U.S. Troops in Iraq Receive Gift of Water for Christmas
Camelbak Hydration Systems Being Shipped to Baghdad
An anonymous New York donor and the California inventor of the world's leading hands-free hydration system have teamed up for the holidays to give 1,500 U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq this Christmas a critical piece of gear they've been writing home about for months.
The gift was prompted by a New York Times story in July on American soldiers fighting in the Iraqi desert heat, equipped only with old-fashioned canteens to battle dehydration. The article featured CamelBak systems, a hydration-on-the-move water backpack system that is standard issue for Special Forces and some other elite military personnel, but not for everyone. Most troops wanting to replace antiquated canteens with the water backpack systems must buy them with their own money.
The donor contacted the Petaluma, California-based CamelBak with an offer to help.
"Our donor told us that when he read that article he thought, 'Well heck, I can buy some of those, and send them to the troops,' and that was all there was to it, an act of simple generosity," recalled Chuck Hunter, vice president of CamelBak Product's military and industrial unit and a former Navy pilot himself. "We were so taken by his generosity that we wanted to contribute and do our part for the holidays, as well."
The offer helps address the many requests the company receives from military personnel who have not been issued a CamelBak hydration system . In a letter the company received in September an Army Sergeant wrote: "I just got back from Operation Enduring Freedom and I was not issued one (a CamelBak hydration system) because of a shortage of supplies. I am going to Iraq in December and don't want to be in the same predicament. Is there anything you can do for me?"
In another letter from June, the wife of an "Active Army enlisted soldier" out of Fort Irwin, California, wrote: "Our installation is responsible for desert training. The CamelBak is VERY IMPORTANT, as the temperatures are normally in the 100s during summer rotations. I am very upset to find out that one of our close friends ... is deployed to Baghdad without a CamelBak. He is in charge of a nine-man Infantry squad. I am writing to you to see if there is any way your company could donate these much needed items to these soldiers who are fighting for our country."
With the offer in hand, CamelBak executives immediately went to work to find a way to get the donated CamelBak systems from the company's warehouse in San Diego to U.S. troops eight thousand miles away in Iraq. After some weeks of effort, they realized the best solution was right under their nose -- the always reliable U.S. Postal Service. CamelBak, used by the military since the early 1990s, then tapped its broad network of military contacts to arrange for delivery of the gifts directly to military personnel in time for Christmas.
In mid-December, CamelBak Products will begin shipping about $100,000 worth of hydration systems, designed in desert camouflage, to troops with the 101st Airborne Division and the 4th Infantry Division. Once in Baghdad, military transport will deliver the gifts, wrapped in plain brown boxes, to military personnel in the field.
CamelBak is matching the donor's generosity by contributing shipping costs, additional hydration systems and accessories. The 101st Airborne, based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and the 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas, will each receive half of the 1,500 hydration packs as presents.
CamelBak systems, first proven in combat in Desert Storm, are extremely popular with militaries worldwide because of better ergonomics for transport and delivery of water, as well as proven added hydration benefits they deliver to users. Multiple health studies have proven that hydration-on-the-move systems are not only more efficient, but more effective at keeping the body hydrated. CamelBak's proprietary technology and broad line of products enable users to remain better hydrated while on the move than they could with conventional water bottles and canteens.