Deployed Airmen Elect ‘Best Squadron Mom’

By U.S. Air Force Capt. Nora Eyle
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, July 12, 2007 – Senior Airman Jennifer Cianfrocca may get the most mail at Camp Cunningham’s post office here, but her care packages are not just for her alone -- they are also for everyone with whom she works.

Cianfrocca’s mother, Mary Pierce, from Las Cruces, N.M., has made it her mission to care for her daughter’s entire unit, the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. She sends up to four boxes a week to ensure that the A-10 pilots and their team have enough Cajun Trail Mix to hold them over until the next shipment.

“They know my mom by name at the post office back in Las Cruces,” Cianfrocca with a smile. “Some days I’ve even received three packages from her. Everyone in the squadron is really appreciative of all my mom does. They can’t wait to see what (she) is going to send next.”

The squadron elected Pierce as “Best Squadron Mom” by majority vote a couple of weeks ago and as a thank you for all she has done for them, the Bulldogs sent her a beautiful arrangement of flowers.

“We recently awarded Pierce the ‘Best Squadron Mom’ award because her incredible efforts have been great for our morale, especially for our first-time deployers,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Kevin Anderson, 354th EFS commander. “These reminders of home make the deployment easier and the fact people are thinking of you while you’re away is a good feeling."

Pierce, an American with Disabilities Act coordinator for Dona Ana County, spends her own money on the packages she sends to Afghanistan. Even though her family is scattered across the country, she said everyone sends packages.

“I even have co-workers who give me money to buy goodies or who bring me stuff to send over,” Pierce said. “Everyone supports our [servicemembers]. Jennifer is a personal connection to them.”

Pierce said she asks her daughter constantly about what the squadron needs to make their deployment a little easier.

“I always knew I’d send care packages but didn’t know what to send,” she said. “I’d wander through Wal-Mart thinking ‘How about this?’ and just throw things in the basket. I know that Jennifer shares with her squadron, the maintenance units and the Special Forces units, so I need to send a lot of stuff.”

As far as food is concerned, Cianfrocca said Starbursts are a big hit with the crowd, and most people enjoy the Cajun Trail Mix because they can’t make the jalapeño popcorn mixture they have at home.

“Did you know that the post office has two sizes for flat rate boxes that you can stuff up to 70 pounds into?” Pierce asked. “And the boxes are free! It’s an incredible savings and benefit that I utilize to send more boxes of goodies. Two or three times a week, I pack up a couple of the flat rate boxes, go to the post office and mail them off.”

For the fourth of July, Pierce sent holiday decorations so the squadron’s Airmen had a reminder of home during the holiday.

“The decorations were great,” Cianfrocca said. “We convinced a lot of people to try on the party hats,”

Pierce said she is not the only one in her area sending care packages to the troops. The post-office clerk told her several other local mothers also send lots of care packages to entire units stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I consider it a privilege to support the Bulldogs,” Pierce said. “They are the best of the best. They are brave, courageous and so very dedicated to their mission. Jennifer made an excellent choice when she joined the Air Force. I am so very proud of her.”

(U.S. Air Force Capt. Nora Eyle is assigned to 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs)

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