Jerky Drive for Our Troops
Members of 56th Military Police serving in Afghanistan enjoy some of the jerky provided by SWIR.
When autumn rolls around each year, some lucky American soldiers serving our nation overseas are surprised with a huge "care package" from Southwest Industrial Rigging containing one of their favorite snacks.
"Beef jerky is one of those foods that doesn't go bad. You can put it in your pocket, stash it in your vehicle, and it has a resealable bag," says Army Reserve Cpl.Camaron Penrod of Tempe, who benefited from an Southwest Industrial Rigging (SWIR) jerky delivery while serving with the 56th Military Police in Afghanistan in 2013-14.
"Beef jerky is kind of a hot topic over there" he adds.
SWIR has sent various types of care packages to American troops on foreign missions since 2011. The beef-jerky drive was created a few years ago by former Marine, Andy Perez, facilities manager for the company.
"We like to find a combat-oriented unit that has a hard time getting this type of stuff from home," says Perez, whose father and two brothers are also veterans.
"We try to stay involved with their causes."
Penrod's unit, which included 150 Military Police officers attached to the 18th Airborne, received 60 pounds of several flavors of beef jerky and some SWIR caps in 2014.
"It was a very welcome surprise," says Penrod. "We weren't expecting so much. I was handing it out to the Allied Forces and also to the local residents."
SWIR also included some baseball caps with the beef jerky for the troops.
Employees from SWIR's two Phoenix locations, as well as its Tucson and Flagstaff facilities, are currently pitching in bags of beef jerky and cash donations for this fall's troop drive.
SWIR owner Harry K. Baker sets an example annually with a generous cash donation, with crane operators, truck drivers, dispatchers, mechanics, office managers and other staffers also pitching in to provide a treat for the troops.
Perez asks SWIR employees for suggestions of deployed units that would appreciate some jerky. The unit will soon be selected, with lots of tasty jerky packaged and mailed in October.
"Sometimes when you send things for the troops to an organization, you don't know exactly where it goes," he says. "We like to identify a soldier and his unit, with his address, so we know where our donation is going."
Soldiers enjoy beef jerky because they can easily take it into the field on missions.
Penrod says that members of his unit were grateful to receive a reminder that folks back home were keeping them in mind as they served overseas, courtesy of Southwest Industrial Rigging.
- Story by SWIR's Larry Rodgers