The waiting game: 1st Cav GIs stuck in hurricane relief limbo
FORT HOOD, Texas — Soldiers with the 1st Cavalry Division were put on hold early Sunday after receiving orders to help with Hurricane Rita relief efforts, a division spokesman said.
An advance team was on the road to Port Arthur when word of the delay came, said Army Capt. George Lewis.
Lt. Gen. Robert Clark, commander of Task Force Rita, had been slated to conduct a commander’s assessment of the hurricane region Saturday, but that too was delayed, according to a spokesman for 5th Army. As of Sunday morning, the 1st Cavalry’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team was waiting for a status update on their mission, Lewis said.
Soldiers at Fort Hood said they were eager to get to the hurricane region.
“We’re here for the country; we’re here to help them out,” Staff Sgt. Justin Miller said.
Miller said some of the soldiers were disappointed when word of the delay came, but morale among the troops was very good because they were excited about helping Americans.
He said the unit recently returned from Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in New Orleans, where people were so happy to see the soldiers that they offered up supplies.
“We were there to help them, and they were trying to help us,” he said.
Miller returned from Baghdad in March. He said the only comparison between combat operations and hurricane relief is “we’re helping out good people.”
According to Spc. Jayson Karch, the unit would be tasked with re-establishing utilities in the hurricane region.
During the downtime Sunday morning, the soldiers checked their equipment to make sure it works.
Spc. Jose Vasquez said waiting to be deployed requires patience.
Still, Pfc. David Murray said soldiers had mixed emotions about the delay.
“The American people, that’s who we fight for,” Murray said.