WASHINGTON – Forget the brownies. Soldiers in Iraq want handcuffs.
Marty Horn said that is one of the top requests from soldiers to his Web site, anysoldier.us, that tries to hook up soldiers in Iraq with citizens here who want to help them out by sending care packages.
Horn said handcuffs top the list of his son’s division, the 173rd Army Airborne, because it has not had all the equipment it needs to train the new Iraqi police force for its job.
“They have been in for 10 months doing work they are not designed to do,” he said. “They were using rope, flex cuffs, anything they can get their hands on to tie people up.”
Also high on the wish list is a $33 “quick draw boot knife,” Kevlar gloves that can stop a knife blade and other survival gear that can be purchased at military surplus or fishing stores, Horn said.
But while the wish list is heavy on combat gear and warm clothes, soldiers also show a softer side in their request. They want flip-flops, antibacterial wipes and Beanie Babies to pass out to Iraqi kids, Horn said, and copies of Sports Illustrated — preferably the swimsuit edition.
Army spokeswoman Spec. Nicole Thompson, 26, in Baghdad, said soldiers are free to request any legal items to be sent from home. She would not comment on what types of supplies they need most, but she would like a new knife for herself.
“Knives are very useful here,” Thompson said. “I would like a bigger knife than the one I have.”
Soldiers seem to want just about anything from home — except home cooking. The troops cannot accept anything not packaged from people they do not know, said Horn.
“It’s just too dangerous,” he said.
For those who want to send food, the soldiers ask for packaged or canned goods, like Chef Boyardee Ravioli and Beefaroni or Little Debbie snacks. HeaterMeals, a commercial version of the despised military MRE, are another popular food choice.
Innotech Products, the Cincinnati company that makes the self-heating boxes of blueberry pancakes, chicken and beef dinners, joined up with anysoldier in November. Innotech President Tim Zimmerman said his company has sent 22,500 meals to Iraq so far at a 25 percent discount through Horn’s site.
Horn said the list is only a suggestion for those who don’t know what to send.
“What the soldiers need most is support,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be expensive. Just send a letter. It’s about the support.”
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