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Iowa guardsman gives back to DU and.. gets back

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Jon Kruse (left) organized a group of DU volunteers to purchase US flag flown over Iraq for its gifter, Chris Sprott (right)

WOODWARD, Iowa, July 6, 2009 - It went from a unique gift to something wonderful for the gifter. Iowa Ducks Unlimited member Chris Sprott donated two flags flown in Iraq to raise money for DU at the Iowa state convention and his local chapter event. But the Iowa Air National Guard master sergeant from Woodward didn’t expect this act of generosity would inspire a group of DU volunteers to return the favor.

Secretly, DU national conservation programs committee member and former Iowa state chairman Jon Kruse organized a group of folks to purchase the flag auctioned off at Sprott’s local event and give it back to him.

“I was blown away by Jon Kruse and all the others who made this gift possible for me,” Sprott said. “I was speechless to say the least when John asked me to come forward. I want to thank them and say I am honored to have this wonderful gift hanging in my home.” He adds it was never his intention to have one of these flags displayed in his own home and, in fact, he made his wife, Twila, promise not to bid on either one.

Kruse says Sprott showed his love for the ducks when he donated both flags to DU. “Chris accomplished his mission of raising bucks for the ducks, locally and at the state convention and our group of DU supporters was able to recognize Chris for his military service and his unselfish dedication to DU,” he said. “Special thanks go out to our little group for their generosity in making this happen.”

A weapons training coordinator with the Iowa Air National Guard, Sprott is headed back to Iraq later this year for a third deployment in four years to support Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

He says he got the idea for the donating the flags brainstorming one day about how he could help raise money for DU. Hanging on his wall at home is an American flag he had flown for his wife during a 2005 deployment to Qatar. “The Air Force has a long tradition of flying flags for family, friends and organizations to show appreciation for their support,” Sprott said. “I thought, ‘Why not DU?’ Unique items do a lot better in the live auction.” He designed a cloth patch and had it embroidered on an Air Force Base in Iraq to include in the flag’s display case.”

Sprott has been involved with DU for about five years, most recently as an Area Chairman for Dallas County DU.

Iowa Regional Director Josh Finley calls Chris a passionate DU member. “He stepped up from being a DU member to join the local committee, and then became the Area Chairman of his chapter, Dallas County Ducks Unlimited,” Finley said. “It’s evident Chris has foremost in mind how he could help DU when he returned from Iraq with the flags.”

“I love the outdoors, to hunt, fish and camp and want to pass all these great things on to my kids and others. DU helps preserve those activities and so much more,” Sprott said. “The one thing that got me interested in DU was the fact that DU puts the majority of what is donated back into the cause and keeps their cost and operating percentage low.”

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.

For more information about DU’s work in Iowa, visit www.ducks.org/livinglakes.

Media contact: Becky Jones Mahlum 701-355-3507, bjonesmahlum@ducks.org

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