Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Mark Evans has dedicated to his life to delivering pizzas to soldiers deployed in the Middle East, veterans, and first responders. Evans is the founder of the Chicago based non-profit Pizzas4Patriots, a program dedicated to helping soldiers by delivering “America’s favorite food while they’re far away from home.” Evans will be giving soldiers stationed in Afghanistan a taste of home by delivering over 800 pizzas to Bagram Air Force Base for Super Bowl Sunday.
Pizzas4Patriots has delivered almost 170,000 pizzas to soldiers in the Middle East since 2008. The pies are shipped half-baked via private helicopters to soldiers in the field. The troops then find their own creative ways to complete the baking process. Some have convenience of using a traditional oven, while others have resorted to cooking pies with the heat from Humvee engines. Evans says he was inspired to start the program on July 4th while watching the news with his son.
“My son looked at the soldiers in Iraq on TV and he asked me what they were eating. I told him Meals Ready to Eat (MREs)– not pizza,” Evans said. “He asked me if we could send them some pizzas.”
Evans used the connections he made in the military to contact General David Patraeus. The men agreed to send 2,000 pizzas to Iraq. The troops were so elated by the small gesture that Evans decided to make it a tradition. He delivers the cheesey, Chicago-style comfort food to troops in the Middle East every Independence Day and Super Bowl Sunday.
Aside from sparking some heated debates about whether Chicago-style or New York-style pizza reigns supreme, Pizzas4Patriots has been a resounding success. The program is funded by Evan’s employer, AT&T, and by donations.
“I raise money. I go on TV and beg for money. My wife calls me the show dog or the talker,” Evans says.
To learn more about Pizzas4Patriots or learn how you can contribute visit their website here.