A Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., noncommissioned officer, his cousin and 400 Detroit-based volunteers shared the 2019 holiday spirit with approximately 1,500 deployed military members by sending care packages to 15 overseas locations including Afghanistan, Iraq and Djibouti.
Tech. Sgt. Timothy Pfeiffer, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of munitions control, recently returned from a deployment where he received a holiday care package from his cousin Rose Cobb. He said her care package was his inspiration to share the spirit with others deployed overseas.
“I was deployed to southeast Asia from July 2018 through February 2019,” said Pfeiffer. “My cousin sent me and my coworkers a couple care packages for the holidays. It was extremely uplifting, the moment of joy, to not think about being in the desert, it took our mind off of everything.”
When Pfeiffer returned from his deployment, he and Cobb, who is an executive banker at a Detroit-based Quicken Loans branch, worked to supply holiday packages. While planning, Cobb’s boss showed interest in supporting their effort.
“We decided to put together a presentation,” said Pfeiffer. “I did a video explaining how much it meant to me to receive care packages and send them. My cousin presented all of it to her board of directors. They offered us a little bit of money; but, by the time we started it we had acquired a promise of $15,000-$20,000.”
Following the company’s donation notification, Pfeiffer flew to Detroit to oversee a three-day operation in which 400 people rotated through nine-hour work days to pack care packages.
“We had assembly lines on three floors of the building,” said Pfeiffer. “Each department would do 30 minute blocks to help me pack. They would come down ask me what I needed them to do. They would pack and another group would come.”
Pfeiffer said the experience was rewarding on several levels.
“I went to Detroit and I had such a warm reception; they were all about helping veterans and service members,” he said. “The second part was hearing from all the people who received the packages. Knowing that I was able to chip away that negativity you feel while you’re on a deployment.”
After the boxes were mailed, Pfeiffer received feedback from Airmen around the world. He laughed as he read through appreciative messages and comments on social media, “Boxes are a little beat up, but the food still tastes good,” read one comment.
“Deployments are difficult on our service men and women, regardless of the location,” said Master Sgt. Nicholas Levis, Ammunition Contracting Officer representative deployed to Qatar. “For myself and the personnel I work with, the care packages Tech. Sgt. Pfeiffer coordinated brought a sense of distant connectedness. It was a reminder that we are not forgotten, as we can sometimes feel. The simple things we often take for granted while in garrison spark joy in the forces who receive these packages with a little taste of home.”
The Air Force works continually to increase the resiliency of its Airmen and promote the wingman concept.
“I feel it’s very important for us as military members to take care of our own, especially those who are deployed,” said Master Sgt. Seth Yothers, 56th EMS ammunitions systems section chief.
“Tech. Sgt. Pfeiffer has a high passion for deployed service members, and this event was the highlight of that passion.”
“Whatever you contribute you don’t understand how much that can change one person’s life, when they’re stuck in the trenches, in a place where maybe the water went out that day or in a bunker,” said Pfeiffer. “They can look at that stuff and they don’t have to think about any of that for an hour. I hope it lasts for a really long time and it just gets bigger and better.”
In the end, the company donated $100,000 towards the care packages. Pfeiffer and Cobb’s current goal is to organize more donation initiatives like this semi-annually. He said he hopes to make another shipment in July and again in November, ahead of the holidays.
“I am very thankful for the men and women in uniform and what they do for our country,” said Cobb. “It has been a pleasure to watch our team come together and send care packages from home to those who are deployed during the holidays. I am looking forward to growing this program and continuing our efforts in the years to come.”