PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Within days of the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti Jan. 12, three logistics pros from Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Pearl Harbor volunteered to help with relief operations underway in the Caribbean.
After the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in January 2005, FISC Pearl Harbor sent three of its officers to Singapore. Now, nearly five years to the day later, FISC Pearl Harbor is again sending three of its Navy personnel to support the U.S. military's Haitian relief effort called Operation Unified Response.
Two of the three FISC volunteers will be based in Florida, while the third, who was born in Haiti and speaks French-Creole, will initially be sent to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay but may end up in Port-au-Prince.
For obvious reasons, Logistics Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Copernick Louis is, perhaps, the most motivated of the three volunteers. He was born in Haiti and lived there until his family relocated to Fort Myers, Fla., when he was seven.
Louis, who is assigned to FISC Pearl Harbor's Contracting Department, enlisted in the Navy about seven years ago, but despite being sent 5,000 miles away to Hawaii, he continued to regularly visit his grandparents, aunts and other family members in Port-au-Prince.
The images of the disaster shocked him and he endured three days with no information on the fate of his Port-au-Prince relatives until, finally, good news reached him - all were safe, although at least one had a close call. That person was living in a concrete apartment building that split down the middle as though a massive ax had cleft it; somehow the building had remained standing. All of Louis' relatives are now living in his grandparent's house in the country.
"LS2 Louis has a super sense of empathy and concern for Haiti, its people and the immediate future of everyone there," said Cmdr. John Clark, FISC Pearl's contracting officer. "He immediately contacted his chain of command and requested a temporary assignment to assist with relief efforts."
Despite having no ties to Haiti, two Navy officers assigned to FISC Pearl Harbor also volunteered for the relief operation. Leaving on Jan. 19 was Lt. j.g. John Casilio, a public works officer with a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering.
Lt. Cmdr. Scott Hedrick, FISC fuels officer said Casilio was moved by the events in Haiti, and his first thought was, "I think I can really help in any capacity and I know there are going to be Seabees there."
This will not be the first time Casilio has packed his seabag for a short-fused foreign assignment. He also did an 18-month tour in Ramadi, Iraq. Originally from Hellertown, Pa., Casilio is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. When he reported to the supply center last summer he said, "I'm here to serve. My job is to take care of every person here."
In Haiti relief operations, he will have a similar goal.
Lt. Cmdr. Lee Pasaraba, FISC's operational support officer, was the last of the three to leave, departing Jan. 21. He volunteered for the relief operation because "it is a real world mission where one's efforts can have an immediate impact on assisting the people of Haiti."
Originally from El Centro, Calif., Pasaraba has a bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Southern California.
All three of the volunteers could be deployed for anywhere from one to six months. Pasaraba and Casilio will likely spend their deployments assigned as action officers in FISC Jacksonville, Commander Task Force 43's advanced logistics support site and FEMA's center for relief supplies to Haiti.
Although Louis will initially be assigned to Guantanamo Bay, his language proficiencies and his knowledge of the country might result in his transfer directly to Haiti.
No one likes to witness disaster, but when it strikes, it is good to know there are good and decent people, backed by the might of the U.S. Navy, who will drop everything to help their fellow citizens of the world.
FISC Pearl Harbor's mission is to provide quality and timely logistics and support services to Navy, Marine Corps, joint and allied forces throughout the Pacific Rim. FISC Pearl Harbor, one of seven supply centers under Commander, Fleet and Industrial Supply Centers (COMFISCS), provides supply chain management, procurement, contracting and transportation services, technical and customer support, defense fuel products, and worldwide movement of personal property.
COMFISCS comprises more than 6,400 military and civilian logistics professionals operating as a single cohesive team providing global logistics services from more than 200 locations worldwide. A component of the Naval Supply Systems Command, headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pa., COMFISCS is part of a worldwide logistics network of more than 25,000 military and civilian personnel providing combat capability through logistics.
For more news from Commander, Fleet and Industrial Supply Centers, visit www.navy.mil/local/comfisc/.