Magazine Index      NEXT

"Any Soldier" mail keeps tankers on a positive track
by Edgar Morrison, PAO Staff


When the loneliness and uncertainties of the Persian Gulf War caught up with a group of 4th Bn., 8th Cav. tankers, a bundle of Any Soldier mail was close behind.

The Delta Co. tankers were thankful for the letters not only because of the desire to read mail, but because of the inspiration the letters cultivated.

Thirty-year-old Warren Jones, a sergeant who serves as gunner on an.MlAl Main Battle Tank, pins the strength he found for the ground war on a poem about the soldier. The poem, sent by a supporter who left no return address, identified the pain and suffering a soldier must endure, as well as the boredom, excitement and terror each soldier must face. The poem, which was too lengthy for publication, also addressed the honor involved in being a soldier.

'When I had my doubts, I'd read it. When I was down, I'd read it. I felt every bit of it."

Jones pointed out that the poem was meant for any soldier. And he zeroed in on one aspect that made him feel especially proud about his role not only as a tanker, but as a black soldier in the U.S. Army. "I've always been hurt by the myth of the unpatriotic black man. All we ever wanted was a piece of the pie. But the poem put everything into perspective." With the poem, Jones felt assured that a soldier is a soldier in spite of race, color or religion.

Jones, who calls Panama City, Fla., his home outside of the Army, said that the poem will have an everlasting place in his home. "When I get home, I'm going to put it on a plaque and put it on the wall."

He was also thankful for the mail from a number of school children from across the United States. Some sent posters, while others simply mailed words of encouragement. One child, by the name of Jennifer, just wanted to send her regards. Not knowing many details of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait or about the meaning of the yellow ribbons throughout the U.S. didn't stop Jennifer from writing.

"The letters represent a bright future for the children. If coming over here is what it takes to keep our kids free, then that's what it takes."

Private First Class David Wade, a 20-year-old from Bucksport, Maine, kept busy during the long hours of waiting for something to happen. He responded to about 25 letters, getting return mail in the process.

"Unfortunately, it was harder to respond once we moved." But he still received a birthday card and a care package from a few of his pen pals.

"They don't realize how much it meant to the soldiers to take the time to write."

For Pfc. Harrell Donald, a 19-year-old ammo loader from New Orleans, the mail carried inspirational words, ones that told him not to be afraid in the face of danger. He also received a great deal of mail from children who wanted to know everything about the soldier, as well as the individual inside the uniform.

"The one that stands out came from a 7th-grader named Audrey Strub of Gordon City, Texas," Donald said. The two have made plans to meet face-to-face once Donald returns to the United States.

Jones said that the tankers from Delta fought among the letters.

As a result of that competition, some found prayers or poems to cling to, while others struck up some new friends. With large blocks of time on their hands, the tankers were gratified to have something in them to read. But the bottom line is that these tankers were happy to fill the boots of Any Soldier.

Return to Top

Magazine Index      NEXT