Operation Silly String Can Save Soldiers’ Lives

Even though you probably haven't played with Silly String since the third grade, it's not just for kids. This spray foam can alert soldiers to dangerous trip wires -- and thanks to one dedicated mother, a huge shipment of Silly String could save thousands of lives in Iraq.

Marcelle Shriver’s son, Todd, is an Army soldier stationed in Iraq. And, like any good mother, she’s sent him all sorts of care packages during his time overseas – but during a conversation she had with him last year, Todd had a very unique request for her next shipment: Silly String — the spraying foam that you probably haven’t seen since sometime around third grade.

Despite what Bill Murray’s hijinks in Stripes might have taught you about military life, Todd didn’t want to use the Silly String to play juvenile pranks on his bunkmates. As it turns out, the flying filmy substance actually has the potential to save soldiers’ lives. By spraying the foam into an unknown area before entering, soldiers are able to detect the presence of trip wires, and judge whether the area is safe to step inside.

So, of course, the New Jersey mom started stocking up on Silly String big-time, both for her own son and for thousands of other soldiers in Iraq. She organized a drive, dubbed Operation Silly String, to collect more than 120,000 canisters of Silly String. Back in January, she managed to send out her first collection of 40,000 on a Naval plane, but the Navy hasn’t had the space to carry over additional shipments, and because aerosol spray cans are illegal to privately ship, Marcelle hadn’t been able to get the rest of the donations overseas to help the troops.

Luckily, Thom Campell, a founder of a New Jersey shipping company, heard about Marcelle’s mission, and chipped in to help get these special care packages to their intended recipients. With his assistance, the remaining shipment of 80,000 containers of Silly String was finally delivered to the soldiers in Iraq last week. Marcelle couldn’t contain her joy as she watched Campbell load the boxes onto his truck: “I am so happy right now, I am shaking. I just think it’s awesome that it’s finally going,” she told CNN.

Thanks to Marcelle Shriver, Thom Campbell, and the hundreds of volunteers who donated canisters of Silly String, thousands of the soldiers in Iraq will be better equipped to protect themselves from treacherous trip wires. And there’s nothing silly about that.

Learn more. (CNN)