Haitian American Soldier reacts to homeland disaster

Story and photos by Sgt. Keith S. VanKlompenberg
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — When Sgt. Marinez Cadet saw news reports of a massive earthquake in Haiti Jan. 12, she immediately ran to the phone.

"I heard it on TV and called my dad to make sure everyone was OK," said Cadet, a mail clerk with the 547th Transportation Company, 1st Battalion, 155th Infantry Regiment, 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

Cadet is from Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, a city eight miles northeast of Port-au-Prince, the nation's capital where, according to Associated Press reports, the earthquake has left an estimated 200,000 people dead and 1.5 million displaced.

Cadet, who moved to the U.S. almost 10 years ago, said her first thoughts were for the safety of her relatives, especially an uncle who lives in the affected area. After calling her father, she learned her uncle was safe, but some distant relatives were believed to have died in the earthquake.

"My second thought was, 'I wish I could go there instead of being here,'" she said. "It's hard to see your people going through that."

Capt. Hyo Cho, the commander of the 547th Trans. Co. and a Ellicott City, Md., native, said Cadet was quick to find out how she could help and how her unit could assist the devastated nation.

"Most of what we have done is what everybody has done, just donate," said Cadet.

Cho said Cadet made a generous donation to the American Red Cross and provided information to the rest of her unit so those who were able could donate as well.

"You have to count your blessings and give what you've got," said Cho. "We've got a lot of giving Soldiers here."

Cho said her unit has also expressed interest in going to Haiti as part of the relief effort.

"If the opportunity arises, they are going to volunteer," she said.

Cadet said even if she is not able to go to Haiti with the Army, she will find a way to go and be part of the relief effort.

"I'm definitely going," she said.