‘Operation Salami Drop’


Samuel Brummer never had to fight on an empty stomach during World War II. A monthly salami shipment from his friends back home in Newark took care of that.

‘‘It was a great morale booster to get a piece of home every month and know that people cared,’’ said Brummer, who fought in France and at age 82 still remembers how the men in his platoon eagerly awaited each shipment. In fact, salami shipments to troops were so commonplace during World War II that Katz’s Deli in Lower Manhattan coined a slogan: ‘‘Send a salami to the boys in the Army.’’

After coming home from the war, Brummer bought Hobby’s Delicatessen and Restaurant in Newark. A few years ago, he handed over the day-to-day operation of the landmark eatery on Branford Place to his sons, Marc and Michael.

Yesterday Marc and Michael Brummer revived the tradition of sending salami to troops overseas, but on a scale their father’s friends could barely have imagined.

The Brummer brothers kicked off ‘‘Operation Salami Drop,’’ shipping 2 tons of beef salami — 2,000 logs of the dried, salty meat — to the Army National Guard troops of the 42 nd Infantry Division in Tikrit, Iraq. The soldiers hail from New Jersey and 12 other states.

The batch shipped yesterday is only the opening volley in a series of prioritymail deliveries to Tikrit, the brothers say. Their ultimate goal is to send a salami to each of the 23,000 soldiers in the division. Lined end to end, the dried meats would stretch more than 4 miles.

The brothers set that goal in February, shortly after the division’s soldiers arrived in Tikrit. Besides the salamis shipped yesterday, 2,500 more Iraqbound salamis are hanging on the walls of the restaurant. An additional 5,000 are on order.

Each salami represents a $10 donation on the part of a Hobby’s customer. The money covers the meat, the $40,000 in shipping costs and some mustard to go with it. Many of the individual donations were large enough to buy quite a few salamis. The largest individual donation was $7,500. Another, for $1,000, came from a 13-year-old girl who sent her bat mitzvah money.

"‘At first we figured we’d be lucky to ship 1,000,’’ Michael Brummer said. ‘‘Now I’m thinking we might reach our goal. It seems like just about everyone wants to help these guys. It’s overwhelming.’’

The news of the upcoming salami shipment — scheduled to arrive in Tikrit Saturday via the U.S. Postal Service — is already creating a buzz among the troops.

At least one soldier was taken aback when he learned just how large a shipment is on the way.

‘‘Holy smokes, this is phenomenal,’’ Capt. Robert Giordano, the division’s deputy public affairs officer, said yesterday in a telephone interview from Tikrit. ‘‘It means the world to us here when we get that kind of support from home. It brings a tear to the eye to know that we’re so supported.’’

The whole thing began with a salami-laden care package Michael Brummer sent to his college fraternity brother, Capt. Michael Rothman, shortly after the officer from New York began his tour in Iraq in January.

‘‘He said it was such a big hit and wondered if we could send any more,’’ Marc Brummer said.

Tons more, it turned out.
‘‘There’s nothing like the scene of soldiers getting a package and turning to share it with their fellow soldiers,’’ Rothman, an attorney in civilian life, wrote in an e-mail from Iraq yesterday. ‘‘When it’s something homemade, something unique that reminds you of home . . . it can really make your day.’’

Many of the salamis that left Hobby’s Deli yesterday are bound for troops from New Jersey. One large stack of boxes is bound for the 50 th Main Support Battalion, which is based in Teaneck. Others are addressed to the Division Support Command, which has its headquarters in Somerset. Both units are based at Forward Operating Base Speicher for their yearlong deployment.

Cynthia Shefton, a U.S. Postal Service customer service representative, volunteered to help with the shipping effort, filling out hundreds of mailing labels by hand and completing scores of customs forms with an old typewriter.

‘‘I wanted to help. My father is a veteran and he was always telling me how bad Army food is,’’ Shefton said. ‘‘The salami has got be better.’’


Salami Drop

PHOTOS BY JENNIFER BROWN / THE STAR - LEDGER Marc Brummer hands over a box of salamis to his 10-year-old son, Aaron, for loading on the Postal Service truck outside his family’s restaurant, Hobby’s Delicatessen, in Newark.


Salami Drop

The brothers’ goal is to send a salami to each of the 23,000 soldiers in the division.


Salami Drop

JENNIFER BROWN / THE STAR - LEDGER Capt. Kevin Williams, chaplain with the New Jersey Army National Guard, bestows a blessing yesterday on a box he is holding, one that is on its way to U.S. forces in Tikrit, Iraq, as part of Operation Salami Drop.

Company B 50th MSB

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This page last updated 09/17/2005.