Student sends supplies to troops in Iraq

Hannah Sparling and Hannah Sparling

For some soldiers in Iraq, life is completely centered around their mission, and day-to-day luxuries are not part of the battle plan. But one University student is trying to make the lives of those soldiers a little more comfortable. Freshman ROTC member Coree Nesselroad is organizing a fundraiser for the roughly 800 troops in the third battalion, who are stationed in Mosul, Iraq. Mosul is one of the last al-Qaeda strongholds in Iraq. Nesselroad is organizing the fundraiser through the Arnold Air Society, an honorary service organization focused on helping future Air Force officers. For the fundraiser, she is trying to collect donations in money, food or other supplies such as batteries, socks or even toilet paper, to send to the troops. ‘A lot of war has subsided in Iraq, but Mosul is still in a war-combat situation,’ Nesselroad said. ‘They’re under fire every day.’ The 800 troops have been in Mosul since December 2008, Nesselroad said. They live day to day on nothing but the necessities, and often go without even simple luxuries such as showers. Nesselroad first heard about the troops in the third battalion from her stepfather, Corey Perry. Perry, who is now an ordained minister, went to West Point with Thomas Cipolla, the commander in charge of the battalion. Cipolla took leadership of the group after the original commander and three other members of the battalion were killed by a roadside bomb on Feb. 9. ‘Mosul, Iraq, is probably the single most dangerous city in Iraq due to the fact that there is extensive presence of al-Qaeda in that area,’ Perry said. ‘They continue to receive heavy fire and ongoing enemy activity on a daily basis.’ Perry said Mosul is especially dangerous because the last surge of American troops in Iraq wasn’t directed toward that area. There were other, more pressing problems at the time and Mosul was kind of left out, which allowed al-Qaeda to rekindle and regain strength in the area, he said. ‘You just don’t have enough troops to be able to address the whole nation,’ Perry said. Perry said Nesselroad’s fundraiser will help show the troops that people care. He said it is one thing for troops to get gifts from their friends and families, but it means something entirely different to receive something from someone they don’t even know. ‘It’s not going to alleviate any of the danger they face, but it’s going to be a connection back to them that we know [their situation] and appreciate their service,’ he said. Nesselroad said her goal for the fundraiser is to simply do anything she can for the troops. She said at the beginning of the war people gave a lot, but now they are starting to forget about Iraq and are putting it on the back burner. She said she wants to get as many people involved in the fundraiser as possible to show continued support for the troops. ‘People can show support by donating simple things to keep the morale in a place like Mosul higher,’ she said. ‘It will keep their hopes up in a place where hope is very limited.’ Freshman Kiersten Werth is one of those who is getting involved in the fundraiser. Werth doesn’t have any personal ties to the third battalion and she is not in ROTC, but she said when Nesselroad told her what she was doing she wanted to get involved. ‘I definitely think it’s important to support anybody who is supporting our country,’ she said. ‘I hope more people can open their eyes and figure out ways they can support our country too.’ Werth said no matter what someone’s personal opinion of the war in Iraq may be, it is still crucial to support those in combat. ‘Regardless of the views of people on the war, it’s always important to stand behind your fellow citizens,’ she said. How to get involved: Check the Union or other dining centers on campus for a donation container and information on how to donate other items (the containers will be up in the Union by Monday, and the other places will soon follow) Good items to donate: gel insoles, socks, foot powder, toilet paper, batteries, disposable cameras, razors, candy, breakfast bars, toothbrush/toothpaste