President Honors Troops for Haiti Service
(March 14, 2010)
|WASHINGTON, March 10, 2010 – President Barack Obama
recognized nine military members along with other federal,
state and nongovernment relief workers here today for their
service to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.|
“Today I want to thank all of them for leading a swift and
coordinated response during one of the most complex
humanitarian efforts ever attempted,” Obama said. “I think
you represent what's best in America, and I could not be
prouder of the response that all of you engaged in during
this humanitarian crisis.”
Haitian President Rene Preval attended the Rose Garden
ceremony to thank Obama and his administration for their
quick response. The United States was part of global
response that arrived in Haiti almost immediately after a
magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the Haitian capital of
Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12.
An estimated 8 million Haitians lost their homes, and
thousands of others died in the wreckage. Relief efforts
included conducting search-and-rescue missions, treating
life-threatening injuries and providing food, water and
Navy Lt. Sheila Almendras-Flaherty was deployed to Haiti for
almost two months aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort,
where she served as a pediatric nurse. Her experience,
although rewarding, was not easy, having to see so many
injured children on her medical floor, she said.
“I treated them as if they were my own kids,” she said. “The
numbers were pretty significant, and it was really
difficult. The experience is very just very difficult to put
Air Force Senior Airman Justin York served with the
Tennessee Air National Guard's 118th Civil Engineering
Squadron, which was part of the 24th Air Expeditionary Group
in Haiti. It was his first deployment, he said.
He shared Almendras-Flaherty's sentiments and expressed the
difficulties of searching for survivors amid the rubble and
“It's a really sad situation, but I'm happy I was able to
help,” he said.
For Navy Chief Warrant Officer Wilfred Bossous, serving in
Haiti also was difficult. Wilfred was born in Haiti and came
to the United States in 1984 when he was 14 years old.
Bossou said he lost 10 family members to the earthquake.
“Going back and seeing all the devastation, I was taken
aback by it,” he said. “But being in the position to help my
natives, I felt blessed. I pride myself on being
professional and not being too emotional, but being able to
go back to my homeland was very gratifying, and it's a
blessing to have had the opportunity to do so.”
The military honorees followed their meeting with Obama with
a tour of the White House and the Pentagon. The
servicemembers have completed their tour in Haiti and are
back at their home stations.
Army SFC Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
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