L.A. Santa Leaves Troops Perplexed

<i> Associated Press</i>

Los Angeles executives playing Santa Claus sent a jet Tuesday to Saudi Arabia carrying gifts they thought U.S. troops need in the desert: designer sunglasses, expensive cologne, toy cars and moisturizer.

Troops watching the products being loaded onto trucks from a cargo plane seemed a bit perplexed. Gucci sunglasses?

“That’s outta there. Pilots wear Ray-Bans,” said Capt. Rick Allison, 29, of Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., who is with the 50th Tactical Airlift Squadron.

“Operation Desert Cheer” was part of an effort by employees of MGM Grand Air, who figured executives willing to pay $1,200 to fly from Los Angeles to New York might donate some nifty gifts for American troops.


A two-week gift drive netted 15 tons of goods.

Items on the plane’s manifest included Frisbees, footballs, 2,000 music cassettes, 20,000 cookies and 15,300 bottles of moisturizer.

The Los Angeles Lakers sent hundreds of jerseys and an autographed basketball. One toy manufacturer sent 7,200 Hot Wheels toy cars, saying it had received requests from soldiers.