Marines reunite Haitian girls, father with family
By SOF Editor on Wed, 02/03/2010 - 11:16am
Just a week ago, 14-year-old Lydie Augustin was suffering from two severe, untreated lacerations caused by bricks that fell on her leg that were shook loose from a building during the Jan. 12, earthquake. Today she returned to Grand Saliene in better health and high spirits. Men, women, and children sprinted down the rutted dirt roads flailing their arms into the sky, with glowing smiles and shouts of joy as her private ride – an MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft – landed to bring Lydie and her father home. When an assessment team of Marines and Sailors landed in the village of Grande Saliene, Jan. 25, their mission was to survey any earthquake damage, determine if the local's needs were being met, and find people like Lydie who were in need of medical care. Locals informed the Marines that Lydie was hurt as soon as they arrived. The Marines, and Navy medical personnel accompanying them, realized she needed help, and fast. With the lack of medical care needed to treat her wounds in the area, the team was worried about infection and possible loss of her leg, or even death. The team wasted no time and requested a medical evacuation using a helicopter to bring her and her father back to USS Nassau. "I was extremely happy that my daughter was going to get the help she needed, as a father, it was like thank you Jesus for this savior," said Petero Augustin, Lydie's father who stayed with his daughter aboard the ship. "After God is the Americans," he said. Once on the ship, Lydie went straight to the operating room where the lacerations were cleaned and stitched. In the following days she received antibiotic treatments and made some new friends as she and her father spent nearly a week aboard ship to recover and get healthy. Although she was away from her home and in an unfamiliar place, with people she had never seen before, the medical staff aboard USS Nassau did an amazing job giving her everything she needed and more and making both her and her father feel at home. "The people here have treated us great, they have made us feel very comfortable," said Petero referring to the service members who cared for his daughter. "I am going to explain all of our experiences to my family and friends when we get home." For Petty Officer 1st Class James Carbone, hospital corpsman, the experience of caring for one of the many earthquake victims, and being able to bring her home was a significant event. "It was very gratifying to know we were able to bring her here and give her the treatment she needed, now she can be back home doing the things the other girls her age do in Haiti," said Carbone, who is part of the command element for the 24th MEU. "If she didn't get this treatment she could've lost her leg or even died, now she has no worries and she can go on living her life." Lydie, who is soft spoken and knows little English, and her father were both very excited to get back home to their families and to tell the stories of their experiences. They were extremely thankful for the help they received from the American troops and for the memories they will carry on with them. "The only thing I don't have is money to pay you back, it is the greatest treatment that my daughter has ever received and I cannot say enough 'thank you' for what these people have done," said Petero.