The love and support for the military runs deep in the Heart of Texas. For a group of folks with ties to Brady and McCulloch County, their efforts around the world don’t go unnoticed. To show newfound friends 1st Lt. Tomas Shacklee and his fellow troops just how much their efforts mean, the group, headed by McCulloch natives Willie and Karen Jacoby, took it upon themselves to send a rather sizeable care package to the soldiers stationed in Iraq’those are the same soldiers they met and visited with here at the World Championship Barbeque Goat Cook-Off. Together with a group of friends consisting of Mark and Kara Bradbury, Donald and Lisa Angell and Connie and Chad Keith, the military supporters have become both physical and emotional supporters of Lt. Shacklee and his troops. According to Bradyite Carl Keith, one of the local members of the group that hosts the soldiers and any friends during the Labor Day weekend, the soldiers have fond memories of Brady and they look forward with great anticipation to returning for the annual event. Their first experience with the Heart of Texas came when they attended the World Championship Barbeque Goat Cook-Off back in 2004. Lt. Shacklee has been one of the pilots of the military helicopters that have been on display during each of the last three events. Since that first visit, where they became acquainted with members of the group, they have maintained contact with their Brady and Dallas friends, despite being stationed halfway around the world. A unique twist to this story is that he and his son, Michael, a chief warrant officer in the army, were both deployed to the same area in Iraq. Following is the response from Lt. Shacklee thanking the group for their efforts. Dear Karen and Willie, You guys are great. I want to pass this message through you to all who were involved with the package’thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am not sure I can explain the true thanks I feel. I wonder if other militaries in this world are as blessed as we are and I consider myself even more so with your friendship and support. Throughout computer transfers and crashes I still have your email address. I hope you call all the others and pass on my appreciation. The calendar makes it tough to not count the days down now. Special thanks to whoever coordinated that project. The personal signatures are going to make everybody jealous. I’m sure I will have more friends now and Michael will probably start visiting me more often. The CD is great, brings back many great memories and provides dreams for the future. I am pushing hard to end this conflict in time for the Goat Cook- Off. We’ll see. I will share with all the troops and explain to them about ‘you guys and gals’. Right now it looks like upon my return, I will most likely be re-assigned to Germany for three years. I will be in Heidelberg and that is real close to where my parents live. Michael and April are trying to go there as well, they better’I want my granddaughters. They both grew up in Europe, met in Italy and know the fun we could have. Have to get home first and take it step by step. I will hand out an open invitation to you all to come visit me there if you want. I grew up there my first 15 years, and was stationed 11 years there, so I know enough German to order a couple of beers and a schnitzel. Will keep you guys up to date with the return trip. Right now things are going as well as we could hope for. I’m sure that you guys caught the news and we had a bad streak for a while for us helo guys. Well, the bad guys know how to fight us, in our own news. This is a war and they handed out real bullets to the bad guys. The main thing I can pass on to you and the rest of the great Americans that provide their support, we appreciate it and realize that we are doing the right thing and making a difference for the right reasons. Our sacrifices are appreciated. Had to go to a memorial service for two fallen ‘Angels’ (what they call air crews) and Michael was standing right next to me. Hard to think that one of the photos, pair of boots with helmet on top and flag could be my son’s. Makes you think about what we are doing and the package, thoughts and prayers from you and those like you guys, brings it all in perspective. Anyway, the war is calling. Better go see if I can do my part in shortening it. Please tell EVERYBODY thanks soooooo much. I look forward to hearing from you guys. I can just imagine you guys putting this together and just had a big smile the entire time I went through it. The troops are doing well and the spirits are high. We have a great country backing us. God bless you all and take care. TOM To email 1st Lt. Shacklee, and show he and his troops even more hometown support send an email to tomas.shacklee1@1CAB1CD.army.mil.