3rd ID Soldier tapped to deploy to Haiti because of language skills
January 20, 2010
HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. -- Spc. Jean-Denis Simprevil was elated when asked to serve with the 82nd Airborne Division as a translator in its military relief efforts in Haiti within the next few weeks.
As a native-born Haitian who speaks fluent Creole, his heart ached for the opportunity to help the people in the country's capitol of Port-Au-Prince on Jan. 12 after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck.
Simprevil lived in the poverty-stricken country until 2001, when he came to the United States at age 15 with his mother, father and four siblings. His extended family still resides in Cap-Haitian, near Port-Au-Prince. After watching televised newscasts about the disaster, he admits a tremendous feeling of relief when he got the news that his family was safe but said words could not express his pain as he viewed the damaged city and suffering of fellow Haitians.
"I was shocked to see babies and children pulled from rubble," he said. "I'm not sure what to expect when I get there. With God's help, I will stay strong and accomplish whatever I'm supposed to."
With three years in the U.S. Army as a logistic technician and a year of combat experience in Iraq, Spc. Simprevil has experienced chaotic situations. But he said the chaos in Iraq is caused by man; what happened in Haiti was caused by nature, wreaking even greater devastation and presenting greater challenges.
This assignment could prove to be more difficult than the one he had in Iraq, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Depenhart, 3rd CAB rear-detachment sergeant major, but there is no doubt that Simprevil can perform.
"He's a trained Soldier; he's prepared," said Command Sgt. Maj. Depenhart.
Depenhart asked the specialist to take on the assignment after finding his name in the Army's special skills data base among three Soldiers who speak Creole. The other two are currently deployed in Afghanistan.
Stationed previously at Fort Riley, Kan., with his two-year-old son, Simprevil joined the 3rd CAB only last week after he was contacted by Command Sgt. Maj. Depenhart.
"It didn't surprise me to find Soldiers in our ranks who spoke the language," said Depenhart. "The 400 (Soldiers) in this brigade are of every nationality and every creed, and all are prepared to help in an emergency like this."
Simprevil's wife is also a 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade Soldier, who deployed to Afghanistan in November. He is scheduled to join her in February, but those plans could change since the Haiti assignment is open-ended, said Depenhart. Currently, the couple's son is with his fraternal grandparents in Hollywood, Fla.
"My family supports my decision to serve in the military," he said. "They also understand my desire to be a part of this mission. I'm very proud to serve, as a Soldier and a Haitian."
<I>EditorAca,!a,,cs note: Simprevil is expected to deploy to Haiti in the next 30 days.</I>