(NAVY NEWS SERVICE 20 JAN 10) ... Lt. j.g. Rick Chernitzer
KILLICK, Haiti -- On their way home to San Diego from a scheduled deployment in the 6th Fleet Area of Responsibility, Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) crew members were diverted to Haiti in the wake of a devastating earthquake which struck the country Jan. 12.
"Even in light of being on our way home, none of my Sailors complained about the job we had before us," said Higgins Command Master Chief Bobby Maddox. "We came here to help in any way we can."
The crew provided aid by assisting medical personnel from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and several U.S. Coast Guard cutters. A Haitian Coast Guard base was turned into a medical center where patients were evaluated, treated and, if needed, medically evacuated to whatever hospitals were still operational. Higgins crew members transported patients from the clinic to the staging site, helped keep the clinic area orderly and clean. Higgins Sailors also helped clear an airfield for helicopters to land.
"It's sad about what happened here and the reason it's important we came here to lend a hand," said Yeoman 3rd Class Joshua Baine. "We have a duty."
"So many people on the ship volunteered (to go ashore to help), it was incredible," said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Justin Wright. "We're on our way home from deployment, but when something like this happens, you know you have to spring into action and do what is right."
Higgins' crew members were also instrumental in setting up a command and control structure ashore, according to Lt. Chris Cummins, Higgins weapons officer.
"Basically, we're utility players now, plugging in where we can," said Cummins.
Higgins is part of a massive military effort, known as Operation Unified Response, to provide relief to the victims of the Haiti earthquake.
For more news from USS Higgins (DDG 76), visit www.navy.mil/local/ddg76/.