Operation Supply Drop (OSD) has been sending unusual care packages to soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq for over two years. The charity has garnered $60,000 in donations which were turned into gear and gaming packages each with an average value of $2,000. The organization announced their newest project: the 8-Bit Salute to Veterans. Parties organized by gamers across America will raise funds to send video games and consoles to US troops deployed to Afghanistan.
Find out how you can get involved
On November 10th over Veteran?s Day weekend, there are events scheduled in Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York City. Stephen Machuga, former Army Airborne Ranger and his company, Front Towards Gamer (FTG), packs video consoles and video games in their boxes. He says: ?Troops are accustomed to getting care packages from strangers full of baby wipes and socks. Our care packages are designed to blow their socks off.?
Gaming packages for overseas troops consist of just about anything. One package contained items purchased or donated including external hard drives for Xbox 360, and games for PSP, PC, PS3: Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dark Age of Camelot 5 Year Collectors Edition, and Marvel Super Hero Square: Comic Combat arrived ready to play. Just think what you could send to our men and women to take their mind away from reality for a while.
Various products, many Xbox 360 and PS3 titles, for the same care package were provided by Capcom, THQ, PDP (Performance Designed Products), 343 Industries, Activision, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Ranger Coffee (@RangerCoffee), GamerGrub, Rockstar Games, Bethesda Games, Plantronics, Valve, Volition, Ubisoft, Kalypso, and Phil Ward (@raidingforces). Total care package value (based on Amazon pricing, before shipping costs): $1826.49. Providing moral support isn?t cheap.
War games, whether real or electronic, are always on Machuga?s mind. FTG company?s mascot is an anti-personnel mine, a M18 Claymore. It is described as a directional command detonated mine that is the equivalent of a giant shotgun shell that shoots out about 100+ steel balls 100 meters in front of wherever it?s placed, at a 60 degree angle at waist height.
Used by the US in Vietnam to help secure the perimeter of patrol bases, the Vietnamese troops would turn them around to use them against the US encampment. Machuga says ?Eventually, the mine makers stamped ?Front Towards Enemy? on the front of the mine so troops wouldn?t accidentally set the mine up backwards, also making it easier to tell which direction the mine was facing in the dark.?
Smiles all around after Operation Supply Drop care package arrived
He knows what the troops face daily and wants to alleviate some of their stress. Following an earlier joint Epic Games/Operation Supply Drop care package code named Crimson Omen, the response from the troops was overwhelming. ?We all want to say a huge thank you to Shanghai Six (Stephen Machuga), Operation Supply Drop, Epic Games, along with all those who donated to Crimson Omen! The care package is absolutely amazing! The Xbox 360 has been set up and the gaming has begun! Some guys are playing games, others are reading books, and morale has been boosted all around. It was a mad house in our office the night we opened the package and started handing out games, smiles were on everyone?s faces, a much needed change of pace in the deployment, and a notable difference in attitudes.?
Real pilots still enjoy video games during their off time. Photo credit: Military-Today.com
Machuga gets numerous requests which he tries to fulfill. A care package code named Fly Boy went out as a result of getting this message sent from the deck of the aircraft carrier US John C Stennis from Peter: ?This is our second eight month deployment in two years; we were only home for 5 months before we left again. We fly the F/A-18E Super Hornet, the Navy?s newest Strike Fighter in combat missions over Afghanistan. We work 14 hour days pretty much seven days a week. There isn?t much of a chance to take a break, and there?s not much privacy [for the 200+ men and women]. There are community areas that have a TV and it would be great if we could get an Xbox 360 to hook up and some games to play. Right now what we have is four TV channels ? sports, news, and two movie channels. It would be great to have something different to do to help unwind.?
Members of the 82nd Airborne Division in Kabul show off contents of their ODS care package
A $3000 Little Geronimo care package arrived in Kabul and solicited this reaction: ?OMG, How can we ever say enough thanks. WOW, just awesome. Wow, I am almost speechless. Please give my sincerest thanks to all. God Bless you brother.?
FTG gets requests from soldiers in the field, like this one from Paul in Helmand, Afghanistan ?My request is for all of the Marines that I serve next to every day. I have been working alongside some of the finest men and women out here. Working with this many people in such a close environment is not without its trials and tribulations though. I have consistently been looking for ways to improve the morale of the service members. I do not have a "wish list" in mind but feel that anything you’d be able to put together would help the morale tremendously.?
Daniel from Logar, Afghanistan wrote specifically about what his unit faces: ?Terrain here does not allow for the operation of vehicles, all patrols are on foot. We are engaged with literally every type of weapon you can imagine. IED’s, small arms fire, RPK fire, RPG’s, well aimed high power rifle shots, grenade launchers, grenades, 82 mm mortars and recoilless rifle fire are a daily norm on this COP. The weather report on any given day will always include "with a 90% chance of indirect fire." Their care package was code named Drawn Dagger.
Army Chief of Staff visits patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Photo Credit: US Army
Packages are even arranged for the wounded warriors who return to the US to face hospitalization. US Army Chief of Staff General Raymond T. Odierno listened to Sgt. Kusch describe the injury he sustained during combat operations in Afghanistan. Generally, medical privacy decrees that soldiers? identities remain guarded. ODS sent a care package with the code name Valkyrie Wing to an undisclosed injured soldier. Machuga said: ?We are making a generalized donation of one of our care packages [to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center's rehabilitation center] in the hopes that the recipient contacts us upon receipt of the package.?
Machuga explains: ?Turns out there?s a literal mile of red tape and bureaucracy involved in getting donations to a military hospital, but we?ve finally finished jumping through the necessary hoops to help out our returning soldiers and their families.?
The 8-Bit Salute planned for November 10th is in full swing. Parties are scheduled at Game Pazzo, in Downers Grove, Illinois with live music, games with prizes, raffles and food. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The Den & Rumor Lounge, Dallas, Texas will have special guests from the gaming industry, DJ?s, and a full bar. Contact: yvonna@CharismaPlus2.com.
Los Angeles Film School, Hollywood, California is having a single elimination Medal of Honor: Warfighter tournament including competing celebrities, students, and faculty. Contact: email@example.com.
Union Hall, Brooklyn, New York is joining in with live music and hip-hop music performances. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to take part in Operation Supply Drop, you can:
Create your own event. Contact Stephen Machuga.
Make a monetary donation via Paypal.
Send a contribution of new games or consoles to: Operation Supply Drop (OSD), 9301 Alvyn Lake Circle, Bristow, VA 20136
Keep sending those socks, candy, and toothpaste to comfort the body, but don?t forget these are our own action heroes ? send them video games to distract their minds.
To hear from an actual soldier click here and learn what a care package means to the troops so far from home.