Icemen pick up the pieces

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nora Anton
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Five first-term Icemen brought in the New Year with a determination to help those in need.

These Airmen took the initiative to help those in need by venturing down to the Gulf of Mexico to help re-build homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The group set up camp in a small town west of Gulf Port, Miss. called Bay St. Louis. Over the next week, these Icemen gave of their time to help six families restore their homes from damage caused by the hurricane, which happened more than a year ago.

"I learned that there is still a lot of work to be done in the gulf region," said Senior Airman Anthony Nelson, 354th Communications Squadron photographer. "I think we've lost sight because it's been over a year, but there are still things that need to be done."

The group of Airmen consisted of Airman Nelson, Airman 1st Class Troy Sergeant, 354th Civil Engineer Squadron electric power production engineer; Senior Airman Christy Cadle, 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance specialist; Senior Airman Thy Hoang 354th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician and Airman 1st Class Derrick Bartholic, 354th AMXS maintenance specialist.

Airman Nelson recalls the overall emotion the group had while down there.

"Everybody who went with us felt the same way--we were very passionate about helping people," he said.

"The entire experience felt great; as we looked around at how little was there but were able to help what was left made it all worthwhile," said Airman Sergeant. "I really felt like we were supposed to be there helping."

Collectively, the crew put in about 50 hours of work--doing everything from putting up drywall, removing nuisance trees, cleaning debris, painting, installing doors and ceiling fans, and any and all electrical and plumbing work.

Airman Nelson remarked that, simply put, the group felt privileged and thankful to be able to help people in this capacity, but much to their surprise the residents had something to say to them, too.

"It was amazing how many times I was told 'thank you,' both for serving in the military and just for being there helping," said Airman Nelson. "The determination of the residents down there to keep moving forward with their lives was really inspiring."