MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga -- In 1992 hurricane Andrew caused more than $26 billion in damage, left thousands homeless and was responsible for 26 deaths. In the aftermath of that tragedy Marines helped communities ravaged by the storm pick up the pieces and rebuild anew. Now, in a cruel twist of fate, a similarly daunting storm is threatening one of the Marine Corps vital training bases.
Recently, Hurricane Ivan's forecasted track placed the category 4 cyclone on a collision course with Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., home to the Marine Aviation Training Support Group-21, with nearly 1,500 Marines. On Sept. 14, with the evacuation of NAS Pensacola inevitable, Marines aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga. sprung into action for their fellow Leathernecks.
Within 6 hours of being notified of the impending storm MCLB Albany Marines established a Destructive Weather Operations Center, and helped orchestrate the mass evacuation of Marines from Pensacola. The cramped DWOC conference room-turned-command center bustled with activity as Marines, sailors, and civilian employees worked to speed the safe arrival of Pensacola's Marines. By coordinating their efforts with various units aboard the base and with Pensacola's advance party, Marines here turned the logistical nightmare of housing approximately 1400 Marines, into a manageable project.
Before Pensacola-based Marines had even begun loading onto buses for the five-hour journey north, Marines from the Organic Maintenance Unit were busy setting up field showers in one of MCLB Albany's storage warehouses.
"It feels great to help out my fellow Devildogs," said Cpl. Alan Prine, OMU, Marine Corps Logistics Command. "Because I'm on this base, I don't always get an opportunity to do stuff like this. It's a nice change of pace."
As tired Marines poured out of their busses and into the warm Georgia night, they were greeted with a safe place to call home and a team of Marines ready to help make their stay as painless as possible.
According to Capt. Clarence Johnson, DWOC watch officer, the first day was merely an exercise compared to the level of intensity expected if Ivan casts it eye towards Pensacola, or even Albany.
"The best plan is flexibility. We're already expecting to have the (Pensacola) Marines here for 2-6 days," Johnson said. "If their base suffers a lot of damage they may stay longer. either way we'll be prepared."
Even as Ivan continues its unpredictable path of destruction, Marines in Albany and around the Corps are continuing to exemplify an opposing trait. They're riding out the storms of life with a steadfast dedication to country and Corps-a faithful reliability that has made their motto ring true for more than 228 years. Semper Fidelis isn't just a phrase to these warriors; it's a way of life.