U.S. soldiers all over the world will again enjoy a break from their joylessly efficient military rations on the Fourth of July with deep-dish Chicago and New York-style pizzas.
And once again - from Iraq to Afghanistan, from Greenland to Djibouti - they have an Elk Grove Village man to thank for the pleasure.
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But it's to thank them that retired Air Force Master Sgt. Mark Evans started the Pizzas 4 Patriots program.
Evans said his original idea - which has proved true over and over - is that pizza is recognized by most Americans from childhood as a celebratory meal.
"It's like the all-American food," Evans said. "Their eyes light up and it immediately makes them feel they did a good job. It's a pat on the back."
This is the seventh event Pizzas 4 Patriots has done, and the third Fourth of July. There also have been two Veterans Days and two Super Bowls since the program began in 2008.
This one will have the widest reach of all and is being called Operation World Pizza.
Between 8,000 and 10,000 pizzas will be shipped to U.S. soldiers in both combat and noncombat zones around the world, as well as to veteran hospitals here at home.
The exact number of pizzas is in question because of the transportation logistics of getting them to some African nations like Djibouti, Ethiopia and Uganda.
"They don't have the infrastructure they have in Iraq and Afghanistan," Evans said. "They don't have the supply line either."
As such, Evans already knows that the Africa-bound pizzas will be delivered slightly after the Fourth of July.
The Chicago-style pizzas will be from Edwardo's, whose parent company perfected the art of cooking and transporting the pizzas to stay fresh. Dry ice keeps them good for 48 hours, and is then replaced to help them reach the far-flung areas of the desert.
While not every single soldier may get a slice of pizza, those currently dependent on Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs) far from a well-supplied base will get preference, Evans said.
While this event is mostly paid for donations are always welcome and any extra funding will go toward the next event, Evans said. Information on making a donation can be found at the website pizzas4patriots.com