In good spirits, N.C. soldiers ready to help Haiti

Posted January 14, 2010
Updated October 17, 2011

— Members of the 82nd Airborne Division are ready to aid in the relief efforts in Haiti, where tens of thousands of people are believed to have died in a magnitude 7.0 earthquake Tuesday.

"The people of Haiti right now have got needs, and we're going to go down and do whatever we can to meet those needs," said Lt. Col. Mike Foster, with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Soldiers told WRAL's Bryan Mims on Thursday that they were prepared to be in Haiti anywhere from two weeks to 45 days or even longer, if needed. Mims is traveling with the 82nd Airborne on a cargo plane to the Caribbean nation.

"I have never been to Haiti. I have seen images of the destruction on TV and the Internet. I am a bit anxious to see it up close. (I am) a little apprehensive, a little nervous about what I will see," Mims said Thursday evening.

Accompanying the soldiers are five medics who will support soldiers and, if needed, provide health care to the people of Haiti.

"I'm ready to get over there and do what I can. I want to help as many people as I can," Spec. Jamie Vance said.

Their primary mission will be to distribute supplies gathered by charities and other international groups. Soldiers might also provide security for the main airport in Port-au-Prince and relief workers.

Mims, who has experience doing mission work, said the country’s weak infrastructure will provide a challenge for mission workers hoping to help aid Haiti's recovery.

"I am eager to get on the ground and see what's there and how big the task is," Mims said.

Stay with WRAL.com and WRAL-TV for more updates from WRAL's Bryan Mims.

82nd goes to Haiti Mims: 82nd eager for humanitarian effort

Two planes carried more than 100 paratroopers to Haiti Thursday, and another 800 will follow Friday. More soldiers could be sent, officials said, depending on how much help is needed.

Foster said his soldiers, ranging from combat veterans to those on their first deployment, are "bracing for the emotional toll of dealing with ... a tragic loss of life and enormous destruction."

"I am sure I'm going to see some things that are very shocking," said Vance, who will be on his first deployment. "(I) just have to keep it together, so we can save lives and help everyone that needs help."

"It's not going to be pretty, but we can handle it," Lt. Evan McGhee said.

The 2nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at Camp Lejeune, will sail to Haiti for what is expected to be at least a 30-day deployment. The outfit of 2,200 Marines and sailors is trained to provide disaster relief, including engineering support, medical aid and water purification.

82nd goes to Haiti Mims: 82nd ready to provide security

"We're exceptionally capable and flexible of providing a variety of support. As Marines, we are probably best known as warriors, but in this role we are equally good at providing that compassionate response that the people in Haiti need right now," Capt. Clark Carpenter said.

The 2nd MEU recently returned from a seven-month deployment to the U.S. European and Central commands. The unit has been to Haiti at least three times before to provide relief to refugees and storm victims.

About a half-dozen U.S. military ships are headed to the country, including the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and the hospital ship USNS Comfort.

The State Department Operations Center has set up the following number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747.


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  • Bill Brasky Jan 15, 2010

    "Why not take on a few more million problems Obama? After all Haiti has given us so much over the years. When you can think of something they gave us let me know."

    Hmmm, I get the feeling this poster sat there and thought, "How can I spin this negatively on Obama" Oh....I got one. By the way, why does it matter what they gave us, last time I checked they were human?

  • craziecrafter Jan 14, 2010

    My niece's husband just left for Haiti today with the 82nd airborne. She stated that she would rather see him there than in Iraq or Afganistan. I just hope he is prepared for what is there after seeing the reports of all the bodies in the streets.

  • Spooner Jan 14, 2010

    I dont want to see anyone die; send what we can Uncle Sam and then bring them all over here to live in our major cities. Why not take on a few more million problems Obama? After all Haiti has given us so much over the years. When you can think of something they gave us let me know.

  • Made In USA Jan 14, 2010

    The support WRAL has ALWAYS given during times of need says a lot about the management and staff of this station. Thank you WRAL.

  • MitziGaynor Jan 14, 2010

    jax: Thank you, my son spent 14 months in Iraq. Our soldiers do not need to hear people saying "beats wasting our time in Afghanistan and Iraq". People that support the troops but not the war??? Our troops need to know we back them 100%.

  • Jax is proud to be an American Jan 14, 2010

    MitziGaynor I was not "complaining about Iraq/Afganistan" I am the wife of a Marine and former Coast Guard.... It is good to see that our men and women are going in on a humanitarian effort.

  • MitziGaynor Jan 14, 2010

    Thanks troops...no matter what ANYONE THINKS (people who complain about Iraq/Afghanistan)...you go where you are told to go, you ALWAYS do your best, you are all AWESOME. Thanks again for VOLUNTEERING yourself for the better of America.

  • Unaffiliated Patriot Jan 14, 2010

    Obama's agenda is to have a positive looking photo op for a change. He cares nothing about Haitians. He cares only about OBAMA. The ultimate coward and phony continues to play to cameras, teleprompters and microphones.

  • wildcat Jan 14, 2010

    I would rather see our troops in Haiti assisting those who desperately need it more so than in Iraq/ Afganistan.

    AMEN to that!! Maybe they can help any many ways. Continue to pray for all.

  • Jax is proud to be an American Jan 14, 2010

    I would rather see our troops in Haiti assisting those who desperately need it more so than in Iraq/ Afganistan. My heart goes out to the country of Haiti and what they are going through. I couldnt fathom what they are going through. We are truly blessed to live in the US. Some take their advantage of their freedom and all of what we have here.
    If you choose not to donate to these causes for one reason or another the least you can do is say a prayer for them. That will not take money from you, food out of your mouth and it is something we can all afford to do. Just say one prayer for them.