More than $50,000 raised for COP Keating

Fifty-six American soldiers of Bravo Troop 3-61 Cavalry lost every personal possession they had during a deadly battle at Combat Outpost Keating in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan on Oct. 3.  Attacked by more than 300 insurgents and forced to destroy their camp, they were left with just  the clothes on their backs. Eight U.S. troops were killed.One of the surviving soldiers said no one in the United States understood what had happened to them or what they were doing there. After the camp was hit, he wrote to The American Legion that he was certain no one cared.Visitors of The American Legion Burn Pit blog site are proving otherwise. Fewer than five days after the Burn Pit launched the COP Keating Relief Fund to replace the soldiers’ personal possessions lost in the attack, more than $50,000 in cash donations had poured in to the nation’s largest veterans organization. Donated funds will be used to help purchase comfort items such as video game players, digital cameras, memory sticks, DVDs, books, magazines and other merchandise. The items will be shipped around Nov. 1.“Every donated dollar goes directly to purchase items for the troops,” American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill said. “None of these funds are used for administrative costs. We certainly do care about these brave soldiers and the ordeal they went through. They lost eight comrades and were forced to face the gravity of that situation without any personal items to help pass the time. I applaud and thank all who donated to the COP Keating Relief Fund. They have shown that we care very deeply.”The American Legion has already purchased 56 iPod 32g Touches, loaded with movies, music and audio books to be shipped directly to the troops next week. The Legion worked with Veterans of Valor, an organization headed by a Marine Corps veteran who was severely wounded in Iraq, to provide the music/video players.Computer Sciences Corp. acted on the initiative and offered 56 laptop computers to replace those destroyed after the attack.“We are not asking for much, but anything that you feel that you want to send that would help get a smile back on the men’s faces would be great,” Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Hill wrote in an e-mail posted on the Burn Pit site. “We lost everything, material-wise, from DVD players, hard drives, laptops, memory sticks, photos, all of our gear and several other things … but we did not lose our pride and will to drive on.”To read more about COP Keating and the soldiers who fought there, or to donate, visit