
Check with local dentists, pharmacy reps, and sales folks to see what they can donate. Many people are reporting that they had success getting toothbrushes from the dentist, or a commitment of waterless hand cleaner from the pharmaceutical company, etc. Use your imagination.

Drugstores and grocery stores that stock large quantities of magazines may make the "old" ones available as well. Use good sense in what you send however, Playboy and the like aren't good reading material in the Gulf and can cause a lot of unneeded trouble for the recipient.

What shouldn't I send?
There are restrictions based on the APO or FPO address, but as a general rule avoid the following:

  • Chocolate - melted chocolate is really nasty. MRE's actually have heat-tempered chocolate available as a snack.
  • Liquor/Alcohol - possession is banned in most Arab countries
  • Pressurized containers - shaving cream, canned sodas
  • Porn - Again, possession is banned on most Arab countries and content may be banned in other countries as well.
AV-8 Harrier on aircraft elevator.  Undisclosed Gulf location

Now I've got a boxful, where do I send it?
Now here's the catch. In Desert Storm (1991) we received quite a few packages simply addressed to "Any Marine" or "Any Servicemember" but that option isn't available now due in part to the terror prospect. I have quite a few individual unit addresses but am hesitant to post them for security reasons and in order to 'share the wealth' to other units as well. I will update this part as I get better info to send to.

These two addresses are geared primarily toward Army types but they all need our help and support.


Got comments or questions? Let me know
e-mail Jim
1 March, 2003
Updated August 15, 2003