Airmen help pick up the pieces for those in need

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nora Anton
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Five first-term Airmen from Eielson AFB brought in the new year with a determination to help those in need. They ventured from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico to help rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The group set up camp in Bay St. Louis, a small town west of Gulfport, Miss. Over the next week, these Airmen helped six families restore their homes.

"I learned that there is still a lot of work to be done in the Gulf region," said Senior Airman Anthony Nelson, a 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 who is a 354th Civil Engineer Squadron electric power production engineer, Senior Airman Christy Cadle who is a 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance specialist, Senior Airman Thy Hoang who works as a 354th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician, and Airman 1st Class Derrick Bartholic who is a 354th AMXS maintenance specialist.

Airman Nelson recalled 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, (it) made it all worthwhile," Airman Sergeant said. "I really felt like we were supposed to be there helping."

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

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

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