I'd like to share some of my favorite letters from the troops with all of you. More than anything else we send, it's the cards and letters they receive that really make the difference. It's also most important to them to receive mail from total strangers, who take the time to let them know that they're loved, appreciated and fully supported.
Our troops need to know that they are not forgotten. Please take a moment to write a letter.
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Fox,
Today is Christmas in Aghanistan and the stockings that were hanging on the wall could finally be opened. Thank you for your kindness and thoughtfulness. I especially liked the star from our American flag. It will be a beautiful addition to my "Why I Joined" scrapbook. It also serves as a reminder of the commitment I made to the Country and beautiful people like you.
Being away from the malls and stores allows amle time to reflect on what Christmas means to me. Christmas means or is a manifestation of the collective warmth generated from all the hearts that open up this time of the year, generating more than enough sunshine to carry us through the gray winter days.
So with an open heart and a huge grin, I say thank you fom one soldier to a nice couple. May the coming year return your kindness tenfold!
To Joanna & Joel,
Thank you so much for the Christmas stocking. You made our Christmas so much brighter. It is always lonely being away from family & friends, but your love and support was felt as we opened your special gifts. They were filled with so many goodies that I can enjoy over the next few days. Thank you for the puzzles. They will provide me many hours of enjoyment. The stockings are so beautiful. Thank you for taking the time & effort to hand make them. I am truly blessed to have met you.
Dear Fox Family -
I wanted to drop you a short note and thank you for the Christmas stockings you sent. I am stationed in Basra, Iraq with Chris. He has told us how you family supported his team during his last tour. It means so much to have the support of great Americans like your family, especially during this time of year. We can't thank you enough.
We want to thank you for all of the treats you sent along - they are all deeply appreciated. We certainly hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year, with all of the blessings and hope that the new year brings.
Joanna, Joel, Megan, Chris, Skip, Elsie, Karen & Bob,
I received your care package with the 12 stockings filled with goodies. All my guys were excited to get their own stocking. Some opened them, and some hung them in their rooms to wait until Christmas. Thank you guys so much for your support. Hooah!
Thank you very much for the thoughtful care package which I received. It is because of great Americans like you, the war's toil on our troops are reduced!
Joel & Joanna
The only Christmas decor our office has is the garland you sent! Thank you so much for your friendship, love & support. You have no idea how much it means to me.
Joanna & Joel,
Thank you very much for the Xmas stocking! It was really appreciated. Thank you for the support that you give us troops as well. We could not do what we do without you!
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. We are thinking of you, and again, thank you for all of your support and the wonderful stockings. I think everyone is excited to open them. They have been hanging up for everyone to see, and people are itching to get into them! We will head to the dining facility ad SFC Hardy our Boss and I will serve food for a little while. Then we will eat as a team (or as much as we can). We have guys out on missions to cover Christmas day, so we are a little short handed today. We have been watching Christmas movies all month (we try to have a movie night o Fridays). Some are more successful than others with all that is going on but it is our little bit of team building. We put out a bunch of food that we have collected from our care packages, and it becomes quite a spread. Last night was The Grinch that stole Christmas.
Today we will put a movie i while we work. Maybe the Christmas Story - always a great movie.
Have a wonderful day.
Ms. Joanna Fox,
Thanks so much for your Christmas care package. I will distribute the stockings as close to Christmas as I can. The Marines & Sailors will surely appreciate your thoughtfulness this holiday season. Semper Fi,
Joel & Joanna,
Wow, thanks for the fun Christmas stocking. I came back to my tent one day and there it was, full of goodies.
Our team is doing some great work over here in Iraq, and I know you'd be proud. W have been entrusted as advisors to an Iraqi Army Division. I am personally responsible for advising 3 Iraqi Colorels on how to conduct Civil Military Operations. This includes humanitarian assistance and media relations.
Again, we all appreciate the words of encouragement and support.
PS..I liked the star from the American Flag - meat!!
Joanna and Joel,
Thank you for the Christmas Stockings you gave to my unit's Soldiers. Patriots like yourself make being away from my wife, Aeran and two boys, Kevin and Roebin a lot easier during the holidays. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! May the Lord bless both of you for your kindness and love of our troops! Again thank you and happy holidays!!
I just received all the Halloween stuff! Thanks a million. There is good and bad. The bad is I cannot use it, but the good is because I am coming home! I just found out I am leaving in a couple weeks. My replacement will be here so they are sending me back. YAY! I will be coming home a month early so I am going to surprise my mom.
I am bring all the stuff you sent to a lady named Maj Mary. She is a member of the Agri-business Development Team and amazing. They are a bunch of National Guardsmen from Iowa and are farmers. They teach the locals how to better raise crops and improve their agriculture. She also works on the Female Engagement Team with me. She is dressing up for Halloween and going trick or treating on the FOB so I KNOW it will all go to good use.
Thank you so much for everything you have done while I have been here. Your care packages have been amazing and really brought some sunshine on this deployment!
Thank you soooo much for the popsicles, it has been over 110 degrees here lately so they are a much welcomed treat. And the guys loved the socks. They couldn't believe a stranger from America sent them. I gave one of them your e-mail. He is a phenomenal interpreter and has been working with us for several years. He may have already e-mailed you.
Anyway, yes stuffed animals are always great. We bring them and drop them off at schools. Pens are always popular as well. Though some of the kids steal them out of our uniforms which doesn't make the Soldiers too happy!
I just went to a public trial today in Asadabad. They just started this year and it is a great way to show democracy in action. The room was packed with more than 200 hundred people and they would cheer or boo depending on what was said.
Today we received your Easter package. You are too kind =) We're all very thankful that you take the time to send us goodies and treats. I will bring my camera to work tomorrow and take pictures. We have some new faces so that will be fun for you to see =)
Again, thanks so much!!!!
Thank you so much for your support and for the awesome care packages you and your husband sent. I hope the photos Beth e-mailed you got through. I'm the blonde holding the duckie. We sent a little something back to you. We hope you like it. I don't know if you saw it, but they ran a story about you and your husband on channel 13. Again thank you so much!
Mr. and Mrs. Fox,
Thank you so much for the wonderful package you sent to Ms. Beth to share with everyone in the office. You are always so thoughtful! It is because of people like you that make our days go by faster.
Dear Fox family,
I want to take this time to thank you for your continual support. We are working hard to bring peace, security, and prosperity to the people of Afghanistan, as unified team, both Civilian and Military working side by side. Your effort and support is warmly appreciate it.
May God bless your family.
Embassy of the United States
Fox Family (Joanna and Joel...and G.I. Jane!):
I just came off the road today, coming in hot, sweaty, and tired from missions all week, when my Chaplain arrived and was distributing "good cheer" and care packages he has received from wonderful folks like you for our Troopers. He gave me a wonderful Christmas stocking, filled with goodies. It was from you, and it brought a tear to my eyes.
This is our 3rd deployment to Iraq in the last 5 years. I have 7200 Soldiers and they are missing
another Holiday season, away from their loved ones. So I cannot begin to tell you how important packages and Xmas stockings are to them...and me. They make us aware of how much we are loved and missed by our extended American Family, and how proud you are of us. And we are proud of you as well.
We bring YOUR spirit to the Iraqis...YOUR example of giving and caring. You prop us up with your gifts, cards, and letters. It means the world to us. We love you for it.
Please tell everyone you see that we are doing fine...America's Army is on Freedom's frontier. And while we are all missing our own Families, we are honored to be keeping yours safe.
God bless the Fox Family...God bless us all.
Merry Christmas, and joyous New Year!
Jan. 07, 2009
Joanna, Joel and (Xmas) elves: Shirley, Elsie, Rosemary, Skip, Art & Jeanie,
Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity. "Operation Fox Box" was a nice surprise for our Soldiers - some of whom have spent a number of Christmases away from family, either here or in other places - for others their first one.
That we are not forgotten, that our mission here, although not easy or complete, is important, and is important to our countrymen at home.
The steps may be small, and the road long - but - it will make a lasting difference here, and hopefully worldwide.
From the Soldiers here, and those in other places, and those that will follow - thank you for your support. It is from people like you that we get our roots, and why we maintain our strength - to make the world a better place.
Subj: MAJ Chris says thank you to all who have shown him and his team support
Thank you for your letter and your support....This is our latest update.
I'm an Army Engineer (Usually this job is for the infantry, armor, and field artillery officers but because of my experience and my Ranger qualification I was picked to lead a team). I always thought I'd go to war as a young LT or CPT. Here I'm pushing 40 and clearing buildings and going toe to toe with the enemy on the ground. Ironic?
My team has recently been through about 5 months of sustained combat ops. The last month we put everything we had into the fight. You may of heard about the ops in Mosul in the news? Again, we are advisors to an IA Bn in Mosul. We do not live on a big American FOB; we live on a tiny COP with an IA Bn in the middle of the enemy. We have worked hard clearing our sector of the city and are preparing to transition to non lethal ops (civil projects etc..). I'm hoping the kinetic ops (fighting) are over. Three days ago one of our HMMWVs (IA) was hit by a RPG round that killed an IA Soldier and injured 3 more....so by no means is this a time to lower our guard.
We have worked hard and it has cost us 4 KIA and 31 WIA from this IA BN. The people are starting to turn in our favor and are bringing info to us on where the bad guys are and where the equipment is stored. It's been a hard fight but I think my team has come through stronger and with a sense of accomplishment. We are actually enjoying our first 2 days off since end of February. A typical day for us was roll out between 0400-0800, conduct clearance mission of one of the many neighborhoods in Mosul return about 1300-1400. Info would lead us to a raid in the evening. About 2200 - 2400 receive the next day's mission, plan, get a few hours of sleep, and do it all again. We did this for 45 days straight and we are now tired and in rest mode. The best news is since we have taken the fight to the enemy our COP has not been attacked in about a month by mortars or sniper fire. The worst fear I have ever had is being under a 60 mm mortar attack (we are lucky we have not been hit by 120s; I could not even imagine what that would be like).
I will be returning home at the end of the month for some well deserved leave and a break... I have two beautiful daughters (7 and 4) that are counting the days until daddy gets home.
Again thanks for everyone's support. We get all our supplies by truck and they bring us our meals called UGR -Es - the nastiest pre-heated food that you have ever tasted. Although we have a full service kitchen that we built ourselves, because we have no cook assigned to our team we are not authorized the better meals (regs), so whenever we get real food it's a treat. Thanks again for everything!
Update on our living conditions
I have worked hard to get a good place for my guys to live in since they work so hard. Our compound is really coming along - 7 C-Huts - living quarters, Gym, kitchen/relaxation area, running water, and now power (I got us a generator and soon air conditioning)...It's always a bonus when the leader of a team is an Engineer! We even have a dog (Gunner) that protects our camp when we are not here and barks to give us warning of unwanted quests. I just completed a gate to our compound last week. It is always good when you come back from mission and you have a safe place to lay your head.
May 11, 2008
Dear Joanna, Joel, and Elsie,
I want to thank you all and Operation Fox Box for the recent care package that you sent to me. Trust me when I say everything in that box was exactly what I needed. I can see that your organization has been able to decide on what to send soldiers and what most likely should be left out. Good job on knowing exactly what a soldier would want or need.
I also want to apologize for not responding to you sooner but there has been a major operation going on here to root out all the insurgents who have been hiding out in the surrounding mountains and villages over the winter. So it has been long days of unloading helicopters of resupplies and long nights of patrolling around the COP making sure no one is trying to infiltrate our area. I have been working about twelve to sixteen hour days for about the past month and we never have a day off. And soon I will be heading out to man an Observation Post that over looks the valley where our operation is being carried out. So once again you probably won’t hear from me for awhile but I will try to write to you once I return.
I have to go for now but once again Thank you for all of your support.
April 27, 2008
We now live at a COP in the middle of Mozul. We just finished building our new home. Our home is getting better - we now have running water and power. We're in a bad place. We constantly get mortars, sniper and rocke attacks. We have started 2 weeks into 60 days of sustained combat operations. We aWe lack for bathroom items and food condiments. We still go to the big American FOB once a week for maintenance and supplies.
A few days ago some terrorists tried to set an ambush for us, but they blew themselves up instead. Very lucky for us! We were attacked by an IED yesterday, but no one was hurt. We captured a cache of about 13 IEDs - so that's a win for us. Fighting in the city is touch. Too much to look at and scan. The roads in to our COP are extremely dangerous, but we are slowly cleaning them up.
Anyway, thanks for the care packages! It's nice to know that someone back there cares. I'm not even sure if the U.S. even knows we are still at war? That soldiers are still over here fighting andgiving up their lives every day. My men somehow are able to get up early every morning, fight all day and do it all over again the next day. This is a great sacrifice they are making for their country. I hope it does not go unnoticed. We are doing the job that will bring us home. Teaching the Iraqi Army how to defend their country and how to secure their own back yard.
27 April 2008
Dear Joanna & Joe
Thank you and your amazing organization that support our armed forces. As the months get hotter, the Iraqis get angrier and become restless. Our responses to IED’s have increased and it has given me less time to correspond to friends and family.
Again, much thanks for the kind letters from your organization. The soldiers love reading the emails that you send out. Please let them know they all get read and cherished. I know when the troops’ morale is down; the letters definitely help fill the void, so that we may continue to complete our mission.
April 8, 2008
Joanna and Joel,
Thank you so much for the Easter goodie bags! Our Soldiers really enjoyed and appreciated them greatly! We appreciate the work that goes into putting one care package together each month.
Thanks again for your continued support.
March 31, 2008
Joanna and Joel,
Thank you for the wonderful Easter bag. It was a loving reminder of why we are here----our fellow Americans. You may not know, but it is the things like a little treat or a hand knitted hat that make being over here bearable.
Thank you again,
March 30, 2008
Hi, Joanna and Joel, Megan and Chris
Thank you so much for the package you sent. It's just not me who enjoys what you sent, but all the Marines that come where I work. It is nice to hear from someone who supports what we do. I feel lucky. I got a package and a card from someone who cares. I just wanted to show that I appreciate it.
Marine Sgt. Vinson
March 29, 2008
Dear Fox family:
Hi! How are you doing? God Bless you always. First of all, I want to thank you for the Easter gift box, and the card of support. I really appreciate that. I really enjoy everything. I am using the knitted cap for sleep, and as a reminder that there are still people who care about what we are doing. Your support and your blessings are always welcome. Support of our troops is well appreciated.
Thank you for the star. I will carry it in my right pocket close to my heart. Thank you again for everything.
March 1, 2008
Thank you for taking the time to share your love for us all. We all miss home and when we get a glimpse of things from the USA, words can never express the gratitude I feel for your time and love you put into each Goodie Bag.
God Bless your Home
Feb. 25, 2008
Dear Joanna & Joel,
I want to start off by saying how much I appreciate the box of goodies you sent as well as the special card. Everyday I’m amazed at the generosity and support of the American people. It's people like you and your wonderful family that keeps troops motivated to continue the fight in Iraq. Thank you so much for the kind words in your card. I shared the box with the troops and not a single item was left in the box! Troops love stuff from home; amazing how the smallest things will bring a smile to a Soldier. It is my duty to be here and I do it with no remorse, but I am honored to be considered a part of your extended family.
10 Feb., 08
Dear Joanna & Joel,
Hi there. I just wanted to tell you both thank you very much for your note and bags of goodies (Valentine treats). It was awesome passing them out and seeing the soldiers light up with a smile, knowing that they are not forgotten.
Again, thank you for your kind heart and for remembering us. Please take care and God bless you.
1st Sgt Rob
Jan 27, 2008
Dear Mrs. Fox,
Thank you for the care packages! My team was very happy and relieved when we got your packages. They come by helicopter. As you know we are on the end of the US supply chain, and live in a very remote area. We had just come off a very busy mission cycle and needed to resupply on everything. When we are sent basic sundry items (soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc.) this means we don't have to make a trip to our main supply base. Our supply base is a long way away. The trip causes us to expose ourselves to the enemy, as we have to drive through an unsecure Iraqi city. We appreciate your help! Anything that keeps me and my men off the roads is a good thing. Thanks again and please thank anyone else who may have been involved. God Bless You! Thanks for supporting us.
When we get support like this it helps us get up in the morning and do our jobs.
Feb 3, 2008
I am glad that you like to hear from some soldier on the other side of the world. I really find it neat that some family in FL that knows no one in my company or platoon has taken us under their wing and sends up letters and boxes. Heck, you even write to me. I would have never thought that it could have happened. I know if I would have asked my wife's grandpa before he passed away, if that could have happened in WWI, he would have said no, and would be shocked that it is happening today.
(Joanna: The rest is personal chit-chatting).
13 Jan 08
Joel & Joanna,
Happy New Year! Thank you very much for the stocking. I hope you know what a difference that you have made in the lives of those of us over here. It is truly appreciated and I hope this small thankful thank you does service to the service that your family has so gratefully provided.
I know that I am not alone in these thoughts and sentiments, and I pray that your family is continually blessed for your kindness and generosity.
(To my readers, this is one of my most cherished letters, because it underscores the need to get their stories told - Joanna)
I received an e-mail today that came from you about soldiers that are trying to make a difference in the lives of the people in Iraq.
I want to thank you, cause I am one of those soldiers. I am currently deployed in the theater of operation and I will tell you that your statements are true. I am 36, a father of 4, one a new born of 2 days, and I am proud of what I do!. My family is sad because I'm gone, but they know why I am gone, and why I am doing what I choose to do. I just want to say thank you, to you. You are the ground the soldiers stand on when they come back from there tour, and the reinforcement we need.
Dear Joanna & Joel Fox,
Thank you so much for sending such a nice note! I liked your card so much that I hung it up in my barracks by my cot. The stocking was great too, and I shared it with my friend, the medic. We hung it outside our wood hut. It is so nice of you to take the effort and time to make a complete stranger feel loved - thank you!
Dec 2, 2007
Hello. Let me first say thank you very, very much for all the goodies. My unit and I sincerely appreciate the packages and the time and love that you put in them. Foxbox and I are popular here. I'm glad to say the days are passing by so fast. I wasn't really feeling that well and wondering if I made a mistake (staying), but now I feel better. I took on a bigger leadership role on this last mission and it went very well, so I'm feeling pretty good. Oh yeah, my roommate sends his thank you for the yams over Thanksgiving. That made his day. A lot of people love those stuff animals as well as the stockings. Thank you for touching the hearts of us strangers. May God bless you.
07 Jan 08
Dear Joanna & Joel Fox,
Thank you very much for thinking of us soldiers during the holiday period. Your stocking filled with goodies was very thoughtful. It brings a smile to my face just thinking someone I don't know will take time out of their life to think about us.
Every night I go to sleep with the bear you sent watching over me. I thank you very much for sending the snacks, bear and handmade stocking. Simple things like that mean so much to me.
Once again Thank You for your gift, thoughts and prayers. I would like you to write back.
Today at my Squad meeting your stockings were passed out. All the soldiers were thrilled about the treats. I want to thank you & your support group for remembering us during the holidays & the rest of the year as well.
I wish you & your family a warm holiday season!
Thank you again,
Joanna and Joel, Megan and Chris,
Thank you once again for your thoughtfulness in preparing your care package to us all.
I will pass your lovely stockings out to the Soldiers who have not received any care packages throughout the month. If we don't have anyone in this category, I'll give them out to our junior Soldiers, as I know it's tough on them, being so young and apart from their families.
Again, my thanks for your generosity! God Bless you all.
Joanna & Joel Fox,
Thanks so much for the stocking. It is beautiful. I especially enjoyed your sweet & thoughtful card. I know the holidays away from our families will be hard, but love & support from home will get us through, that and counting the days until we return! Ha!
Thanks again! God Bless,
Joanna & Joel Fox,
Thank you for the card, support, and care packages you have not only sent to me but also to the rest of the troops. We appreciate all that you do for us.
Hope your family has a great Christmas and New Years.
To The Foxes
I would like to say thank you so much for the stocking. It felt so good to get something like that from the States. These days it seems like there is really no one out there who supports the idea of us being here, so when we get things like that it's such a great feeling. So please take it from my heart as I say thanks for everything you do for the soldiers.
I hope that your Christmas is a great one and you have a happy New Year. Thanks again for everything, and hopefully I'll hear from you again sometime. Really, thanks for all you do.
Dear Joanna & Joel:
I would like to thank you both from all of us.
Thank you for the care package and thank you for standing behind us, and believing in us and our mission over here. Thank You Both from the bottom of our hearts. I've been up for a long time now and a little tired.
This care package and your support both mean a lot to us over here. So, thank you and may God Bless Both of you and your family.
Thank you for your kind gift and thoughtfulness. It made my Christmas Day special!
25 Dec 07 01:40 hrs
Dear Joanna & Joel Fox:
How are you? I'm doing fine. I'd like to say thank you for the things you sent. They have definitely blessed my Christmas day, especially the kind words you wrote. They are an encouragement that will never be forgotten.
May God truly bless you and your family this season!
25 Dec. 07
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Fox,
I just wanted to write this letter of thanks for the stocking and card. It's nice to know that people back home haven't forgotten the men and women of the Armed Forces at a time of year when your thoughts should be with the ones you love and looking forward to the time spent together. As for me, this is my 3rd rotation overseas, and my 4th Christmas from home, and as before, your card and stocking will be added to many other cards and letters and things that I have received over the years from so many folks back home. I will cherish them and share the memories with my grand children. I have 9, eight grand daughters and 1 grandson.
With this, I wish you folks a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and again, I cannot say thanks enough for the love and support you have shown! Thank You!
26 Dec. 07
Dear Joel, Joanna, Megan & Chris,
Hello there. This is just a short note to tell you thank you so very much for the wonderful Christmas stockings that were sent to us here in Iraq. You should have seen my troops' faces light up when we passed them out. Thank you for the time, effort, and love placed in each stocking. You all are truly God's Angels and will never be forgotten.
Thank you again and please give each other a big hug for us.
First Sgt Rob