CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan – Task Force Guam let its feet do the talking in its last act of goodwill before departing Afghanistan.
Members of 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, donated more than 120 pairs of boots to an Afghan security organization that serves a significant purpose in Kabul, according to Patrick McCafferty, a retired Canadian military warrant officer who mentors close to 250 Afghanistan Public Protection Force employees. The Guam soldiers are slowly trickling out of Afghanistan as their Operation Enduring Freedom commitment rapidly ends, but made time for one final mission to the Afghan community.
McCafferty began Operation Walking Tall last year, a program meant to outfit APPF guards with sufficient footwear. Task Force Guam obliged this program with its donation, the largest amount McCafferty received since the program’s birth.
“I cannot begin to tell you how important this is. It means a lot to the guards and to the people of Afghanistan,” McCafferty said. “I am flabbergasted and very appreciative of the Guam soldiers helping out. The simple act of donating used boots will do more for building relations at the grass roots level [soldier to soldier]. I cannot thank Guam enough for your generosity and your Regiment will have a profound positive effect with my guard force.”
Weeks ago, Task Force Guam commander Lt. Col. Michael Tougher influenced all of Guam’s multiple units serving Operation Enduring Freedom to donate used or unused boots to this cause. Guam troops occupy all six International Security Assistance Force regional commands and coincidentally are prepping to depart Afghanistan. Every unit responded, making considerable donations.
“It worked out well for everyone. Soldiers have boots they want to get rid of because you cannot use them anywhere else but in Afghanistan, and we’re about to go home,” Tougher said. “Rather than discard them, we’ll give them to a good cause. The security company needs them and we’re happy to help.”
“When the APPF guards receive a pair of boots that are good quality, they feel more professional and greatly appreciate the feeling that some of us care for them. It helps builds bridges between our cultures,” McCafferty added. “The quality of uniforms and boots that are issued to the APPF by the Ministry of the Interior are inferior. They’re very low quality, with boot heels glued together. They’ll fall apart within a month.”
McCafferty is site security manager for a private firm but also conducts personal security and risk management consultation. He’s a key asset to APPF as he trains, mentors, feeds and outfits all security guards as best he can.
“I deal with the lives of these guys and that includes their health and welfare,” McCafferty said.
Guam’s benevolence stems from an early December incident where a local security guard was accidentally killed. With Guam forces present, the incident closely escalated into something more serious. McCafferty greatly assisted calming things, saving what could have been a major international conflict.
“It’s obviously sad someone was killed that day especially the way it happened. There was a lot of emotion, a lot of tension from both sides,” he said. “Everyone now understands it was an unfortunate accident. Your regiment helped put this behind us with your donations of boots. This speaks a lot about the Guam unit.”
Tougher expressed condolences for the security guard’s death.
“This is our gesture for their loss. We’re saddened it happened,” Tougher said.
Guam’s donation came in time for McCafferty to issue them as Christmas gifts, he said. “Believe me, they’ll all be very happy to see this,” he explained. “Some of them have never received a gift as simple as a pair of shoes. Again, my tremendous thanks to the Guam soldiers for making this a special Christmas to these Afghan people.”
McCafferty, of Petawawa, Ontario, Canada, reached out to various American and Canadian forces for boot support and has gotten few responses. He personally paid to ship almost two dozen boots to Afghanistan from his homeland. He hoped to get enough boots to distribute to his security guards as Christmas gifts.
“These are truly special especially when they know they’re coming from American forces,” McCafferty said. “Americans and Canadians, we’re generous people. The Afghans believe that.”
Anyone willing to step forward and help can email McCafferty at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Task Force Guam’s remaining troops will leave Afghanistan shortly after Christmas Day. Majority of its nearly 600 soldiers have already left the country and en route to Camp Shelby, Miss., for redeployment processing.
Members of the Guam Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment — Staff Sgt. Erico Santos, left, and Sgt. 1st Class Frank J. Limtiaco — donate Task Force Guam’s first batch of boots to Patrick McCafferty, a retired Canadian Army warrant officer who helps run an Afghan security company that’s improperly outfitted with footwear. McCafferty, founder of Operation Walking Tall, sought Guam’s assistance and the Soldiers responded with more than 120 pairs of boots. “This is the biggest donation we’ve gotten since we started the program two years ago,” McCafferty said Dec. 25 at Camp Phoenix, Kabul, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza/Released)
Task Force Guam’s Sgt. 1st Class Frank J. Limtiaco assists Patrick McCafferty, a retired Canadian Army warrant officer, unload new and used boots from 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard that will be given to an Afghan security company McCafferty’s runs. McCafferty said Guam’s donation of more than 120 pairs of boots is “the most given to ‘Operation Walking Tall‘ since he started this program two years ago. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza/Released)
Command Sgt. Maj. Mel Hennegan, Task Force Guam command sergeant major, acknowledges Patrick McCafferty after he accepted Guam’s donation of 120-plus pairs of boots Dec. 25 at Camp Phoenix, Kabul, Afghanistan. McCafferty received assistance from 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, to outfit Afghan security guards who are improperly provided footwear to do their jobs. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza/Released)
Patrick McCafferty, a retired Canadian military warrant officer, shows his gratitude to Staff Sgt. Erico Santos after Santos’ Task Force Guam donated more than 120 pairs of boots to McCafferty’s security company in Kabul, Afghanistan. McCafferty helps close to 300 security guards with personal and professional equipment and contacted 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, for assistance. The Guam Soldiers responded in time for McCafferty to present gifts to his security guards for Christmas. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza/Released)
Patrick McCafferty, second from left, accepts more than 120 pairs of new and used boots from Task Force Guam Dec. 25 as 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard donated footwear to an Afghan security company headed by McCafferty. The Guam Soldiers performed this act of goodwill as their last Operation Enduring Freedom mission to the Afghanistan community. Shown: Staff Sgt. Erico Santos; McCafferty; Spc. James Esperon; Sgt. 1st Class Frank J. Limtiaco and Command Sgt. Maj. Mel Hennegan, Task Force Guam command sergeant major, at Camp Phoenix, Kabul, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza/Released)