Paper: Marion Star, The (OH)
Title: A solider's gratitude
Date: July 4, 2004
MARION -- They were gifts from the heart. And the thanks and appreciation were from the heart.For better than a year, members of the Ohio Heartland Community Action meal site had been sending letters and packages to Spc. Blane Mayberry, who was serving the Middle East.
Mayberry, grandson of Clara Scroggins, deployed to Kuwait in August 2002 as part of Operation Desert Spring prior to receiving orders to Iraq and serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"My grandmother was over here drumming up support not only for me, but others who didn't have family," he said. "They just sent us a large variety of items including sometimes a current magazine or newspaper, something to give us a sense of what was going on at home."
Mayberry, who recently returned to the states, traveled to Marion on June 23 to personally thank those at the meal site for their kindness and much appreciated gifts. He also presented them with a plaque of appreciation from Bravo Battery.
"I know many of you are on limited incomes," Mayberry said, as he began his presentation. "But you gave generously from the heart. You will never know how much it meant to me and others in my unit. Every bit of it was put to use. It really helped bring up the morale. It always helps to get something from home, especially things we couldn't get over there."
Seniors at the site had gathered razors, shaving cream, toothbrushes, toothpaste, writing paper, books, magazines, deodorants, bug spray, suntan lotions and more to send to the troops in Iraq through Mayberry.
Mayberry presented Hazel Blankenship, executive director of the Community Action Center, with the certificate of appreciation plaque which reads:
"This certificate of appreciation is presented to Community Action Meal Site in recognition of your outstanding support of the soldiers of Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery during Operation Desert Spring and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Your commitment and dedication to the men and women who serve your country reflects great credit upon your organization and the United States of America."
Blankenship, with tears in her eyes, accepted the plaque and a hug from Blankenship.
"As you know, we're a great group to be patriotic," Blankenship said. "We don't always understand why you're there, but want you to know we're proud of you and will continue to pray for all of you. We have prayed for you every day."
Lizzie Whitaker and Capitola Henson were among those present for the lunch and presentation. Both were pleased to know the group h ad made a difference to the troops.
"Our eyes were opened as to the needs of our service people," Whitaker said. "I was real proud of him. His grandmother gave me his picture and I put it up on the prayer board at church. We have prayer for them (service personnel on active duty, specifically in Iraq) every service."
I thought his presentation was real nice," Henson said, adding "I didn't know the group was sending items to Blane. I would like to have been a part of it and will be if they send more."
Also present to support his nephew, was Brian Napper, Elgin Junior High principal, who also is a strong advocate of support to the troops.
"I was happy that the local people supported him and his unit," Napper said. "I was poud of him and proud of this community. I'm proud Blane is serving his country and I was especially proud that he pointed out to those people that he realized they made sacrifices as well to send the gifts."
Napper said Mayberry was in the invasion and he was watching it as everyone else was, but knowing Blane was there caused even more worry.
"People are sacrificing on a daily basis," Napper said. "I don't think a lot of us realize just how much. These are dangerous times for them. I pray for him and all of them every day. It's the price we have to pay for freedom. I'm proud of every one of them that serve."
Mayberry, son of Rick Mayberry, Marion, and Julia and Sherman Owings of Urbana, and grandson of Alfred and Charlotte Mayberry and Scroggins, is currently home on leave from Fort Stewart, Ga. and will report back there with the possibility of returning to Iraq in November.
He said he experienced many times of apprehension and believed most of his peers would admit to the same. Does he want to go back to the same violence and uncertainty?
"There isn't anyone I've served with who have said 'yes, they want to go back,'" he said. "They want to serve their country and do the best they can do. That's what's in our hearts and the pride we have in serving."
Mayberry said he would be remiss if he did not thank the entire community for their letters, packages, cards and prayers -- not specifically addressed to him but to all service personnel serving in harms way.
"I just want to thank everyone for their support and prayer while I was over there," he told the Star. "Please continue to remember those still there and thanks from the bottom of my heart."
Copyright (c) The Marion Star. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.