More than seven tons of books, games and letters donated by Utahns - and golf clubs from the governor - left Salt Lake City on Friday for soldiers participating in Operation Desert Shield.
Included in the 300 boxes was a pallet of goods collected by an Orem Eagle Scout candidate that are addressed specifically for 14 Utah National Guard soldiers manning water purification equipment on the Persian Gulf in Saudi Arabia.Nita Wright, whose husband, Mike, is one of the Utah Guard members in Saudi Arabia, was on hand to watch the boxes go from a Fred Meyer warehouse into the truck that will deliver the goods to the Army's Tracy Defense Depot in California. From there, the shipment will await transportation halfway around the world to the Saudi Arabian desert - nick-named the "world's largest sand trap" since American soldiers began arriving there after the Aug. 2 invasion by Iraq of Kuwait.
The sand-trap nickname spurred Gov. Norm Bangerter to package several sand wedges for the shipment so the soldiers can practice their golf.
Wright said the parcels from home will be a most welcome sight, especially for soldiers like her husband who have not had any of their mail get through since they arrived in Saudi Arabia Sept. 16.
Members of the Utah water purification group in Saudi Arabia started volunteering at a military post office several weeks ago with the hope that they would see some of their own mail arrive. Wives of several other members of the American Fork-based 120th Quartermaster Detachment said their husbands have gotten packages but no mail, or have heard that packages have arrived faster than mail.
Even facsimile letters AT&T has been sending free for soldiers' family members for the past several weeks have just now started getting through, Wright said.
One reason Wright hopes her husband starts receiving his mail soon is because she has mailed prescription medicines he will be out of soon.
The morale-boosting goods that left Utah on Friday were donated by Utahns at the 16 Fred Meyer stores in the state with the encouragement of KSL radio.