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Frankie Mayo and her two-year-old son Devin at a Delaware Home Depot store, where she bought a pallet full of air conditioners to send to troops in Iraq.
Frankie Mayo and her two-year-old son Devin at a Delaware Home Depot store, where she bought a pallet full of air conditioners to send to troops in Iraq. (Bob Herbert / The News Journal)

WASHINGTON — Frankie Mayo is one cool lady.

The Delaware mother of a soldier stationed in Iraq, Mayo received an e-mail from her son in June. Cpl. Chris Tomlinson of the Army’s 300th Military Police Company wrote:

“Hey mom, yeah i am okay it is hot as hell here. last week the temp reached 143 my platoon said they would be very grateful if you guys sent us air conditioners.”

Perhaps most moms would have thought, “I wish I could.” Mayo did it.

She set up “Operation Air Conditioner,” and thus far has shipped 85 A/C units and countless boxes of food and water to servicemembers serving in a hot, dry and desolate land.

She has another 152 units in the pipeline, and donations are pouring in to her Internet site, http://mywebpages.comcast.net/frankiemayo/

Despite the e-mails from grateful soldiers and the media attention Mayo has received, she thinks her efforts are “no big deal.”

“All it takes is to do it,” Mayo said. “My mom is here. She’s 75, and she tells me about [similar efforts in] World War II, and this would’ve been no big deal.

“I sound hokey, but I’m just so sick of people being unpatriotic.”

Her patriotism has moved her to set up a “family-run” organization that has thus far enlisted the help of Home Depot, which donated 20 units; her local volunteer fire department, whose members help her box items; the Bear, Del., post office; and her brother Steve Nichols, who owns Nichols Excavation and offers the company’s heavy equipment when big shipments need to be moved.

Until recently, her 10-year-old daughter, Olivia, was her Webmaster. Things have gotten so crazy that Mayo needed to farm that out.

After appearances on shows such as “Good Morning America” and the “Today” show, Mayo realized that her message might not be reaching the troops in the field. So she e-mailed Stars and Stripes.

“I want to reach the soldiers in the field so that I can get them air conditioners and any supplies they need,” Mayo wrote. “I need the soldiers and Combat Support Hospitals to let me know what they need.”

Some have been e-mailing her with requests, others with support and gratitude. “You are the best!” wrote one soldier. Most ask her what the can do for her.

“I just want the guys to send me a unit patch when they get home,” she said

Why does she do it?

“I was my daughter’s age during Vietnam and I live near Dover [Air Force Base], and we saw the convoys of hearses. I remember that as a kid, and I just couldn’t [bear to] see this again.”

Mayo believes that a good deed is its own reward.

“Making a difference to some poor guy or girl who’s over there. … I love everybody. They’re just so nice … .

“They say, ‘What do I owe you?’ I say, ‘Nothing. Just come home.’”

How you can help ...

You can mail checks to:Operation Air Conditioner560 Peoples PlazaBox #121Newark, DE 19702Please make checks payable to:Operation Air Conditioner More information on sending air conditioners and other supplies to troops can be found on Frankie Mayo's Web site.

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