At 11 in the morning on Jan 25th I got a call for Shaun Clark, the public affairs officer for the 377 TSC (Theater Sustainment Command), asking me how fast I could get ready to go to Haiti. I was told to be ready to leave by that evening, but later learned I had till the next morning. Everything time-related remains fluid when traveling with the military.
I arrived at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse, LA, on Jan 26th . Shaun filled me in on the role the 377th TSC will play in Operation Unified Response. They will be the logistical support for all US soldiers in Haiti. They are relieving the 3rd Support Command Expeditionary, who have been surveying and analyzing distribution sites since Jan 19th. I am accompanying 19 soldiers, an early entry module detachment, who will be met by a much larger group once they are operational. This unit and the larger one deploying are prepared to stay at least a year.
We boarded a bus for Miami in the late morning, taking with us everything needed to sustain them for the start up period, from MREs (meals ready to eat) to cots. After a 16 hour ride on a chartered bus that included two fast food stops ( I confess to having McDonald’s and Burger King on the same day) and a couple of smoke breaks for the night driver, we arrived at an airbase in Miami shortly after 5 AM to find out we might have to wait 2-3 days for our flight out. I write from a large waiting room in an airbase outside Miami where we are prepared to hunker down, if need be. We could still get out today, but no one knows for sure. Though the unit does logistics, they are not responsible for the logistics of getting themselves to Haiti. Overall everyone is in good humor.
The rest of the day our plans remained fluid .I got a little sleep in the afternoon. Early evening we were waiting for the plane we dined on Popeyes friend chicken and had a surprise visit from professional cheerleaders taking part in the Pro Bowl Game. The flight meant to leave at 10 pm was delayed till 12:15am, and then got cancelled. We end up checking into a Comfort Inn Hotel. Hopefully in the morning we will be on our way. The start of this trip is a forecast of what to expect in Haiti. Haiti was no longer the top headline in the news when we departed, but the story is far from over. From where I sit, it’s getting more interesting by the minute.
Update – shortly after falling asleep, i was woken up and told to come to the lobby to catch a bus back to the airbase to fly out.
We all got on a C-130 for Haiti and landed as the sun came up. I arrived in Haiti tired, but ready to take it all in. A logistical nightmare that is being tackled moment by moment, is one way to describe the situation here.