By Jen Bakken
DELANO, MN Stationed at a remote outpost near the Iraq-Syrian border, there are Marines who will be unable to come home for Christmas.
Instead, they will be living in wood huts with generated power and rationed water, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The soldiers were deployed to Al Asad Airbase over the summer, and will remain far from their families during the holidays.
One of these soldiers is Lance Corporal Andrew Schuelke, son of Ginny Schuelke. She has been a special education teacher at Delano Middle School for 13 years.
As a mother, Ginny wanted to send her son, as well as his unit, some Christmas cheer, and the Delano community rallied behind her to support this effort.
More than 30 Marines will be receiving Christmas stockings, hand- made by Delano Middle School students in Carol Johnson’s class, and stuffed full of much-needed items by students and staff from all three schools.
“The kindness and generosity of the Delano community has been overwhelming,” said Ginny Schuelke. “As a parent with a child serving, I am thankful for the support shown for our young men and women who are serving our country. I am also very thankful for the support of the local American Legion members; the shipping would not have been possible without them.”
Ginny and her husband, Richard Schuelke, live in Howard Lake. Their son, Andrew graduated from Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School in 2007.
Andrew completed US Marine Corps basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), San Diego, CA in October 2007. Following completion of Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) training in combat engineering in February 2008, he was stationed at Camp LeJeune, NC.
In May, he was attached to the Combat Logistics BattalionII, security company and in August his unit deployed to Al Asad Airbase.
He is currently stationed at Camp Korean Village, in the Al Anbar Province near the Iraq Syrian border.
Though these Marines cannot be home with their families for the holidays, they will receive some Christmas cheer from the Delano Community.