Items Our Troops Tend
From A Chopper
Pilot Stationed in
DIGITAL CAMERA -- Small, durable.
You will surely have access to a computer and at least semi-regular
email through work, but you will probably NOT have access to a
large supply of film.
MP3 PLAYER -- if you like that sort
of thing. They make "jukebox" mp3 players like the IPOD
and the NOMAD 3 that can hold your entire collection and can also
serve as an external hard drive for grabbing folks' pictures and
stuff. I am a tech dork so this is the stuff that occurs to me
right off the bat.
A GOOD HOLSTER -- You will probably
be carrying an M9 pistol (military version of the Beretta 92)
and the army holsters are pretty much c**p. Just about everyone
over here uses a leather shoulder holster and some folks use hip
holsters. I prefer the shoulder holsters that have the weapon
on one side and a couple of magazine pouches on the other side.
It'll cost about $100.
A SMALL, BATTERY-POWERED ALARM CLOCK.
A HEADLAMP FLASHLIGHT -- I like the
one made by Rayovac that can be found at Wal-Mart for about $30.
It takes 3 AAA batteries and has a white LED, red LEDs, and a
2 MONTHS OF TOILETRIES -- The rest
can be shipped to you as necessary or purchased at PXs. I didn't
bring a lot because I like to travel light, and it costs more
to buy in the states and ship over than it does to just buy at
A GOOD MULTI-TOOL AND/OR LOCKING BLADE
KNIFE -- I have an old Leatherman that is still working like a
champ for little screwdriver/plier jobs. As for a knife, I got
a CRKT M-16, 4" with a Tanto blade. It is fantastic, sharp,
indestructible, light, and only cost about $50.
AT LEAST TWO SMALL LED LIGHTS -- the
kind that you push and they light up. Great for clipping onto
your collar or your belt loop so you can find your way to the
crapper in the dark without having to grab a flashlight.
RED "ROPE LIGHTS" -- they
come in 12' lengths and use 110V power, great for the tent. Get
other colors if you like but red is great for the nighttime if
you don't want to wake everyone. Those cheezy battery powered
"tap-lights" are good too.
FOLDING CAMP CHAIRS -- will probably
be available at the PX when you get there.
FEBREEZE -- helps when laundry facilities
550 CORD, and 100MPH TAPE -- get your
own personal supply.
FLANNEL PJ BOTTOMS -- because they're
FLIP-FLOPS -- because the showers
Packing in an action packer versus
a rucksack & duffel bag- If the load plan will allow it, I
recommend bringing an action packer or tuff-box. It can serve
not only as a secure container for your gear, but also as a table/chair/nightstand.
If lots of folks in your unit buy the same kind, they are easy
to pack in a MILVAN.
There was a lot of military equipment
that I shipped home as soon as I got here. Of course, the climate
is different in Afghanistan, but I didn't find myself needing
more than 4 uniforms, a couple pairs of boots, lots of socks (I
don't use combat boot socks anymore, just white sweat socks),
boxers/underwear, and a bunch of brown t-shirts. Some folks bought
the Coolmax version and swear by them, I didn't find it mattered
too much so I didn't drop a fortune on them. Our sleeping bags
were indispensable, do NOT pack the inflatable sleeping bag pad
away somewhere... it does a lot more than provide a cushion, it
is also INSULATION that is very important. Get a Camelback if
you don't have the new MOLLE system that comes with one. I've
got one permanently affixed to my LBE, and another one that goes
in my flight bag so I can throw it behind my seat when I fly.
Summer and Fall 2003:
REPELLANT -- The troops are really suffering with the bugs.
Mosquitoes, flies, fleas are AWFUL and then factor in 120+ heat,
it is a terrible situation. Some troops have even asked for MOSQUITO
NETTING that they can cover themselves with when they try to sleep.
DO NOT send items or repellent with DEET. Instead, send items
that contain a non-harmful bug repellant such as citronella,
which is easily purchased as oil, spray on, candles,
etc. DEET is dangerous.
COLLARS -- Some of the troops are asking, no, pleading
for these. They are NOT a good idea because
they contain DEET, which is harmful (to cats and dogs as well,
BTW). Our soldiers should be encouraged not
to even hang these collars on their beds or around their tents.
Instead, they should use a non-harmful bug repellant such as citronella,
as indicated above.
ANTI-ITCH CREAM -- for
those insect bites.
FUNNEL -- To use to get
the crystal lite and gatorade powder in their canteen without
spilling that precious flavored crystal.. Most of the water the
troops are drinking now is coming from the large military water
containers, affectionately called a "water buffalo",
so the troops must fill their cateens from this and apparently,
the water is highly chlorinated and pretty nasty tasting, so DRINK
MIXES are still one of the MOST important things we can send.
HAIR GEL -- especially
for the gals. Keeps the hair slicked back and off their face.
PANTY LINERS -- Not for
what you are thinking.. The troops, both men and women are using
these as liners in their helmets to keep the sweat from chaffing
them and also keep the sweat from running in their eyes.. Necessity
is the Mother of invention..
CANNED FOOD -- In the last
few weeks, I have received numerous calls and e-mails from troop
families and directly from troops asking if we would send more
Canned tuna or better yet tuna in
the pouch (weighs alot less), chicken, chili, stew, cheese dip,
bean dip, rice dishes and pasta dishes that are ready to eat and
just need to be warmed in the microwave (no microwaves, but with
the temperature over 120, they just lay them in the sun for about
30 minutes and "God's microwave " takes care of it).
Two things are happening in Iraq right
First, I think the troops are just
very tired of eating nothing but MREs for months on end. About
80% of the troops get 2 MREs a day and some semblance of a hot
meal each day.. Sometimes that "hot" meal is just another
MRE that is hot, but still an MRE, so they are craving anything
that might taste like real food:
Canned corned beef, sardines, salsa,
smoked salmon or smoked oysters, mac and cheese, (but ONLY the
one that has the canned velveta cheese), beans and franks, canned
fruit and ramen noodles and cup a soup, dry cereal. They can
heat the ramen, add some chicken and it's almost a real food
Second and FAR more important, about
twenty percent of our troops are in difficult and outlining areas
and because of all the sniping on the supply routes, are having
a difficult time getting all their supplies on a regular basis.
So there has been rationing of supplies. I spoke to a military
liaison for one of the senators in DC and they are doing their
best to rectify this issue, but the Iraqi dissidents are sure
not helping us. Every day there seems to be another incident of
our troops being shot at. For some strange reason, the supply
lines are jammed, but many of our boxes are getting through, so
PLEASE add some extra canned food items in your boxes and go easy
on the toiletries for awhile..
BATTERY OPERATED PERSONAL FANS
-- I was at the dollar store the other day and they had these
for a dollar and they really work well.. Just be sure to include
a package of batteries when you send it. The temperatures in some
of the tents at night has been getting to over 130 degrees, so
anything that would move the air would be wonderful.
FLY PAPER -- to hang in
their tents, the tank, whatever.. the bugs are really bad.
FLY SWATTERS -- at least
include one in every box.
Many of our special forces troops
are in places with no running water, heat or even basic facilities,
so even brushing their teeth can be a problem, but flossing is
the extent of their oral hygiene.
and Hand Stuff
Lip balm (chap-stick, blistex, etc.)
Dry skin lotion, hand creams, foot creams Aloe vera cream for
sun & wind burn & cuts Sun block..30+ SBP Strong hand
cream is best-the dirt is so fine that their skin from the blowing
dirt is chapped and cut, especially their hands Emery boards,
nail file and nail clippers and q-tips.
Large Baby wipes (in soft packs are
best) Hand sanitizers, PURELL-These become a shower many days.
when on missions, this is their only way to clean themselves.
The dust & dirt is overwhelming. In many areas, even when
they have a shower, it is with only cold water. One soldier wrote
& said that where he was, had no running water for showers
& it had been 70 days since hed had a real shower... Baby
wipes and Purell are one of the most essential things we can send.
Also, face cleansing pads.
Helps soothes the eyes, especially
after abrown out - dust storm.. Sometimes these are so bad,
you cannot see more than a few feet in front of you.
Mole skin & blister packs - the
terrain is so rocky in Afghanistan & the long missions of
walking really does their feet in, Hot Hands and Hot Feet
- hand and feet warmers work for up to 6 hours to keep them warm,
White tube athletic socks-Trench foot is a real problem &
the troops change socks a couple times a day to keep the bacteria
& dampness in control. Sanitary conditions are not the best,
so as long as they can keep their feet clean & dry, this really
helps. Gold Bond Powder, Lotrimin, Athletes foot spray and cream,
Underwear, white socks, large hankerchiefs.
Vitamin E, Zinc tablets, (Cold-eezz,
fights off the common cold ) Vitamin C tablets or drops (found
near cough drops) Cough drops Throat lozenges. With the cold weather
in Afghanistan and the conditions they live in, everyone gets
sick and these would really help.
Dominoes, cribbage boards, trivial
pursuit, other board games, Velcro dart game for their tents,
other indoor type games for winter, crossword puzzle, word game
books, nerf footballs, basketball, volley ball and net, soccer
balls, whiffle ball and bat, hand pump for balls, patches for
balls (very rocky terrain), electronic games, games boys, etc.
video movies and video tapes of sporting events, CDs, make a
mix off of your computers.
The troops have a tent where there
is a VCR and DVD player and they can go there to watch movies,
but the selection is so limited, that some new ones would be a
real plus for all the troops. The troops would really love some
videos with taped current TV shows. Sopranos, Simpsons, Friends,
anything you think the troops would enjoy watching.
Snack and prepackaged foods of any
kind ANYTHING CHOCOLATE (except in hot climates) Crystal lite,
Gatorade , flavored teas (regular & herbal), Flavored instant
coffee, coffee bags for single cups, Tang, instant spiced apple
cider mix in individual packets, both regular and diet, instant
hot cocoa mix in individual packets, regular and diet, ½ gallon
size plastic containers to mix the drink mix in with water.
Some areas have bottled water and
they use their water bottles to mix in, but many areas, now, have
water trucks, so the plastic containers would help.
DORITOS, Pringles (all flavors), Tostitos,
SPICY snack food and chips, potato chip sticks, pretzels, esp.
flavored popped corn, fiddle faddle, cracker jacks, flavored crackers,
Chex mix, cheese nips, salsa & canned dips (not refrigerated),
crackers & cheese, spread in bottles and cans, cheese &
crackers and peanut butter & crackers in individual plastic
cups, cup of soup, cup of noodles, top ramen, any type that is
instant and can be mixed with hot water foil packs of tuna or
chicken or easy open, pop top cans of tuna; chicken & Vienna
sausages, Beef & Turkey Jerky
(Note: No Slim Jims; they contain
pork & pork is not allowed)
Trail mix, granola bars, Pop-Tarts,
all flavors power bars, individual wrapped cookies, snack cakes,
etc , fruit roll-ups, dried fruit, nuts - all kinds (pistachios
in the shells; sunflower seeds in the shell; peanuts; cashews),
instant oatmeal in fun flavors, flavored instant grits, sweetened
dried cereal that can be eaten as a snack -Lucky charms, oatmeal
raisin crisp, clusters, cinnamon toast crunch, in individual or
in bigger boxes.
Individual servings of fruit &
pudding, Junior size baby puddings & desserts, (Dont laugh,
theyre individual sized, need no refrigeration and are tasty
Hard candy, licorice (red), sweet-tarts,
M&Ms, mints, jolly ranchers, gumLots of it (used on patrols
to keep their mouths moist) star-burst candy, marshmallows, graham
crackers, Hershey candy bars (sounds like the makings of smores),
twinkies, peanut butter cups, rice crispy treats, sweetened kool-aid,
oatmeal cookies, snickers, nutter butters
ANY kind of chocolate, but only for
another month or so.
ANY and EVERY type of home-baked cookie
you can think of except FIG BARS and POUND CAKE because those
and Skittles are the desserts in MREs.
Many times the troops will take power
bars, trail mix, tuna or chicken or jerky and pack them in their
fatigue pockets instead of an MRE when they go out on patrol.
E nothing but MREs gets very old fast , so nutritious food from
our boxes is a welcome change.
Hygiene Items: (unscented if possible)
soap, toothpaste tooth brushes and
disposable razors, blades, shaving cream, toilet paper etc In
many of the areas, there is a SMALL mobile exchange that carries
basic items, but from what we are hearing, right now with the
large influx of troops, the demand is outweighing the supply.
Some of the newer bases are still without a mobile PX, so its
safe to say that the troops can use the basics.. Some of the newer
bases have been requesting toilet paper, so if you have a little
extra room in your box, include a couple rolls.
Kleenex packets that they can carry
in their pockets.
Batteries AA and AAA
Pens, stationary, postcards, and regular
unused greeting cards, that the troops can use to send back to
their families ... (no postage stamps necessary)
Freezer weight ziploc bags, all sizes,
but especially the gallon size. The dust and dirt is in EVERYTHING,
so the troops put everything in ziploc bags to protect their belongings
air fresheners (stick-ums or the kind that hang in a car, the
tents get pretty funky)
Fly swatters, Mouse Traps, Battery
operated personal fans and fan misters (seasonal)
Some other suggestions are a current
CD , photo holders with magnets on the back that they can put
up in their tent. Pictures of the SNOW for the troops in Kuwait,
Pictures of the beach for the troops in Afghanistan, The Sunday
funny papers, the sports section from the newspaper Hobby items,
like a drawing tablet with a box of colored pencils or chalk.
A journal. Disposable cameras for
them to take pictures to send home to their families.
recently returned and a recently deployed Grads:
a flash light because the power is
most things you can get here
a jump rope, most places have weights
but no type of cardio
there are limited places to run
very few people are living in tents
anymore, most places have nice living trailers where they have
heat and everything needed
bring lots of DCUs
boots, the land is nasty and everything
a good pair of sun glasses ... maybe
even goggles ... like Wiley-Xs
1) One if not two Rayovac lanterns.
They operateon AA batteries (four).
2) 9 mm shoudler gun holster.
3) Money in smaller denominations
not above 20 but most smaller. You will be able to buy some items
4) Bring a pillow on plane with
you. Also, light cotton blanket.
5) It is true that wipes are
very handy as handwashing is not always possible. I use
the individual wrapped wipes.
7) Something for insect repellants.
8) Roach motels that hopefully
will keep the arthropod population under control.
9) Pens and paper.
10) Disposable cameras plus
envelopes with bubbles to mail them home.
11) Digital camera.
12) Big fad here is DVD players.
13) Locks for your bags with
the same keys. No combination locks.
14) Black military footlocker
is only $19.95. Good place to lock up
15) Toiletries in ziplock bag preferably
16) Some 13 gallon white trash
17) Windex wipes which must
be purchased stateside.
18) Purex laundry tablets.
Bring six in a ziploc bag.
AND CUSTOM RULES
As far as things you CANNOT send,
here they are:
NO FLAMABLE ITEMS
NO CIGARETTES, CIGARS, DIP, OR SNUFF
NO WHISKEY, WINE, BEER OR SPIRITS OF ANY KIND
NO RELIGIOUS ARTICLES...NO BIBLES
NO Christian books or magazines, ROSARIES, ETC
NO PORK of any kind or in any products - Read Labels
NO FRESH FRUIT OR PLANTS
NO PORNOGRAPHY OR ANYTHING THAT CAN BE CONSTRUED AS
PORNOGRAPHY (Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition is a no no!)
Even paperback books with a racy cover are not good
The ideal weight for a box is not
less than 15 pounds or more than 35. Less than that, is too pricey
and more than 35 pounds is too difficult to handle and you pay
a premium because the box must be hand worked rather than by a
machine. A good hint is to go to www.usps.com and you can
enter your zip code and the zip code that you are sending it to
and the weight, say it is military mail and send it parcel post
and it will give you the approximate cost, so there are no surprises
when you get to the post office.
One of our Moms sent a box to Afghanistan
and the postal clerk charged her 48 dollars for a 10 pound box.
She charged her the civilian rate, not the military rate.
Another tip is the postal service
has gotten very strict when it comes to writing Give to any American
service member if undeliverable to the troop that it is addressed
to. So, when filling out your custom slip, find another name
on our address list with the SAME APO number and use that as your
alternate name. Again, it is a security issue.
One last point, some of our members
have sent boxes to the same individuals sending one box priority
mail and another parcel post, mailed them the same day and most
of them have arrived the same time or just a day apart, so for
the difference in postage, use parcel post and use that extra
money to send another box.
to For Families and Friends of Deployed Soldiers