CAMP DEHDADI II — Surrounded by cheering and clapping comrades, Spc. Samuel Mancilla, a motor transport operator assigned to the 1072nd Transportation Company, 378th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade received Operation Gratitude’s milestone 800,000th care package on August 15, 2012!
Our hope has always been to lift morale and put smiles on the faces of deployed troops, and Operation Gratitude founder, Carolyn Blashek, was able to hear firsthand how the package received by Mancilla did just that.
“He was so excited about the package, that he called me from Afghanistan, right after he received it, to say ‘thank you,’ and he asked me to thank every single Operation Gratitude volunteer and donor,” Blashek said.
“It puts a smile on my face because it’s more than an honor to be a recipient of something like this,” Mancilla said. “It’s uplifting to see the support and feel the love.”
Mancilla, a Simi Valley, California resident, deployed to Afghanistan in March 2012 from his home state. To him, the package is more than just a gift; Mancilla said it is a blessing.
The 1072nd Transportation Company recently suffered the loss of a fallen Soldier whom Mancilla knew well.
“When you’re deployed, your comrades are like family,” Mancilla said.
Just 24 hours after the death of the fellow soldier, Mancilla received news about the death of a family member back in the States. While making plans to go home for the funeral, Mancilla was told he could stay home because his company would be returning to the United States shortly. But Mancilla’s sense of loyalty and duty called him to return to Afghanistan and join his company.
After the funeral, Mancilla rejoined his company in Afghanistan and, to his surprise, was called forward during a formation. His Commanding Officer and First Sergeant handed him a care package. The milestone Operation Gratitude care package could not have been given to him at a better time.
“It felt good to come back and receive this special care package,” said Mancilla. “I haven’t grasped it all yet. I just can’t believe how everything’s worked out. It’s like finding the good in the bad.”
If you remember our celebration in June, you already know the package he received included many generous donations: a portable DVD player, a digital camera, a web cam, a week vacation donated by our long-time Operation Gratitude volunteer Shirley Landau, and keys to a custom-built Orange County Choppers‘ motorcycle donated in partnership with SJO Foundation for Hope and Torque Sports & Performance.
We are excited to announce that Mancilla (pictured here holding a letter from his care package) plans to join Operation Gratitude, SJO Foundation for Hope, and Torque Sports & Performance to unveil his new OCC motorcycle at our headquarters in Van Nuys, California on December 15, 2012.
We hope many of YOU will be able to join us for that special day!
“I’m thankful to know there are committed volunteers that take time to let Soldiers know their appreciation,” Mancilla said. “With everything that has happened in the past few weeks, it seems surreal. I’m happy and I’m honored.”
As always, THANK YOU for your support!