For more information or to make a donation, call Susan Henthorn at 770-718-1585 or Dave Dellinger at 770-718-7676.
They may not be in the trenches beside them, but Operation Patriot’s Call members know what life is like for deployed members of the Gainesville-based Charlie Company.
Most of the members of the organization, which works to gather support for local troops and their families, are veterans themselves and know how difficult it may be when Charlie Company members return from deployment in Afghanistan next month.
“A lot of these guys will come back to no job,” said Susan Henthorn, a member of Operation Patriot’s Call.
The company is a part of the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, of the Georgia Army National Guard’s 48th Brigade. It has been deployed since March and is expected to return sometime next month.
During their deployment, the patriot group has been busy gathering funds to help support the families of the deployed soldiers.
The group has been helping with things such as paying electric bills, making home repairs and other tasks that the soldiers would have handled had they been home.
“Since there isn’t a base here, we’re the support group for the families. One way that we’ve been raising money to help support the families is by giving flags that have flown (in Afghanistan) to individuals who donate $100 or more,” said Dave Dellinger, Patriot’s Call member. “Each of the flags comes with a certificate saying where and when it was flown.”
Although things have gone OK so far, group members are concerned that finances may take a turn for the worse if the need for assistance increases when the troops return home.
“We’re worried about running out of money when they come home,” Dellinger said.
While keeping an eye on the group’s dwindling finances, members also are busy planning an appropriate welcome home gathering for the soldiers.
“We need to find a place so that we can bring the community out to show their support,” Dellinger said.
“We’re still in the planning stages, but we are looking at having something on May 1 — that’s the first weekend that we’ll be able to get them all together.”
In the meantime, the organization is working to raise money to purchase “courage coins” for each of the 100-plus members of Charlie Company.
“They are a military tradition. Typically, larger units will have them made up and pass them out to soldiers who do well,” said Sgt. Casey Taylor, a Charlie Company member. “Units also make a special coin just for the (soldiers) who served in combat.”
The Charlie Company coin is shaped like an arrowhead and is about 2 1/2 inches long and bears the company’s name and a few symbols representative of the group’s time overseas.
“The coins are something that soldiers carry with them every day,” Dellinger said.
The group is hoping to raise the $1,200 needed to pay for the coins so they can be presented to Charlie Company troops as a gift. If donors give at least $25, they also will receive a coin as a token of thanks from the organization.