Houston actor helps soldiers

September 9, 2008 4:43:31 PM PDT
Thousands of troops serving in Iraq will soon be headed home and back to their families. President Bush announced on Tuesday the withdrawal of 8,000 troops by the end of 2008. The plan also includes a shift of more troops to Afghanistan, where there's been a jump in Taliban and al-Qaeda attacks. Bush hinted more troops could come home in 2009, but that decision will be made by the next president.

Those soldiers spend months, even years, away from loved ones back here in the US. But one Hollywood actor and Houston resident has taken on his own mission to give them an image from home.

A keepsake, a photograph, a memory...little items that through the ages, have helped soldiers endure the horrors of war.

"Everybody has one or two keepsakes that are hands off, that nobody touches," said Sgt. Kellen Powell with the U.S. Army. Nobody makes fun of the keepsakes that you have to take with you"

For Sergeant Powell of Sugar Land, that meant photographs of his family kept close during a tour in Iraq.

"I had pictures of my family in my wall locker and especially my little sister," he said. "I had all sorts of pictures of her."

Enter Hollywood character-actor and Houstonian Danny Kamin. You've seen him in dozens of movies, from 'The Rookie' to 'Miss Congeniality' but with the war in Iraq in its sixth year, Kamin took on a very real mission.

"To give something heartwarming to people who are really on the edge, all the time," he said.

A lifelong photographer, Kamin takes professional quality portraits of soldiers and their families to help both during deployments."

"I hope that it provides some comfort to some guy in Afghanistan who has this maybe in his tent," said Kamin. "And he looks at this and thinks of home."

Kamin shoots in a studio, and has them printed for the families so they can ship them off to their loved ones overseas all at no charge. When we spent time with him, he was focusing on the family of Army specialist Patrick Pahls.

"This will be all of his girls and one boy, all of Patrick's girls," said Sharon Murphy, Patrick's mother.

They want to remind their son, brother, and fiancé in Iraq that his loving family is waiting for him back here in Houston.

"I think having a picture will help remind him what he's coming home to, so he has every reason to come home safe," said Katie Hilton, Patrick's finacee.

"That means so much for us, and obviously to him as well, but for us to know that people still do care and they are still thinking about him," said Patrick's sister Megan Crawford.

Kamin says it's the least he can do.

"Maybe I could bring a smile to some soldier's face," he said.

The portraits are done for soldiers deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, at no charge. For more information or to book a photo session:

OPERATION GRATEFUL
Hollywood actor Danny Kamin's family portraits
For soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan
WWW.OPERATIONGRATEFUL.COM

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