NAVAL AIR STATION NEW ORLEANS -- On August 27, while many service members in the New Orleans area were preparing to evacuate, Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Davis and Sgt. Lorenzo L. Edwards had different plans.
The two Marines, inspector instructor staff for 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, volunteered to remain behind as a part of the Naval Air Station's emergency operations center, and played a key role in the initial efforts to bring relief to the victims left in the storm's wake.
As the hurricane descended on the Gulf Coast, the station EOC began planning for the monumental task ahead of them.
Davis and Edwards watched from a supply bay as Katrina raged past.
"I have been through typhoons in Okinawa, Japan, but this was worse than anything I ever saw there," said Davis, 3/23 electronics maintenance chief and a native of Hazelton, Pa.
"I volunteered because I knew my family was out of harm's way and I could be more useful here," said Edwards, a mechanic and native of Opp, Ala. "Growing up in Alabama, I have been through many hurricanes, so I knew what to expect."
Not long after the rain stopped and the storm had passed, the Marines, along with the other members of the EOC, immediately began working to get the station operational.
The 25-man EOC team dragged, lifted and hand-carried fallen trees and debris to clear away the Coast Guard's landing zones and hangar for the start of search-and-rescue operations.
"The wind was still blowing when we came out," Davis said. "We started right away and cleared out the Coast Guard's area so they could get started."
After digging out the Coast Guard, Davis and Edwards helped load seven-ton trucks with food, water, supplies and personnel to bring aid to those in need.
"We were loading, running and unloading two or three convoys a day," Edwards said. "The supplies were already here; it was our job to prioritize what went where, and get it there as soon as possible."
"The first few trips were hairy," Davis said. "It was difficult to find a clear route for the trucks, but soon we had it down."
Along with the convoys of food and supplies, Davis and Edwards helped deliver fuel to area fan-boats that were conducting search and rescue.
"Our convoys were the only means of support to the western side of the river," Davis said.
In addition to their support of the relief effort, the pair aided the arrival of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit command element.
"When the MEU came in, we coordinated with the station personnel to get them set up with work spaces and living quarters," Davis said.
"We helped in any way we could to get (the MEU) set up," Edwards said. "We gave them information on what was happening on and off base to provide them with better situational awareness."
As the evacuated Marines of 3/23 return, Davis and Edwards said they were proud to have the opportunity to help.
"I take pride in not only helping as a Marine, but as a resident of this community," Davis said.