Kyle Gleason is a 26-year-old soldier currently
stationed in Afghanistan as a gunner on a Chinook crew. A
native and the son of Dennis and Nitsie Gleason, the young soldier
is on his second overseas tour. Previously Gleason served 14 months
in Iraq as a gunner on a Humvee.
Gleason has wanted to be a soldier his entire
life. His father, Dennis, explained that Kyle signed up for the Guard
as a junior in high school and immediately went into the service
upon graduation. Gleason has many specialties, including weapons, and
is also a paratrooper.
Thanks to Facebook, this local soldier has been
able to keep in touch with family and friends, posting pictures and
information continuously to keep that thread with home and family
There is another thread, as it were, being
woven between Kyle, his crew and the community Kyle grew up in, and
it makes a person proud. It certainly has everyone over at the
Knights of Columbus proud.
Young Staff Sgt. Gleason is an active
fourth-generation member of the Knights of Columbus Council, when he
isn't serving his country, that is. And the members of the Knights of
Columbus and their patrons are making sure Kyle and the crew he
serves with are not forgotten. The Knights members and patrons
adopted Kyle and his friends. The soldiers in turn have adopted the
Like all soldiers, a crew forms a tight-knit
bond, a brotherhood that is essential when a unit faces peril. In lighter moments
it is this bond that also means when one soldier gets
something, everyone shares. And so it is that the KCs adopted
Kyle's entire C-47 crew.
Since the KCs started gathering care packages
for Gleason, six of these 10-pound packages have been sent. They
included snacks, cookies, candies and other treats, plus magazines
and other materials to help the crew feel that personal contact with
their home country.
For Kyle's birthday, a card was signed by all
who stopped by, and pictures of friends were taken to be sent to the
soldier as well. His father mentioned that a package the family
sent included deer salami and jerky, and that was a real hit
with the crew.
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What makes this special contact with this copter team all the more
personal, to not only Gleason and his crew, is what the chopper crew
did for the KCs to return their kindness. The flag in the picture
with the soldiers isn't in Afghanistan anymore. It was sent back to
the Knights of Columbus Hall with an explanation.
The flag in the picture, and now in a box at the
KC Hall, was flown on a mission on Feb. 26. On an accompanying
photo is the mention of the mission as well as the crew, which
besides Kyle, included CW3 Mark Chojnacky, pilot-in-charge; Staff
Sgt. Jabson; Capt. Aaron Weddle, pilot; and Sgt Jackson, flight
Many of the KC members and patrons are very
emotional about this special gift Kyle and his crew sent to them, and
there are plans to make a proper protective case so that the flag
can be displayed proudly at the hall.
In the meantime, a box for dropping off the
next supply of good homegrown items to be sent to the crew is
already being filled up. It is just the next of many until Gleason
and his crew can return home after another job well done for their
country and their communities.
The flag will be waiting, as will everyone at
the Knights of Columbus, for Kyle and his crew's safe return.