By: Staff Sgt. Angela D. Holtby III Armored Corps Public Affairs and Sgt. Melissa N. Lessard 504th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs
In the wake of Hurricane Ida, a category 4, close to 5, hurricane, approximately 180 Soldiers from the 61st Quartermaster Battalion, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command and 3rd Cavalry Regiment, loaded up and headed out to Thibodaux, Louisiana, in order to save lives, alleviate human suffering, and ensure public safety on August 31, 2021.
“Task Force Truck came on a mission assignment to assist with search and rescue efforts,” said Lt. Col. Paul Smith, Commander, 61st Quartermaster Battalion. “As the impact of Hurricane Ida, although intense did not cause the loss of life seen in Hurricane Katrina, we conducted only distribution missions during our 19 days in Louisiana.”
The storm caused a vast amount of damage across the state.
“800,000 residents across Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Charles and Jefferson parish were without power when we first arrived,” said Smith.
“Hurricane Ida’s winds damaged power lines and buildings across the southeastern portion of the state,” said Capt. Nicholas Thompson, 61st Quartermaster Battalion. “Although the state of Louisiana has overseen the rapid restoration of utilities and services, recovery efforts will not be completed for several months. The building damage increases dramatically as one moves South from Baton Rouge. In vicinity of Thibodaux, debris, tree limbs and downed power lines can be found along most roads,” said Thompson.
There are many Soldiers in the Army that have not served on a humanitarian mission. Smith said he has never been on a humanitarian mission in his 20 years of service.
“This has been an incredible opportunity to help civilians in need here in the U.S.,” said Smith. “The resilience the people of Louisiana have shown is inspirational and will be something I carry with me for the rest of my life. It has been an honor to serve on this mission.
“The local population is extremely appreciative of the support Task Force Truck has provided to the state,” said Thompson.
Soldiers assigned to Task Force Truck drove over 60,000 miles delivering more than 700 pallets of supplies to the people of Louisiana.
“Conducting these missions here in Louisiana not only broadens our perspectives on what it is our armed services can do but also allows us to have a direct and positive impact here at home,” said Smith.