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Marines Keep Needs From Getting Lost In Translation

28 Jan 2010 | Gunnery Sergeant Robert Piper

SAINT MARC, Haiti — Before any Marine leaves the comfy confines of their deployed home, they have a checklist of mission essential items they never leave home without - Camelbak, water, chow, communication gear and most importantly a translator.

Whether patrolling the dusty countryside of South Helmand or walking the streets of of Haiti, communicating with those who need our help most is vital to mission success. As the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit continues to assess previously un-accessed regions in Haiti and provide medical assistance it relies heavily upon a few of its own to bridge he language divide.

"I had no idea I would ever be doing anything like this in the Marine Corps," said Lance Cpl. Drivenel Alfred, who was born in Port-de-Paix, Haiti. "It makes me feel great to have this opportunity to help both the Marine Corps and my people."

Assessment teams have traveled to different towns throughout Haiti since the end of last week, looking for the same information in each location. The translators have to quickly speak with hundreds of locals to find out where hospitals, schools and city government buildings and officials are located, in addition to reassuring the masses that gather at every landing zone.

"I talk to the Haitian people, get the information we need to assess a location and ensure they know that we're here to help them as best we can," said Pfc. Rodney Gustave, field wireman, CLB-24, 24th MEU, and a Miami native of Haitian descent. "I just want to accomplish the mission and get as much information as possible so we can further assist them."

For Cpl. Reginald Chery, tank mechanic, A Company, Battalion Landing team, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 24th MEU, his mission is more than a job, its a homecoming, as he visited Saint Marc, the town of his birth.

"It felt really good to get in touch with friends of the family who I saw during the mission and make sure they were all safe," Chery said. "It was all familiar, a lot of places I already knew, I felt like I could really help."

Though all are excited to contribute to mission success and getting help where it is really needed, the realities of the destruction nationwide doesn't escape them.

"Being there is kind of sad, but I focus on my job," said Alfred. "Its hard, we see some heartbreaking things, but we still have to get the job done. That's what Marines do."


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