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    Marine reunites with family in earthquake ravaged Haiti

    Marine assist family and native country

    Photo By Lance Cpl. Christopher Carroll | Lance Cpl. Malarky Gene, a French/Creole linguist with Combat Logistics Battalion 22,...... read more read more

    PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI

    02.03.2010

    Courtesy Story

    22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit

    PETIT GOAVE, Haiti — When a devastating earthquake rocked Haiti, Jan. 12, Lance Cpl. Malarky Gene could only think of one thing — was his wife and son still alive?

    For Gene, a food service specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 22, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, the 11 day span from Jan.12-23 was a stressful time of uncertainty. His home country had been ravaged by the earthquake, and the status of his family and friends was unknown. To make matters worse, he was unable to get in contact with anybody who could give him information about his wife, Guerline, and son, Bellot.

    On Jan. 13, Gene's unit received orders to embark aboard the ships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, make best speed to Haiti, and assist in the relief effort. The ships arrived pier side in Morehead City, N.C., Jan. 15, and the 2,000 Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU were underway the next day. By working around the clock, the unit speedily loaded their gear, prepared for their mission and said goodbye to their families. Gene was aboard the USS Carter Hall as the amphibious ready group steamed southward.

    "Every day, I prayed for my wife and son," said Gene. "I was worried about my wife and son, but I was happy to be coming to Haiti to help everybody."

    His family was in their house in Carrefour, Haiti, when the earthquake struck, leveling the building. While they escaped unharmed from the massive quake, they were left without power, shelter, food or money. With no assistance coming soon, they headed toward the port of Petit Goave where they knew help had arrived offshore in the form of 2,000 Marines from the 22nd MEU. Gene was there on the ground, already helping those in need, but his thoughts focused on his family. Their 31-mile journey was made by bus and foot through the devastated country.

    Leaders from the MEU were well aware of Gene's situation and did everything they could to help.

    "Even though we knew it would be a difficult process, it was an easy decision to make," said Lt. Col. Gary Keim, commanding officer of CLB-22, regarding the focus on helping Gene and his family. "That's what Marines expect of their leaders — this is about Marines taking care of Marines."

    On Jan. 23, it was arranged that the family would be picked up away from the front of the Marines humanitarian assistance camp where crowds of locals gather during the day. A humvee was dispatched and the family was happily reunited on the streets of Petit Goave. The family was brought inside the Marine camp, formerly a school surrounded by mango trees, lush grass and a lone baobab, but now converted to a humanitarian assistance hub by the sea.

    While the family was safely reunited, in reality, the work had just begun to ensure Gene's family would find refuge.

    Behind the scenes, strings of emails, hours of phone calls and several meetings were held to find relief for the family. Gene's immediate family lives in New York — his father, brother and two sisters. He had started the paperwork to move his wife and son from Haiti to New York where they could become U.S. Citizens, but the earthquake brought the process to a halt.

    "This was a consummate team effort amongst staff judge advocate offices extending from Marine Forces South, Joint Task Force Haiti, and the 22nd MEU," said Maj. Tom Jasper, a Elgin, Ill., native and staff judge advocate for the 22nd MEU. "There was extraordinary coordination between the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to do the right thing and take care of this Marine's family so he can solely focus on helping those in need. That's what this is all about."

    On Jan. 25, Jasper and Gene's family members were at the U.S. Embassy Consular's Office in Haiti. With passports, marriage and birth certificates, and other critical information, Jasper and a team of Marine and Army lawyers were able to help expedite the immigration process to grant Humanitarian Parole to Gene's family. Over the course of three days, a process that usually takes months was completed. Gene's family had been granted Humanitarian Parole and would be allowed entrance into the United States.

    "We were lucky because they had all the information necessary for the lawyers," said Keim. "Once I contacted my executive officer and the SJA, they took it from there."

    Gene's wife and son left Haiti, Feb. 2 to New York. The family will stay with relatives until Gene returns. Gene's wife, Guerline, expressed through an interpreter her great appreciation for the efforts of the United States.

    "It was a blessing that God sent the Americans here to help," she said.

    The 22nd MEU is a multi-mission capable force comprised of Aviation Combat Element, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; and its command element.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 02.03.2010
    Date Posted: 02.03.2010 21:24
    Story ID: 44876
    Location: PORT-AU-PRINCE, HT 

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