NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The crew of the USS Arlington is returning home to Norfolk on Wednesday after being deployed to help with earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.
More than 2,000 people were killed and more than 12,000 injured by the 7.2 magnitude quake.
The Arlington, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, left Norfolk on August 17 just after returning from a three-week training exercise at sea. Crews left with multiple pallets of supplies such as food and diapers and two helicopters.
420 sailors and about 200 Marines were aboard.
“Additional first aid, water delivery, food delivery, rubble clearance of obstacles and roadways, search and rescue and casualty evacuation as well as we have a fleet surgical team on board that will be able to provide medical assistance,” Lt. Col. Cory Murtaugh of the Marine Corps told WAVY back in August.
“This is what we get paid to do,” said Capt. Eric Kellum, Commanding Officer of the USS Arlington. “It was pretty awesome.”
The crew from the USS Arlington spent 120 days in Haiti providing much-needed support.
“I know on the outskirts from where the earthquake hit, we could see from the shore the houses and multiple buildings collapsed,” Kellum added.
The Arlington was out sea on a training mission. Right after tragedy struck, they got the call to come to port.
“We pulled back in within a 24-hour time period, offloaded all the things we use for war and loaded on the humanitarian aid package,” Kellum said. “We are back out at sea with a different framework.”
They headed to the ravaged area. 2,000 Haitians were dead and 12,000 injured. They were in withbasic supplies, and sailors and marines on board were ready to help.
“They offloaded by hand 113,000 pounds of aid,” Kellum added. “They provided 800,000 meals and I broke that down into my simple Texas math and that fed about 10,000 children for a month.”
It was hard work, but the men and women on the ship know how important that work was.
“Without fail they (he crew) just felt humbled,” Kellum said. “A lot of times we do things, and we know it makes a difference for national security, but when you are handing a box of food to somebody who clearly needs it, it’s tremendous impact.”