NAS Pensacola Hosts Marines En Route to Houston for Hurricane Harvey Relief

Pensacola, Fl. (WKRG) – As Hurricane Harvey moves out of Houston, hundreds of volunteers will ship into the area.  Military members, civilians, and first responders will work tirelessly to help the community through rescue and humanitarian efforts.  A Marine group from North Carolina will be using NAS Pensacola as a host for the next few days, on their way to Houston.

Four Ospreys landed aboard NAS Pensacola Thursday afternoon and there’s more on the way.  Members of the Marine team and NAS Pensacola’s Executive Officer said when everyone does their part, they can make a big difference for hurricane survivors.

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) stopped to refuel and have a place to stay for the weekend as they prepare to render aid.

“We basically get all our functional departments together and we come together and just take care of the people that need to be taken care of,” said Commander Shawn Dominguez, Executive Officer of NAS Pensacola.

This is the second time in a year the base has hosted hurricane relief efforts.  Last October, they helped Guantanamo Bay families escape Hurricane Matthew.

“It’s a great feeling to know that we’re here and we’re able to support them,” said Commander Dominguez.  “Anything they need, we’re ready to give to them.  Also, it’s not just us it’s the community of Pensacola.  We’ve already gotten calls from the community, saying, ‘How can we help?’  So, it’s just a great partnership that I think is like nowhere else in the world.”

Major David Batcheler, the Operations Officer of the 26th MEU, has a personal connection to this mission.  He’s from a small town about 45 minutes outside of Houston.

“I have a lot of good college friends still in the affected area,” Maj. Batcheler said.  “Luckily, I think most of them haven’t had too much water in their house.  It’s tough to see Houston. Houston is a great city and it’s tough to see such an area like that getting hit by such a national disaster.”

In this mission, Maj. Batcheler looks forward to the opportunity to help fellow service members and the volunteers in the Lonestar state.

“On one side of it, it’s emotional,” Maj. Batcheler said.  “But, on the other side of it, it’s exciting. We actually get to do what we train to do and help the folks within our nation. That’s one of the things about the marine corps, we normally deploy and go overseas to help folks but here, in the national area, it’s rewarding.”

The group provides humanitarian relief and works mostly in transporting Marines and supplies to where they’ll be needed most.  When they leave the base in Pensacola, they’ll stage on the U.S.S. Kearsarge in the Gulf of Mexico.

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