Operation Pencil Giver

Story by Sgt, 1st Class Steven Johnson
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

Mosul, Iraq — Soldiers with the 969th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control Team), 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), recently found the opportunity to conduct a movement of a different nature — providing school supplies for children in the near Mosul, Iraq.

Operation Pencil Giver was the brainchild of Capt. Christopher Pruitt, commander of the 969th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control) and a Glendale, Mo. native, the unit’s family readiness group and Pruitt’s sons Jack and Sam. 

During a visit with Jack’s school principal to discuss Pruitt’s upcoming deployment, the discussion turned to the potential dangers of the mission; Jack overheard the conversation and decided he wanted to help, Pruitt said.

“This was his way of doing something to help keep his dad safe,” Pruitt said.

The idea turned into a campaign involving the Illinois’ Kirkwood School District and various youth organizations.  Supplies started arriving in early November 2009 and continued to arrive until February, he said.

The goal of collecting fifty boxes of supplies was exceeded, with a total of 126 boxes being donated as the community rallied in support of the unit and its mission.

Spc. Michael Snook, a Kansas City, Mo., native, Breanna Carder a Wood River, Ill. native, and Miranda Mossberger a St. Charles, Mo. native, all movement specialists with the 969th Movement Control Team, along with Soldiers from the 278th Armored Calvary Regiment, 13th SC(E) and local Iraqi police distributed the supplies to more than 100 children from two elementary schools.

Snook, a Kansas City, Mo., said he helped coordinate the mission once the supplies arrived from in Mosul. Normally, Snook processes ground transportation requests and tracks movements of private security convoys and cargo, reporting significant events to higher headquarters.

This was unique opportunity to get out and experience the culture and meet some of the people that we’re here to help, Snook said. 

“It was great just going out there and being able to see the people and doing something that benefits somebody and we actually have hands on and are involved,” he said.

The mission itself was a humanitarian endeavor in nature as well as joint operation between U.S. forces and the local police.  As part of the upcoming responsible drawdown, Operation Pencil Giver was an effort to build confidence and trust between the police and community.

Lt. Col. Lee Porterfield, deputy commander of the Security Transition Team, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division and a Springfield, Mo. Native, said he works closely with the Iraqi Police leadership, to improve law enforcement functions such as investigative techniques, collection of physical evidence and processing crime scenes.

“Part of what we’re doing today is helping to improve the public image of the local IP by helping them to get more involved in the community and assist in developing a more trusting relationship,” he said. “Today was a step in the right direction.”

Carder said this was a chance for her and Mossberger to see a different side of what goes on outside their world of tracking cargo shipments around Iraq.

“It felt really good to interact with the kids, just seeing their faces light up and knowing they were going to have stuff for the following school year,’ she said.

Mossberger said it was gratifying to be a part of the operation because, while her and Carder move equipment and vehicles all day, the never see the end result. This time they were able to see the impact of a contribution to the welfare and education of children.

 

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Spc. Breanna Carder, a movement specialist with the 969th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control), 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Wood River, Ill., native, helps to carry boxes of school supplies to a local elementary school May 19 in Mosul Iraq as part of Operation Pencil Giver. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael Snook)

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Soldiers with the 969th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control), 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) hand out school supplies to Iraqi children May 19 in Mosul, Iraq, as part of Operation Pencil Giver. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael Snook)