- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2006

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

The Chi Gamma Iota fraternity of Penn State Harrisburg has publicly expressed our appreciation to Rep. Bill Shuster and Rep. Todd R. Platts for the passage of HR 2062, naming the post office in Newville, Pa., in honor of Sgt. 1st Class Randall D. Shughart, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his sacrifice on Oct. 3, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia, in the attempt to rescue Michael Durant, the pilot of the Black Hawk helicopter known to the public from the book and movie “Black Hawk Down.”

Now we express our appreciation to you for the successful completion of our fraternity project to honor Sgt. Shughart in his hometown. It was your initial guidance to us and your continued behind-the-scenes efforts that made this all possible, and we hope you will be able to attend the dedication ceremony as our distinguished guest.

We have met with the Joint Veterans Council of Newville, and they have agreed to combine their annual Memorial Day parade with our dedication ceremony of the new Randall D. Shughart Post Office Building. This event will take place May 29, with the parade getting under way at 1 p.m. We would like to see you and your lovely wife riding in that parade.

Also, at our recent visit with Herbert and Lois Shughart, parents of Randall Shughart, they asked us to forward their personal appreciation for all you have done on behalf of their son, and they are looking forward to meeting you at the dedication service. Mr. and Mrs. Shughart are very impressed that you have devoted your life to helping your fellow veterans, and they were quite pleased that you have included Mr. Shughart in these efforts.

Again, thanks and best regards from Chi Gamma Iota.

Sincerely,

Robert D. Ford, ‘70 XGI alumnus

Penn State Harrisburg

Dear Bob:

I am looking forward to joining you for this special dedication to a true American hero. It will give me the opportunity to personally thank Sgt. Shughart’s parents for their son’s service and ultimate sacrifice.

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

My name is Lawrence Thompson, and I am in the process of writing a book dedicated to our veterans and their families and was hoping that you may be able to help put out the word.

It is going to be a compilation of advice from veterans and their families to future generations. I am doing this to give the men and women who have served and currently are serving the recognition they deserve.

Far too many of our World War II and Korean and Vietnam War veterans have passed on and without sharing the wisdom and knowledge that they developed over the years. This is what I want to share with the American public at large. I also want to thank each and every one of our veterans. This is the intention of this book.

The quotes can be anything on any subject. It can be one word or 20 pages. It can be something wholly original or a quote from someone else that they would like to share. It can be a story that a veteran would like to pass on or a treasured memory or a horrid experience. I want the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. I will do everything in my power to ensure that each quote will not be edited in any way.

So, just for a moment, I ask veterans to think: “What would I like to pass on to future generations? What would I like to say to the American people at large, the world? Who would I like to thank, who would I like to chastise? Which story would I like to relay to others to warn them or to give them hope, or to let them know how fulfilling or frustrating life in the military really is?” Everyone has something to say. What would you say?

I will be collecting quotes until Dec. 30. All the quotes sent in will become the property of the writer. If you wish to keep a copy of that letter for yourself, please say so in the text of the letter or e-mail and I gladly will send a copy to you.

Send e-mail responses to [email protected] Send mail responses to Veterans Immemorial, P.O. Box 373, Georgetown, FL 32139. Please include your name (you may request anonymity), branch of service, years in the service, rank/rate/military occupation specialty, duty stations and any other information that you would like to have published.

Lawrence Thompson

Georgetown, Fla.

Shaft notes

Congratulations to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) for getting phone cards and gift certificates for the holidays into the hands of deployed troops as quickly as possible through the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, Operation Homefront and Operation Interdependence.

“It’s the perfect time of year to welcome these partners to AAFES’ troop support efforts because millions of Americans are looking for ways to help during the holidays,” said Army Lt. Col. Debra Pressley, AAFES chief of corporate communications. “This is not only the most difficult time to be deployed; it is also the most important time of year to let troops and their families know we are thinking of them.”

The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes focuses on the needs of wounded and hospitalized troops. Through the coalition, “Gifts From the Homefront” and “Help Our Troops Call Home” phone cards were distributed in programs that provide emergency financial support to wounded heroes and their families in need.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, PO Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail [email protected]

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