Aid and Comfort
Any long-time reader of This is True has heard of our (in)famous "Get Out of Hell Free" cards, stickers, and t-shirts. They're Randy's reaction to people telling him to go to (or that he is going to) hell. They have been wildly popular with readers who enjoy being able to finally have a good response to those who tell them the same thing.
Weekly Weird News
In the 1 August 2004 issue, I reported on a note that I got with an order for GOOHF cards and stickers:
These are to be distributed to my soldiers in Iraq. I've been kicking the idea around since, believe it or not, I was in Kosovo (May-Nov 2001). Given the 130F temps (in the shade, naturally) I am sure they will be a hit. (signed) Charles, Capt., US Army Armor, Kansas
I noted that I'd be sending some extras to ensure everyone got one, and expressed hope that his soldiers will return soon, safe and sound. I have no doubt, by the way, that Charles is who he says he is: he's using his official Army e-mail address, and his mailing address is at Ft. Riley, the Kansas home of the 24th Infantry Division.
After I published Charles' letter, something unexpected happened: readers wrote to say they, also, wanted to help send some extras to Capt. Charles. So I wrote him to see if he was willing to accept what could be a lot of cards and stickers. It took several weeks to get a reply: Charles was out -- training his soldiers for deployment to Iraq. When he got back, he wrote:
Participation is now closed -- thanks much to our incredible readers for helping send cards, GOOHF stamps and This is True books to the soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors serving in harm's way.
One hundred percent of the contributions went toward this effort -- we absorbed the Paypal fees. The "counter" to the right shows the total of dollars contributed.
Less than 24 hours after this effort started, I asked Charles to come to this page and look at the numbers in the chart -- and suggested that we expand this to all services. He replied:
So, to those who suggested we expand this to other services, we were already on it. By the time the effort concluded more than 200 readers contributed more than $5,000, which went all the farther since we were able to provide a nice discount on the goodies.
Again, we are no longer accepting contributions -- as of January 2005, Capt. Charles is no longer able to accept more stuff since he's being shipped out to Iraq himself. He writes:
Thanks for the update, Chuck. As for the cards really working, all I can tell you is I've had no one tell me they tried one and it didn't work! Not even one. Not too many products have that kind of record in the field.
Thanks much to all my readers for their contributions to this great effort. Click the link to order your own GOOHF cards and This is True books.
7 August 2005 Update
This update from Capt. Chuck came in last night:
I don't know if you remember me, but I'm the guy who distributed your Get Out of Hell Free cards in Iraq. On the 21st of June, I was blown up by an [Improvised Explosive Device]. I suffered severe trauma to my arms and legs, lost my hearing (not permanently), lost a finger, and generally ended up in a bad way. I would like to say that your issues of TRUE kept me going, but that would be a lie, as I did not have access to the Internet.
I certainly do remember you, Chuck! Sorry to hear you got whacked, but very glad to hear that you're fighting your way back. I'm happy to hear your wife and mother are there with you. If True is helping you in any way, too, I'm very gratified. Keep in touch! And remember, you got the last laugh: you were able to give the insurgents the finger.