MCLB hosts Florida counterparts - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

MCLB hosts Florida counterparts

September 14, 2004

Dougherty County-- More than 1,300 Marines left the Pensacola Naval Air Station to ride out Hurricane Ivan at the Albany Marine Corps Base.

The first 750 Marines from Pensacola arrived by bus at Albany MCLB early this morning, with another 500 set to arrive tonight.

Until the danger of Hurricane Ivan passes Pensacola, Private Lindsay Stevenson, Lance Corporal Chad Eisenhower, and the rest will call this warehouse home. The evacuation was quick. "I had to get ready in about five minutes. I was supposed to leave tomorrow morning, but they said you're leaving tonight, we need 100 more bodies," said Eisenhower.

The men and women will have to sleep on the warehouse concrete floor, on whatever they brought. "Well we have my comforter here," Stevenson said. So far 48 showers and toilets have been set up in the warehouse, but not many comforts.

PFC David Jimerson said, "Bare minimum. They said we would only be here four or five days, and that's all we planned for. Then we're hoping to head back to a base that's still there."

Most of these Marines say they are worried about what Ivan will do to Pensacola and their home base. PFC Meghan Deppenschmidt said, "If it hits, it's gonna hit really hard, and we are going to have a lot of clean up to do."

Albany could feel the effects of Ivan, but it will be safer than Pensacola. First Sgt. Bill Oldenburg says, "It's got to a little safer riding out 60 or 70 mile per hour winds than a Category Four or Five down in Pensacola."

The Marines will ride out the storm together as a unit. PFC Stevenson said "Being here with all my friends, it's not that bad. It could always be worse."

The Albany Marine Base is doing all it can to be good hosts to the evacuated Marines from Pensacola. Most of these Marines are 19 years old, and have been in the service less than six months. They are students in aviation mechanics and electronics.

The Albany base is setting up big screen TV's in their warehouse home, bringing in movies and games to play, and extending the hours at the base restaurants, stores, and movie theatres. "To make sure they are comfortable while they are here, they enjoy themselves, and they have something to do," said Albany MCLB SpokespersonSgt. Damian McGee.

The 1,300 Marines will eat M.R.E.'s, meals ready to eat, for now, but the Base hopes to make hot meals available. The Pensacola Marines expect to stay in Albany four to five days.

posted at 4:20PM by dave.miller@walb.com