The Catholic University of America

Feb. 7, 2007

Remembering Soldiers a Long Way from Home

CUA seniors in CUA's President's Society hold a folded American flag they received from the squadron of soldiers based in Kuwait whom they've "adopted" in a service project. Front and center is Elizabeth Hudson, who headed up the service project.

CUA senior Elizabeth Hudson knows what it means to have her dad far away from the family on military duty for long periods of time. Her father was, until his recent retirement, a Navy pilot of the P3 planes that track enemy submarines. When he was away from home, "I used to think about him constantly," she says.

That background led her to propose a service project for herself and the 19 other seniors with whom she serves three hours per week in the office of CUA's president, Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., as members of the university's President's Society. The project, which the other students decided to join in on, was to send weekly letters and care packages to the 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron, a group of 13 U.S. soldiers based in Kuwait and often operating in Iraq. The CUA students were matched up with that squadron in October 2006 by the Soldiers' Angels Foundation, which is based in Pasadena, Calif.

"Soldiers may be overseas but they can't be forgotten," says Hudson, an art major from Annapolis, Md. "I have sent packages to soldiers and sailors before, because so many of them do not receive anything or hear from their homes.

"Until we got the names of the men in the communications squadron, we wrote on the outside of each envelope we sent, 'To a hero.' "

A few days before Christmas, the soldiers of the 386th sent back their own "care package" while on a mission setting up phones and Internet connection for American troops in Camp Bucca, Iraq. The men of the squadron each sent typed letters to the CUA students, along with an American flag and a framed citation expressing their thanks.

One of the soldiers wrote in his letter, "This holiday season has not been the most fun for me but receiving letters and treats from you and your friends has made my time here feel a lot better. The love and support we receive from back home definitely helps me and the other guys get through the weeks."

Most of the 13 soldiers are married and wrote that they miss their wives and children. One of the men wrote, "I will be proposing to my girlfriend as soon as I get off the plane" when he returns home.

When the President's Society students first started writing to the soldiers, "I told them to make their letters personal, like diary entries," says Hudson. "I said, 'Tell them what you're up to, how your thesis is going, or how your roommate is being annoying.

"The letters we received back are very moving and they are the reason I feel this project is so cool," she says.

- R.W.

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Media contact(s):
· Chris Harrison, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,
· Katie Lee, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,