While the billowing clouds of smoke outside the Sierra Vista, Ariz. Recruiting Station marked the wrath of the Monument Fire -- Sierra Vista recruiters had much more than recruiting on their minds.

They were assisting residents, delivering supplies to a local shelter and to Soldiers battling the blaze.

On June 16, Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Angarita was traveling on a dirt road, just east of Highway 92, following a sheriff-led convoy assisting with evacuation. Sergeant Angarita noticed a distressed elderly woman standing outside her home so he stopped.

The woman insisted on saving her mattress because she suffered from back problems and osteoporosis, yet she had no way of transporting it. Angarita went into her house, retrieved the mattress and transported her to the Apache Middle School shelter.

The six Sierra Vista recruiters helped approximately 30 people evacuate their homes and transport them to shelters.

"To see families evacuate their homes and leave their possessions was difficult," said Angarita. "Especially knowing that my family could have been next."

Along with evacuation assistance, the Sierra Vista recruiters gathered and donated sports drinks, water, linens and clothing. In addition, Lt. Col. Alfonso Mandujano, Phoenix Battalion commander, notified Operation Homefront and requested support.

"When I saw the opportunity to help, it lifted my spirits," said Clarissa Geborkoff, Operation Homefront of Arizona Director of Development and Outreach. "Within minutes of sending an e-mail to Tucson businesses, I received positive responses, and we became overwhelmed with donations."

Operation Homefront delivered the water, T-shirts, chips, wipes, and energy supplements to the Tucson Recruiting Company. The Sierra Vista recruiters delivered all the supplies to the Buena High School shelter and to the National Guard and Fort Huachuca Soldiers who helped contain the fire.

"As long as there is a need, we will be here helping in any way we can," said Angarita. "The Sierra Vista recruiters and our Families visited the shelters, almost daily. The people that impressed us the most were the children and the elderly people; some carried oxygen tanks and were in wheel chairs. My children felt very fortunate to still have a home, and they desperately wanted to give the donated supplies to the less fortunate children."

The human-caused blaze began June 12 near the Mexico border and officials said June 23 the devastating 28,236-acre fire had destroyed 57 homes, 42 outbuildings, five vehicles and six businesses.

Page last updated Thu August 4th, 2011 at 15:00