Toys, Clothes, and Shoes for Refugees Coordinated by Local Iraqi Sadr District Leader, Fall of 2006
Only after Tom Deierlein was shot in Sept 2006 did the true future of the TDF start to become a reality. Bill Billeter, another officer in Tom’s unit picked up the banner and drove the efforts forward. He never skipped a beat and neither did the generous donors back home. Bill is a West Pointer who was involuntarily called back into service, moved his family 2,000 miles, and missed the birth of his child in order to deploy. While volunteers at home got organized, Bill played a critical role in founding the TDF.
Here is an excerpt from his email back home in Fall 2006:
There is a local Iraqi District Council member who has dedicated much of her time to locating and assisting the refugee families who have fled to our area from all over Iraq. This area is a little safer than most, so we have several hundred of these families here — Sunni, Shia, whatever. They often arrive here with little besides their clothing, a few small suitcases, and a carload of children. Jamilia, the council member, invited many of these families to a local government office that was secured by Iraqi Police for the purpose of giving out food and water. And she invited us too. So, we loaded up one of our trailers with many of the clothes, shoes, stuffed animals and school supplies that you and your friends have sent us. There were hundreds of Iraqis there with their families. We pulled up and opened the trailer, and you would have thought we were giving out gold bars. Hundreds of them gathered around us to get whatever we had to offer. And they were grateful. I saw little kids holding stuffed animals bigger than they were. I saw families helping their children try on the new clothing and shoes.
We have not thanked you and your friends for sending us these things. We have been busy here and there are never enough hours in the day. Please thank them for me. It was a great event and a great day, and all the boxes of gifts that you guys sent us made a big difference.
I was only able to take a few pictures, but here is a picture of SGT Plows giving a stuffed animal to a tiny little person. It is a cute picture, and very meaningful in this environment. As you know, many of the Iraqis are fed lies about us by the insurgents and radical Imams and those who want us to fail here. They are told that we are oppressors and infidels. And, unfortunately, many Iraqis believe the lies because they don’t get to interact with us and find out the truth. On that day, with the hundreds of refugee families, they got to see us for who we really are.
Captain William Billeter
US Army, Infantry
414th Civil Affairs Team Leader