LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Capt. Jason Merchant, the company commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Ironman from Dysart, Iowa, hands out cards Dec. (click for more)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Lauren Hyman of Texarkana, Texas, armored vehicle driver for the 64th Military Police Company based at Combat Oupost Fortress, says hello to an (click for more)
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Taylor Gingrich, an infantry officer from Cedar Falls, Iowa, with Task Force Ironman, draws a smile from an Afghan boy as Gingrich (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Brian Stowe, a human resources specialist from Elkmont, Ala., with Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, sings a ballad he wrote and (click for more)
PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Servicemembers defend the wall after an improvised explosive device detonates on Forward Operating Base Lightning Dec. 5. (click for more)
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan and French military chiefs conduct a briefing before deployment during a security operation. Afghan National Security Forces and French Task Force Richelieu conducted Operation Montevideo (click for more)
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Phil Compton, Doty, Wash., Panjshir PRT engineer, and PRT local Afghan engineer Abid Wardak check the structural integrity of the retaining (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan family looks at their new family member after she was delivered by the Polish Army medical team at Forward Operating Base Warrior Jan. 3. (click for more)
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, maneuver through Sabari District during patrols to disrupt insurgent activity in the (click for more)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. Shawn Fouste, Decatur, Ill., noncommissioned officer in charge of the Freedom Restoration Center with the 455th Expeditionary Wing, Task Force Med, plays with (click for more)
Wygle, a mortarman with Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat, 34th Infantry Division, is an Applington, Iowa, native who now lives in Waverly.
What Wygle got was nearly 100 boxes of school supplies from the town of Waverly, Iowa, and its surrounding communities.
And he’s still counting.
Toward the end of November, Wygle was talking with his wife Ona, who asked him what he wanted for Christmas. In a way she was asking on behalf of her husband’s stateside employer, the Waverly Health Center, where he works as an emergency room unit coordinator. They were making it a project to send him a good present.
“I’m not much of a Christmas guy; to me it’s more about family than gifts and there’s not much I could use here,” Wygle said. “So I said, ‘Well, have them send me a box or two of school supplies.’”
The supplies were for children at the local school, Quala e’ Najil. It is one of the closest schools to the tiny Combat Outpost Najil where Wygle and his fellow Soldiers from Co. A are serving in eastern Afghanistan. In an area that is one of the more dangerous spots in the Laghman Province, Najil is a town where the Soldiers say they usually feel relatively safe, and children walk up and talk to them from the streets.
From there, Wygle, a seven-year veteran of the Iowa National Guard, said his co-workers at the Waverly Health Center approached the local newspaper and asked for donations., who. Wygle said Ona did not tell him about the article in the Bremer County Independent until after it came out and packages started pouring in. He now has the article on a table inside the wooden b-hut in which he and some of the other mortarmen live. Wygle’s story is on the front page, with a photo his wife, a photographer, took of him.
To say the response was overwhelming was almost an understatement, Wygle said.
“It’s a really good thing,” he said. “They said they sent about 20 boxes, 16 of which I’ve already received, and they have 70 or more on the way! They still continue, today, to get stuff in for these kids. Basically in one month’s time, the town of Waverly and its surrounding areas gathered up enough school supplies for all 3,000 kids at the school.”
Wygle, other Soldiers from Co. A, and Afghan National Army soldiers from 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Regiment, conducted a dismounted patrol to the village of Najil Jan. 3 and delivered the first batch of supplies to the school. The troops were immediately flooded by children, whose teachers herded them back into their classrooms.
At the school, the soldiers took time to interact with the children and toured the school with the principal. About 2,000 boys attend the school in the morning, with another 950 girls attending in the afternoon. The ANA were noticeably happy to line up the children and hand them the supplies.
Wygle said little things make a huge difference to the children, who are very poor. In fact, a good toy for a child in the village is a wire with two wire wheels on it, which they push through the streets.
“We are trying to make sure the kids who don’t have things get them,” he said. “They’re not asking for big things. You give them a pen and it’s like you just gave them their first bicycle.”
The Iowa support rendered boxes full of pens, pencils, snacks, pads and book bags.
Quala e’ Najil school principal Haminullah said he is thankful for the donations from the United States and that they were a good thing because the children are from a country that is poor and war-torn. He said the supplies will help the students get a better education, which will benefit the larger picture.
“Education is the foundation of a strong country,” he said.
U.S. Army Maj. Steven Shannon, the Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team civil affairs team chief who works at COP Najil with the Co. A Soldiers, said he has been to the school and met with Haminullah six or seven times. He said one of his planned projects is to renovate the inside of the school and add classrooms to it as well as provide sidewalks on the streets outside for the safety of the children.
In the meantime, Shannon said these school supplies will make a big difference.
“Sgt. Wygle made an impromptu request to his employer for a couple boxes of school supplies and they promoted it and made it a huge effort from the town of Waverly,” he said. “I think it’s an awesome thing for the town and businesses of Waverly to do. The people really appreciate it, because the standard of living here is pretty low.
“Plus, the word on the work that we do for these people – that word gets out. People communicate here by word of mouth. We’ve put in for six projects for (Co. A) and the word is already out. Elders are starting to come to the COP and talk about their concerns, and we’re not going to get anything done here without the elders.”
Shannon said though the majority of the supplies came from Bremer County, there were also some donated from a project known as Operation Care.
Wygle said the response was amazing, but it didn’t completely surprise him.
“It’s kind of an Iowa thing,” he said. “It’s not just my community; it’s all of our communities. They support every single one of our Soldiers here. My employer has always supported me through drills, flood duty, schools, deployments and now this. They really, really stepped up.”
Waverly and its surrounding towns have made it clear – they support their Soldiers.
|< Prev||Next >|
|Afghan forces, TF Bastogne continue operations in Sherzad District|
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Task Force Bastogne, continued operations in the Sherzad District Jan. 8 clearing the village of Toto of insurgent fighters to reinforce a foundation of security in the area.
|TF Iron eliminates insurgent IED team|
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers form Task Force Iron Rakkasan and members of the Afghan Uniformed police, using the Precision Threat Detection System blimp at Forward Operating Base Andar, identified a group of insurgents with weapons and explosives Jan. 3.
|TF Iron Rakkasan uses PTDS to prevent highway robbery|
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Recently, Soldiers from Task Force Iron Rakkasan watched a member of the Afghan Uniformed Police conduct an illegal checkpoint on the route between Ghazni and Sharana. Using the camera system on the Persistent Threat Detection System, Soldiers observed a man standing in the road collecting money from vehicles. The practice is common by insurgents who fund their attacks by taking money from locals.
|Joint operation helps clear Sherzad of insurgent activity|
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and Soldiers from Task Force Bastogne began operations in the Sherzad District Dec. 23.