When Paul DeBettignies saw the name “Webster” in a Wall Street Journal article at the end of last month, he knew his old Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity brother, Capt. Eddy Hansen, was OK.
The article’s author was embedded with Hansen’s Marine squadron, which was just outside Iraq. With the help of Hansen’s wife, DeBettignies figured out that “Webster” was the call sign the Marines issued to his friend to poke fun at his poor spelling skills. The article relieved Hansen’s friends and family, who had not heard from him for more than three weeks.
When the University Delta Kappa Epsilon members learned a fraternity brother was fighting overseas, they began a drive to collect supplies such as magazines, toilet paper, fly swatters and deodorant for the squadron.
“Imagine a six-month backpacking trip from hell,” said Charles Otis, philanthropy chairman for the fraternity and child psychology sophomore. “What would you want to just drop out of the sky? That’s what we’re trying to provide.”
The fraternity started the drive April 7 by putting boxes in all the fraternities and sororities on campus, and they will collect them Monday to send to Iraq. Originally, they thought they would get 10 to 15 boxes, but DeBettignies said they now expect around 30.
Although the fraternity put a sign in front of its house that said “Support our Brother Bush,” the members also wanted to do something proactive and nonpolitical to respond to all the talk about the war, said Eric Holland, fraternity president and entrepreneurial management junior.
“It’s not a pro-war or antiwar effort,” Holland said. “Regardless of what’s happening, there’s still a member of our house sleeping in the sand.”
Even though the war is winding down, as long as the troops are still over there they need supplies, Holland said.
Another campus group, Faculty Against War, is also planning to help support the troops and Iraqi civilians with a blood donor pledge drive Sunday-April 27, said David Fox, an assistant geology and geophysics professor.
The group hopes to get 1,000 people to pledge to donate blood to the Red Cross. The Red Cross will contact those who pledge when they need blood and provide transportation from the University campus to the donation site if needed, said Juliette Cherbuliez, organizer and assistant professor of French and Italian.
Part of the reason for the drive was to counter the idea that people who question the war do not support the troops, and the idea that dissent means betrayal, Cherbuliez said.
“What we wanted to do was show that what we’re concerned about is the wounded, both American coalition members and Iraqis,” Cherbuliez said. “We wanted to remind people on both sides that they can do something about it and one of the things they can do is give blood.”
The group originally came up with the idea when fighting was heavy, and it seemed possible the war might last longer than expected, Fox said. Even though the major battles are over, Iraqi civilians still need blood, he said.
The American Red Cross has not given an extraordinary amount of blood to the military yet, but in case of an emergency or extreme need the pledges will be very helpful, said Jon Siess, spokesman for the Red Cross. The pledges will likely be used to help meet local and national needs, he said.
Patricia Drey covers student life and welcomes comments at [email protected]