Pensacola Marines stay in Georgia a little longer - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Pensacola Marines stay in Georgia a little longer

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September 20, 2004

Dougherty County-- It's been about a week since more than 1,300 Marines from Pensacola were evacuated to MCLB. The young men and women safely rode out Ivan in South Georgia, but their school in Florida didn't dodge the storm.

Nearly all the buildings at the Naval Air Station suffered significant damage, but if you ask the Marines and their superiors, most are handling the news very well.

They are doing one of the many things to that keeps their minds off of Pensacola-- eating a hot meal. There have been a lot of rumors of what the damage is, but the young students have been briefed on what's going on.

Still for many it doesn't hit home until they see it first-hand. "That's insane," Private First Class Andrew Herbst and Lance Corporal Turmain Tinsley are shocked to see pictures of what Ivan did to Pensacola.

"When we left everything was fine, and now all the buildings are missing," PFC Herbst says.

Others who have seen the damage had similar reactions. "I was a little bit shocked to be honest. Usually you prepare for the worst and it never usually happens, but this time it did hit pretty hard," says PFC Alex Jones.

So hard that 90 percent of all the buildings at the Naval Air Station were significantly damaged. The Marines are even taken aback when they see all of the landmarks and businesses that have been torn to shreds.

"The main thing for the Marines in Pensacola is the boardwalk, and a big section of the bridges was taken out, so it's going to be pretty hard to get over there," PFC Jones says.

"Something you're so used to is gone or destroyed. It's a shock. It will take a while to get over it," says Staff Sergeant Khristian Kehoe.

For now the young men and women will do what ever they can to occupy themselves and pass the time in their temporary home at MCLB. "What I've been telling them is we don't know, but we'll deal with it when we get back. The important thing is we're all here safe that's what counts," says Staff Sergeant Kehoe.

But seeing the pictures of the devastation has the Marines wondering if their stay will be extended. "We're going to be here a while," laughs PFC Herbst.

Luckily the Marines have good food to eat, instead of MREs and instead of staying idle in this warehouse all day, some of the Marines have had a chance to keep busy by helping with work here at MCLB and supporting the staff here.

And when they will get to go back home? At first they were told four to five days. Then they thought it would be this Friday, but it's still up in the air.

The Marines thought they be able to go back and help clean up, but because there is still no power or water at the Naval Air Station, authorities say it would be more trouble than it was worth to have 1,300 more people there right now.

Early estimates show that Ivan caused hundreds of millions of dollars to the Pensacola Naval Air station.

posted at 5:35PM by dave.miller@walb.com