When Jim Allison walked into Markland Shell last year, he asked store owner Ron Otter for a favor.
Not a favor for himself, but instead the Florence man asked for a favor for his son-in-law, who was serving in Afghanistan with U.S. military forces.
Would the store help sell magnetic ribbons that would go to help a family support organization for soldiers?
“There was never a question in my mind that we would help out,” Ron Otter said. “We are proud to help our soldiers.”
Markland Shell sold the ribbons to support the HHC 113th Support Battalions family support group. The HHC 113th is part of the 76th Infantry Brigade, and is stationed out of Columbus, Indiana. A part of that battalion is Charles “Sam” Honeycutt — the husband of Tammy Allison Honeycutt, daughter of Jim and Shelby Allison.
What started as a favor between friends turned into a true mission to support the troops.
“Some days Jim would bring in 50 ribbons in the morning, and by the time he stopped by in the afternoon after he picked Shelby up from work, I’d already be sold out,” Ron Otter said. “People would hear that the money was going to help the troops, and they would buy four or five at a time. It just sort of grew.”
In selling the ribbons, the money raised at Markland Shell alone was enough to buy a “Build-A-Bear” teddy bear for every child of a soldier in the HHC 113th for Christmas — with money left over to help fund the welcome home party that the family’s are already planning for their beloved soldiers.
How many ribbons did Markland Shell sell?
“Probably thousands,” Ron Otter estimates. “When all of this started, I never thought to keep count, but I know it’s in the thousands. People really supported this project.”
In downtown Vevay, members of the Edwin C. Danner Post #185 of the American Legion and its auxiliary were making plans to organize mailings of supplies and other items to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who had ties to Switzerland County.
Members of the legion and auxiliary collected donations of items and money, and prepared care packages to be sent in time for Christmas.
The American Legion post also had Sam Honeycutt on its list of soldiers to mail packages to.
To show their appreciation for all of the hard work going on here in Switzerland County to support our troops, this past Monday Tammy Honeycutt and her sons came to Vevay to make a very special presentation to Ron Otter and to Lowell Wayne Sullivan, commander of the American Legion.
The Honeycutt family presented both men with American flags that flew over Camp Phoenix in Afghanistan on Veterans Day of last year. The flags were encased in special cases that had been made by Bernie Burk of Vevay; and came with a special certificate telling about Camp Phoenix and the men who are serving there.
Sam Honeycutt’s four sons made the official presentations on behalf of their dad and his fellow soldiers. The flags were presented at the Veterans Monument on the Switzerland County Courthouse lawn.
“This is a very special gift for our legion post,” Lowell Wayne Sullivan said. “This means a lot to all of veterans who continue to support our country and our troops. These boys should be very proud of their dad.”
Ron Otter and Lowell Wayne Sullivan both said that the flags will be displayed in the store and at the legion post, and both encouraged everyone to continue to support the troops.
Tammy Honeycutt said that the money raised for the family support group does not go directly to help the soldiers’ families, but rather goes to support family projects such as the Christmas party and other events that help lift the spirits of family members.
“And it will be used for the welcome home party that we’re going to have in August,” Tammy Honeycutt said. “That’s going to be a big one.”
Sam Honeycutt has been gone from his family — wife Tammy and sons Cody, age 12; Chad, age 10; Nick, age five; and Alex, age one — since April of last year when he left for training and schooling in California.
From California he then left for Afghanistan in July. If all goes as planned, he is due home in August.
Tammy Honeycutt said that her husband is on AGR — Active Guard Reserve, and in that capacity he works with the National Guard for the 113th out of Columbus. He is now serving in Afghanistan as part of “Operation Enduring Freedom”, and at present is on duty at “Camp Phoenix”, a U.S. military encampment just north of Kabul, Afghanistan.
“Right now we’re not sure of exactly what he’s doing over there,” Tammy Honeycutt said. “He’s on some type of mission that doesn’t allow him to call or check his email very often, so we don’t have a lot of information right now.”