All he asked of a Web-based mattress company was to send mats so he and his fellow GIs wouldn't have to sleep on the cold, bug-invested ground of one of the harshest posts in Iraq.
What he got, instead, was an insult, a slur aimed at every American soldier enduring the hardships of duty.
"I was appalled at the response," Sgt. Jason Hess told FOX News in an email received Tuesday afternoon from Iraq a day after his story was told. "A simple response would have been, I'm sorry but we do not ship overseas."
Hess, part of the 1st Cavalry Divison, is stationed in Taji, a former Republican Guard stronghold, and one of the toughest outposts in Iraq.
Last week, Hess emailed Discount-Mats.com to ask if he could purchase mats so he and his unit did not have to endure the constant assault from sand mites, sand flies and other disease carriers that inhabit the ground.
In his email, dated Jan. 16, 2007, he asked the company, registered to Faisal Khetani, an American Muslim of Pakistani descent:
"Do you ship to APO (military) addresses? I'm in the 1st Cavalry Division stationed in Iraq and we are trying to order some mats but we are looking for ships to APO first."
On the same day, Hess received this reply:
We do not ship to APO addresses, and even if we did, we would NEVER ship to Iraq. If you were sensible, you and your troops would pull out of Iraq.
Discount-Mats.com is run out of Khetani's home in West Allis, Wis. In a telephone interview Tuesday with FOX News, Khetani said he had fired the employee who sent the email, a claim that FOX News has not been able to confirm. He also said he has received thousands of phone calls to his home and business from people protesting the email exchange.
Hess said that he has since found two mat suppliers who shipped to an APO address in Iraq.
Meanwhile, FOX News has received thousands of emails asking how to donate mats and other items to U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
Rob Timmons, an Iraq veteran and a veteran outreach coordinator, recommended the following Web sites:
FOX News' Douglas Kennedy contributed to this story.