Members of Brownie Troop 3259 and Juniors from Troop 37 who were members of the Brownie Troop last year when work was begun on a multi-year project providing care packages for the military, held a welcome home party for Sgt. Shawn Barger. He returned Sept. 22 from his third deployment in Iraq.
Barger lives in Bethlehem Township and was one of the recipients who passed out the care packages to other members of his unit. The 170 packages were sent to six members of the military who were known to the girls.
The troop received the first thank you letter from Barger on March 6, 2009, when he was in Camp Taji, Iraq. He answered questions the girls had sent with the packages. The final letter arrived Oct. 1 after he returned home.
As the girls waited for their guest of honor they colored Betsy Ross flags and drew other patriotic symbols of America such as eagles, the president in the White House with a flag flying over it, soldiers, the White House, Capitol Building and Statue of Liberty.
Their work with the flags and, for the Juniors, with organizing a party, will provide credit toward the Wave the Flag Try-it and United we Stand awards.
Folders had been made for Barger with Welcome Home" on the outside and jokes on the inside.
Red, white and blue were the colors of the day for the party food, napkins and paper cups. It was to be a patriotic party.
Georganne Seeley, member manager for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, attended. She said it was nice the girls were going to see one of the recipients of the project. Betsy Mattes is the troop leader.
And then the moment the girls had been waiting for arrived. He's here, he's here," they yelled as they crowded to the window to watch.
You don't know just how much it means - that little bit of home. We can never say thank you enough," said Barger. The group I was with send their thanks as well."
In July he had completed 20 years with the National Guard and planned to retire in July 2010 with 21 years.
He presented the troop with a flag that flew in the troop's honor at Camp Taji on June 27.
Barger is with an electronics maintenance unit which did repair work on night vision viewers, radios, missiles and anything electronic that needed maintenance.
Oh yeah, we fix that too," was the answer when they were asked if they could fix something. Barger's job was in production control.
He brought a grey shirt in an adult size for the troop and for the girls there were black shirts with the ELM logo of a bulldog. He asked if he could give each girl a hug as she came up for her shirt. The shirts had been purchased by Chief Pedro Rodriguez.
One soldier as a punishment detail painted rocks with the Pennsylvania college and professional sports teams logos. In the center was a keystone.
Barger picked up mail for two weeks. He found a cast-off three-wheel bike and fixed it up as his mail vehicle.
Among his pictures is a McDonald's in Kuwait and a flag-burning ceremony on 9/11. One time the dust was so bad for two weeks it was difficult to see very far. The cook area was air-tight, air-conditioned and dust free.
The temperature went up to 120 degrees, but he said, You get used to it."
With the amount of sand he said people would expect the winter rains to drain but they create heavy mud that sticks to boots.
There were chapels available for any denomination.
Barger has a picture of an Iraqi helping to install a radio. We did more training this time rather than fighting," he said.
Barger has a 7-year-old daughter, Emily, and a 4-year-old son, Mark. He was on the phone from Iraq when Mark was being born.
The only requirement for the party foods made by parents was that they were homemade. Mattes thought Barger would enjoy something homemade more than store-bought.