By Jason Follett, Faithful Navigator - Father Paul F. Hans Assembly 3265
The United States along with its allies have been fighting a Global War on Terrorism to eliminate al-Qaeda and other militant organizations since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. This international military campaign, now known as the Overseas Contingency Operation, has resulted in deployments by the National Guard and Reserve components of the United States Armed Forces at levels not seen since World War II.
To support these Service members and their families, the Department of Defense implemented the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP). Since 28 January 2008, more than 1.1 million National Guard and Reserve Service members and their families have benefited from the deployment cycle information, resources, programs, services, and referrals offered by YRRP.
Unfortunately, current Department of Defense budget challenges meant attendees to the 17 May 2014 YRRP for the Iowa National Guard’s Detachment 34 OSACOM aviation unit would not be provided with a free luncheon meal. Yet this decision did not deter SFC Sarah Latham, the Detachment NCOIC, as she had an ace up her sleeve.
Detachment 34 OSACOM shares space with Exec 1 Aviation, the Fixed Based Operator designated by Polk County Aviation Authority for Ankeny Regional Airport. SFC Latham knew that Exec 1 Aviation’s Adam Keller, a Knight of Columbus at Saint Francis of Assisi Council 12422 in West Des Moines, was responsible for Council 12422 fish fries and other food activities. SFC Latham shared with Keller the situation and wondered if he could organize a meal but Keller had a better avenue. Keller reached out to Father Paul F. Hans Assembly 3265, which serves Northern Polk County, who jumped at the opportunity.
With just one month to prepare, Assembly 3265 immediately reached out to its Sir Knights, area Councils, and local businesses for support. Sir Knight Mike Tjarks of Ankeny donated 25 pounds of pulled pork. Ankeny Hy-Vee #1 and #2 supplied all of the bottled water, chips, salads, and buns needed. Msgr. Luigi Ligutti Council 12130 in Granger and All Saints Council 10282 in Des Moines provided financial donations.
On 17 May 2014, seven Assembly 3265 Sir Knights were joined by District Deputy Tony Slack in serving the Soldiers and families of Detachment 34 OSACOM and the YRRP presenters.
As Detachment 34 OSACOM deploys, an invitation has been extended to continue to support these families through activities Assembly 3265 and its Councils host.