Canadians Hit the Beach, Join Katrina Relief Efforts
Story Number: NNS050915-16
Release Date: 9/15/2005 3:43:00 PM
By Journalist 3rd Class Chris Gethings, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Public Affairs Detachment Gulfport
GULFPORT, Miss. (NNS) -- Sailors and Soldiers from two of three Canadian ships operating in the Gulf of Mexico joined U.S. Sailors Sept. 14 in providing support to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts here.
Canadian service members from HMCS Ville De Quebec (FFH 332) and HMCS Toronto (FFH 333) joined Seabees from Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202 Detachment Key West, Fla., along with Sailors from USS Bataan (LPD 5).
Canadian sailors and soldiers left their homeport just days after the hurricane to come help aid in relief efforts. Their first stop was Pensacola, Fla., where the ships dropped off more than 50 tons of supplies, from water to tools and equipment.
"We were all excited to come down and help the Americans out," said Command Master Chief Luc Tremblay, of Toronto. "We spent the long Labor Day weekend getting ready for the mission, after recalling our ship's company Aug. 27."
Tremblay explained how, when hurricane Juan came through Hailfax in 2003, Americans were up there helping them in similar relief efforts.
"We're neighbors, [Americans and Canadians], why wouldn't we do everything possible to help each other out," added Tremblay. "I can't imagine not coming to aid in relief."
Seabees from CBMU 202 have been camped out at the Gulfport Armed Forces Veterans Home since Aug. 30. Their mission has been to provide security and safety for the veterans home, along with salvaging anything that didn't get lost in the hurricane.
"We got word from our [commanding officer] two days before the hurricane to get ready," said Chief Warrant Officer Charles Heatherly, CBMU 202's officer in charge. "Katrina hit Key West as a tropical storm, but turned into a hurricane right on top of us. When we heard it was headed up toward the Mississippi area, we were ready to go."
Heatherly said besides the Seabee's main mission, they're also cleaning the compound up of debris brought up by Katrina.
Also helping out in the relief efforts, Bataan Sailors have been coming to Biloxi's beach every day.
"This is the first chance I've been able to get out and help out," said Seaman Anthony Moreno, of Bataan's Deck Department. "I've been anxiously awaiting my chance to come out and contribute to the efforts; there's nothing I'd rather be doing. I think the veterans home is the perfect place for us to be aiding."
The staff of the veteran's home said there's a very noticeable difference in the compound since the military came aboard to help. They couldn't be happier with the military support and all the help they've given, the staff added.
Canadian soldiers and sailors and Bataan Sailors said they're more than happy to be coming to the beach every day to provide all the assistance they can.
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