Kent sailor working with shipmates to help quake-ravaged Haiti recover

U.S. Navy Seaman Michael Nodine was stationed in Norfolk, Va., with the rest of the crew of the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) when the magnitude 7.0 earthquake rattled the island nation of Haiti last month. Nodine, a 2005 graduate of Kent-Meridian and a master helmsman on the Bataan, along the rest of his crew, immediately packed up and headed south to aid in the relief efforts.

Navy Seaman Michael Nodine

Navy Seaman Michael Nodine

U.S. Navy Seaman Michael Nodine was stationed in Norfolk, Va., with the rest of the crew of the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) when the magnitude 7.0 earthquake rattled the island nation of Haiti last month.

Nodine, a 2005 graduate of Kent-Meridian and a master helmsman on the Bataan, along the rest of his crew, immediately packed up and headed south to aid in the relief efforts.

Today, Nodine and the rest of the Bataan are stationed in the Baie de Grand Goave, near the city of Grand Goave, Haiti.

“This was unexpected for us,” he said during a phone interview Feb. 12 from his ship, adding that the Bataan, a ship that primary provides supplies Marines on their missions, had just returned from a seven-month deployment designed to reinforce America’s commitment to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf regions.

But when duty calls, the Navy answers.

“Our mission is to support (the Marines), but right now, we’re supporting Haiti,”

dine said. “It didn’t take long for us to get here.”

Nodine said the Bataan is primarily sending personnel ashore with supplies, such as MREs (“meals ready to eat,” or military food packs) and anything else they can deliver in the hopes of making the lives of the Haitians a little easier.

“We’re just trying to help them live a little better day by day,” Nodine said.

Nodine said the MREs “don’t taste all that great,” but even so, the Haitians are grateful for the food and the assistance.

The Bataan arrived in Haiti Jan. 18, six days after the devastating temblor hit and then scene was enough to affect even those in the U.S. military.

“It’s been a little tough at times,” Nodine said, adding that he has had to help get the injured to medical treatment, including a young boy who needed to have an arm amputated due to injuries sustained in the quake.

Nodine said the destruction in Haiti, already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, is a sharp contrast from Kent, where he grew up.

“They pretty much live in man-made tents,” he said of the post-quake living situation.

Nodine noted much of the population is sleeping on the ground under tarps that are held up with sticks collected from the rubble.

Along with the damage, Nodine said one of the more difficult aspects to get used to is the heat and humidity of the Caribbean, a far cry from what he knew growing up in traditionally temperate and cloudy Western Washington.

“Honestly, I love the rain, I miss it back home,” Nodine said with a slight chuckle. “I miss the smell of the the rain and the grass and everything.”

Nodine said he hopes to take some leave this summer and to come home to Kent to see family and friends, with whom he is still in contact, but said he misses seeing.

Seeing the destruction and poverty in Haiti has also given Nodine a new appreciation for how fortunate those of us who live here really are.

“Be grateful for everything we have back home,” he said. Out here, the people of Haiti have little to nothing.

“Enjoy what you have back home,” Nodine noted, adding to his family and friends “I love you and I’ll be home soon.”

For now though, there is no scheduled end to the Bataan’s mission in Haiti and Nodine said he expects his ship to continue to aid relief efforts for as long as is necessary.

“It’s been good overall,” he said. “We’ve been able to make sure everything is getting better for them.”

But getting better is just the beginning.

“We’re here until the job is done,” he said.


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