, Salem, MA

March 21, 2013

Our view: On Iraq anniversary, continued appreciation of Operation Troop Support

The Salem News

---- — The continued hard work and dedication of Dick and Christine Moody is nothing short of astounding.

The Moodys are the driving force behind Operation Troop Support, a shoestring operation that began in the couple’s Trinity Street home in Danvers after the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003. Over the course of the last decade, it has let tens of thousands of soldiers serving overseas know their sacrifice has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.

Over the past 10 years, the group has mailed 79,000 weekly care packages and 146,000 holiday packages to American servicemen and servicewomen.

While the packages contain small items — socks, movies, fleece blankets, gum, puzzles, personal hygiene products — they have an outsized effect on the soldiers and sailors receiving them in places ranging from Iraq and Afghanistan to South Korea and Qatar.

Service is in the family blood. Daughter Christina-Marie Pennington was an Air Force combat medic. Son Scott, a senior master sergeant, has served three overseas tours with the Air Force. Dick Moody is a retired Air Force colonel who served in Vietnam and Desert Storm, and he knows of the loneliness, isolation and uncertainty that come with the job, for soldiers and family members alike.

“It’s one thing when you go overseas and you fight in a war, and you are in harm’s way and your loved ones are at home,” Moody told reporter Ethan Forman. “But this troop support brought us into a realization that we are sitting at home and our daughter and our son are in the war zone. I would tell you, any day of the week, I would much rather be in the war zone than sitting back here. This is terrible, because you don’t know what to expect.”

Operation Troop Support has done more than brighten the daily lives of soldiers overseas. It has united residents of Danvers and the North Shore in service of a larger mission. Every Saturday, for example, you can find retired town Patrolman Jim George in Danvers Square, collecting donations to cover postage, which can cost as much as $2,000 a week. Over on Brookwood Lane, Stephen and Ellen Godzik have been known to turn over a large section of their home as a place to sort items for holiday wrapping sessions. Supplies and funds are donated by businesses, churches and people who want to contribute. This Saturday at 6:30 p.m., there will be a fundraising anniversary dinner for the group at Angelica’s Restaurant in Middleton.

Ten years on, the Moodys’ dedication hasn’t waned. They still get letters from soldiers saying thank you or asking for help.

“When we get a letter that says ‘Can you help me?’ we just don’t feel like stopping,” Dick Moody said. “Somebody needs what we are doing.”

A decade later, they continue to set an example for us all.