Letters & Photos from Our Soldiers

We’ve received so many letters from the Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan who received boxes from the Yellow Ribbon Campaign that it would go on for pages. Here are just a few sample letters to read:-

CHRIS MORRIS – SGT.RCMP

Chris_Sharafuddin_KevinHi Darlene, my name is Chris Morris and I am a sergeant with the RCMP presently in Herat, Afghanistan. I received 3 boxes from you and the Yellow Ribbon campaign and they were AMAZING! Thank you so very much!

We did not get out boxes until January 2nd (Herat is a little off the
beaten track from the our Canadian Embassy supply line ) but that was OK. It was just like Christmas all over again. Thanks so much!!

You have probably received the odd email from my colleagues. I work
with 4 other Canadian police officers and we are work out of an
Italian/Spanish military base to the south of Herat known as Camp Arena.
We are part of the European Union Police Mission (how that happened
politically I have no idea??) and we are training/mentoring and advising
Afghan police in this area. It has been an amazing experience and I am
sure it will continue to be so until the end of May when we return to
Canada. Our weather right now is a little cold, -7C today but it has only snowed
once and that was right around Christmas. I have found that many of my
family and friends had no conception of Afghanistan being cold ever!!

JIM GRIEPSMA – CPJP Mentor/Adviser ( Police )

Staff Sergeant Jim Griepsma with Yellow Ribbon Campaign boxes in Herat AfghanistanAll of our Canadian members in Herat, Afghanistan at Forward Support Base Arena have received their Yellow Ribbon campaign parcels. To say that we are overwhelmed is an understatement. We are so thankful for everyone’s generosity and for your organization’s work in managing the campaign. The items included are just what were needed and we will be able to share with our local Afghan and international coworkers who are
not as fortunate as us. The Kawartha jams and preserves are a big hit.
I was home on leave in Lindsay in November and my neighbour mentioned
that my picture was in the paper and that I had won a draw. I asked my
wife about this – she had hidden the paper from me so the extra packages
I would receive from the campaign draw would be a surprise. They were
still a surprise when I received them !

Once again, thanks so much for your support. I will be writing to the
schools to thank them and their students for their precious letters of
support for us serving overseas. Everyone’s efforts will make our time
away from home, especially at Christmas, a bit easier. I have
included a two pictures. You are welcome to use them to advertise your
campaign in the local papers and they may contact me via email is they
wish.Merry Christmas and May God bless you all.

KELLY GALLANT – CPJP Rule of Law Mentor/Adviser (Gender & Human Rights )

I just returned from my leave yesterday and guess what was waiting for Todd and I at the Embassy. Your care packages. I have to first start off by saying it is just a wonderful feeling to have received the care packages with lots of surprises and comforts of home as well as toys and trinkets for the kids. Todd and I can’t say enough about what you and the Yellow Ribbon Campaign do. The numerous care packages you sent is unbelievable. The Christmas card is so cute and very nice to have out. I was home over Remberance Day this year and had an opportunity to speak with 2 veterans from the war. I have to say that throughout the years I have always been aware of the sacrifices that so many Canadians have made, but this year it really hit home with me. Reading the article in the magazine you sent brought the realization of all of it to reality. Thank you for sending the article. I hope you don’t mind, but Todd and I will both share some of the treats with our colleagues who are not fortunate enough to have received care packages from home like us and do not have campaigns such as yours. Being away from the comforts of home makes one really appreciate all that we have and all that we are given. I will also send some more pictures to you and of course the Yellow Ribbon Campaign will hold a place with me and become one of my charities to allow you to continue to do what you do. Also I am on Face book even though I do not sign on often. I will send you a friend request the next time I sign on. Once again, thank you so much for everything. I actually just had one of the ravioli cups for lunch. It was very good.

NICK BUTLER
My name is Captain Nick Butler, I’m an infantry officer (Reservist) with Princess Louise Fusiliers based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I’ve just had a rather interesting day. This morning I was up early to travel from my office at Camp Julien, which is located in the southwestern part of Kabul, Afghanistan, to Camp Phoenix, which is where the National Command& Support Element of the Canadian Contingent Training Mission – Afghanistan is located. I was going for a ride mainly to get a change of scenery, and to sort out my leave travel arrangements. Being rather enterprising, my driver decided to go check with the post office for mail going to our camp. Canadian soldiers are dispersed in small detachments throughout the country and only get mail delivered about every other week, so we figured since we were there we’d see if we could pick up mail. I was quite surprised to see three boxes from your organization for me as I was helping load mail into the back of our truck to bring back to Camp Julien. We’ve just returned and opened them up. Thank you to you and your organization for your generosity in sending us a few reminders of home and some treats which are always appreciated. I’ve shared the contents with the other Canadians here, we have a little communal “pantry” for goodies, and given that we work in a multinational organization it’s always good to trade our stuff for “exotic” Australian and British goodies too – it works out really well.
Thanks for the Buckhorn travel guide too – it’s nice to have pictures of home. I actually attended Trent University and served with the Hastings& Prince Edward Regiment for nine years, so I know (and love) the area well. If I may offer a couple of suggestions:Pens and pencils are good for a couple of reasons: we constantly lose them, and on the occasion we get to interact with Afghan kids, they absolutely love getting them. Ditto individually wrapped candies we can hand out (or keep for ourselves!). Once again – thank you so much. I’ve noticed that a lot of Canadians don’t seem to be aware that we’re still over here, so it’s good to know some people are thinking of us. It means a lot.

ROBERT L. BROWN – CAN DCOM-Police Operations
Always great to hear from you! It’s been a busy 24 hours or so here, but all is returning to normal. All Canadians are safe and sound, and everyone acquitted themselves well. I have just under 12 weeks to go before I head back to CFB Halifax, Nova Scotia. That’s where I am based right now, and where my family is. It has been a long year and it will be good to get home in the summer and be able to enjoy the sunshine, barbecues, and cold beer! Sounds like you have been busy too. It is very touching to know that you and your friends are doing so much to support our troops and their families. I know that I and my brothers in arms sincerely appreciate it. Please do not feel that you have to send anything, but if you do, we will make sure it gets shared around with all the Canadians here. Take care and thank you for all you do!

SGT. HUGUES-ALEXANDRE BERNIER
Hello dear Darlene, Kathy, and all these outstanding people from the Yellow Ribbon Campaign,
First and foremost, I thank you from my heart for this wonderful gesture of support you have shown towards your soldiers deployed. You are angels that few people have the chance to know, and I am honored to be one of them. I received your three boxes. They are arrived a few days before my return to HLTA. I was very touched by your gesture and I still am. I do not really know how to thank you as deeply as you have touched me. But one thing is certain, I have never known people like you, with the heart on the hand, which believe in us and our duty, without prejudice or conditions. As you know, we do work we love, and our personal gain is huge, unique life experience, self-knowledge, and help the poorest people make us who we are. I am currently in my fifth deployment to Afghanistan and I still believe in our duty. I was deployed to Bosnia three times just before Afghanistan, and it was the same honor for me to very different missions. I am married to an exceptional woman and I am the father of three-year-old twin. A boynamed Sasha and a girl named Anaïs. Although my wife accepts my job and all its drawbacks, she supports me and encourages me to persevere in the industry a bit special Cliquez-moi! and it is very rewarding to know that in my country there are people who think of us and I am very proud to represent you here. You are a bit like my wife, you think of us without asking anything in return just like what you do for pure strangers like me, and that nothing and no one can blame you for your huge heart. If it’s ever the case, let me know!!! Know that you showed me one of the most beautiful side of my country. If you ever find that I make typos, I apologize, I am a French Canadian Cliquez-moi!

Thank you for all you do for us. I think of you and I hold you in my arms. You are the best, don’t give up.

CPL  J. BRAEDEN MOULTON
Hello, this is Cpl J. Braeden Moulton, Thank you so much Darlene, and the Yellow Ribbon campaign. I am so pleased with the packages I received today. I must say I was very surprised as well. A lot of my fellow soldiers are enjoying the goodies as well, and say Thank you to Aunt Dar and the Yellow Ribbon campaign. I know Kellie is on her way back home now, And I am very proud of her. She is a remarkable woman, who has treated me wonderfully. Her friendship means a lot to me. And after the thoughtful gifts and letter, I will say That Aunt Dar and your Campaign mean a lot to me now aswell 🙂 I must say That Buckhorn looks like a beautiful place that I would love to visit someday, It reminds me of the small quiet town I grew up at in northern BC. I am doing just fine over here, and not home sick yet, you sure put me in the Christmas spirit though 🙂 Anyway keep up the noble and thoughtful work you do for soldiers, and take care of yourself. Again thank you so much for the grin you put on my face today.

SGT. JASON FINK
Thank you so much for sending the boxes. I have a little more time to write now so I thought I would send you an email.  The weather is getting colder but the days are still sunny. we had a period of rain but that has cleared. At the elevation we are at the air is thinner and takes a couple of weeks to get accustomed. Hockey Season has started again and in true Canadian fashion we are all following our favourite teams. My middle son’s birthday is coming up in early November and “he refuses to turn 8 years old until daddy is home” . I think we often forget about the families and the hard work our spouses do when we are gone. I’ve got to go to an Afghan children’s hospital and help one of the local children. It was a very pleasant experience and many people were very curious about a Canadian walking around. Driving in Kabul is much different than driving in Canada (except maybe Montreal lol). I hope you all doing well.

JAMIE ROSS

John Noonan (left) from Peterborough and Jamie Ross fly the flag!

Dear Contributors of the Yellow Ribbon Campaign, On behalf of 5 Platoon, Bravo Company, 1RCR Battle Group, thank you for the packages. The whole platoon was very jealous when they saw that I had 3 packages. But when I opened them and read the letters out loud they were very excited. When we get mail its like Christmas. The items you included in the packages made everyone very happy. We give the little candies to the children in the villages around our camp. I assure you they are as grateful for the treats as we are. Right now we are in south-western Kandahar and everyday is a new battle against the insurgents, the heat, the boredom, or everything else in this land that is not designed for humans to live in.
Most of the guys in my platoon come from the GTA and on weekends we drive home, passing the highway leading to Buckhorn between the 115 and Bancroft on the way. I’ve always heard good things about that area and have always thought about going on a camping trip sometime. I use to date a girl who’s family had a trailer in the area. We are just about halfway through our tour and your packages were a great way to mark the occasion. I look forward to my return home and maybe I will have the pleasure of meeting you in the future.
Once again, Thank You. I don’t think anyone has any idea how much it means to us to know people back home are thinking of us. -Jamie Ross

TROY NICHOL
Hey Dar! Today your packages came in the mail, I am out on an OP right now but getting some re-cock time at Massum Ghar. Yesterday was a doozy, we had to re route twice because of impassable routes. Remediation was required on both. Luckily we did not get stuck, which is more than I can say for two of the other vehicles in our patrol lol. The hole must have been deep because I saw on of the taller guys (6’3ish) go in to his nipples deep. :S Its ok it was all a good laugh in the end but it turned a short leg into a long grueling one that left our packet semi crippled with vehicle damages as we limped back to the COP where we bedded and received repair. Today wasn’t so bad, but it was the first time we were shot at which isn’t so bad bullets for some reason don’t have the same wow factor as a rocket screaming over your head. Unfortunately in the end we were unable to determine the source of the small arms and could not return fire for lack of a positive identification of enemy. We ended up just pushing though and several hours later I was in MSG where I found your packages! First thing I did was collect like items and made them available. Members of EROC, the Armored Engeneers, and the Field Troops were elated. The abundance of goodies was and I quote ” just like Christmas”. I provided them with your maiiling address and it is posted with both the toiletries and goodies so hopefully they will send you a letter or two for you and the rest of the folks.

RON LACHAPPELE

Cpl.Ron LaChapelle (left) and other members of the Canadian forces team recently received medals

Well hello there!
I know it has been a long time since we have chatted and I apologize for that! Been busy and our internet has been down for a long time! I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos of us at Christmas and trust me we had fun taking them!
Our accommodations are a bit better than some and also a lot shittier than some aswell. Afghanistan STAR system I would give it a 3! Normal STAR system it would get a 1! So I have since gotten your other packages with shoes and other amazing goodies in it, and let me tell you we are all excited to hand out the shoes to the kids! They are going to like the shoes better than they like the candy and pencils. The rest of the stuff was well needed too, and the sunscreen has been put to use on many occasions since it is getting into the 40 degree weather now. Everyone on the team loves when I get the big boxes from Aunt DAR, it’s like Christmas all over again and it’s also like grocery day too. I am holding up pretty good here, I will be out of here soon and cant wait to finally meet you and enjoy a beer (or 12). Thanks again for all of the boxes we all appreciate more than you can ever imagine, and sorry for taking so long to write you back.

TRENT DOUCETTE
Darlene, We received your care packages today. Thank you very much. They were distributed to the technicians and soldiers currently serving at many locations outside the wire in southern Afghanistan. Your efforts are most welcome. Please pass along our thanks and gratitude to all those that helped you put them together. You may get more e-mails from the soldiers in the field, once they receive them.Trent DoucetteMWOKAF Infrastructure Planning MWOEngineer Support Sqn Task Force Afghanistan Kandahar (KAF) trent.doucette@forces.gc.ca
Trent’s letter to Darlene.

SEAN CONNORS
Hello Darlene,  My name is Master Corporal Sean connors and I am a Canadian Soldier currently serving in Afghanistan.I was fortunate enough that today I received one of your care packages. There’s only one word to describe the packages … WOW! I cant believe the amount of goodies I received….its all greatly appreciated….and will be shared among my fellow troops.Being away from family is tough this time of year but knowing people like you and your group are back home supporting us definitely helps……thank you all so very much much.As for me, I am a Engineer Technician who has just arrived in country last month. I have been away from Canada since June. Initially I was slated to spend 6 months in Camp Mirage in the UAE but, as I’m sure you know, that suddenly closed in November and us Engineers were ‘pulled forward’ to help with the efforts here in Afghanistan. Considering we were suppose to be home by Christmas it was a little disappointing but once we arrived we all got down to business to get the job done. Prior to leaving last June we had been called upon to help with the earthquake relief in Haiti so overall its ben quite a busy year. Well I must get back to work. Could you please pass on my thanks to your group. It was such a nice surprise to receive the care package…….I’m afraid to think of how much weight I’m about to gain 🙂

RICK COSTAIN
Darlene: I (MCpl Rick Costain) received the parcel from the yellow ribbon campaign last night. It was amazing!!! It makes such a difference on morale, lets just say you made alot of soldiers besides me very happy. Thank you so much. For me it was the letters from the kids that really moved me. Being a father of three young childern it is very hard being away from them at this time of year. Thank you and everyone involved from the bottom of my heart.

R.G. (BOB) GRAY
Good Day, I wanted to send you a quick thank you for all of the packages you have sent to me. I have distributed everything among all of the Canadian Military Engineers here at Camp Nathan Smith (CNS), as well as the four Afghan tradesmen who work for us.I am the only person from the seven names Mark Freeman sent to you here at CNS. I am responsible for the our six 500kW generators and all of the Electrical gear attached to it which provides electric power to the camp. This will eventually be replaced with American equipment, as the US gradually takes responsibility for the camp. This is my second Christmas in CNS, the first being in 2007. I have two Canadian civilian employees working for me, as well as four Afghan nationals. The rest of the Engineers on camp belong to another unit that manage construction projects within Kandahar City and the surrounding area, helping to rebuild the city’s much needed infrastructure and gov’ t institutions. All work is done by Afghan companies using Afghan employees, thereby creating much needed jobs in the city. My family and I live in Trenton (my wife and I are originally from Sault Ste. Marie), but make day trips frequently to Peterborough because my children enjoy the zoo there. Next time we are up that way we will have to travel the extra distance to Buckhorn, which seems like a very nice area judging from the brochure. I take my son and daughter fishing as much as I can, and it looks like there’s plenty of places to do that in Buckhorn. In closing, I would like to thank you for the parcels and the smiles they bring, especially for our Afghan workers. They and their families do without many of the basic necessities we take for granted in Canada and they are always grateful for any thing we can give them. Christmas away from family is never easy, but the support we receive from groups and individuals back in Canada helps us to make it through our time here and reminds us why we do what we do.Please keep doing what you are doing, your support means a great deal to us. Thank you. R. G. (Bob) Gray,Warrant OfficerPower Generation Detachment IC Camp Nathan Smith, Kandahar, Afghanistan robert.gray2@forces.gc.ca

JOHN GRIFFIN
Darlene, My name is Cpl John Griffin I am currently deployed in Afghanistan after starting out my tour in the UAE. I just recieved the packages you sent to me. I was totally blown away, it was just like Christmas . I don’t have the words to say how much it ment to me and to recieve the messages from people inside as well. It opened my eyes as I thought it was mainly oder people that did that sent notes to show there support, but to get notes from 20yr olds and small children it really touched me. So from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU so very much and keep up the fantastic work it truely means alot to us over here.

CRAIG LANDRY

boxes ontop of boxes with craig landry

Craig Landry

Darlene, I received the huge shipment of packages from the Yellow Ribbon Campaign last week. I do not have the words to express my gratitude. It was simply awesome to receive gifts from home! I actually sat up reading all the cards and letters from kids and others until 1 am. I am inspired by the work that is done by your organization and I want to thank you personally for your involvement. Please pass on my condolences to your friends for the loss of their sons and nephew. One of the Canadians at this headquarters has a collection of photographs of soldiers who have lost their lives. I found Cpl Nick Bulger, Cpl Mark McLaren, Pte Mark Freeman and Cpl Randy Payne – all good looking boys and all died far too young. Their sacrifices will not be forgotten – certainly not by their friends left behind. I have lost some friends here as well and I often think about them and the family and friends that they left behind. I cannot begin to comprehend the pain that a parent feels with the loss of their son or daughter. There are 34 Canadians working at the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Headquarters (IJC HQ) with me in Kabul. There are another 75 Canucks spread throughout other organizations in the capital city of Afghanistan. The packages were split up and sent to Canadians at the different sites. Everyone is very thankful and I would like you to pass on our thanks to all the people that participated in this campaign. Below is photograph of the Canadians working at the IJC HQs. Please forward the group photo

Canadian Troops IJC Group

IJC Group

to the Yellow Ribbon Campaign Team as a token of thanks for all their work and for their thoughts and prayers.I wish that I had an opportunity to answer all of the letters that were sent with the packages. For the few that had return addresses, rest assured that I will send a return letter. For all the other letters and cards that I am unable to answer, I have listed their names below – at least as some form of thanks and acknowledgement that their letters were received and appreciated.Craig LandryLieutenant ColonelInternational Security Assistance Force Joint Command Headquarters
Thanks to the following people who sent cards/letters:Toni Majdell, Montreal – I will write you back. Kara D. Thanks for the artwork – especially the self-portrait. Izik Hooper – Nice drawing of the Canada flag. Caleb from Prince of Wales School in Casselman – awesome card! Peace Out to you as well! Linsay Wilnos, Nicole Hicks-Casey, Sydney Hawthone and Jessica Roache – I think that it is very important to take some time on Remembrance Day to think about everyone who has sacrificed something for Canada (soldiers who died, soldiers who were injured, their families) Natalie Leahy, PeterboroughAlly Pye – we all want peace. No one more so than the soldiers…Eile Hannigan – Awesome art package. I really liked the tuxedo on a pencil! Allyson Forrest – We miss our families a lot but we are able to Skype, email and write to them often. I am completely comfortable writing you back but you did not give me a return address. Amanda Leader from Bowmanville High School, Tucker Logan Bell, Abby Matwey from Monsignor O’Donoghue School, Peterborough, Jordyn whose dog’s names are Ember and Pip Logan – you rock for writing! Austin whose biggest fish was 36 lbs, Hayle from Ontario, Micah Doreen Aidan K. who is 9.

Cpl JOHN MURRAY
Darlene: THANK YOU !!!!!! That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of our gratitude. Guy and I got our packages today! WOW!!!!!! I was attacked by what I can only describe as a gaggle of seagulls on a french fry!!! And, coming on the heels of number 154, the timing couldn’t have been better for your packages to arrive. Everybody in our barracks got some of what you and your group sent. We left some of it at the clinic where we work to be shared by all as well. I must say, the pepperettes were gone double quick<L>. I kept getting asked why we had gotten the packages today and who you were. I explained to everyone who asked how I know Kellie and the story of Mark and how your group sends care packages over. What started out as joking jealousy over the packages turned to deep heart felt appreciation. Know that what you and your group does is immeasurably appreciated by us over here. Your thoughtfulness and kindness can never be thanked enough. I never realized how exciting it is to receive mail or packages. At home we just hope to open the mailbox and find no bills<L>. I was at our barracks when the mail came in. One of the guys came in with a package of his own and said I had a ton of packages today. I honestly ran over to see!!!I also received an envelope of Christmas Cards today, from the Yellow Ribbon folks. They are the first Christmas cards we have gotten so far since being here. I am passing them around to let everybody read them. Some however won’t because they are not too good with English. Not sure if Kellie told you, but this is a French Roto!!!<L> They are a wonderful group to be here with. Huge thanks again and I hope to send pictures soon.Cpl. John MurrayHS Unit, Role 1KAF

Cpl PATRICK RIMBAO
Hello, First of all let me wish you and your loves ones a HAPPY AND SAFE HOLIDAYS!Just to let you know that I received all 4 boxes that you sent us last night. I wasn’t expecting that much boxes and a lot of the guys and gals medics from our shack are all jealous of us. I SINCERELY THANKING YOU AND FRIENDS FOR ORGANIZING THIS AMAZING GIFTS. I am departing tomorrow to our platoon house and i am taking all my gifts with me, I am also and will spread the wealth among to my troops, theres only 9 Canadian troops including myself stationed there and I’m sure they are more than happy especially the food. The ladies especially envies us and are asking if its possible to organize and send them GIRLY stuffs like TAMPONS, hairClips and elastics for their Hair.A gain I am THANKING YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR ALL THIS GIFTS.THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS

R.D.RYAN MENDES

ryan mendes(centre) with colleagues

Ryan Mendes (centre)

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Yellow Ribbon Campaign, Merry Christmas from Afghanistan! Thank you very much for your donations, treats, and other gifts that you so thoughtfully sent to the troops and I. I happily distributed them amongst everyone and we all couldn’t believe how much great stuff we received. We are working long hours both here in KAF and outside the wire providing battlefield surveillance for our comrades on the ground that are conducting daily patrols, convoys, and reconstruction projects of the Canadian Area of Operations. We, (SUAV TP) are the operators, missioncommanders and soldiers who fly UAV’s ( uninhabited aerial vehicles) every day, 24/7 doing our best to help spot the bad guys trying to harm and deter us from making Afghanistan a better, safer place. We often eat our meals at work and work at all hours of the night so having extra food and treats available when we can’t make it to the mess hall is great and saves us time so that we can continue supporting our mission to the best of our abilities. To our soldiers who are outside the wire, which is essentially all of us at one point through out the tour because we rotate through the different jobs and locations, it again is nice to have a treat and a little taste of home that helps comfort some of the other stresses of day to day life. It is always the little things, or the things of everyday life back in Canada that so often are taken for granted that you don’t necessarily have over here that can make you feel better when you are having a bad day. I would just like to say on behalf of all the soldiers in my unit, SUAV Troop, 4 AD Regt Gagetown New Brunswick, thank you so much for thinking about us and putting your own time and consideration into sending parcels to us. It is greatly appreciated and much enjoyed by everyone here in Afghanistan. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year with your family and friends and just know that you are amazing people for doing what you are doing for all the soldiers on tour over this holiday season.

Merry Christmas!
SUAV Tp
R.D. (Ryan) Mendes
MBdr / BdrC
SUAV OPS 2IC
Troupes de Brigade / Brigade Troops
Force Operationelle Interarmées (Afghanistan) / Joint Task Force
(Afghanistan)
Terrain d’Aviation de KANDAHAR / KANDAHAR Airfield Courriel / E-mail: ryan.mendes@forces.gc.ca

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