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3rd ID deploying with toy trucks, crayons
0923 toys
Members of the Society for American Military Engineers collected hundreds of pounds of toys, school supplies and gifts to send with 3rd ID members when they deploy in the upcoming months. Soldiers will distribute the toys to impoverished Iraqi students. - photo by Photo provided.
Col. Edward Kertis, commander of the Savannah district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was preparing to send more than 200 pounds of toys and school supplies to his son, an infantry officer with the 25th infantry division serving in Iraq.
The younger soldier planned to then distribute them to impoverished Iraqi children in the area.
Then, the colonel got some news. But it was good news — his son is coming home.  
Kertis said while he was overjoyed about his son’s return, he now had a mound of toys with a specific destination, but no one to receive and distribute them. The partnership had been supplying Iraqi children with toys for about a year and Kertis said he didn’t want to see it end now.
Luckily his neighbor, Brig. Gen. Thomas Vandal, 3rd ID deputy commander, who is preparing to go deploy to Iraq, agreed to help.
So after months of collecting the items, the Society for American Military Engineers’ efforts are still going to pay off. But, Kertis said, the children are the ones who will benefit.
“Iraq is a fairly developed country by most worldly standards, but the amount of poverty is still immense and so out in the country a lot of the kids still want for pens and papers and that kind of stuff,” Kertis said.
Lt. Col. Michael Brophy, who will deploy with the 3rd ID later this year, was at the Pirate’s House in Savannah on Monday morning to accept the gifts from the members of SAME on behalf of the 3rd ID.
“It gives us an opportunity to show a different side of the American Army and America itself,” Brophy said, who added that he loves the opportunity to lift the children’s spirits.
Kertis said he’s glad to have found someone to take over the responsibility because so many people donated.
“He’s [Vandal] got truckloads and truckloads of this stuff,” Kertis said.
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