I heard about it in a simple press release.
ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. — Elizabethtown College’s Center for Global Citizenship is collecting school supplies for children in the Iraqi villages of Zahko and Ibraham Kaleel. There is an immediate need for writing instruments and paper, but all supplies will be accepted, including pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers, colored pencils, markers, crayons, pens, chalk, notebooks, paper, construction paper and coloring books.
Student organizations rushed to put together boxes of material. It was exciting to see the students of a college with pacifist origins working with the U.S. military to supply the needs of Iraqi children.
Our contact in Iraq was SGM Donna Ring, 917th CSG, who was stationed at FOB Endurance. Last spring, she stopped briefly at the college to collect the supplies.
But I'm not telling you the whole story. This isn't the first time I've heard of SGM Ring. Her husband was my first boss. For the last few years, I have received constant emails from him about her activities with the 917th CSG, a vehicle-repair support unit sometimes called "The Triple-A of the Northwest."
SGM Ring was made a Redeployment NCO, which involved work with units going home and units transitioning into service in Iraq. But she didn't stop caring for the Iraqi people. As her husband Dan described in an email...
Many soldiers, including Donna, are trying their best to help the people in the towns that are in need. They contact people and organizations here who send over supplies and equipment to be taken to the towns and schools. There is a very old woman in one of the towns who's hands are so dry and cracked she can't move them. The soldiers have tried every kind of hand cream to help her and found that corn huskers works. So Donna asked if I could find some and send it to her. I sent her six bottles.
A few days ago, SGM Donna Ring received a Bronze Star Medal. Dan wrote me an email about it.
I would like to let all of you know that Donna will be receiving a very special award. Her unit has recommended her for the bronze star for the service she has performed while on active duty in Iraq. I can't begin to say how proud we are of her and look forward to seeing the medal pinned on her. Now all of you may know Donna is very modest and will most likely give me heck for telling everyone about this award. Ha. I feel she deserves some attention for the support she has given to her unit and the help she has given to the Iraqi people.
Then, the next day, I received one more email.
The flight went well for us and we made the ceremony on time in Kansas. It was so exciting to see the three bus loads of soldiers pull up. We are all waving flags and screaming and they are waving from their windows.
I ran to my wife's bus and met her at the doors and we jumped in each others arms. It was a feeling that is hard to describe, one I hope you enjoy someday also.
There was a military band playing and very old Vets who welcomed and shook their hands as they walked into the VFW for the event. I was so proud to see the COL. pin the Bronze Star on my wife, the soldiers yelled and clapped saying the SGM Ring was the best. How do you top that feeling?
Update, Oct 10: Dan described his wife's role in more detail in a further email:
They were a combat unit that supported the troops out in the combat zones, outside the wire so to speak. Donna's job was to help manage the command center that stayed in touch with the troops as they looked for insurgents and IED's and got the soldiers help or supplies as needed. As roadside bombs were found, IED's, they wold radio back for engineers to come and explode them. If there were injuries or attacks, help was sent. She would handle multiple tasks for long hours at a time helping the soldiers as they did their job. Also, all the supplies from Turkey she would arrange escorts for their safety to the base, sometimes as many as 80 to 100 trucks at a time. This was just part of the many things she did plus all the humanitarian missions for the children, school supplies, and medial supplies for the Iraqidoctor serving the 17 villagesaround their base.