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051225-M-2607O-001 - Seman Apprentice Kyle C. Mallard, Religious Program Specialist for 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, carries some packages filled with stocking to be loaded on a convoy for the Marines in the area of operation.

Photo by Pfc. Christopher Ohmen

Atwood, Tenn., native plays Santa year round for Marines deployed to Iraq

30 Jan 2006 | Pfc. Christopher J. Ohmen

Dealing with thousands of care packages sent from the U.S. public is a daunting task for any sailor to contend with.

Seaman Apprentice Kyle C. Mallard, the Religious Program Specialist for 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was assigned that duty as one of his tasks for the deployment to Iraq.

“Distributing the care packages to the Marines and Sailors of the battalion lets me see their boost in morale each and every time,” stated the Atwood, Tenn., native.

Having to pickup and transport approximately 3,000 care packages to their destinations in a six month period took many long hours and hard work. Mallard spent many afternoons in the chapel storage room cutting open the boxes and keeping the shipping information to write letters of appreciation to those who sent the packages.

Often times, he brings packages to the chapel and sorts and places their contents on the community shelves. The packages contained numerous personal hygiene products, assortments of candy, nonperishable food products and games for the Marines and Sailors to play.

A large portion of the miscellaneous toys were also sent for the Marines and Sailors to hand out to Iraqi children during operations.

After managing a few weeks worth of packages, Mallard, a 2004 graduate of West Carroll High School, prepares a group of letters that were sent to the families that showed their appreciation to military in Iraq.

“I wrote approximately 185 letters of appreciation to the families and communities that sent the thousands of care packages,” stated Mallard.

Mallard also assisted in the distribution of 320 stockings on Christmas for the Marines that were at forward observation posts.

He is also the primary means of security for the battalion chaplain when he visited the Marines at the observation posts and the communities in the area. On numerous occasions, Mallard would accompany the chaplain into the communities with a patrol of Marines and hand out toys and candy to the kids while seeing the area.

“It was interesting to see the communities of people in the area,” stated Mallard.

Mallard’s duties also focus on the religious programs for the unit. Assisting the battalion chaplain during his masses and transporting the catholic chaplain to the battalion’s chapel for catholic masses was a weekly occurrence.

In the unfortunate event that a memorial service has to be done for members of the battalion, Mallard assists the chaplain in preparation for the event. He prepared four of six bulletins to hand to the attendants of past services. He is also in charge of getting the sound system prepared and playing the musical selections used for the service.

“I am glad that I could assist in the services so the Marines could have some closure on with these unfortunate events,” said Mallard.

Completing his tasks with a smile on his face, Mallard knows that he is assisting the Marines of the battalion to complete their job of helping the Iraqi people establish a free and independent country.

“It was great to see that what I was doing, even after seven months, still helped the Marines and Sailors know that the U.S. public supports them,” stated Mallard.