| A U.S. soldier in Afghanistan gives a young
Afghan child a Beanie Baby sent from the American public
through the Any Soldier Inc. effort. Courtesy
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);
Recognizing that their son, Army Sgt. Brian Horn, a member
of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, was living under very harsh
conditions after parachuting into Iraq last March, retired
Army Sgt. 1st Class Marty Horn and his wife, Sue, began
sending him care packages as often as they could.
Horn requested additional packages for his fellow soldiers
who weren't getting any, and soon his parents were asking
their friends and neighbors in LaPlata, Md., to send packages
to their son, too. Horn agreed to distribute them to soldiers
who weren't getting mail.
The "overwhelming and nearly monumental" show of support
"has provided the simple reminder that any one of us would
proudly die for a grateful nation in our ongoing fight against
terrorism," said Horn, who has redeployed from Iraq to his
unit headquarters in Vicenza, Italy. There, he and his fellow
soldiers are preparing for another deployment after the
Christmas holidays — this time to Afghanistan in support of
Operation Enduring Freedom.
Meanwhile, Any Soldier Inc. continues to grow. By early
June, organization had more than 100 volunteer contact
soldiers, and requests for packages continue to pour in from
units throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.
The senior Horn attributes the effort's success to the fact
that "the American public wants to do something to show
support." What makes the program particularly appealing to
many, he said, is that it gives people an opportunity to
develop one-on-one contacts with deployed troops. "There's no
middle man," Horn said, "so people get to feel very attached."
Any Soldier Inc.'s Web site lists supplies that deployed
troops need, such as prepackaged food, T-shirts and even
Beanie Babies that they can give to local children. The site
provides specific information about how and where to send
According to Lt. Col. Rick Mullen, commanding officer of a
Marine Corps aviation unit in Afghanistan, these gifts have a
"deeply humbling effect on the individual Marines in our
Mullen said the packages demonstrate that the American
public shares in "the price our Marines are paying for
freedom" and makes the load deployed troops carry feel "a bit
Sergeant Horn expressed thanks on the Any Soldier Web site
for the "awe- inspiring and frankly quite dramatic display of
support from the home front." He said the correspondence and
care packages have poured in "at an overwhelming and nearly
The campaign, he wrote, "has seen tears from some, given
hope to most and has been inspirational to us all."
The sergeant's father said there's a lot of personal
gratification in watching the program grow, "knowing that I'm
making a difference -- and allowing a lot of other people to
make a difference, too."
More information about Any Soldier Inc. is posted on the
organization's Web site.