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Violet, La. (Sept. 15, 2005) - During a patrol through Violet, La., a community in St. Bernard Parish, Marines from 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, had to negotiate many obstacles caused by fallen trees, mud and debris to conduct their aid-and-recovery efforts.

Photo by Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

Charlie 1/8 puts shoulders into Katrina relief push

16 Sep 2005 | Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

Just 10 months ago, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, was clearing the streets of Fallujah during Operation Phantom Fury. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Marines of 1/8 have taken up a new mission - provide relief to the survivors of the worst natural disaster in modern American history.Departing Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Sept. 3, the Marines of Charlie Company, 1/8, arrived in the devastated city of Slidell, La., to begin their humanitarian mission. "We are always ready to step into the unknown; our tactics and training can adapt to any situation," said 1st Sgt. Harry N. Johnson, Charlie Co. first sergeant and a native of Trenton, S.C. "We train to be versatile, so that whether the mission is combat or search-and-rescue, we can accomplish it."When the company arrived in Slidell, the Marines began their search-and-rescue mission just as the floodwaters receded there."We set up camp, assessed the situation and hit the streets right away," said Lance Cpl. Marcos Montanz, rifleman and a native of Fresno, Calif. "We started by helping the people who hadn't left during the storm, providing them with food, water and medical supplies." The Marines of Charlie went door to door, house to house seeking out those in need of assistance. Working in coordination with local law enforcement and medical providers, Johnson said, the Marines allowed city officials to focus on other tasks, while they helped the citizens get back on their feet."We helped out a lot of people who were returning to their homes," said Lance Cpl. Thomas W. Carter, rifleman and a native of Wytheville, Va. "We did our best to clear away debris and fallen trees so they could return to their homes and begin to recover from the storm."On Sept. 10, Charlie Company left its camp at Slidell and joined the rest of the battalion at the NASA Space Center at Michoud, La. From there, the Marines of Charlie continued conducting the same types of missions in the hard-hit areas of St. Bernard Parish."The Marines were ready and motivated to come here and help," Johnson said. "Despite the long patrols and hours in heat, they are still motivated to go out and do it again the next day."Johnson attributed that motivation to the Marines' desire to help their fellow Americans in a time of need."I never thought that we would have a mission like this; there are a lot of strong feelings involved," Carter said. "Many of my Marines have told me that it's an added satisfaction and a bit sweeter that they are directly helping Americans," Johnson said. "They are pumped and excited about what they are doing. They know that what we are doing is appreciated. They know they are making a difference."