Halfway between Kuwait and Baghdad and a world away from his hometown of Murphys Noah Glanville hunkered down in a fighting hole, covered by a poncho.

It was mid-April, and United States military forces were pushing toward the capital of Iraq.

The atmosphere was more calm than usual. Glanville, a U.S. Navy medical corpsman, couldn't hear any shots being fired in the distance.

He seized the moment, reading a letter from a friend back home. The letter talked about a reporter who had been embedded with servicemen, but was barred from Iraq after allegedly reporting sensitive information about troops' whereabouts.

His friend said the reporter "had better come up here and report for his butt-whipping."

Although the letter was simple, the 25-year-old Glanville said that one note of support made all the difference for him.

Thousands of similar letters sent by a Calaveras County organization might have helped numerous other service personnel, he said.

Through Operation Military Support coordinated by Glanville's mother, Suzette, and Glencoe resident June Downum 45,000 people throughout the nation and abroad have been writing letters to about 5,000 military men and women in the Middle East. They've also been sending care packages.

"If we didn't have it, we wouldn't know any better," Noah Glanville said of the project. "But it's the difference between taking a hot shower or a cold shower."

To thank people for their support and to thank them for supporting thousands of others, too Glanville was in Angels Camp yesterday at a dinner sponsored by Operation Military Support.

More than 100 people were at at Greenhorn Creek for the meal. Some had children who were in Iraq, and others were veterans of previous wars.

Avery resident Jamie White, 49, came to the dinner to show support for his son, 21-year-old Lance White. The younger White is a Marine who returned from Iraq five weeks ago and is now stationed at Camp Pendleton near San Diego.