JOB ENVY: The Army Officer Who Gets Deployed Troops Gaming

Navy Media Content Services

Full Name: Stephen Machuga

Location: Washington, DC

Job Title: Founder of Operation Supply Drop

Branch of Service: Army

For service members deployed overseas, it’s often the little things that make the

most difference. While serving in Iraq in 2003 as an infantry officer in the Army, Stephen Machuga realized many of the care packages being sent to deployed troops were well-meaning, but never had what troops wanted or needed. Care packages missed a reality of 21st century technology — troops can play video games in war zones. After he left the service in 2006, Machuga decided to reach to the gaming community to try and change that.

Operation Supply Drop was born, a military charity that assembles care packages of

video games and game consoles to send to soldiers in combat zones or recovering

personnel in military hospitals. Since the charity’s founding in 2010, they’ve

raised 1.6 million dollars’ worth of games and accessories to be sent to

service members overseas.

Machuga spoke with Task & Purpose to describe his current work and his transition from military service.

On his service

Machuga describes himself as an unremarkable infantry officer.

“I was the enlisted man’s officer; my guys loved me because I talked video games

with them and couldn’t care less about which colonels were getting promoted,” he said.

A Ranger School graduate, Machuga says he’s happy he got to experience the military as an infantryman. “: I’m so happy I was infantry. I got the full “MILITARY” experience, versus being a combat service support branch that boxes widgets or files paperwork.”

The genesis of Operation Supply Drop

Stephen Machuga

After leaving the Army in 2006, Machunga moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a government contractor doing analytical work. The idea for the charity came from an exchange he had with one of his former subordinates:

“[One of my soldiers] in Iraq re-enlisted after he got out and was immediately sent over to Afghanistan. When he got there, he knew because of my love of video games that I had friends in the gaming industry and wanted to see if we could get someone to send them some video games,” he said. “I reached out to some contacts and they delivered in spades with boxes and boxes of Guitar Hero bundles. Of course, word got out that some crazy guy was sending thousands of dollars of video games to deployed troopers, and thus started the charity.”

His unique role in the military charity space

Machuga said he isn’t aware of any other charities with a military gamers bent. While building Operation Supply Drop has been a challenge, it’s what he enjoys the most about his career.

“You know how they say that if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life? Well, that’s partially true,” he said. “I’ve never worked harder in my entire life, up all hours of the night answering emails, requesting donations, building alliances, but it’s all so much fun to watch this charity keep getting bigger and reach a tipping point. People are taking note. It’s exciting.”

On the ones carrying the torch in the military now

Machuga has nothing but respect for his brothers and sisters serving today. And the capabilities of the modern military surprise him, he said. He has no doubt that current troops can handle the threats America faces today.

“I can’t get out there and go kick ISIS in the junk,” he said, “but I’ve been shot at for a living, so I can definitely appreciate those kids who are still out there picking up the guidon where I put it down.

“I still marvel at the fact that I was in at times; the kids nowadays feel like superheroes to me.”

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less

Airman 1st Class Isaiah Edwards has been sentenced to 35 years in prison after a military jury found him guilty of murder in connection with the death of a fellow airman in Guam, Air Force officials announced on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less

It took four years for the Army to finally start fielding the much-hyped Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, and it took soldiers less than four days to destroy one.

Read More Show Less
Capt. Jonathan Turnbull. (U.S. Army)

A soldier remains in serious condition after being injured in the deadly ISIS bombing that killed two other U.S. service members, a DoD civilian, and a defense contractor in Syria last week, Stars and Stripes reports.

Read More Show Less

A Russian man got drunk as all hell and tried to hijack an airplane on Tuesday, according to Russian news agencies.

So, pretty much your typical day in Siberia. No seriously: As Reuters notes, "drunken incidents involving passengers on commercial flights in Russia are fairly common, though it is unusual for them to result in flights being diverted."

Read More Show Less