Reporter's Notebook: Creative workouts and fraternal fame in Haiti
During his “down time” while deployed to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Pfc. Mark Hamett, 18, occupies himself by lifting weights — old school.
Ingenuity is key for Marines deployed here, and they’ve made dumbbells out of 3-pound cinder block pieces. Hamett is a radio operator with Communications Platoon of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines who have set up their headquarters firm base at a cigarette factory.
Also playing defense
Sgt. Henry Esche, 23, is a bit of a celebrity among the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, now deployed to Port-au-Prince.
His older brother, Robert Esche, is the goalie for the National Hockey League Philadelphia Flyers, now in the Stanley Cup playoffs against the New Jersey Devils. He’s in his sixth year as a professional hockey player and second season with the Flyers.
The deployment to Haiti has made it challenging for Esche to keep tabs on his brother’s progress, said the platoon sergeant for the Communications Platoon of the 3-8.
“I jump on the Internet when I can and try to check out the scores, and that’s really the only way I can keep tabs,” he said. If he were back at his home station of Camp Lejeune, N.C., “I’d be glued to the television or the Internet. Not all the games are broadcast on TV, but you can hear them on the Internet.”
The two have played hockey since they were young boys. A gully next to their home in Marcy, N.Y., would ice over and the two first slid around on it, then started skating when they found beat-up figure skates in the basement, he recalled.
“Our dad came home one day and saw us and was laughing his [butt] off. He asked ‘What are you doing with figure skates? Do you want to play hockey?’ The next season, he signed us up.”
Their younger brother, 15-year-old Danny, wants either to be become a professional hockey player or a U.S. Marine, Esche said.
“We’re trying to push him away from both and toward college.”