Herald JournalHerald Journal, Dec. 27, 2004

Montrose father, son deliver supplies in person to soldiers

By Liz Hellmann
Correspondent

Thousands of American troops in Iraq are probably wearing goggles, gloves or other items courtesy of two men from Montrose.

Wayne “Moon” Johnson and his son Cory are volunteers doing the dangerous task of rounding up and personally delivering military equipment to more than 100,000 American soldiers in Iraq.

The Johnsons spent six months in the Mideast this past spring as part of a program developed to supply soldiers in combat zones.

“We were independent contractors, hired to go over, to give troops equipment,” Johnson said.

MPRI (Military Personnel Resources, Inc.), a company based in Virginia, and formed by retired senior military officials, is devoted to security issues around the world.

The company started dispensing materials in Kuwait, but when the operation moved into the war zone in Iraq, it needed more people who were willing to put themselves in harm’s way.

Johnson and his son initially heard about this opportunity from Johnson’s brother in-law, when he called letting them know he was going over to help in Iraq.

Cory, 19, wanted to know more about the operation, so they wrote down the information from Johnson’s brother-in-law.

“My wife and I prayed about it, and decided to do it,” Johnson said.

Johnson left for Iraq March 29, and was supposed to stay until June. He was stationed in Baghdad and then Valad, running warehouses designed to distribute equipment to troops.

The program was so successful that the contract was extended until August, and as a result 30,000 more troops received aid.

“It was just a blessing to work with our military,” Johnson said.

Johnson, along with 80 other volunteers, supplied troops at Camp Victory in Baghdad with 14 to 15 different items, including new combat helmets, boots, T-shirts, socks, goggles, protective eye wear, new winter and summer gloves, and other essentials.

Airplane loads came into Kuwait and then flew into Baghdad to be unloaded and distributed through the warehouse Johnson ran. One thousand soldiers were serviced per day in Baghdad.

During the following three months, Johnson and volunteers performed the same tasks, only this time serving 35,000 troops at Camp Anaconda in Valad. All total, 85,000 troops received supplies.

Cory did his part by running convoy missions and flying helicopters.

“He was all over the country of Iraq,” Johnson said. Cory traveled to camps and issued equipment to them where they were at.

“It was a rewarding experience. It’s been a blessing in my life,” Johnson said. “If they asked me to go again, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

Most recently, the Johnsons traveled to the US bringing aid to different forts and camps.

This assignment sent them to Fort Riley, Kansas. The program has already served close to 100,000 troops, but there are 700,000 in need.

Johnson learned from his experienced in Iraq, and believes it has changed him for the better.

“Everyone has mixed feelings about the war, and I did too, before I went over there,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot more good stuff than bad, all you hear over here is the bad stuff.”

Johnson is an example of one man making a difference, but it is the troops in Iraq that he considers to be the real heroes.

He understands not everyone can bring aid right to the troops, but urges people to help out in any way they can.

“People just need to pray for our troops,” Johnson said. “It’s such a sacrifice for those troops being away from their families, especially this time of year.”


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