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Pittsburghers Put Hot Breakfast on the Menu for Soldiers at FOB Sharana

Megan Turak, Military Family Network

PITTSBURGH, PA - March 17, 2013 Soldiers on Forward Operating Base (FOB) Sharana in Afghanistan kicked off their St. Patrick's Day with a hot waffle breakfast - a rare treat these days since the Army stopped serving hot breakfasts there in January - cooked up by staff from the USO, volunteers and the Army Education Center with over 400 pounds of ingredients provided by Pittsburgh organizations and businesses like:

  • The Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 32 from Carnegie
  • Military Family Network of Scott Township
  • The Ladies of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 32 of Carnegie
  • Gaetano's of Banksville Road
  • The Priory Hotel on the North Shore
  • Lowe's Home Improvement on Washington Pike
  • Rollier's Hardware in Mt. Lebanon
  • Military Connections of Penn Hills.

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Earlier this year, Megan Turak, Executive Vice President of Military Family Network got wind of the news about the hot breakfast cutoff just after President Obama announced the expedited drawdown of troops. Soldiers were unhappy to learn that MREs doled out at the previous evening meal would become their staple until the following day's lunch. Mr. Mark Mazarella, Army Education Services Officer on FOB Sharana, took to serving up hot cocoa and cookies in the morning while Soldiers stood in line for the Post Office.

When Turak shared this news with Mr. Bernie Donnelly and Mr. Patrick McCann from the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), Division 32, it just didn't sit well. As Veterans, they couldn't understand how a command like this could come to pass.

The Veteran in Donnelly quipped, "I think that the commander that said the troops don't need regular breakfast should be made to eat MRE's, too. But I'm willing to bet that will never happen!"

At their next AOH meeting, the guys rallied behind their fellow service members in arms, contacted Military Family Network and said, "Let's do something!"

So, Turak suggested waffles after thinking about continental breakfasts served by hotels. "If we get them supplies, all they'll need is water ," she explained.

And "Operation Waffle Sunday" was born!

AOH, Division 32 members wasted no time coming to order and executing the decision. Military Family Network joined in and together they orchestrated the entire project. From fundraising and donations to shopping and shipping, Donnelly, McCann, Turak and Mr. Luis Trevino, President of Military Family Network, recruited support and got the word out.

“We decided the first "Waffle Sunday" will be on Sunday, March 17th…Saint Patty's Day, in honor and recognition of the donors--Pittsburgh's Ancient Order of Hibernians, Div 32. The waffles will be GREEN!” said Mazzarella.

Mr. and Mrs. Babe Gaetano of helped with ingredients; Mr. Malcolm Knight of Lowe's Home Improvement pitched in the waffle iron; Mr. John Graf, Owner of The Priory Hotel and the Ladies of Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 32 delivered needed funds and Military Connections sent pancake mix. Mr. Doug Satterfield of Rollier's Hardware donated durable shipping boxes.

"400 pounds is a lot of weight!" exclaimed Trevino, "But not likely to last for long on a base of 2,000 young Soldiers willing to eat anything that tastes of home."

If you'd like to help: The Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 32 is holding Fish Fry Fridays at the Ukrainian Club on 302 Mansfield Blvd., Carnegie, PA, 15106 throughout the Lenten season and is sending breakfast to the troops. So, if you are in the mood for fried or baked fish, please consider supporting AOH, Division 32 in their fundraising efforts. Or, contact Bernie Donnelly of AOH at Bernie's email .

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