“It puts a smile on every soldier’s face…”

Dear Ms. Irwin:

Season’s Greetings from the soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 35th combat Aviation Brigade! Our unit recently received a care package from you at our location where we are stationed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As the Unit Commander, I want to take this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Our nation’s support for my soldiers has been overwhelming this year. Every time I am able to relay a care package to the soldiers of HHC 35th CAB, it fills me with pride at the level of support that our great nation has for our troops. Your generosity is humbling and I just want you to know how much your support is appreciated. All 120 soldiers in my command received a wrapped gift, holiday stocking, and package of cookies/candies this holiday season and all of this was possible in no small part because of your generosity. It puts a smile on every soldier’s face to receive something unexpected and your kindness has gone a long way toward helping me keep the morale of my unit high for these long, difficult deployments, especially during this time of year. Along with my warmest wishes for a Happy Holiday and a blessed and prosperous new year, please accept this letter as a personal thank you for your support from myself and all of the soldiers of HHC 35th CAB. God Bless you and God Bless America.

-Letter from Jacob J. Ball, Captain, U.S. Army, Commanding


“It is often the littlest conveniences that help the time away move faster.”

Dear Mrs. Irwin:

Thank you for your caring and dedicated support of the 1137th Military Police Company and the United States Army. Organizations like Operation Sunscreen, and the men and women who make them possible are absolutely a critical part of the strong and well supported Army we enjoy.

Those who steadfastly donate their time and resources to make such efforts possible demonstrate the very purpose for our service, and remind us the importance of sacrifice. Our Soldiers have enjoyed being able to easily access the popular hygiene items and products found back home. Although I am sure you see this as a small contribution, it is often the littlest conveniences that help the time away move faster.

It is truly uplifting to know our efforts are appreciated, even by complete strangers. On behalf of all the men and women of the 1137th Military Police Company, I wish to extend our most heartfelt thank you, not only for the gifts of amenities and conveniences, but for the kind support and appreciation you display. Thank you.

-Letter from Nicholas G. Swoboda, Captain, US Army, Commanding


“No matter when they arrive, care packages always come at the best time.”

To Karen Irwin and Operation Sunscreen for MONG,

I just wanted to write to express my sincere gratitude for the Care Package that was received by the soldiers of the 175th MP BN, Missouri National Guard here at camp. We received the package about a week ago. It has been a little busy here the past week so I apologize for not sending this letter sooner. the package arrived at a perfect time as many soldiers in my command had just started running out of the essentials and the included items were put to immediate use by many. The DVDs, snacks, stuffed animals, toiletries, etc were placed on the “goodie shelf” here in our Battalion Offices and were quickly snagged up by our soldiers. Rest assured that all items in the package were, or will be put to constructive use.

It means the world for soldiers to receive care packages from home. No matter when they arrive, care packages always come at the best time. When we are deployed and away from family and friends, doing a job that at times seems thankless, it is always nice to know that there are still people and organizations in the states that appreciate what we do. We appreciate what you have done and want to say thank you. Regardless of the mission, location of deployment, or challenges and threats faced, it is awesome to know that there are Americans out there that remember us and go to great lengths to show their support. After my last deployment to Iraq in 2008-2009, I too became involved in sending care packages to “any service member” because I knew how much they were appreciated by the service members who received them. You are truly great Americans to support men and woman you may have never met while they are far away from home serving their country. Saying thank you is not enough but I wanted to let you know that you are appreciated by the soldiers of my unit. Again, thank you, from the men and women of the 175th Military Police Battalion, Missouri National Guard. God Bless You and have a very Merry Christmas.

-Letter from CPT, MP John C. Pfanstiel, Commanding


“It makes life a little easier…”

Mrs. Irwin,

We would like to take a minute to thank you and everyone that made it possible to send us these wonderful care packages. All the Soldiers have been very grateful and always look forward to them. The items we have received have been beyond helpful and greatly appreciated. Because of people like you, it makes life a little easier for us. You and the folks who have helped out have no idea how much you are appreciated. We thank YOU for everything YOU do for us. I know this letter will reach you after Christmas and possibly the New Year, but I hope it finds you well and you have/had a wonderful holiday season.

-Letter from SGT. Abigail Herich, 3175th Chemical Company


“You have helped us create the holiday spirit.”


Here are several of the photos I have taken so far. What an awesome experience this has been for our folks. You have helped us create the holiday spirit. Although we are still doing the same missions day in and day out, the guys can come into this warm environment for our evening meetings. It is a daily tradition that we come in right after dinner around 5:30 p.m. and sit and chat until mission brief at 6:00 p.m. Now when we walk in we are greeted by the smell of fir tree and cinnamon thanks to the scented candles, and incense sticks. The warm atmosphere has just been a fun thing to have.

xmas cards

Last night several soldiers played this Christmas peg game that was in one of the boxes, and passed around a box of white chocolate covered oreos and were just laughing and enjoying themselves. Then later on in the evening a group got together with hot chocolate and watched the kids movie, Frosty the Snowman. It is interesting how even though it might be viewed as childish the holiday spirit really overwhelms even the manliest of men. One of our airmen, a military policeman, has planned a Christmas movie night activity where each night a different movie is shown. Should be fun and the culminating event is a Christmas movie marathon. Just some of the things we are doing. Last night we also had a bonfire and s’mores thanks to the great supplies we keep receiving.


Again thank you for everything!

-Letter from Capt. Dale Edith Mitchell (Ms.), Public Affairs Officer


“It was almost like Christmas morning.”

Mrs. Irwin:

The 2175th just received a huge box of all kinds of miscellaneous treats and goodies. 1SG divvied the box up between the platoons and then the feeding frenzy was on. Soldiers jumped in and in just a matter of minutes all the goodies had disappeared. It was almost like Christmas morning. We thank you and your team who took time out of their day to provide us with the much wanted treats.

Even though we are so far away it feels great to know we are still in the thoughts and prayers of everyone back home.

Thank you!

-Letter from Shane Spellman, CPT, MP, ARNG


‘Operation Sunscreen’ brings cheer to Soldiers, honor to Irwin…

‘Operation Sunscreen’ brings cheer to Soldiers, honor to Irwin – article from Missouri National Guard

-article from Missouri National Guard


Veteran’s Day 2015 – 12 St. Louis Area grade schools and high schools…

Veteran’s Day 2015,  12 St. Louis Area grade schools and high schools participate in Operation Sunscreen by holding a “dress down” day to raise money, collect snacks, and write letters to our Soldiers. Operation Sunscreen is looking forward to involving even more schools in 2016.  If your school would like to participate in a Red, White and Blue Day for the Troops, please contact Karen Irwin at 636-227-1521 or at karen@operationsunscreenmo.org.


What the Soliders are Saying

“I wanted to let you know that my platoon and I recently received multiple Care Packages from your organization recently. I wanted to take the time to write you and tell you how much we appreciated the many wonderful items that you sent to us and to say ‘Thank You’ on behalf of my platoon for thinking of us.”

-Letter from SFC Robert Haug, Platoon Sergeant

“Our entire unit would like to thank everyone that participated in Operation Sunscreen. We especially want to thank COL Irwin and Mrs. Irwin for all the work they put into the program. During our deployment we received two large shipments of personal items. We distributed these items to each Soldier on the deployment and the items were greatly appreciated.”

-Letter from Timothy Kohls, Executive Officer