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MALS-31 Marines clean up after Hurricane Matthew

By Lance Cpl. Ashley Phillips | Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort | October 27, 2016

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Personnel from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort helped members of the local community clear fallen trees and brush from their property, Oct. 20-21 in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. The volunteers from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 formed a recovery platoon to support ongoing recovery efforts.

Marines volunteered their time after normal working hours to help Marines and their families clear debris from their homes. One of the houses they assisted belonged to Gunnery Sgt. Eric Struxness, an avionics technician with Marine Aircraft Group 31.

“This has been incredible,” said Struxness. “There are several large trees down across my property that my son and I have worn ourselves out trying to clear. Many hands make light work. What these Marines can do in two hours would take my son and me days to clear.”

Hurricane Matthew, a Category 2 hurricane, moved up the coast, passing by Beaufort Oct. 7-8, leaving a trail of downed trees and power lines. Recovery efforts continue, as the air station and community work to reestablish infrastructure and clear away debris. At previous houses, the Marines used their own equipment, but Struxness provided chainsaws and a tractor for the two day job of clearing limbs and brush.

“I have been using the chainsaw to cut up a big water oak that took out three smaller trees,” said Struxness. “First, we cleared out all these limbs and brush to clear a way for the tractor. Then we can start to move the larger portions of the tree trunks.”

The leadership of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 saw the need and called on their Marines to volunteer to help families in need. The volunteers have been working since Oct. 17 at various houses of base personnel who have requested the recovery platoon’s services.

“These families need help,” said 2nd Lt. Molly Dundon, an aviation maintenance officer with MALS- 31. “We still have people calling in. MALS-31 Marines are working hard; when the work day ends, they are still going. They understand one team, one fight. It is about Marines taking care of each other and their community.”

The recovery platoon also participated in cleanup efforts on base. The Marines sacrificed their own time and efforts to lend a helping hand and build unit cohesion.

“It feels good to be out here helping out families from the air station,” said Lance Cpl. Daniel Hadfeg, an ordinance technician with MALS-31. “I think this is part of being a Marine. I don’t know very many of these Marines out here or even the families we are helping, but this is something that we can all come together to help with. It comes down to meeting a common human need.”

The recovery platoon provided assistance to Marine families via their unit’s family readiness officer. Now that it has been nearly three weeks since Hurricane Matthew swept the coast line, the volunteers of the recovery platoon are preparing to stand down and return to their normal work flow.

“The Marine Corps is a big family,” said Struxness. “It’s humbling to have all of these Marines out here helping me and my family. When I first heard they were willing to help I was hesitant to request their help. I wanted to do it all myself, but my son said ‘Why not?’ I’m glad I asked for help and very grateful for everything they are doing.”


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