Girl scouts meet adopted soldiers

Thursday, March 17, 2011
Girl Scout Emily Eltz and Cpt. Julie Hurst pose for a snapshot during the Saturday, March 5 meeting between Girl Scout Troop No. 1007 and the 932nd Forward Surgical Team at Monical's Pizza in Avon. The soldiers presented each Girl Scout with a coin, a patch that they designed, and a flag that was flown in honor of girl scout troop at the Tikrit, Iraq base on December 7th, 2009 for their donations and support.

Since 2009, the Bainbridge Girl Scout Troop 1007 has been in contact with 932nd Forward Surgical Team, sending them packages while the men and women served in Iraq. Since the team was transferred to the reserves and returned home, the troop members have stayed in contact with the 15 soldiers of the team.

On Saturday, March 6, the troop finally met their adopted soldiers at the Monical's Pizzeria in Avon, and they couldn't have been happier.

"Her mom said she didn't sleep," said LTC Joan Ruttle-King of Chloe Darrett, the girl scout that wrote to Ruttle-King while the troop was on duty.

Girl Scout Troop No. 1007 and the members of the 932nd Forward Surgical Team pose for a group picture during their pizza party meeting at Monical's in Avon on Saturday, March 5.

The girls and soldiers enjoyed pizza, music and an enlightening experience as the two groups shared their stories and lives with each other in a way that writing letters couldn't capture.

"I can't really describe it," said Chevelle Tallman, 11, girl scout. "It was a blast. We had lots of fun."

When the soldiers were in Iraq, the girls held fundraisers that led to care package deliveries, and the girls in the troop wrote to the soldiers about once a month. The soldiers also sent gifts back a few times, sending the girls their mascot, Sam, a stuffed camel. Sam also appeared at the pizza party.

"It made them feel like they had a piece of home with them," Nicole Jarobe, troop leader.

Jarobe became involved with the group after learning her friend was assigned to the platoon. She got the names and numbers of the group's members and had her girls pick which soldier to write to.

Jarobe said the girls, her daughter Mariah among them, were incredibly happy to meet the soldiers, though they were intimidated at first. The soldiers still run practices and drills once a month, and were still in their uniforms when they attended the party. But when the girls saw the nametags on the soldiers' uniforms, they were able to recognize them.

"All of a sudden, it was really cool and they were so excited to see them," Jarobe said.

The girl scouts' gifts helped make the soldiers tour of duty in Iraq much more enjoyable, Ruttle-King said. A memorable example of this came during Christmas of 2009, when the girls sent seven boxes of different items to the troops in Iraq. The soldiers had so many items, they shared them with others who did not have much during that Christmas.

"It certainly is uplifting," Ruttle-King said. "It reminds you why you're out there."

The two groups are planning on a picnic lunch in the summer with no clear date set yet. But the fact that the girls and soldiers continue to communicate and share letters, even while at home, is a testament to the bond they built together.

"They're a good group," Ruttle-King said. "They should be recognized for all they do for the community."

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