NAVAL AIR STATION KEY WEST, Fla. --
As Hurricane Irma made her way through the Atlantic Ocean, Sgt. Kevin Diaz, a supply warehouse clerk with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), had something very important on his mind.
Diaz, a native of Caguas, Puerto Rico, was worried about his mother and sister, who at the time, were hunkered down and prepared to weather the storm in his home town.
“I was concerned if they were alright,” Diaz said. “Puerto Rico didn’t get hit as hard as other places, but it was tough not knowing if they were okay.”
The damage to Diaz’s hometown, while not completely devastating, was significant and has made day-to-day life very challenging.
“They had limited food and no water or electricity for four days,” Diaz said. “Compared to other people in the area, they got lucky.”
Knowing how Hurricane Irma had affected his own home, Diaz was motivated to be a part of the 26th MEU and help aid the citizens of Key West, another area seriously affected by the storm, get back on their feet in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
On Sept. 12, 2017, U.S. Marines and Sailors from the 26th MEU arrived off the coast of Key West, Fl., aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) just days after Hurricane Irma caused devastation across the region. While on the ground, they worked around the clock, clearing roadways and distributing food and water.
“It felt great to help people here who were experiencing some of the same issues that my family was facing back home,” Diaz said. “What we did there made it feel like we made a big difference in their community.”
As a supply warehouse clerk, Diaz was in charge of making sure that the Marines and Sailors on the ground in Key West were getting food and water, a critical part of Marines and Sailors staying alert and ready to continue helping the affected community.
“Everything we did over there went really well,” he said. “It was pretty amazing to see how much of a difference we could make in a few days.”
While it might not be the first thing that the public thinks of when they think of the United States Marine Corps, Defense Support of Civil Authorities is a very real part of the Corps’ mission.
The ability to go out and provide tangible assistance to people in need, on such short notice, reinforces that Marines are very much a part of American communities.