It began with an urgent phone call last August. A contractor at FBI Headquarters named Matt Dick was contacted by the founder of a non-profit group called “Soldiers’ Angels” that supports soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A group of Army rangers, she explained, had been on patrol in the mountains of Afghanistan, gathering information and verifying intelligence about insurgent activities in the area. Suddenly, they were surrounded and attacked by a much larger force. In the fierce, seven-hour firefight that followed, two members of the unit were killed, including the commanding officer, and another seven wounded.
Now, she said, one of the young lieutenants from the unit was bringing the commanding officer’s body back to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery just outside the nation’s capital. But since they’d just been called up, the lieutenant and three of his wounded comrades had no dress uniforms for the funeral and little money to buy them with.
The founder of Soldiers’ Angels, who was calling from California, needed someone in the Washington area to buy the uniforms for the soldiers once she wired the money. “Can you help?” she asked Matt, whom she knew and had worked with before.
Tapping into his contacts at the Department of Defense, Matt bought the uniforms for the soldiers and delivered them in person. He also asked the lieutenant if he’d come speak to our intelligence analysts at Headquarters. The lieutenant agreed.
During his visit, the lieutenant gave a moving first-hand account of the firefight that had occurred just 12 days earlier. For our analysts—some of whom work Afghanistan and Iraq-related intelligence matters—the lieutenant’s story brought home the life-and-death importance of their work and of the Bureau’s overall national security mission. Especially knowing that hundreds of FBI agents and analysts have been embedded with the military in Iraq and Afghanistan on a rotating basis over the past few years—working alongside their counterparts to conduct raids, gather fingerprints, analyze explosive devices, and gather intelligence.
After hearing the lieutenant’s story, Matt and a co-worker, Scott Robinson, felt called to do something more to thank the soldiers who put their lives on the line every day battling terrorists. Knowing that the U.S. military has been facing a blood shortage in Iraq and Afghanistan, the pair suggested that the FBI hold a blood drive. The Bureau reached out to representatives of the U.S. Armed Services Blood Program and the Department of Defense, who enthusiastically got the ball rolling for us.
You can help, too. The program holds blood drives all year in many locations around the country and overseas. If you’d like to donate blood to our fighting men and women, contact the U.S. Armed Forces Blood Program.
Click here for more information on the FBI blood drive