'Operation Guardian Angel' for Iraqi chidren

November 25, 2008 4:56:21 PM PST
An Army unit of the Illinois National Guard has returned from Iraq. However, during their time overseas, they voluntarily took on some additional duties and handed out gifts to Iraqi school children.

Command Sgt. Major Ricardo Medina, Chief Warrant Officer Ronald Archibald and Captain Benjamin Wehmeier have been home a little over a week from their tour of duty in Iraq, but they say they were struck by the poverty they observed in the villages.

"Many of the schools had been destroyed, and what they needed were school supplies," Medina told ABC7 Chicago.

"As we went on our missions, we went into villages and saw a lot of kids out there with hardly anything," said Archibald.

The three members of the 108th Sustainment Brigade created Operation Guardian Angel. Their families back home went to work soliciting supplies and donations from everyone. Some $8,000-worth of school supplies, clothes and toys were distributed to the children in Iraq.

"We actually help pay for the postage. And so, [it was] a great effort and [it]put together families and friends," said Medina.

"I feel great. Kids were just happy. Teachers were happy. It was unbelievable to see their faces," Capt. Benjamin Wehmeir said.

" They're so innocent. There's a lot going on that's bad over there. That is why we wanted to do this," said Archibald.

The men said nonprofit organizations, businesses, churches and local schools in Ill. all helped in the Guardian Angel effort.


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