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Homeland Security

Beach Masters Serve as Critical Hub for Hurricane Relief Support

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050916-01
Release Date: 9/16/2005 8:30:00 AM

By Journalist 3rd Class Chris Gethings, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Public Affairs

BILOXI, Miss. (NNS) -- Beach Master Unit (BMU) 2 took command of a devastated Biloxi landing craft zone Sept. 4 so U.S. and international Navy ships operating in the Gulf Coast region could bring Sailors, Marines and supplies to the beach in support of the hurricane disaster relief efforts.

The beach was littered with heavy debris from the Hurricane Katrina, and had to be transformed into a spotless beach in order to support Landing Craft, Air Cushion arrivals.

"This is just what we do," said Beach Party Commander, Chief Boatswain's Mate (SW/AW) Dawn Martin. "The bottom line is, we do what we can, when we can," Martin added.

Martin, a Chesepeke, Va., native, said BMU 2 has been on deployment most of the year conducting training exercises. "Getting the chance to do our job in support of a disaster relief mission like this is just awesome."

About 2,500 Sailors, Marines and Soldiers have crossed onto BMU 2's beach. They've hosted Americans, Mexicans, Dutch and Canadians, all arriving to volunteer time for the hurricane relief efforts, and currently host an average about 320 service members a day.

"I'm not thinking about the heat; I'm not thinking about what I could be doing at home; I'm thinking about the people we're all helping," said Storekeeper 3rd Class Jesus Guzman, communications technician with BMU 2. "Being out here gets rough at times, but knowing we're all out here making a noticible difference makes it all worthwhile to all of us."

Guzman explained how locals have been stopping by Camp Restore, BMU 2's tent city on the beach, and requesting food and water. "We give them whatever we have," he added. "Some of them will just stop by to chat with us, and that's cool, too."

BMU 2 is also running a dispatch service for all of the volunteers who come across their beach in support of relief efforts. They keep in contact with local organizations and the ships, let the ships know what is needed, and assign the military volunteers who come across their beach a place where help is needed most, and they even provide them with transportation.

"I like this work a whole lot," said Marine Capt. Rico Quispe, BMU 2's combat cargo officer. "It's all been quite rewarding for me and all of our Sailors. I'm getting a lot of feedback from local residents and organizations we're assisting, and they all have nothing but good things to say - they couldn't be more appreciative."

Quispe's part in Camp Restore is coordinating with local organizations and the ships to find out where, when and how many Sailors are needed at countless relief areas.

"I was called to help people in dire need, and I'm more than happy to give everything I can to these relief efforts," said Quispe.

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