- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 3, 2003

This week, about 1,000 air conditioners will be airlifted to U.S. soldiers in Iraq, thanks to the efforts of Frankie Mayo and the generosity of Americans all across the country.

Mrs. Mayo set up Operation Air Conditioner earlier this summer, with the purpose of providing as many cooling units as possible for the U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq. American civilians have responded by opening their hearts — and their wallets — to her call. According to Mrs. Mayo, she has received at least $200,000 in donations. Individuals in every state have given — Texas and California, Delaware and the District of Columbia. She has even received contributions from individuals in Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

As a consequence, a shipment of 500 donated air conditioners arrived yesterday in Baghdad, sent via a private shipping company. The Air Force has agreed to send another plane load, and 500 donated air conditioners are expected to arrive today at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Mrs. Mayo had to resort to such air conditioner air lifts after the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) abruptly decided to stop shipping her machines due to alleged safety concerns, as this page reported two weeks ago. If the donations keep coming in and the Air Force agrees to keep air lifting them out, Mrs. Mayo hopes that a plane full will arrive in Iraq every two weeks until the end of October.

Last week, Rush Limbaugh observed, “This is a country that allows ordinary, average, everyday Americans to do extraordinary things, and Frankie Mayo is one of those people who makes America work.” So is Mr. Limbaugh, who intervened with both his microphone and his money to ensure that the air conditioners arrived in Iraq.

Mrs. Mayo has been running the operation off her kitchen table, with the help of a few family members and volunteers. She lost one of her workers when her daughter went back to school this week. It is likely that that void will be filled when a neighbor, a friend, or another ordinary — and simultaneously extraordinary — American steps up.

After all, they have already been doing so. We encourage our readers to give to Operation Air Conditioner by logging onto http//www.operationac.com. While Mrs. Mayo plans to keep moving air conditioners, she is also hoping to ship space heaters to the troops in Iraq, to keep them warm through winter. If she receives enough donations ahead of time, she will be able to send a literal boat load of heaters at dramatically reduced shipping rates compared to those required for the ongoing air lifts of air conditioners.

Since the war on terrorism began, many have wondered why Americans have not been called on to make greater sacrifices, perhaps equating press releases with heart-felt responses. Operation Air Conditioning proves that the spirit and the sacrifice are there, perhaps moving in the shadows, but still casting an extraordinary glow.

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