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Samantha L. Quigley
WASHINGTON, March 25, 2008 – In 1967, Robert Hutchinson was a young soldier serving in the jungles of Vietnam. He was concerned that the men in his unit weren’t getting enough mail from home.
Members of 4th Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, pose for a photo while serving in Vietnam. They were part of the unit adopted by San Mateo, Calif., in 1968. Courtesy photo (Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Sgt. Joe Artavia’s letter home to his sister, Linda Patterson, asking her to find a city to adopt his unit made a huge difference to Hutchinson and his comrades, Hutchinson said. “The adoption of our company by the city of San Mateo (Calif.) and your personal dedication to our unit is a matter of great pride to me as well as to many of my brothers-in-arms,” Hutchinson wrote in a recent letter to Patterson.
Though Artavia was killed March 24, 1968, he did learn that his request had been fulfilled.
After a March 17 American Forces Press Service story highlighted both the city and Patterson’s 40-plus years of troop support, others are following Hutchinson’s lead and are contacting Patterson.
Though she is hearing from veterans, she’s also hearing from current servicemembers regarding her organization, “America Supporting Americans,” which works to have communities across the country adopt military units.
“We are hearing (of) a lot of units registering with (America Supporting Americans). Even Navy Seabees have contacted us,” Patterson said. “Hopefully some cities will start trickling in soon.”
Patterson also said she’s excited about other opportunities to share the history of San Mateo’s relationship with Company A, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.
Currently, a display at the San Mateo Public Library conveys the story. “There is talk about circulating a moving wall of this history across the country hopefully to inspire others to join (America Supporting Americans’) Adopt a Unit program,” she said.
In addition, Patterson said she hopes to take a small contingent of representatives from her organization to visit adopted units in Iraq. The trip would be similar to the then-unprecedented trip she made to Vietnam nearly four decades ago.
America Supporting Americans is also a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.