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By 2nd Lt. Nathan Rivard
Task Force Avalanche
Soldiers with Task Force Avalanche, 3rd Battalion, 172 Infantry Regiment (Mountain), added mail room duties to their assignments throughout the month of September.
The Mountain Battalion had numerous care packages and toilettes sent to them from friends, family, and those wishing to donate to evacuees leaving Afghanistan.
“This was just an outpouring of support, like nothing I had seen so far. There was just a tremendous amount of items arriving for us to distribute to families. This was everything from diapers and formula to crayons, toys, and snacks,” said Capt. Jonathan Philbrook, the battalion intelligence officer. “I expected to have some items arrive from close family friends, but box after box kept arriving in the mail. This was truly remarkable. I never expected this much support.”
Task Force Avalanche has been deployed from since March throughout Southwest Asia and had a small contingent of Soldiers in Afghanistan during the evacuation operations.
“Our Soldiers were honored to be afforded the opportunity to assist in Operation Allies Refuge in Kabul,” said 1st Lt. Cody Halliday, the mortar platoon leader for Task Force Avalanche. “It was rewarding seeing the departing planes knowing they were filled with the families we earlier saw walking the streets finally making it to safety. The NSU Soldiers we spoke with were very outspoken about their excitement at coming to the United States after years of fighting and conflict.”
In less than a month, more than 1,000 packages were received, processed, and sent to new locations for travelers by the Mountain Battalion.
“We were receiving and then sending the packages out to where we knew people would need them,” said Philbrook. “We’re estimating this is more than $50,000 worth of supplies that individuals and groups have sent to us. It's about coming together with your community and caring about something that might never effect you as an individual, but you still take the time out of your day to mute the negativity that surrounds us and take action to help. Over the past months I saw great Americans come together and help the less fortunate.”
From one location to the next, the Soldiers were ecstatic to seem the work to continue even as operations in Kabul came to an end.
“Soldiers have been assisted in providing and packaging resources to make sure they continue to be taken care of and support them during their traveling,” said Halliday. “I know families have also been raising money to buy necessities to ship for them as well. It takes a team and it’s clear everyone has played their part.”