Chris Bailey's suffering a double whammy this holiday season. Not only is he spending it in the Iraqi desert, but he's missing one hell of a party (in his honor, no less) this week at Suede nightclub in Scottsdale.
Yeah, we know Bailey's got more pressing issues to deal with: insurgents, car bombs and the like. And the big fiesta -- the Soldiers Ball on Thursday, December 23 -- isn't just for Bailey's benefit alone. But we've got a hunch Bailey wouldn't want to miss it for the free world, if only he had the option.
Bailey's U.S. Army infantry division, Bravo 1-41, will be patrolling the streets of an undisclosed Iraqi village/town/city this week as his friend, local promoter Benjamin Moline, works up support -- in the form of deodorant, flip-flops, beef jerky and CD players -- at Suede for Moline's nonprofit "contribution group," Soldiers R U.S. If all goes well, according to Moline, Bailey -- who makes his home in Ahwatukee when he's not off "liberating" Iraq -- won't be the only troop feeling the stateside love.
"Our goal is to send at least 100,000 [care packages] to troops in Iraq over the next year," says Moline, who runs Scottsdale-based SuperStar Entertainment.
And these aren't your average cardboard boxes filled with Mom's brownies, either. Moline enlisted the help of Juggernaut Design's Chris Stalzer to create a more unique packaging (apparently much needed, considering the military's armor supply these days): mock Kevlar steel-pot helmets crammed with good stuff like GameBoys, flashlights, lotion, Leatherman tools, lip balm, and even Cheez Whiz.
"These guys, you know, they can't go down to the convenience store and even pick up a stick of gum or a candy bar," says Moline, who served in the Army while based in Fort Hood, Texas, from 1992 to 1994. "I want them to know that we support them no matter what's going on with our government or our position in the world."
To that end, Moline argues that Soldiers R U.S., or the Soldiers Ball, for that matter, isn't meant to rally support for the war in Iraq. And, like those who fashion the "Support Our Troops" magnets on their cars without overtly declaring their own personal politics on the matter, Moline chooses to avoid the fray.
"I don't really wanna go there," he says, "but I definitely support our troops. They're doing it so that we don't have to. Somebody has to do it, so we might as well make them feel good about what they're doing."
And no one needs the boost of morale more than Bailey, who, according to Moline, was injured a few months ago when a car bomb went off where Bailey was patrolling, vaulting a piece of shrapnel at his head. And since being nominated for a Purple Heart as a result of the injury, Moline says, Bailey recently survived yet another car bombing, which required him to be revived by CPR.
"Yeah, it's thatbad," Moline says.