Students support troops with cards to call

December 27, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - Local students are helping to cheer up wounded soldiers at a U.S. installation in Germany.

When retired U.S. Army Maj. Dieter Protsch of Hagerstown visited Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany this November, he took with him 300 letters of support from Western Heights Middle School students and $1,500 worth of phone cards, bought with money raised by Thomas Gough, a senior at Southern Fulton Junior-Senior High School in Warfordsburg, Pa.

The one thing soldiers always ask for is phone cards, Protsch said.

Wal-Mart and a phone card company called Pingo were among the businesses that donated money and phone cards to Gough's effort.

"It seemed like a good thing to do, the right thing," Gough said.

The November visit was the sixth for Protsch since the war in Iraq started.

Protsch started visiting troops overseas because, "Iraq, let's face it, we're there on our own," he said.


He visits Kaiserslautern, Germany, because there is a large concentration of American troops and their families there. Tens of thousands of troops are stationed there, he said.

A Vietnam War veteran and Green Beret, Protsch, 74, is a member of the veterans group Army Special Forces Association, Chapter 64, of Carlisle, Pa. Protsch said he lives by the motto "still serving."

"Whatever we can do to help our own people, our own troops, we will do," he said.

While in Germany, Protsch met up with National Hot Rod Association drivers, including Warren Johnson, Jim Yates, Tommy Johnson and Cory McClenathan.

When possible, the veterans and drivers tried to speak with the troops personally.

The soldiers seem "very tired," Protsch said.

"We talked to some who had been over there for three tours," he said.

One wounded soldier asked the drivers to sign the box that stores his Purple Heart.

The drivers helped deliver 1,500 gift bags donated by General Motors.

If you want to help

Thomas Gough is raising money to buy phone cards for troops stationed overseas. For more information, send an e-mail to

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