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thedrifter
08-21-06, 08:20 AM
Posted on Mon, Aug. 21, 2006

Family, friends give troops extra protection
Standard helmets only `fair,' so group chips in
By Jim Carney
Beacon Journal staff writer


These Marine moms are on a mission.

That assignment? To raise money to pay for helmet liners for Marines.

So far this year, they have held an ice cream social and spaghetti dinner. Through those fundraisers and other efforts, their support group of about a half dozen mothers, fiancees and family members of Marines, known as Operation Enduring Deployment, has raised about $9,500 for helmet liners.

The group raised $1,343 at an ice cream social in Hudson in July and another $2,000 at the spaghetti dinner in May.

``People have been unbelievably generous,'' said Joan Zigler of Stow, the mother of Marine Cpl. Joseph Zigler, 23.

Zigler started Operation Enduring Deployment.

``Once people realize this need, they just get very interested in helping,'' she said.

Each helmet liner costs about $71 and is purchased by the nonprofit group Operation Helmet.

Money raised is given to Operation Helmet, which then provides the helmet liners to troops.

Zigler said she heard about Operation Helmet after her son came home from Iraq the first time.

So far, her son's entire unit has received helmet liners.

``This is really a labor of love,'' Zigler said.

One of those receiving a helmet liner, Zigler said, was Marine Cpl. Joseph Tomci, 21, of Stow, who served with her son.

Tomci was killed in a roadside bombing in Iraq on Aug. 2 and was buried last Monday.

Operation Helmet was started in March 2004, when Dr. Bob Meaders of Bentwater, Texas, a retired Navy captain and Vietnam veteran with 23 years in the Medical Corps as an eye specialist, learned of the need of the liners through his Marine grandson.

According to the Operation Helmet Web site, the helmets worn by Marines and many other U.S. troops only have ``fair protection from blast forces and fragment impacts from IEDs and other types of newly appreciated combat dangers.''

The liners purchased by Operation Helmet are a shock absorbing pad suspension system, the Web site said.

Zigler said her group is now ``determined to outfit our other Marines being deployed in the near future.''

Operation Helmet provides helmets for Marines and soldiers and other U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Another Marine mom involved in the group is Mary Rose Arnold of Akron, mother of Marine Pfc. Mason Arnold, 20, a 2005 honors graduate from Ellet High School.

Arnold said her son is expected to be deployed to Iraq next year for his first tour.

``As our Marines are banded together in brotherhood, we Moms, fiancees, parents and siblings are banded together in an ongoing effort to support our Marines and each other,'' said Arnold, a decorative painter.

The group's goal is to raise enough money for helmet liners for 200 Marines in her son's unit, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, Kilo Company at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 4, the group will hold a craft show to raise money for helmet liners at Firestone Park VFW Post 3383, 690 W. Waterloo Road, Akron.

For more information on Operation Enduring Deployment, e-mail Zigler at yayanpapa8@sbcglobal.net

For information on Operation helmet, go to www.operation-helmet.org.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or jcarney@thebeaconjournal.com.

Ellie