Would you believe I've had this story started for over a year. As soon as I got the challenge popping up today in my e-mail, I ran right over to my file and pulled it out.
So here it goes! Do I win a prize for quickest response?
"Schultz is coming with the mail!" Carter announced as he barreled through the door of the barracks. "And he's got packages!"
That got the entire barracks moving. Men dropped whatever they were doing as they jumped off their bunks. Even Hogan, who heard the news from his office, stopped in mid-shave and scrambled out into the common room.
"Give him some room," he ordered as Schultz, holding his mailbag, walked into the barracks. Everyone stepped back. To Hogan's surprise, Schultz was being followed by two corporals, who unceremoniously dumped four boxes onto the floor.
"Don't touch." The sergeant warned. "These are for Corporal O'Brien."
"Four boxes?" Newkirk tried to get a look. "It's like Christmas."
"Colonel Hogan. Here are the letters." Schultz handed Hogan a pile of envelopes tied up in a string. "Your face!" Schultz chuckled.
Hogan grinned, grabbed a towel and wiped off the shaving cream. "It's been three months since we got mail. Got a little carried away."
"Never mind the letters, Colonel. We're more interested in O'Brien's boxes." Olsen was helping the corporal cut through the tape.
"Wow. Colonel Hogan." It appeared O'Brien was tearing up.
"What is it? Give these out, will ya." Hogan gave LeBeau the group of letters. The French corporal proceeded to hand them out to the men in the barracks.
"It's from my sister, Colonel. She's an elementary school teacher. Look at this! She got the entire school to write letters to us." O'Brien held up a batch of envelopes. Each envelope was addressed to A Soldier, Stalag 13. "There's got to be hundreds of letters, Sir."
Hogan glanced inside the box. "These kids are going to get answers," he said. "O'Brien, grab some help and start handing these out. Cover the entire camp. Everyone who wants a letter and can write back, gets one. Double up if we run out."
"Yes, Sir." O'Brien replied. "Colonel. Here's the first letter." The corporal held out an envelope.
"Thanks." Hogan smiled. "I'll be in my office."
Hogan planned on writing a personal thank-you to O'Brien's sister and the principal. But first, he had other plans. He looked at the childish handwriting on the unsealed envelope, and gently pulled out the sheet of writing paper and a drawing.