Since World War II, Marines in the field have looked forward to packages from home containing what the military formally calls “any non-issued food or drink item.” In other words, junk food. The term bandied about by Marines for decades has been “pogey bait.” As in, “I hope Mom sends me some pogey bait. I’m getting really tired of these MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).”
Last month in this space, we wrote about Performance Machine’s second-quarter community service project, which was to gather up mostly nutritious — but always delicious — foodstuff for a 14-member Shock Trauma Platoon of U.S. Marines in Afghanistan (read: PM Starts a Goodie Bag for Its Adopted Marine Platoon). Our employees really get involved in these quarterly philanthropic projects, and the Adopt-a-platoon Soldier Support Effort proved to be no different.
PM’s adopted platoon provides advanced trauma care to wounded and injured Marines, soldiers, coalition forces and local Afghans. These Marines and sailors live in tents and have access to running, non-potable water and power, but they don’t have a mess hall. Just a couple of microwave ovens and electric grills under a tent. Mostly it’s packaged meals and, of course, MREs. And no matter how you package it, there’s not a lot of “yum factor” in an MRE.
So our team went into action and within weeks we had collected hundreds and hundreds of food items, including squeeze cheese, energy drinks, Ramen noodles, chips and salsa, granola, protein bars and candy bars. Pretty much anything that resembled a “non-issued food or drink item.” In other words, pogey bait.
The packages were shipped off and now the emails from overseas are starting to arrive. Sara Burleson is our HR manager and the go-to person for PM’s charitable events. Below are four of these emails that Sara received, along with more photos of the platoon members in action. Of course we’re grateful for these messages, but we thought you – our customers – might enjoy getting a glimpse at what our service men and women are continually and selflessly doing overseas. Enjoy the read!
Letter No. I
Greetings from Forward Operating Base Jackson/Sabit Qadam (That’s our old name and our new name)!
First off — thank you for your packages!!! It means a lot to us to receive things from home and knowing that people are thinking about us and keeping us in their thoughts and prayers.
We received only one of the packages you mentioned in the letter, but the mail system here is interesting. Often times packages sent at the same time will show up weeks apart. I like to think of it as a river, with eddies that suck in packages until they get spit out.
As you probably know, I’m Eric Sergienko. I am an active-duty Navy Commander and an emergency physician. I’m the assistant officer in charge of the Shock Trauma Platoon (STP) located in Sangin District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The STP provides advance trauma resuscitation to injured Marines, sailors, other Coalition Forces (including the Afghan National Army and Police), local nationals, and even the insurgents.
We stop bleeding, manage the airway, give blood and package the patient for the next stop. Typically a seriously injured patient will be with us for 20 minutes to an hour while a helo is en route to Medivac the patient to Bastion — the regional military hospital — or a Forward Resuscitation Surgical System (FRSS). Our trauma platoon is currently the busiest in the province. We have Navy doctors, nurses and corpsmen to do medical stuff, and Marine electricians and motor transport operators who provide support and security.
Our forward operating base (FOB) is about eight-tenths of a mile in circumference. The primary force here is the First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment (1/5) and we have a co-located Afghan National Army unit and an Afghan National Police unit.
On the FOB we have a small chow hall that serves “tray rats” (pre-packaged heat and serve meals) for breakfast and dinner and MREs for lunch. Lately, our logistics have improved and we have some fresh food and other items, but the things you send add a lot! We also have showers and heads and a laundry facility that were installed after we got here. We have access to the Internet, but sometimes it is interrupted by operational activities. We share our medical and berthing spaces with the 1/5 Battalion Aid Station (BAS) team.
When we got here in February, the weather was cold and rainy, but now it’s summer and we have daily temps above 110F.
Our daily routine — isn’t. Most of us exercise in the morning before it gets hot, then we muster at about 0800 and check to see that the equipment and supplies are ready to go. Then we do other things until patients start arriving. In the afternoon, we will make dinner on our “patio,” which is really just a sheltered area between our BAS and our berthing. We have cobbled together a grill and a couple of gas burners, and we make things like spaghetti or grilled chicken (we get the chicken off the local economy). At night, if things are quiet, we can take in a movie or catch up on reading. And that’s about it!
Thanks again for being part of Adopt-a-platoon, we really appreciate it.
Please let me know if you have any questions you have or any thing we can let you know about.
Letter No. II
My name is Chris Carson. I’m 25 years old and I am one of the sailors of the platoon you adopted out here in Afghanistan. When Dr. Sergienko told us that you guys sponsored us, it was awesome. We all appreciate everything you have sent to us. It really makes life out here in Afghanistan that much better. Brings a nice little piece of “home” to those of us in the field.
Once again, I want to thank you for all the packages that you have sent, and all the support you have shown us.
Letter No. III
Dear Performance Machine,
You and your team have been amazing! Thanks so much for the care packages. Here are some pictures. Let me know if they don’t show up. All of us are in awe of your generosity.
CDR Mark R. Duncan
Officer in Charge
Shock Trauma Platoon
FOB Sabit QaDam
Letter No. IV
My name is Chad Mcfall and I am currently deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan. I want to thank you for the things that you have sent us. I don’t know if we could ever thank you enough for what you guys have done. It’s always a welcome sight to receive things from people who still support the troops who are deployed. I would like to see if you wanted to send some of your companies T-shirts out here and we could take pictures with them on. I am a big supporter of your company and have several of your products on my bike.
Again please thank everyone involved with supporting us
Senior Medical Department Representative
1st Battalion 5th Marines
Battalion Aid Station