Please note:

This website was set up to get parcels to Australian Soldiers/Sailors/Airmen/Airwomen deployed overseas.

You are welcome to cut and paste information and use it to support sending parcels to our service members serving overseas, however, when you do cut and paste please link back to Ocean Sky & Khaki to acknowledge OSK, and so that people can find the blog themselves.

If there are questions one of us will answer if you comment on a post at the blog.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Is the DOD stopping parcels?

Nilk, Boy and I have been sending out feelers to our contacts in the services or close to the military and trying to find out if there was any truth in the information we saw on another blog that the Department of Defence was telling people that the parcels could not be sent.

We need to get to the bottom of who is telling people not to send parcels because we KNOW that recipients appreciate them very much.

Late last Saturday night in the "What to send/What not to send" post we received the following comment:


A copy of an email sent from the ADF Public Affairs and the reply form the President of the 4 RAR Association - have excluded email addresses and phone numbers but if you would like them for verification let me know.

With regard to the e-mails circulating, asking people to send care packages to Afghanistan I can provide you with the following information:
• Thank you for your consideration and support for ADF members serving overseas over the Christmas period, but for a number of logistic management and security reasons, we would prefer that you do not encourage your readers to send “care packages” to deployment service men and women.
• Mail that is sent via Defence postal arrangements is restricted to official military and personal mail only, and must not be used for any other material.
• Defence postal services utilise the same air transport resources used for the movement of vital stores and equipment in support of ADF operations. The movement of large volumes of mail have the potential to affect the transportation of important stores and equipment needed for the safety, security and continued operational success of our people.
• Humanitarian Aid, which attracts normal international rates of postage, is not authorised to be sent through the Defence Postal Service. There is no entitlement, or requirement for Humanitarian Aid to be sent to Australian Service personnel

kind regards,
Ben Wickham
Public Affairs Officer
Public Affairs Operations Centre
Department of Defence
The reply:
Sent: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 3:28 PM
Subject: Care packages

Dear Mr Wickham,
Reference: Your email shown below my reply. (In this case email number 2)

With the greatest respect, your preferences or the preferences of the Department of Defence, Public Affairs Operations Office really do not matter in this instance. What matters is the welfare and morale of our Aussie Diggers serving overseas in conditions that you or I can only imagine. Have you ever served overseas during Christmas, New Year, Australia day, April Fools Day, your own birthday, your family birthdays and anniversaries and not being able to share them with your families. Have you ever seen the looks on the faces of the Diggers when they receive a parcel from home? Have you ever experienced the joy of opening a parcel from someone not known to you but who has taken the time and effort to show that they care about you and respect you for the terrific task that you are doing on behalf of the Australian people and the Australian Government?

I can only assume from the cold heartedness of your reply that you have not!

Defence postal arrangements are not merely for official mail but have the nominated job and the responsibilty of ensuring that all mail addressed to all soldiers either by name or not, is delivered.

The first essence of mail is to receive news from home so that what you are doing on operations makes sense. The second essence of mail is to ensure that the famllies of soldiers are doing OK under extreme circumstances. The third essence of mail is maintain the morale of soldiers by the receiving and sending of mail. The fourth essence of mail is to ensure that soldiers who do not normally receive mail, do.

Have you forgotten the lessons of Vietnam and the punch a postie campaign and the soldiers who perhaps did not perform as well as expected simply because they did not receive mail and they felt as if they did not belong. Have you considered the experience of the platoon sergeant and section 2ICs whose duty it is to hand out the mail and by their observance of who and who was not receiving mail, were able to identify those that might develop morale problems. Your argument is scary at the least.

The movement of large volumes of mail must be included in the planning, movement and delivery of logistic support. Mail must be considered as logistical stores vital to the war effort and should be the first priority in serving the soldier and just as important as beans and bullets. The normal priority resupply system in the field includes in one package, beans, bullets and mail. If it doesn't then the ADF is in big trouble. If it is considered that mail will adversly affect the stores, security and continued success of our people (I am sure that you meant to say"warriors" here) then consider this. Consider the warrior that does not get mail, that is forgotten at Christmas when all around him are opening up parcels from family and he has to read the letters received from the families of other soldiers to make him feel wanted and appreciated. He will not look after his stores, he will not attend to security and he will not care about success, why should he? He has been deserted by those who swore to look after him, his superiors!

Mail is not humanitarian aid, this is called respecting, thanking and appreciating the warrior, male or female, in whatever service or corps, in whatever rank and in whatever job, for his service to his country and to the people of Australia by ensuring that he is able to receive mail and to send mail and to ensure that he can, by receiving and sending mail ensure that he can gain a sense of normality about his life so far away from home.

My request on behalf of all our members and families is that you stand up, walk over to mirror, forgive yourself for this most inappropriate decision and email and then kick down the door of your immediate superior, any General will do, and demand a different reply; one that applies logic, compassion, respect and adulation for our warriors serving overseas and then ensure through your department that if necessay, more aircraft, ships or carrier pigeons are allocated to delivering of the mail and the intended care packages to our warriors with the utmost speed and consideration.

Yours sincerley but disappointedly,

Alan Price

(Alan Price)
4RAR Assoc, Qld
(Tas, NT, Intl)
There have been no orders promulgated regarding this cessation of care packages. We will keep you informed, and we ask if you hear anything like this you let us know and also let us know where you have heard this information so that we can follow it up and check whether it is true or not.

If the DOD has decided that the activities of Australian Citizens sending packages, showing their support of our military personnel who have been sent far from home to carry out their duties in foreign lands, should cease, we will find another way to get the parcels to our diggers. It is my very strong hope that it will not come to that.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Guest post from someone who has been there, done that (sort of)

Hello Kargo here. I have not quite been doing the same job as those fantatsic members of the ADF have been doing but I have recently returned from Western Darfur in the Sudan. There we were confronted with "shortages" of items that could/should and would zest up general existence in a hot and dusty clime.

Now, when thinking about the type of things to send there are a few categories of items. These categories are based on two great needs when you are in the back of beyond, being, to be entertained, hear about the normal shaningans that people get up to and to eat interesting things.
I am going to put a few ideas together on a list that might help people with putting their parcels together, in the meantime, keep up the good work!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

T is for Thank You!

Cpl Fisher in comments below writes:

Hi guy's I am currently serving in Afghanistan and would just like to say thanks a million for what you guy's and girls are doing. I just stumbled across this link on the Townsville bulletin website. It is great to know some people back home are thinking about us and I'm sure all the guy's who have received a parcel are wrapped. Thanks again guy's keep up the good work.

Cpl A Fisher MRTF-2

Corporal Fisher is one of the reasons why we have this blog.

There are several thousand other reasons for this blog out in harm's way.

Words are inadequate when it comes to showing respect and honour for our military, so I won't waffle.

I'm just happy to be able to say Thank You, Cpl Fisher, and your brothers- and sisters- in arms.

Thank you to also to our growing team of care package senderers
carers, whether I know of you or not.

Your efforts are appreciated whether you receive a direct response or not.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

S is for Sacrifice.

Her hair was up in a pony tail,
Her favorite dress tied with a bow.
Today was Daddy's Day at school,
And she couldn't wait to go.

But her mommy tried to tell her,
That she probably should stay home.
Why the kids might not understand,
If she went to school alone.

But she was not afraid;
She knew just what to say.
What to tell her classmates
Of why he wasn't there today.

But still her mother worried,
For her to face this day alone.
And that was why once again,
She tried to keep her daughter home.

But the little girl went to school
Eager to tell them all.
About a dad she never sees
A dad who never calls.

There were daddies along the wall in back,
For everyone to meet.
Children squirming impatiently,
Anxious in their seats

One by one the teacher called
A student from the class.
To introduce their daddy,
As seconds slowly passed.

At last the teacher called her name,
Every child turned to stare.
Each of them was searching,
A man who wasn't there.

'Where's her daddy at?'
She heard a boy call out.
'She probably doesn't have one,'
Another student dared to shout.

And from somewhere near the back,
She heard a daddy say,
'Looks like another deadbeat dad,
Too busy to waste his day.'

The words did not offend her,
As she smiled up at her Mom.
And looked back at her teacher,
Who told her to go on.

And with hands behind her back,
Slowly she began to speak.
And out from the mouth of a child,
Came words incredibly unique.

'My Daddy couldn't be here,
Because he lives so far away.
But I know he wishes he could be,
Since this is such a special day.

And though you cannot meet him,
I wanted you to know.
All about my daddy,
And how much he loves me so.

He loved to tell me stories
He taught me to ride my bike.
He surprised me with pink roses,
And taught me to fly a kite.

We used to share fudge sundaes,
And ice cream in a cone.
And though you cannot see him.
I'm not standing here alone.

'Cause my daddy's al ways with me,
Even though we are apart
I know because he told me,
He'll forever be in my heart'

With that, her little hand reached up,
And lay across her chest.
Feeling her own heartbeat,
Beneath her favorite dress.

And from somewhere here in the crowd of dads,
Her mother stood in tears.
Proudly watching her daughter,
Who was wise beyond her years.

For she stood up for the love
Of a man not in her life.
Doing what was best for her,
Doing what was right.

And when she dropped her hand back down,
Staring straight into the crowd.
She finished with a voice so soft,
But its message clear and loud.

'I love my daddy very much,
he's my shining star.
And if he could, he'd be here,
But heaven's just too far.

You see he is a British soldier
And died just this past year
When a roadside bomb hit his convoy
And taught Britons to fear.

But sometimes when I close my eyes,
it's like he never went away.'
And then she closed her eyes,
And saw him there that day.

And to her mothers amazement,
She witnessed with surprise.
A room full of daddies and children,
All starting to close their eyes.

Who knows what they saw before them,
Who knows what they felt inside.
Perhaps for merely a second,
They saw him at her side.

'I know you're with me Daddy,'
To the silence she called out.
And what happened next made believers,
Of those once filled with doubt.

Not one in that room could explain it,
For each of their eyes had been closed.
But there on the desk beside her,
Was a fragrant long-stemmed rose.

And a child was blessed, if only for a moment,
By the love of her shining star.
And given the gift of believing,
That heaven is never too far.

With thanks to Redtail - it's helped me start something I've turning over in my head the last couple of weeks.

A couple of weeks back I got a letter of solicitation from Legacy. I mentioned them back in July and am always happy to give them a shout out.

At this time of the year, we do tend to spend a bit more time on our military than is usual at any other time apart from Anzac Day, and the older I get, the more I appreciate what my father sacrificed.

No, he didn't sacrifice his life, nor does every other soldier, sailor or airman, but there are still sacrifices made that never seem to be acknowledged.

The time spent away from families during training can be hard for all members, then there is a lot of moving from post to post, often from one end of the country to another. I know a former Navy lad from Queensland whose first posting was to Melbourne, for example.

For a youngster with a closeknit family who had never lived away from home it was a big shock to the system.

That's only one example, and there are gazillions of others - every soldier and their family are different, after all.

When it comes to overseas postings in war zones, the difficulties are magnified.

The poem above was sent to us from Redtail, as she found it moving and a timely reminder of the sacrifices that many people make when soldiers deploy.

There are children, husbands and wives who also live with the outcomes of a deployment.

There is a very real risk of death in a warzone, and anything that helps a man or woman bear with that is worthwhile.

It may be only a few things added to the shopping list each week, or fortnight, or month, but we all know how it feels when we learn that someone has thought of us.

For myself, I like to know that my small contributions have helped lighten someone's load.

I hope the whoopie cushions I send over every now and then make someone laugh as much as we laugh here with them!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

M is for motivation

See if this helps.

Monday, November 9, 2009

T is for Tenacity

When I started sending parcels, I had this vague idea in the back of my mind that I would try to send one per month at least.

Well, I think I've averaged one per month, but I'm not terribly consistent. I sent 4 parcels off in one hit back in September, and have not made it to the Post Office again until today. My current work hours and the opening hours of the Post Office don't mix. I put a parcel together weeks ago, and it was has sat by the front door awaiting the day when I could dispatch it.

I'm sure this is a problem for many other people. I leave for work before the local Post Office opens, and I get home after it shuts. You can't just stick a 2kg parcel in a mail box - it has to be presented at the counter. If you commute to work by public transport, lugging a box on the bus is not an attractive option. My local Office Works sells all sorts of envelopes, but no BM boxes, so I have to find an open Post Office in order to buy the empty boxes.

The logistics of such a simple operation can be a nightmare for those of us that toil 9-5 in the city.

However, it can be overcome.

Everyone has days off from time to time. I have decided that for me, the best option is to send a truckload of parcels several times a year rather than trying to send one or more per month. I add a few items to the shopping list each week, and stockpile enough over a month or so to fill 3 or 4 boxes. When I visit the Post Office to send a pile of parcels, I buy an armful of BM boxes for the next round. Everything I am sending is not perishable, so it can sit in a box in the back room for a month until the next posting day.

So if you are finding the process of sending a parcel to be a bit painful, you're not alone. However, whenever I think, "Oh crikey, I need to take 10 minutes and go out of my way to post this - what a pain", I think of the conditions that our troops in the forward areas are living under, and all my annoyances and irritations at the Post Office opening hours and the inconvenience they cause just evaporate.