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  'Bolters (and many others) supporting our troops

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You stay up for 16 hours. He stays up for days on end.

You take a warm shower to help you wake up. He goes days or weeks without running water.

You get a little edgy because you have to wait for a haircut. He hasn't been able to brush his teeth all week.

You complain of a "headache" and call in sick. He gets shot at as others are hit, and keeps moving forward.

You're stressed because you don't have any clean drawers. He wears the same things for weeks, but makes sure his weapons are clean.

Thanks to our handlers "over there"

CPL Joe Weimer, Jr. - The son of Stovebolter Joe "TooMany 2 Count" Weimer

Tuts59 - one of our Stovebolters

LT COL Marc “Marc50” Piccolo - another Stovebolter and a 19 year Air Force veteran; the Deputy Group Commander for the 755th Air Expeditionary Group based out of Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. He visited forward airbases and checked in on Airmen in very remote locations.

LT Col Shaun "Scar" Copelin - Shaun filled in when Marc received orders to head out

Robert N. Burns Jr., Bob is an old friend of the Millimans. He served with the 2nd Battalion 8th Marines, Ar Ramadi Iraq as Chaplain. Bob set up a "free store" so that the service members could get what they need. He, too has gone to a new assignment (he sure enjoyed those smokes!)


LT Cristiano DeSousa, Chaplain 1ST Battalion 9th Marines
H&S Company
Cristiano is the chaplain of a recently re-established unit: 1-9 "The Walking Dead." They got their name from Vietnam, and hopefully we will not see the walking dead come out of them again.


From TUTS 59:

   This is great! This has really touched what we all feel. I will be heading home in mid-June but have made contacts to keep the magazines going to the troops. I'll pass the new APO off to you when see the MWR representative again.

   You folks have really made a difference. I only wish I had found the site earlier. Joe, Builder, Jim Bow and a few others have helped these last few months pass quickly and brought home a little closer.

   As I am writing this, I wonder how many other 'Bolters are over here. Each time I drop a box of magazines off, I leave a note of thanks from the the Stovebolt site and the web address.

   Just today I received a box of cigars from Jim Bow. I passed them around to the guys with Jim's compliments.

   You people are the best. Thank you so very much.



Stovebolt and its members give a smart salute to our service men and women. May God protect you and return you all home safely. And a huge thanks to the families who have raised sons and daughters who are honored to serve their Country.



Interesting Links


The Gratitude Campaign

They are called Marines sent to us by Paul Schmehl

Salute to the Troops



      Steve "Builder" VandenBerg presented this idea in March 2007. It took us a few months to get the details worked out. A Stovebolter's son (Joe "TooMany2Count" Weimer's son, Joe, Jr.) was in Iraq and became our first contact point. Later, a "Sock it to the Troops" effort sent a LOT of socks "down range." We are on our eighth contact person in Iraq / Afghanistan and it is truly encouraging to see the steady stream of support -- even other sites and individuals are passing this page around! The extra exposure means more "we DO care" packages to the troops!

Supporting our Troops
Initiated by Steve "Builder" VandenBerg

The initial story What should we send? Is it making a difference? Feedback
Other links How do we send stuff? A plea for the children Operation Stovebolt

How this all began ~ A patriot steps out

Everyone likes to help out!

      I was not able to join the service when I was a young man, I have no real comprehension of what our troops go through in war. I do know they deserve more recognition than we give them.

      Every day in the halls of the Veteran’s Hospital where I work, I see the veterans -- young and old, male and female -- who served our country faithfully. When I am feeling down because my life has a stumbling moment, or something just doesn't go as I planned, I walk through the halls of the VA. It doesn’t take long for me to be humbled by what I see. They don’t have to tell me their story for me to feel lucky that they paid a price of great magnitude for my freedom. They don’t have to tell me their story for me to suddenly feel that my problems can’t be overcome. Seeing these veterans is the jolt to my brain that tells me to “STOVEBOLT UP.”

      We read about some of our own Stovebolt men and women that are in a foreign land, put in harms way for us. I would think that some act of kindness or generosity from people that they have never met (YOU) would put a smile on their face and/or give them some simple thoughts of home. I can tell you it makes me feel good that I might be able to make a Service member's’s day, hour or even a minute, and let them feel that someone cares. I know I would fell a whole lot better just knowing that some guy or gal from Stovebolt would think about me if I were in the same boat, airplane, tank or sandbox.


      Do I even know what sacrifice is? I hope I never know that. I hope you or your children never have to know what real sacrifice is. These service men and women are sacrificing time away from their families, their jobs and their friends. Imagine coming home and your kids have grown 3-4 inches, or learned how to talk while you were gone. Imagine not being able to be with your wife when she gives birth to your son or daughter? Think of the anguish that these service men and women’s families go through every day. Think of the financial hardship these families face.

      Let’s give back just a little. (That is our Stovebolt way of thinking!) We have had several Stovebolters or their family member in Iraq (that we know of). I'll bet there are more, and I'll bet there will be more of them looking to Stovebolt for a little sanity. Let's give them that little something now and send them some care packages. They will share with the other troops. I have no doubt about that. What you find everyday items are luxuries to our service members that they have to pay for out of their own pockets. You would think these things would be provided for them, but they are not. Let’s help out by sending them some simple items for them to enjoy.

What to send

      Here are some of the things we have been told the service members need. Some of these things travel real well in a truck. We will expand the list as we get additional information. Some units may have special needs, so please let us know (or pass the word around). Don't send chocolates or stuff that will melt.

      As mentioned earlier, these guys have to pay for just about everything they need or want while over there. A personal letter of support would help some of them know that we are behind them, too.


  • baby wipes
  • waterless hand cleaner
  • chap stick / lip balm
  • neck scarf or large handkerchiefs (for sand storms)
  • international phone cards
  • body soap, deodorant
  • Gold bond foot powder
  • individual drink mixes
  • personal items for females

Some things we take for granted

  • sunglasses
  • tooth brush / small tubes of tooth paste
  • hard candy / gum
  • white socks
  • toilet paper
  • smokes / cigars
  • snacks / trail mix / nuts / beef jerky
  • writing paper / pens (for letters)
  • cheese
  • canned nuts / peanuts

Some especially cool stuff

  • old truck magazines
  • other magazines (ESPN, Reader's Digest, Field and Stream, Home & Garden, etc.)
  • paperback books
  • cards, small games, balloons
  • soccer balls, school supplies

      October 2009 -- Chaplain Bob Burns sent another new contact ... in Afghanistan:

UNIT 73612
FPO AE 09510-3612

Dave had some special requests:

  • Dried Fruits (those with Trader Joeís, I beg you)
  • Powdered Gatorade (not lemon/lime), in foil packets, or in freezer baggies.
  • Glide Floss
  • Books for Lending Library (used are great, donít expect them back)
  • Disposable Razors (nor generic, please, they are pretty bad)
  • Trail Mix
  • Beef Jerky (especially home made from Wyoming!!!!!)
  • Hotel sized bottles of Shampoo and Body Wash
  • To fill extra space, place soft toilet tissue into quart sized freezer bags.
  • Hard Candies (M&Mís are one of the only ways to share chocolate Ė the sugar coating does really hold up in heat. They were invented during the time of the Spanish Civil War, so they are deployment proven!)
  • Ground Coffee #2
  • Cone Filters
  • Special request for Christmas: We have a vision to provide Christmas stockings for each of our Marines. I donít mean huge stockings. I mean small ones, with a few little goodies and perhaps a hand-written note. Please be thinking ahead on this one. This would make our Christmas extra special.

      You don't have to send stuff to just the man we have listed here. Find a service member in your own area (check the Any Soldier site ... it includes all branches of the services) to send a care package and letter to someone. Get your whole family involved. What a great quality to instill in our children -- pride, compassion and patriotism.

      Any Soldier - Sergeant Brian Horn from LaPlata, Maryland, an Army Infantry Soldier with the 173rd Airborne Brigade was in the Kirkuk area of Iraq when he started the idea of Any Soldier® to help care for his soldiers. He agreed to distribute packages that came to him with "Attn: Any Soldier" in his address to soldiers who didn't get mail.

      Some other sites (and we're sure there are more):

      Treats for Troops | Gourmet Grocery | USO

Mailing a care package

      The U.S. Postal Service has a flat-rate box (12" x 12" x 5 ½" or 800 cubic inches) and is mailed as priority mail for $13.95 to an APO/FPO address -- that's $2 less than for the flat rate charge for domestic destinations. So, that's less than $15 no matter what the weight! Bring on the magazines!

      This is the first time the Postal Service has offered a special price for our armed forces serving overseas. Family and friends will be able to use this new larger-sized box to send much appreciated packages from home to our dedicated troops overseas.

      You can order these boxes on-line from USPS or by calling 800-610-8734. Some of the new boxes are co-branded with the logo of "America Supports You," which is a Department of Defense program that connects citizens offering support to the military and their families.


Giving Has a Face

by Steve VandenBerg
Dakota Country Dance Club

    Yesterday, I received emails and pictures from my care package contact, Marc Piccolo. I couldn’t help but feel touched by the humanitarian efforts that our soldiers help us give to the Afghan people.

"Steve -- The first four boxes arrived in my office today.  I was very surprised to see how fast they arrived.  I have some people convoying to Panshir on Saturday and they'll take two of the boxes with them.  The other two will go to Jalalabad.  I appreciate the support. 

"The pens and paper will go to the Provisional Reconstruction Teams.  The teams work directly with local tribal leaders to build communities through construction of community building, infrastructure, etc.  They undertake humanitarian assistance missions to build trust and enhance security in their regions.  The supplies you sent will go directly to these teams for distribution. 

"Again, thank you for keeping the troops in mind.  Having the support of people back home makes all the difference.

~ Marc"       

   Look at the face of this little girl in the picture above. She is about to be handed her own little stuffed animal. Do you suppose she has any possessions other than her clothes? Do you suppose that these children will remember the kindness from the soldiers that gave them these simple items?

    These children are from a village in Afghanistan that our troops are deployed near. They lack simple possessions that our kids will probably never go without. How many of us go to a “junk” drawer at home and grab a pencil or pen from our collections? How many pads of paper do we have so we can find just the right size sheet of paper, or the one with the funny little pictures or quotes on them? How many pads of paper do you have that are almost used up, that have been sitting in the bottom of the drawer for the last year or two?

     Can we make a place in our hearts to give something as simple as a few pens and / or pads of paper to give to these kids so they can learn to write and take some notes in school?

     If you bring some pens and or tablets of paper to our club dances, I will make sure they get sent to the soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. They will in turn give them to the children.

     The children, and their parents, will be grateful and gain respect and trust for our soldiers by our generosity. That respect and trust will in turn help protect our soldiers from the enemy as these Afghan people “Pay Back” from our “Pay Forward” efforts.

     After giving a donation to me this weekend, Vickie and Dave asked me what more can they do. I told them to just keep talking about this and hand out these addresses. Talking about it is just as important as sending a package. Keep our soldiers and these children in your minds when you talk with someone new. It’s a great feeling to know that you can help. Thanks for your continued support and KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT!

Making a Difference?

      According some of our sources, some of these guys never get mail! Joe Weimer expressed a heart-felt thank you (and this guy has a BIG heart, so it's a big thank you) "to all of you who have taken the time to send ANY member of the military a card / letter / care package. I sure all of us know what it's like to get something from home. It gives you that "I feel WANTED" feeling. It makes the sender feel good about doing it also. Thanks for anything you folks do for those men and women over there."

      We know that Stovebolter’s have BIG hearts. Just ask Joe Jr. Let the rest of our service members know that Stovebolters are backing them up and really care. It really feels good, too.

     Rick Lewis reported "When I was over there, my wife sent me some powdered drink supplement that is called Emer-gen-c. It is full of vitamins and they call it an energy booster. It will help replace electrolytes in the system when it gets hot and they get dehydrated. The PX often runs out of the basic things like toothpaste and soap. The baby wipes are a necessity. Paperback books get read, re-read, passed around and read some more."

     One final thought, our mission is about showing our troops we support and appreciate what they are doing on our behalf. Be sure to include a letter. Try to get your kids or family involved. You may be flying a flag on your front porch, or have a yellow ribbon tied around the big oak in your front yard. That's great ... and the neighbors here can see that, but not our troops! A letter, along with a few neat things, will let our troops know that we are thinking about them. Be creative ... it doesn't have to cost much. And the more of YOU that goes in the package / letter, is what they need to see!

     You can proudly say…. ”I support our troops, and I try to show it.”



     Builder told us that he started "posting messages on several car and truck forum sites that I like to hang out on. The amount of pledges generated from just talking about it are already over 100 packages (and those are just the ones I know about).

     The posts are mostly asking for car / truck and motorcycle magazines. Several of the members of the forums belonged to car clubs and they decided to pony up their old magazines, pens, pencils and paper to send out. One group from New York sent over 35 boxes of magazines in less than three months! One member was grateful to have a place to send his old magazines and well as those of his wife! A local car dealer also sent magazines.

     And the reaction was great! Marc reported when the initial two boxes came in. "I am sure there will be more. The latest came from Alec Story from Brimfield, IL.  We have a lot of Corvette magazines and Hot Rods, and even some classic 1980’s magazines that these guys are saying 'I wasn’t even born yet.'  'Man that’s ancient … do you remember 1980 Chaps?' "



Operation Stovebolt

From Lt. Col. Marc Piccolo:

           "I want to give you an update on Operation Stovebolt. Over the past two weeks, I've received about a box of magazines a day, sometimes two or three. They come from all parts of the U.S., from Maine to Florida, California, Ohio, Colorado, and on and on. I distribute the magazines right away and the troops are very happy to have them. They get snatched up immediately at the passenger terminal (distribution point for all military members arriving and departing Afghanistan) and at the USO. I sent a bunch to Kabul and some of them went to other small forward bases.

           "Please pass on my gratitude to the Stovebolters, the members of your Corvette group, and others who have been exceptionally generous in sharing their old magazines. By the time I get done looking at some of the Corvette magazines, I may be convinced that I "need" one of those too! Rest assured that each and every magazine finds new life here, and will be read time and time again by the troops throughout Afghanistan.

           "To those who sent pens, notebooks, toys, and other items for the Afghan children, I am deeply grateful. These items go a long way toward helping us win the trust of the local populations, which, as you know, is critical to the overall success of the mission.

           "One of the boxes (from Rich T up in the Northeast) contained some cigars. Those were a big hit!

From LT Bob Burns (CHC) USN:

      "I have been sending thank you notes to the people who have sent me stuff. It has not been regular though. Sometimes I would get almost 100 boxes in the mail at the same time and many of the boxes were subsequently sent off to the FOBs or picked up by Marines before I could take the info off them. Chaplain Burns, center, a long-time friend of, shares a Stovebolt Stogie with two of his Marines.Those were mostly from church groups so the addresses were all the same. But I am sure they may have been a Stovebolter in there, and I feel sorry for missing somebody who sent something to us. It was not too difficult to do this, just sometimes overwhelming.

       "The cigars were a great hit as well.  I still have four more to pass out. Several boxes arrived from different people. Everybody ranted and raved about them.(Editor's Note: At least two boxes came via our own official Stovebolt cigar meister, Steve Rugg. In the photo, Bob and the two Marines are enjoying Punch Rothchilds from Steve.)

      "On behalf of all the Marines and sailors of 2nd Battalion 8th Marines, I thank you for your support in sending your love in care packages and magazines. The men have truly enjoyed all your kindness. Your magazines have gotten them through the many endless ours of waiting, inherent in our current operation. 

      "May God bless you all seven fold in the kindness you have shown us all!" 

           "I wish I could write to each person to say "thanks" for taking the time to send the packages here. I want to let everyone know how much it means for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines to know they have the support of the people back home. That support, in whatever form it comes, is truly priceless.

           "I'd like to give a special note of appreciation to Steve VandenBerg for taking the time to rally the Stovebolt and Corvette lovers to send us their old magazines. You've boosted the morale of a great many people here. Well done.

           "If I'm really lucky, I might be able to make the trip in my '50 1/2-ton, but that would be a minor miracle."


From Capt. Aaron “Cletus" McGrew, U.S. Marine Corps
2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment “America’s Battalion”

           "I am writing to you from Ramadi, Iraq with thanksgiving in my heart for all the magazines that you all have sent to us. Robert and I were smoking the Punch cigars recently during one of our regular Sunday afternoon chats.

           "I walked into his office yesterday and saw a box that said Stovebolt on the side of it. I immediately asked him where the boxes came from and he commenced to explain to me about the Stovebolt web site and the trucks! I was blown away!

           "I have a 1949 Chevy 3/4-ton that my Dad bought for me when I was in the 10th grade! I found your web site two years ago when I was looking for some advice on brakes and how to make them better. A small world to say the least!

           "Your web site is like a gold to me because I can go there and ask questions, read the forums and usually get my questions answered. I have not posted my truck in the Gallery yet. I plan to put on the story behind it when I get back to CONUS. My Dad will “babysit” the truck while I move to California this summer. Then maybe out there, I'll start on a frame up restoration, wife’s permission pending! I thank you again for your web page, the magazines and your prayers,

"Semper Fi,


Update October 2009

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