To the Caribbean we go!
Trip Start Apr 18, 1989
13Trip End Ongoing
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It started on a Friday afternoon. As we conducted our last bit of duties for the day, all everyone could think of was getting to the weekend. The week had been long and we were ready to cut loose. Before we left work, our worlds would be changed forever. We were told to return to work at 7 am the next morning. We had been notified that we would deploy to the Republic of Haiti, per the President's orders. Yeah ...
By the following Monday morning, we were already on our way to Norfolk, VA. Once there, we boarded the U.S. Eisenhower, which was the biggest thing I have ever seen in my life. This air craft carrier was so huge, you could barely feel it move once we were out to sea. And I thought I'd get seasick! Yeah ... no!
For two weeks, we stayed on board, even after arriving in the Bay of Port-au-Prince. While on board the ship, we prepped, got our military gear configured for operations once we hit the ground and basically waited until we got the final word to launch. The last word we received was that we were going in hot, gun a blazin' ... But the night before we were to take the airport and commence operations, former President Jimmy Carter struck a deal with General Cedras (who were ousting) to leave the country peacefully.
For me, this was a good thing, as I was not to keen on going to war. Sure, we had a job to do and I had made an oath, but damn, it's not like I sit around wishing and waiting for war. Goodness no! So to cut to the chase, we went in peacefully and helped the Haitian people gain their independence from this dictator, Cedras. The country was extremely poor, as you can well imagine. I have never seen such poverty in my entire life, even to this day!
And not only did I experience Port-au-Prince, in all its splendor and glory (insert sarcasm here), but I also got to travel up north to the coast, to Cape Haitien, as well as travel out to the Dominican border. This, for me, was by far the most interesting part of my trip to Haiti. This was the Haiti I envisioned in my mind. Thick jungles, remote villages and yes ... Complete with voodoo witch doctor ... No kidding aside! I never got to meet him personally, but was able to see where he lived. His hut was surrounded by a fence, with animal skulls. The outside of his hut had odd-looking paintings and symbols on the front door. It was definitely a sight to see and experience first-hand!
After several months in country, our replacements from the 25th Inf. Div began to slowly trickle in. By March, we had all returned home, safe and sound. Haiti is an interesting country, that I will say. Despite the extreme poverty, I fell in a good way for the Haitian people, who were both fascinating and wonderful to have met and know! I can only wonder what it's like almost 14 years later ... Sadly though, I would say things are about the same!