Hills, Mich., Jan 24,
2008 - Specialist (Spc.) Michael Gallagher from Fort Lewis,
Wash., and currently serving in Iraq, found a nice surprise in the
package he received from Operation Gratitude on Jan. 22. The non-profit
organization that sends care packages and letters of support to troops
deployed overseas personally delivered its 300,000th package,
containing keys to an all-new 2008 Jeep® Liberty vehicle, to a
surprised Spc. Gallagher at Forward Operating Base Warhorse in Iraq.
The package was delivered by Operation Gratitude's founder, Carolyn
Blashek, and director of operations, Charlie Othold.
"When my commander ordered me to show up to this ceremony, I thought it
was just another care package and they were making a big deal about it
because it was the 300,000th one," said Gallagher. "When I opened up
the envelope (containing the keys to the Jeep inside), it completely
blew my mind."
The Jeep brand, with its long history of supporting the military,
donated the vehicle as an expression of gratitude to all the men and
women currently serving with the U.S. military overseas. In addition to
the Jeep Liberty keys, the package contained a letter from John Plecha,
Director-Jeep Marketing and Global Communications, and other gifts from
U.S. citizens and companies that generously support the operation.
Addressed to "Dear American Hero," Plecha's letter read, "As the
recipient of the 300,000th Operation Gratitude care package, the Jeep
brand is delighted to award you a Jeep vehicle of your own as a symbol
of our appreciation, as you represent all those who bravely go in harms
way in service to our country."
Gallagher is a vehicle commander from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 23rd
Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry
Division from Fort Lewis, Wash. His name was randomly placed on the
300,000th package. He will receive his new Jeep Liberty upon returning
to the U.S.
With its origin dating back to WWII, the Jeep brand has long supported
Operation Gratitude and the U.S. military. Chrysler LLC recently
partnered with The Freedom Calls Foundation to make the company's video
conferencing facilities in southeast Michigan available to connect
families and soldiers during the holiday season.
Operation Gratitude (www.operationgratitude.com
is a California-based 501 (c) (3) non-profit, all-volunteer
organization that sends care packages of snacks, entertainment items
and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individually named
U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions such as Iraq and
Afghanistan and on military ships at sea. Its mission is to lift
morale, bring a smile to a service member's face and to express to all
troops the appreciation and support of the American people. The
organization sends more than 100,000 care packages every year. Since
its inception in March 2003, Operation Gratitude has shipped more than
315,000 packages to American troops deployed overseas.