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Chicago pizzas headed to troops

Updated: June 26, 2012 12:32PM



It may well be the world’s largest pizza delivery.

Precisely 30,000 Chicago-style, deep-dish pizzas will hit the road, then air, on Thursday, headed to some 90,000 U.S. servicemen and women in Afghanistan.

They’ll arrive just in time for lunch and dinner on July 4th — Independence Day.

“If you stacked them up, the pizzas would be twice as high as Willis Tower. Laying them on the ground, they’d reach 7.12 miles,” says Mark Evans.

Evans, of Elk Grove Village, is the founder of Pizzas 4 Patriots, a nonprofit that has been delivering Chicago-style pizza to our troops the past five years.

It started in 2008, when while enjoying a deep-dish, Evans’ 15-year-old asked the retired U.S. Air Force master sergeant if he had eaten pizza in the field.

The query led to an effort to send 300 pizzas to troops in the Middle East — mushrooming to 3,000 — shipped free by DHL Express, which became a partner.

That first entreaty for donations brought in $10,000. Since then, the nonprofit has been sending pizzas to troops every July 4th and every Super Bowl, as well as to veteran’s hospitals nationwide every Veterans Day.

“It’s a way for us to say, ‘Hey, you guys are doing a great job. Keep up the good work,’” said Evans, a 26-year veteran who now works for AT&T.

At 8 a.m. Thursday, the pies will leave DHL’s Franklin Park facility in a 53-foot truck, be loaded onto a plane, and arrive in Bahrain the next day.

Then come the logistics of transport to troops on front lines in Afghanistan.

“The average temperature there is anywhere from 110-130 degrees Fahrenheit,” said DHL’s Ethan Mattern. “Each pizza is packed here with dry ice, then repacked with ice in Bahrain. It’s really a significant logistical process. But we want to ensure our troops get a fresh taste of Chicago on the 4th.”



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