It had been almost a decade — eight years, to be exact — since Plainfield firefighter Adam Slick had seen his old friend Mark Koerner.
But last summer, when Slick and his fellow firefighters decided to send a care package to U.S. troops serving overseas, Koerner, now a staff sergeant with the U.S. Marine Corps, immediately came to mind.
Slick said he and his fellow firefighters, who raised $2,500 with the help of the Plainfield Firefighters/Paramedics union, the Plainfield Fire Protection District and volunteer association, wanted to make sure their very special care package made its way to a local serviceman or woman.
“So I gave a shot in the dark to this kid I grew up with,” Slick said. “I think the last time I saw him was when he left for boot camp.”
Koerner, who grew up with Slick in Channahon, responded by sending Slick a list of the usual care package requests, like razors, toiletries and baby wipes.
But when the box arrived at Koerner’s base in Afghanistan, he got a lot more than he bargained for.
“What they came up with was unreal,” he said. “It was probably the most amazing care package ever sent to Marines in combat.”
Slick said he and his lieutenant, Brian Joseph, took the money they’d raised and went on a shopping spree, picking up an Xbox 360, video projector, camera, iPods and other electronic goodies for the Marines serving with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines regiment.
Koerner, who recently ended a seven-month deployment in Afghanistan, said he couldn’t believe his eyes when he began reading the customs form on the box.
“I started reading it and I said, ‘No way,’” Koerner said with a laugh.
Koerner and fiancée Abby Riser, who plan to get married in June, stopped by Fire Station #4 in Plainfield on Friday night to thank Slick and Joseph.
“It made the guys really happy,” Koerner said of the unexpected care package. “And it made living [on the base] a lot more fun.”
Slick said he and his fellow firefighters are planning another care package, this time filled with non-perishable items and toiletries for the troops.
A fundraiser to help fund another shopping spree for the troops is in the works, he added.