A Soldier's Promise Fulfilled
(August 30, 2010)
August 27, 2010 -- With tears forming in her eyes and voice shaking, U.S. Army
Staff Sgt. Nicole Olcott stood before a crowd of homeless Afghan children, Aug.
14, prepared to fulfill a seven-month endeavor.|
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nicole Olcott, of Daytona Beach, Fla., a flight missions planner with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Lighthorse, poses with children after she donated two boxes of school supplies to them, August 14,
2010. The children were living in an Internally Displaced Persons Camp in the Beshood District of eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar province. Olcott received donations from the Matthew Freeman Foundation, the Adopt-A-Soldier program and Olcott's own non-profit foundation, Operation New Start.
Before deploying to Afghanistan, Olcott, from Daytona Beach, Fla., a flight
mission planner with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 17th
Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Lighthorse, made a commitment to her children.
“I made my children a promise,” said Olcott. “I made it before I went to Iraq as
well, that I would do something for the children in that country. I didn't know
how but I was determined to do it.”
Olcott learned of the dire need for school supplies while handing out Beanie
Babies to Afghan children on Forward Operating Base Fenty during Christmas 2009.
“These children really wanted to learn,” said Olcott. “They especially wanted to
learn English. So I started e-mailing friends and family back home telling them
use some school supplies.”
Friends and family responded immediately by sending various types of school
supplies. In addition, the 3rd Infantry Division's Adopt-A-Soldier program
coordinator offered to send additional items to Olcott.|
Through a reporter named Michael Jordan, who was filming a documentary on 3rd
Infantry Division, Olcott was able to secure two large green tough boxes full of
supplies from the Matthew Freeman Foundation, named for U.S. Marine Capt. Mathew
Freeman, of Richmond, Ga. Freeman was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. He also
shared a passion to provide school supplies to the children of Afghanistan.
With items now coming in from the Mathew Freeman Foundation, the Adopt-A-Soldier
program and Olcot's own nonprofit organization, Operation New Start, Olcott soon
had a large container full of clothing, toys, formula, bottles, toiletries,
toothbrushes, shoes, coloring books and more.
Eventually, a civil affairs company was assigned to locate an appropriate
village in which Olcott could personally distribute her donated items.
U.S. Army Capt. Glenn T. Battshinger, of Mays Landing, N.J., a civil affairs
operations center leader with the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion, Nangarhar
Provincial Reconstruction Team, knew just the villagers that could use the
“A pencil gives a child hope,” said Battschinger. “A notebook gives them the
ability to keep a written record of their hope. Education is the only way
Afghanistan will get out of its hole.”
Barely a month ago, these villagers lost their homes during regional flash
flooding and now were living in an internally displaced persons camp in
As Olcott prepared to hand out the supplies, she became visibly overwhelmed by
“I broke down,” said Olcott. “Wow, I'm really here. These kids really do need
help. They are the future of Afghanistan.”
Back at FOB Fenty, Olcott has also done whatever she can to help children and
the adults alike. After working her 10-hour overnight shift, she can often be
found at the local bread store donating food supplies, which led to the
introduction of pizza by the bread maker.
She has also donated baby supplies to local hospitals and toiletries to Afghan
Soldiers stationed on FOB Fenty.
“This experience in Afghanistan has been one of the most memorable in my career
and my life,” said Olcott. “Just being able to save someone is probably the most
Article and photo by Army Spc. Albert Kelley
Combined Joint Task Force 101
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