New Orleans Marines prepare to return home - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New Orleans Marines prepare to return home

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November 9, 2005

Dougherty County-- The recovery from Hurricane Katrina continues in New Orleans. The 222 Marines and family members that had to be evacuated from the New Orleans base to Albany's Marine Corps Base are getting ready to head back home.

But many of those Marine Evacuees say it will be hard to leave the friends they made in South Georgia.

Staff Sergeant Brian Church and his wife Misty say their house on the Albany Marine Base has been a blessing. "Every time we turned around someone was willing to offer help to us, and it was greatly appreciated," Misty Church said.

Forced to leave New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina, Church and the rest of the Marforres Detachment evacuated to the Albany base with their families.

The Churches, like most of the New Orleans Marines, lost most everything they did not take with them. SSgt. Brian Church said, "The rest of it's gone. Since we've been here, she's been out purchasing things we get to take back with us."

Their eight-year-old son Brandon is enrolled at the International Studies school. Misty found a job she likes, but now the Corps says it is time to head back to New Orleans. "It's a positive move though. We've learned a lot through this experience, and it's been a positive experience," Misty said.

The New Orleans Marines held an appreciation ceremony today at the base, thanking South Georgia businesses and schools that have helped them during their stay. "This has been our nation's greatest national disaster," Lt. Colonel Greg Frich said. "We have learned some things. But I think the greatest thing we have learned is how tight our nation really is, and the support we have gotten no matter where we have gone."

Some of the New Orleans Marines have already started heading back. Even though the base rebuilding is still going on, all the unit is scheduled to be back in New Orleans November 30th.

Brian and Misty Church say they will miss Albany. "I like the golf courses, the people, get to fish. Everything I like to do, I can do here," Brian said.

They don't know what to expect when they return to New Orleans, so that makes leaving Albany even tougher.

The New Orleans Marines equip and supply Marine Reservists in the Middle East. Their efficiency score actually went up while working in their temporary offices in Albany.

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