Mason sailor helps with relief efforts in Haiti - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Mason sailor helps with relief efforts in Haiti

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

Mason, OH (FOX19) - Nearly two months after a deadly earthquake struck Haiti, help is still badly needed in the country. Thousands of military men and women, along with volunteers from across the country are lending a hand, including one Tri-State native who is currently stationed off the coast of Haiti.

Aviation Boatswain Mate Airman Justin Henry has been in the U.S. Navy for three years, but he says he's never experienced a mission like this one. He's currently stationed in Baie de Grand Goave. FOX 19's Kimberly Holmes spoke with him on the phone on Wednesday. The U.S. Navy Visual News Service gave us some of their video to help FOX19 tell Henry's story.

"Right now we're doing medical evacuations," Henry said. "That's one of the big things that we're doing right now. That's the main reason this ship is out here. Really when we came over here there was really no surprise. We were hoping for the best but expecting the worst."

Henry is just one of 2,700 sailors and marines who are currently helping to return Haiti to its best. The Mason native has been stationed off the coast of Grand Goave in Haiti since January 18th on the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5). 

USS Bataan has a compliment of helicopters, hospital facilities and an embark of Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU 22). Amphibious assault ships like USS Bataan are embarked with a Fleet Surgical Team with facilities second only to the Navy's hospital ships, Comfort and Mercy 6. Bataan returned from its most recent deployment on December 8th, following a seven-month deployment conducting Maritime Security Operations in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf regions.

Henry's job is to make sure aircraft are refueled so they can continue to deliver essentials to the battered country. He works long days. They all do. They deliver millions of meals, medical supplies and even toys, but Henry said it's all worth it when they witness the small miracles they help birth every day.

"The first experience we've brought on was a 69-year-old lady who was trapped under a building," Henry said. "She was in good spirits. She really couldn't say thank you enough. She was praying and very pleased and very happy, we were there. I've heard of it with hurricane Katrina but to be here and actually doing it, it feels really good."

Henry said this is his first rescue mission, and it's changed his outlook on life. A hard-earned lesson that he hopes others back home in Cincinnati will learn, too.

"It could happen there," Henry said. "A disaster could happen anywhere. We could be in the same situation that they're in."

Henry said he misses his mother and step-father back home in Mason, along with Cincinnati chili. Henry said he doesn't know when he'll return home. He said it all depends on how long it takes to secure the country.


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