Operation Patriot Care Package

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 23, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST OF “HANNITY”: Welcome back to this “Hannity” holiday special. For past three years we brought you exclusively behind the scenes of Operation Patriot Care Package, an effort created by Michael and Monica Slee to raise awareness about the sacrifices that the military families make not just in the holidays but all year round.

Now, this year, they followed the 172nd brigade Blackhawks who are actually double deployed, meaning they are based in Germany and they have to leave their loved ones far from friends and family when they deploy to the war zone, in this case, Afghanistan.


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    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One year later, here we are. We're in Afghanistan. This should put a small and select group of individuals who have volunteering to serve their country. What we’re going to do is recognize those individuals who have earned either the combat badge, combat action badge and combat medical badge.

    Ten years of combat, 10 years. With a population of 312 million people in our country, 61,585 have earned the combat badge exam, 61,000 people that is it. For those of you who are getting your CIB today, there are 61,000 others in our entire country and entire military of over a million. You’re part of a small population that has volunteered to serve your country.

    CAPTAIN BRAD VANCE, "CHARLIE TANK" COMMANDER: Camp Tillman here, we're one of the closest control bases to the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Apparently, houses now the armor, more known as Charlie tanks. This is uniquely challenging based on the distance from everyone else, very elusive enemy and the terrain.

    FIRST LT. CHRISTIAN GEHRELS, "CHARLIE TANK" TASK FORCE: Camp Tillman is located about four kilometers off the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. We’re pretty much tasked with border interdiction, which means that we prevent infiltration in Afghanistan and basically insurgent activity.

    SPECIALIST CRUZ, "CHARLIE TANK" TASK FORCE: I’m always looking forward to talking to family, especially my wife. That is from rocket. Sometimes they land around here.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Receive incoming, rockets from up north. Normally there will be another one following that. Be ready.

    VANCE: A lot of guys have fun names for here, like rocket city.


    FIRST SERGEANT JOHN ORBE, 172ND INFANTRY BRIGADE: As you can see all of it coming in by air. We got water, food, ammo, this way. Grab our food and water and you bring everything into FOB from here.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That’s Pakistan over there. So, you know, we're pretty close, right on the border. Convoys have a hard time making it all the way out here without either getting hit up or stuck. And here it comes.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We’ve four to five 107 millimeter rockets shot at us by the Taliban that missed the FOB Tillman. It struck the areas around here, resulting in Afghan civilian casualties. The town we’re going out to a town is called Zengi, one of the three local towns. I have a pretty good relationship with the elders, with the people.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We brought the child into Tillman and we’re treating his wounds.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we do is go out and talk to the elders and to the people. Process some humanitarian items, blankets, foods, hand-crank radios.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One day, the U.S. will leave this country and you have ABP and ANA to keep you guys safe.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The kids here, they don't have anything. They get excited about everything. It makes me miss mine actually, pretty much. I can give something for my whole kids. And just seeing how he lights up when I give him things. See how they light up when we give him stuff. It definitely makes me happy.

    SGT. MICHAEL MCCAIN, 172ND INFANTRY BRIGADE: Being separated for the holidays is tough. This is my fifth Christmas deployed coming up here. It weighs on you because you see the pictures of the friends, family children back Germany and in the United States. They are there without you. But to receive gifts for the holiday, to get something from a stranger is an amazing experience for that soldier, especially for one who doesn't receive packages.


    HANNITY: The U.S. military understands its strength come from the families behind the war fighters. The army family is supported by the FRG, or the Family Readiness Groups. They are made up of spouses, children, parents, brothers and sisters of deployed soldiers. When we come back, we’re going to meet them and learn what they do at this time of year to support the loved ones who are serving this great country from home far away.


    HANNITY: Welcome back to this “Hannity” holiday special. We continue now with our exclusive look at Operation Patriot Care Package. Now the idea is to bring spouses and children together with a shared cause during the holidays as they band together with people experiencing the same pains of separation.


    CAPTAIN BRAD VANCE, 172ND INFANTRY BRIGADE: We’re in a very unique situation where we live in Germany. So being in Afghanistan we are technically double deployed. So you have spouses that are away from their family, primary family back in the United States, separated by a good distance.

    You have their husbands who are in Afghanistan so makes that it much harder. The good news is that this is one of the strongest FRGs I've never seen if not the best.

    KATIE VANCE, FAMILY READINESS GROUP LEADER: The FRG stands for Family Readiness Group. And its main goal is information dissemination. So we try to inform spouses that they are able to cope and deal with the Army life. Keeping them informed so that they can help themselves.

    CANDICE MCALHANEY, "CHARLIE TANK" FRG MEMBER: The FRG is the Family Readiness Group. It is a collaboration of all of the wives that are in a company. We pretty much are the glue that holds the families together when guys are gone.

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very important. It's important to know what they are fighting for. I think it’s very important.

    BRITNEY MCCAIN, "CHARLIE TANK" FRG MEMBER: A little box of love is what I like to call it.

    MCALHANEY: For people to recognize and do things for them out of their own pockets is amazing. So they are our angels, in fact, right now, because we do have the funds and the means that what we get paid isn't enough to do it for everybody.

    KATIE FRENCH, "CHARLIE TANK" FRG MEMBER: My husband has been in the military five years. We’ve been married about three-and-a-half and right now, I'm pregnant and due here about a month after Christmas with our first child.

    Sonograms from my last appointment, yes, sonograms for him and a note so I'm putting that. He says that is the best thing I can send is the sonograms. He gets so excited.

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just had Lillian in August 23. Brad wasn't able to come home. He’ll be home hopefully beginning of the next year and meet her for the first time. We're excited to meet daddy, right, Lilly?

    VANCE: Unfortunately with the situation on the ground here, we just arrived in country and assume the mission. I wasn't able to make it home for the crew. My wife’s a very impressive woman, should to be able to watch me go away for the third time now. For this one to have a child and to raise it on your own is just, she’s a spectacular woman.

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They missed a lot of things. An Army family, especially being in Europe, he loves his daddy and misses him. That’s the hardest part is being two parents, being the mommy and a daddy.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How’s everybody doing? All right, here today to receive a couple of care packages. We have ones that are packed by our FRG back in -- they were packed especially for you so it's a bi-name box.

    We're talking here today about the stuff and people say America has kind of forgotten about the war, right. It's been going on for more than 10 years now. Well, for most people it's not true.

    Because you have complete strangers and you have companies like tactical and, of course, Mr. Chuck Norris and Soldiers Angels take time out of their day, out of their own pocket to send you a care package.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We endorse Chuck.


    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. It's tough.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chuck Norris.

    ASHLEIGH LUCHENBACK, "CHARLIE TANK" FRG MEMBER: He loves being able to open up a box and see the favorite things in there and knows that he has a little piece of home. And that's important to me that he has home. He knows that we're still here. We're still supporting him.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sergeant Michael McCain, I think you get a personalized video from your wife as well.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chuck Norris, his favorite cut of meat is the round house.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love to hang up his pictures, to let me know how big he’s getting, even though I'm not there. You can tell just by how he does stuff.

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, babe. I want to tell you I love you and I can't wait for you to come home. We miss you so much. Love you. Bye, babe.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That’s my pretty much my main motivation. Making sure I come back and especially make sure my guys come back.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wish you were home.

    UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: It's not a Christmas without you, dad. I hope you like this Christmas card drawn for you. I love you, dad, so much. This will be the card for you, dad. Merry Christmas, dad.

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Kevin. We love you, we miss you. We hope you have a Merry Christmas. We love you. We love you, Kevin.

    UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Love you, daddy.

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can't wait to see you when you come home. Everybody blow daddy kisses.

    SGT. KEVIN GETTEYS, "CHARLIE TANK" TASK FORCE 2-28: Yes. Sometime it's tough. I wish I was there, but I'm here. But, I’m here that's what I do.

    VANCE: It means a lot to soldier to the here close to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, isolated from the rest of the brigade and, of course, being deployed far from family. Just to receive a package like that, just to know that someone in the United States is thinking about them.



    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- manpower right there. Thanks for being heroes for us. We love you guys. Support from home. I like to say hi to my mom and my dad and the rest of my family and especially my daughter, Victoria.

    SGT ROBART, 172ND INFANTRY BRIGADE: Awesome. Sonograms of our kid. Pulling for a boy, hopefully it's a boy. Here our pictures from my wife's doctor appointment. The last ones are pretty good. I love you, so does baby.

    1ST SGT JOHN ORBE, "CHARLIE TANK" TASK FORCE 2-28: Just received my Christmas package from my wife. It's very important. It reminds us that we get back home and missing. Knowing she doesn't have me here with the kids. Another Christmas deployed.


    HANNITY: And for more information on "Operation Care Package," go to patriotcarepackage.com.

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