Published: 2017-09-15 09:17:00
Updated: 2017-09-15 10:55:04
Posted 9:17 a.m. Friday
Updated 10:55 a.m. Friday
By Ken Smith
So often I hear visitors referring to St. Thomas or the Virgin Islands in general as Paradise. Truth be told these U.S. Virgin Islands, the place where I grew up, have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Also on a clear day, on Skyline Drive, the scenic view of the Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean beyond are breathtaking. None of that mattered to a powerful hurricane called Irma.
When I arrived Thursday with the 602nd Area Medical Support Company out of Fort Bragg, I didn't really know how I would react to the widespread devastation of the Virgin Islands.
My answers came when I stepped off the C17 military transport aircraft. I looked at the desolate hillsides and was immediately disheartened. I saw childhood landmarks, places where I played as a little boy, reduced to rubble. I was sad for my family, my island, the paradise lost.
Then something amazing happened, shortly after arriving at the hospital where Fort Bragg soldiers will be working for the next 30-60 days. A vibrant rainbow appeared, stretching across the entire sky; reminding me of a celestial promise, called HOPE!