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Packaging Care

Written by Holden Slattery

During the Vietnam War, the Army paratrooper fought alongside fellow soldiers in pitch-black river mud and snake-filled swamps. For dinner, he forced down canned beef, canned bread, and the very unpopular combo of ham and lima beans. He was a soldier in the 101st Airborne Division and part of DET 3—a top-secret intelligence organization that identified enemy units. The group was so successful, he says, that the enemy army offered $10,000 to any civilian who captured a DET 3 member.

Luckily, the paratrooper, Chuck Donabedian (CGS ’72), returned home safely after his military tour. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Pitt and prospered as a stockbroker and consultant. In 1996 he became CEO of Winston Advisors, an Ohio-based investment management firm, which he still leads today.

In 2005, Donabedian heard that a contemporary 101st Airborne Division was being deployed to Iraq. Eager to help, he founded the DET 3 Foundation to support the troops. One of Donabedian’s first actions was to ship care packages with comfort foods like potato chips and cookies to improve those not-so-tasty military rations. Then he got more creative. With funds raised through the foundation’s Web site (www.det3.us), he and other volunteers coordinated the delivery of various goods: GPS devices that work far better than those old French maps in Vietnam; basketball hoops for troops to relieve stress in a fun way; soccer balls for soldiers to set up soccer leagues with Iraqi youths; satellite Internet systems so the troops can easily e-mail their families; and other supplies, too.

This year, the foundation received a letter from Commander Thomas H. Melton: Your frequent care packages combined with other generous gifts helped us endure austere conditions and greatly improved soldier morale, he wrote. Donabedian felt proud, but mostly he hoped that the troops would return home safely.

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