Volunteers had no problem gathering thousands of pounds of clothing for wounded U.S. soldiers recovering in Germany. Getting it to them was another matter. But McMinnville-based Evergreen International...
PORTLAND Volunteers had no problem gathering thousands of pounds of clothing for wounded U.S. soldiers recovering in Germany. Getting it to them was another matter.
But McMinnville-based Evergreen International Airlines is taking 3,000 pounds of clothes, worth about $75,000, to Germany’s Ramstein Air Base. Trucks will carry the garments to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, about 3 miles south of Ramstein.
“Every time there was a roadblock there was a way around it,” said Mary Bell, president of the 142nd Fighter Wing Community Foundation.
So far more than 5,000 U.S. troops have been wounded seriously enough in Iraq and Afghanistan to be kept off duty for three or more days. More than 1,400 have died in Iraq and in and near Afghanistan.
The number of wounded troops has exhausted the supply of clothes available to the medical center, and soldiers usually arrive in what they were wearing when they were wounded.
Lt. Col. Richard Sirianni, chaplain for the Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Fighter Wing, learned of the need last September.
Sirianni, a Catholic priest who is deployed in Germany where he counsels soldiers and families, also found that the troops needed long-distance telephone cards to call home.
“It just started mushrooming from there,” Bell says.
The Portland Postal Employees Credit Union gave a $1,000 check and 164 calling cards. The Portland Police Association chipped in. A convent turned over more than 650 University of Connecticut jackets received after being manufactured in the wrong color.
“Germany has an issue with things coming over that have a potential to be resold,” Bell says. Military planes were full. Most commercial airlines can’t land at Ramstein.
Bell and other volunteers worked with German diplomats and asked Evergreen, which has Defense Department clearance for Ramstein, for help.
“We just happened to have an airplane heading over that way,” says Justin Marchand, an Evergreen spokesman. “So it worked out really well.”
The donated clothing was trucked to New York for shipment.
The volunteers also have raised about $13,000.
Now Bell is accepting more clothing and cash for future flights.
She’s looking for soft, washable clothing for men and women that is new, or used in good condition, including sweat suits, stocking hats and headbands, gloves, tube socks, cotton underwear and exercise shorts.