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Iowa Couple Works To Get Beef Sticks To Troops

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Pete Shinn, MEO
  • 185ARW
One Iowa couple is making sure U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are getting a taste of home. And they're doing so with help from an extensive network of volunteers, and from the Iowa Air National Guard's 185th Air Refueling Wing.

Ted and Dee Ann Paulsrud of Danbury, both of whom are long-time members and leaders of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association (ICA) are now leading an initiative to get Iowa beef sticks to U.S. troops in southwest Asia. The ICA took on that effort shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. But the program proved costly, both in time and money, and ICA decided to drop the initiative a little over a year ago. Dee Ann Paulsrud, now widely known as "The Beef Stick Lady," picks up the story from there.

"It started a year ago in November [2006] when my husband was retiring off the Iowa Cattlemen's board for District VII Director," she told Brownfield. "They no longer were going to do it at the state level. They already had done it for four years and then, they were aborting the program. Well, we didn't want to do that."

So the Paulsruds took up where ICA left off. And Dee Ann Paulsrud said they've developed an all-volunteer beef stick processing and distribution system, all aimed at getting Iowa beef to American fighting men and women in Southwest Asia.

"We're working with a little plant out of Ackley, Iowa, Triple T Specialty Meats," Paulsrud explained. "Our beef sticks are USDA inspected. They are vacuum sealed. They're one-ounce sticks. And it's primarily Iowa beef. Jolene at Triple T there in Ackley has told me maybe a little bit slips in from Minnesota, but not much," she added, smiling.

"And then when they're processed, we've been real fortunate there's a lot of people behind the scenes," continued Paulsrud. "The Fareway grocery store truck driver slips through Ackley, puts them on his truck and, free of charge, hauls them to Sioux City, Iowa, to a sergeant-friend of mine, Sergeant Phil Oregon, who picks them up at Sioux City at the grocery store and takes them over to the 185th Air Refueling Wing, and then they will begin their journey over to the Middle East, to Iraq and Afghanistan."

Paulsrud mentioned Technical Sergeant Phil Oregon, the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Combat Arms for the 185th Air Refueling Wing's Security Forces. Oregon and his family go to church with the Paulsruds. And Oregon told Brownfield when the Paulsruds asked him for help in getting Iowa beef sticks to U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, he just had to say yes.

"Obviously, I was very happy to do what I could in seeing whether or not the base could support distributing these sticks to the troops overseas," Oregon said. "With the planes that we've got and the mission that we have, I just thought it was great way to get this product over to the fighting troops."

According to Oregon, he approached the 185th Air Refueling Wing Commander, Colonel Brian Miller about helping the Paulsruds get Iowa beef sticks to U.S. troops in Southwest Asia and Miller enthusiastically agreed to help. Dee Ann Paulsrud said that assistance fully offsets the 68 cent-per-beef stick production cost and is invaluable to making the program work. But according to Oregon, the real driving force of the effort is still the Paulsruds.

"I really think that credit for all of this needs to go to Ted and Dee Ann Paulsrud," Oregon emphasized. "If it hadn't been for them, I wouldn't be involved in this, and certainly, this whole program with these beef sticks wouldn't be where it is."

A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 185th Air Refueling Wing is scheduled to take as many as 12,000 of the one-ounce beef sticks to U.S. troops in Afghanistan sometime around the middle of next month. Those who would like to help pay to get more Iowa beef sticks produced for distribution to our U.S. fighting men and women who are prosecuting the Global War on Terror can simply give Dee Ann Paulsrud a call. She and Ted are listed in the Danbury white pages.

Editor's Note: 1st Lieutenant Peter Shinn is a Traditional Guardsman assigned to the 185th Air Refueling Wing as an Equal Opportunity Officer.