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Combat Bocce Club - Habbaniyah, Iraq
In September of 2005 two soldiers from the 1-110th Infantry Battalion contacted me about the feasibility of shipping a premium bocce court surface to the Sunni Triangle. They were from a reservist unit out of Johnstown, PA and had grown up with the game.
Initially Boccemon offered to donate 5 yards of Rain Country Blend (modified for climate of course) but with the stipulation that they would need to get it from our warehouse in Bellingham Washington to Habbaniyah Iraq. Over the next few weeks they became members of the US Bocce Federation and we sent them a federation flag, some banners, hats, and balls. While standing in a long line at the post office I was looking at the Flat Rate packaging and had time to calculate the box volume. I figured it would take about 100 boxes to package one cubic yard. Then realized we could ship this yard - one box at a time to Iraq cheaper than I could send it in bulk to Florida. Couldn’t resist. I mailed them 12,000 lbs of our oyster blend. Took about a month of getting sponsors (only allowed one box per name) and standing for an hour or two a day at the Post Office. Each box required an official stamp on 6 pages of Customs forms. I shipped every day at 2PM from the Prospect Street Post Office in Bellingham, WA. Monday through Friday until they were all gone. The last box arrived before Thanksgiving. Less than two months from the original inquiry.
Before I “discovered” the Flat Rate boxes I met with an international freight broker and asked him to quote a price to ship 12,000 lbs to Iraq. All 508 boxes had arrived by the time he called me back with a quote. Even then he could only get it to Kuwait City. They played Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. They held their first tournament on January 1st 2006. It helped them unwind after mission. It was a good thing to do!
To this day I continue to email the soldier who originally contacted me about the court. If more than a week goes by without our exchanging sit comms it is rare. We have never met nor spoken directly by phone yet I consider him one of my closest friends. What’s half way around the world between friends? Thanks to everyone I solicited to help make this happen for the Task Force Panther. Long live the Combat Bocce Club.