Operation Support Our Troops.
Operation Support Our Troops (OSOT) came to be from a telephone call from SPC Scott Sheaffer to his mother, Sheryl, in January of 2003. He asked "Mom, where are you guys? All we're seeing are the antis!" That was all it took to get Mom and Grandma moving!
You see, during the Gulf War in 1991, Sheryl (Gulit) Sheaffer and Nadine Gulit were active in Operation Home Front - a "Support our Troops" grassroots effort. Sheryl's sons Scott and Adam were 9 and 7 years old at the time and participated in all of the rallies and activities. Scott had remembered how good it felt to be involved as a 9-year-old showing support for our Troops and now was asking for that same support as a Soldier. At the time of the Gulf War, we never dreamed that Sheryl's sons would be involved serving our country 13 years later in the same sandbox! SGT Scott Sheaffer is a combat engineer with the 10th Mountain Division, Ft. Drum, NY; PFC Adam Sheaffer is a medic with the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Ft. Wainwright, Fairbanks, AK and PFC Dylan Sheaffer is also a combat engineer with the 10th Mountain Division, Ft. Drum, NY.
OSOT (as it came to be) rallied for the first time on January 18, 2003. It was cold that day - all of us remember shivering in the cold but were determined to let our Troops know we were there for them. We had all been listening to KVI Talk Radio 570 earlier in the week and heard a call to rally at Camp Murray in support of our Troops. We gathered at Camp Murray - none of us knowing each other - but all desiring to show our Troops before they were deployed how much they were loved and supported. We waved our flags, held our signs of support and shouted "Thank you" to the Soldiers we saw! This was the image we wanted our Troops to remember as they were deployed - American flags flying high and fellow citizens expressing their support. We started with about 25 people at that rally and grew to 8,000 people participating in a rally in November 2003 to send our 81st Armored Brigade off in style! We were there when our Stryker Brigades from Ft. Lewis were deployed and when the USS Abraham Lincoln came home. We will continue to be there for our Troops until they all return home!
When we decided that rallies just weren't enough for our Troops, we started Operation Holidays from Home in September 2003 to send a little slice of home to our Troops deployed overseas. Christmas that year was a huge success - sending 1,700 troops a complete Christmas with 300 volunteers packing boxes full of goodies, including a Christmas tree with all the trimmings. In 2004, we sent Holiday packages for Valentine's Day, Hero to Hero (First Anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom), Easter, 4th of July and Christmas. For Christmas this year, we adopted 7,500 Troops deployed overseas!
Nadine Guilt, Sheryl (Gulit) Sheaffer and Dale Gould (Nadine's Brother-in-Law and Sheryl's Uncle) were the initial organizers of OSOT and Terry Harder joined the core team shortly thereafter. We have since been joined on the core team by Bill and Norma Anderson, Lee and Claudette Sexton, Blaine and Diane Anderson, Gail and Ladd Wilmoth, Donna Watts, Pat Behymer, Jeff Gunno, Michelle McKee and Shelly Nagel-Weber.
But as I have become notorious for saying, "You can't have a party if no one comes!" Operation Support Our Troops wouldn't be what it is today without every one of us who has given time, talent and finances to this incredible organization - it takes all of us little parts to make the big picture! OSOT has become a very close community of family and friends! And I thank all of you for that!
Sheryl (Gulit) Sheaf