The sound of Marine helicopters overhead has come to mean that help is on the way. From the Southeast Asian tsunami in 2004, to Hurricane Katrina, to the flooding in Pakistan, the earthquake in Haiti and now in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Marines and the Navy provide assistance unlike any other. Nothing conveys the feeling that everything is going to be all right like a United States Marine. Staten Island and the Rockaways in Queens know that feeling tonight.
Story by Capt. Lucas Burke
Marines assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are currently helping residents of Staten Island, N.Y. to clear debris and relieve human suffering as part of an initial effort to move Marines and sailors ashore to support the borough in their disaster relief efforts, Nov 4, 2012.
Yesterday, Marine leadership aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1), to include Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, 26th MEU commanding officer and Jarrettsville, Md. native, conducted disaster relief assessments and surveyed damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy to an area along southeastern Staten Island in an UH-1N Huey aircraft from Marine Light Attack Squadron (HMLA) 467, which is currently assigned to the 26th MEU.
The UH-1N is a twin-piloted, twin-engine helicopter used in command and control, resupply, casualty evacuation, liaison and troop transport operations. The 26th MEU has been using the helicopters to survey damaged areas of Staten Island in preparation of follow-on support to local residents.
The flights have also allowed the Marines to land in the hardest-hit areas and see what local leaders and residents needed the most.
“We’ve all seen the news, but to actually walk around and talk to people about what they are going through allows us to build a clearer picture as we conduct our planning. Despite the devastation, seeing the communities come together and help each other is motivation for us. Marines always talk about ‘one team, one fight’ and we’re just joining their team,” said St. Clair.
Over the past two days, the 26th MEU, with over 300 Marines and sailors and 12 helicopters, have been moving gear and personnel to the amphibious ship USS Wasp (LHD-1), and are establishing their capabilities prior to going ashore.
The 26th MEU, stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was in pre-deployment training when it received orders to head north to the New York-New Jersey areas hit by Hurricane Sandy. As an expeditionary force-in-readiness operating from the sea, the MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations.
NY Daily News – U.S. Navy hits shores of Belle Harbor to help victims of Hurricane Sandy