Monday, 20 May 2024

Middletown soldier returns to Lake County for a visit

Sgt. James Rayburn cuts a cake during a visit with Operation Tango Mike on Friday, June 20, 2008. Photo courtesy of Ginny Craven.


LAKEPORT – Sgt. James Rayburn is home on leave after serving nine months there in Iraq.

The US Army veteran has only 18 short days at home before he returns to Iraq to serve another six months and complete his tour of duty. When he is not deployed, James and his wife and children live in Kentucky where his duty station is Fort Campbell.

Rayburn is originally from Middletown and still thinks of Lake County as home.

Several months ago his name and address were given to Operation Tango Mike, along with a request to send care packages to bolster the soldier’s morale. The request came from a teenager in Middletown, who attends the same church as the Rayburn family members that remain in Lake County. That young man, Tyler O’Brien, has supported Operation Tango Mike through participation via the Interact Club at Middletown High School.

Rayburn asked his local family members early last week to contact someone from Operation Tango Mike to make arrangements to meet. The soldier wanted to thank his supporters and share his thoughts and true stories of how care packages and contact from home have helped him throughout his deployment.

The sergeant and his family arrived at Umpqua Bank in Lakeport on Friday morning to a warm welcome and a cake decorated in the style of an American flag. The soldier was presented with gifts and greeting cards and was showered with thanks, hugs and handshakes.

He spoke of how difficult time away from home can be in a war zone. He then added that every card, letter and care package make it bearable.

Rayburn said the first time he received a care package from Operation Tango Mike was a truly exciting experience. Although every mail call is uplifting when your name is called, that first package was very moving. The soldier said he examined the package, saw a Lake County return address, and thought, “This is from home!”

He expressed his gratitude for the care packages and support he has received. Moreover, he repeatedly spoke of “what a great thing it is Lake County is doing” in sending care packages. The soldier said he knows with certainty there are many others deployed far from home that benefit from the support.

Operation Tango Mike will continue to send care packages and support to Sgt. Rayburn throughout his deployment.

Approximately 80 to 100 care packages are prepared and shipped monthly. Donations of goods for the care packages and financial contributions for shipping costs are always needed. Checks can be mailed to 5216 Piner Court, Kelseyville, CA 95451.

The next packing party will be June 26 at 6 p.m. at Umpqua Bank on 11th Street in Lakeport.

Volunteers are welcome and should contact Ginny Craven at (707) 349-2838 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



The flag cake was shared at a gathering at Umpqua Bank on Friday, June 20, 2008. Photo courtesy of Ginny Craven.


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