Adopted Troops Drop by to Say 'Thank You'

Utica Post 229's adopted platoon is back from Afghanistan, and two of its non-com leaders paid a visit to the post Dec. 3 to express their appreciation for all the goodies, support and cheer they received while deployed.

"It was always exciting to receive a call from the battalion mailroom that we had a lot of boxes there," said Sgt. 1st Class Kenny Clark.

"The football was a big hit as well as the baseball bats and soccer balls," added Staff Sgt. Isabel Tio -- not to mention the flavored coffees, biscotti, a myriad of assorted snacks, and the dozens upon dozens of homemade cookies.

They would set up rows of tables to share the goodies with the 86 members of the platoon, plus a few other soldiers who would wander by and couldn't believe the gifts from well-wishers back home.

Then there were the tubes of sunscreen -- a necessary balm in the sun-hot terrain of Afghanistan. Post 229's military liaison Pat Dodge dispatched hundreds of them for the troops.

"There was enough sunscreen for the whole (700-member) battalion," Sergeant Tio said.

"We gave it all out," she added, to 500 runners and most of another 400 supporters in a Ruck Relay Race. That's a relay where four-man teams run a two-mile obstacle course, carrying a 30-pound rucksack and weapon.

Their G6 Platoon is part of the 10th Mountain Division, 40th Battalion, Division Signal Company. They were stationed at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, and when they were getting ready to return home to Fort Drum, the enemy insurgents found out and decided to give them a send-off.

"We were rocketed for 11 straight days," said Sergeant Clark. Their last 11 days there.

"You can't imagine how proud we are of you guys," Pat told them.

Sergeant Tio looked surprised and said, "It's our job."

The pair presented a certificate of appreciation to Post Commander Chris Urban that was signed by the battalion commander and battalion sergeant major. Clark had a bouquet of flowers for Pat, and Tio presented her with a certificate, too, "because she was the platoon's mama." Pat would sign her letters "Mama D" and the appellation struck a chord with the troops.

They also had certificates for two of Pat's friends whom she would call upon to bake the majority of chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal and raisin cookies -- Joyce Astafan and Jeannette Grude.

Commander Urban was quick to credit Pat for organizing and taking the lead in the support-the-troops effort.

"This is really about Pat," he said.

"No, it's about the troops," quipped Pat.

Troops thank post
Staff Sgt. Isabel Tio and Sgt. 1st Class Kenny Clark present certificate of appreciation to Post 229 Commander Chris Urban on behalf of the battalion commander and the battalion sergeant major from Fort Drum.

Kenny Clark
Sgt. 1st Class Kenny Clark

Isabel Tio
Staff Sgt. Isabel Tio

Pat Dodge
Sgt. Kenny Clark gives flowers to Pat Dodge on behalf of adopted troops from Fort Drum..