April 20, 2013

War Stories: Hurricane Katrina

I wanted to publish this full account from an 82nd Airborne soldier who was deployed to New Orleans in response to Hurricane Katrina as it is worth reading in its entirety.  No this individual was not party to abuses of civilians or anything like that but it is interesting from a number of perspectives.  For one thing, it is an on the ground account of a few days that most Americans would prefer not to hear about.  That needs to change.  Secondly, it demonstrates some interesting psychology on the part of the soldier, how he thinks and address the world around him when placed in a wartime frame of reference but is then suddenly deployed to patrol the streets of America. -Jack

Hurricane Katrina hit the area around New Orleans the night of August 29, 2005 and by 15 September my Battalion, 3rd BN 505th PIR, was alerted for a possible deployment to support at that time what was known as Operation Pelican.

Rumors flew around as to what we would actually be doing down there. The rumors ran the gamut from handing out MRE’s to full scale clearing operations. Day by day we grew more impatient as we watched the news and heard stories of police getting into full scale firefights, the National Guard being overran and most disturbingly of the mass rapes that were right then happening in the dark superdome.

NCO’s who had been deployed were busy readying our new soldiers on urban combat and night operations as we had just returned from Iraq that last year. In our minds as NCO’s we didn’t care what country someone was from “If anybody shoots at us they are the enemy,” was a common saying heard throughout the Company area. Officers who heard this talk immediately attempted to stomp it out by using phrases such as “Those are Americans you’re talking about,” but as most of these young officers had not deployed, their words fell on deaf ears.

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  • dlyfe

    Got to New Orleans with the USS Iwo Jima just a little over a week after the storm hit. We did a lot of BS and futile clean up jobs but we were given the opportunity to volunteer to go out with NOPD in a zodiac-ish boat and "help out." The destruction was unreal, and we saw some pretty gruesome stuff. Parts of the 82nd were staying in the Marine berthings in the ship and had to drop their weapons off at the ship's armory. One night the pistol of a member of the 82nd got mixed up with the pistol of a member of the PR National Guard. We had to search all over that night for this guy (in the PR Natl Guard) as they were staying off the ship near the mall. We went into the mall by accident and I remember seeing these lobster dead in their tank. For some reason that crepped me out the most.  POTUS came on board ship a few times and we got to work with the Secret Service a bit. Mostly just showed them hatches they would need to use and got them water and stuff. Still cool. When Hurricane RIta we had to head back down the Mississippi, so thankfully we only had to stay for about 35 days.

  • Schmitti

    Allwet Virginstateofmind Read as "Very scary looking to media and civilians in the area"... hence why command probably doesn't want it going on. To me (yes I'm a civi) it wouldn't be a problem... To stressed out locals that are still trying to grasp how Fucked their life has become... or Media looking to grab any morsel of a story and run with it "Military on Humanitarian Mission Preparing to Forcefully Raid Homes Instead" (I made that up).. you can see why command may have had a problem with it. But they could have had their normal stick up their ass too. ;)

  • endrsgm

    sgtmed posse comitatus said that the president could use military troops in a law enforcement capacity with the approval of the governor of the state. that was why it took so long to get fed troops there - the governor of LA delayed and didnt want to approve. then finally did. now, posse comitatus has been repealed. their is no longer any separation between state, federal - one of our vital protections against the forming of a police state is gone. its rather frustrating that so many willingly give up protections, safeguards, and rights for a bit of dubious safety.

  • decktechonthe1047

    StormR LauraKinCA -BLACK-  Affirmative!

  • StormR

    LauraKinCA -BLACK- My vote is to go back to No Shit....No Kidding just doesn't have the same oomph to it.