US defends uniform teddy bears
A PROJECT to send teddy bears made from US military uniforms to Iraqi children has been branded a 'sick stunt'.US airmen based at RAF Lakenheath have made a batch of blankets from old battle dress uniforms (BDUs), to send to homeless hostels in Ipswich, Norwich and London and the leftover scraps of the camouflage material are being fashioned into teddy bears.
A PROJECT to send teddy bears made from US military uniforms to Iraqi children has been branded a 'sick stunt'.
US airmen based at RAF Lakenheath have made a batch of blankets from old battle dress uniforms (BDUs), to send to homeless hostels in Ipswich, Norwich and London and the leftover scraps of the camouflage material are being fashioned into teddy bears.
A spokesman for RAF Lakenheath confirmed that the bears would be sent to Iraq to be handed out to children, a move which has sparked severe criticism from peace protesters.
Mel Harrison of the Lakenheath Action Group called the scheme a 'sick publicity stunt', which she said was an insult to the Iraqi people.
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She said: “How must these children feel being given teddy bears by the same people responsible for causing their suffering, who have bombed their country and killed and mutilated their fellow countrymen.
“If I were a child in Iraq I would find it a real insult. The Iraqis are going through hell and a teddy made from USAF uniforms is not going to make it any better.”
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But a spokesman for RAF Lakenheath refuted the accusations and said it was simply a matter of servicemen and women performing a charitable act.
He said: “This is not a stunt. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, and their opinions are valued, but our intention is to help people out.
“The point is to take something we can no longer use, because it's damaged or stained, and instead of just throwing it away we are turning it in to something for people who are less fortunate than we are.”
The idea of making blankets and bears came from Senior Airman Dennis Fry who came across boxes of unused BDUs at a store on the air base.
The 27-year-old airman's sister had made a blanket from old furniture samples when he was a child and he decided the old uniforms could be put to the same use.
He enlisted the help of the Air Force Sergeants' Association and earlier this month two dozen association members came together to unpick the uniforms ready to be sewn together as blankets, and other airbase residents are now sewing them and the bears together.
Senior Master Sergeant Bryan Allen, who helped with the blankets, told US services publication Stars and Stripes: “We're being ambassadors here in England, anytime I can do something to help, I try.”
A spokeswoman for the Salvation Army said she was extremely grateful for the blankets, which will be distributed on its nightly soup runs.