USS BATAAN, At sea (NNS) -- As USS Bataan (LHD 5) and the ships of the Bataan Amphibious Relief Mission begin a journey to bring aid to the people of Haiti as part of Operation Unified Response, one Sailor wonders if his family members in Haiti, where he hasn't lived for 26 years, are still alive.
Chief Warrant Officer Wilfrid Bossous, Bataan's air boatswain, left Haiti when he was only 13 and moved to Brooklyn. Bossous' 20 - 25 aunts, uncles and cousins still resided in Haiti when the 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated his old neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. Bossous has lost three family members and is unsure about the status of the rest of his family in the devastated island nation.
"The toughest part is the fact that you just don't know," said Bossous. "You don't know the status of family members or friends."
Though he doesn't know the whereabouts of his family, Bossous keeps his mind on the mission at hand. He didn't want what is happening in his personal life to affect the way he works or the way he treats the Sailors he leads.
"I am more concerned with my junior Sailors on board," said Bossous. "We have many junior personnel who are also from Haiti, so I am more concerned about them than myself right now."
The last time Bossous traveled to his home country was in 1994 during Operation Uphold Democracy. He worked as a Creole translator for the Navy. Now he finds himself returning to Haiti in another operational capacity.
In addition to Bataan, the relief mission also includes USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and detachments from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22, Helicopter Mine Countermeasure Squadron 15, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, Fleet Surgical Team 8, Assault Craft Unit 4 and Beachmaster Unit 2.
For more news from USS Bataan, visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd5/.