Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Day 223 - Day of Prayer in Louisiana

Nearly 3000 soldiers from Mississippi’s 155th Armored Brigade deployed to Iraq with Wayne last January. Many soldiers left behind have now been activated for disaster relief.

Mississippi military families are flooding online discussion boards with frantic posts-- mostly looking for relatives, friends and neighbors.
yeah they are saying that there is 2 more hurricanes coming our way, this is the worst year ever for storms and our guys are so depressed because they can not be here with their families and also to help, but i seen some 155th guys at walmart tonight that said they will be leaven at 3:30am in the morning to go to Gulfport to help with everything. it seems like everything has fallen apart since our hubbies have left

Damage to coastal areas (video) is catastrophic. Lieutenant Colonel Gary Huffman, stationed with Mississippi soldiers in Iraq says, “As of now, I know I have at least 3 soldiers whose homes are completely destroyed. Others who live in the area have not been able to contact families.”

Officials are now assessing flood damage to Army bases in Biloxi and Hattiesburg.
Widespread flooding and hurricane-force winds damaged Keesler Air Foce Base in Biloxi and Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg. Keesler suffered extensive damage to base housing, training facilities and industrial areas from raging flood waters that were up to four feet deep. However, no injuries were reported at Keesler. Army officials were en route to Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, where power had been knocked out and felled trees and flooding had done significant damage. The base was not evacuated and no injuries have been reported at this time

Military families report more up-to-date news:
“It was not destroyed as some rumors have stated. There are trees down like everywhere else in the area. A good friend who lives just outside of CS (Camp Shelby) is fine also. Downed trees, Debris everywhere, but his home also is intact."

"There is no communication with CS at the moment. Except in rare cases, there is no comm anywhere south of Hattiesburg, and little between Hattiesburg and Jackson."

"Didn't want ya'll, especially ya'll up north who have soldiers mobilizing at Shelby to be afraid. Your soldier will call you asap. The cell towers work periodically, but they can call out only periodically. The land phones are out. SIL is able to use her cell every once-in-a while. Her husband's Army cell isn't working at all. I believe they can text message.

My sister who had a trailer in Hattiesburg is at my folks' home in Vicksburg, but hasn't been able to get in contact with anyone in the area. I guess we're all just gonna have to be patient, but it is difficult for those who don't know if their homes are still standing."

Meanwhile, Wayne is still on leave in north Louisiana, out of Katrina’s path.

In Monroe, LA, pastors from around the city are meeting at 3:00 this afternoon to brainstorm how to continue to provide 5,000 meals a day to the 1500 refugees camped out in the Civic Center. Our friends, Drs. George and Clarice Fluitt, have 19 refugees from New Orleans living in their home. When I asked what we could do to help, she replied, "Well, just imagine having 19 people arrive in your home with nothing but what's on their backs. On a real practical level, money for groceries would come in real handy right about now."

Also in Monroe, Wayne’s Aunt Janet, who recently organized a giant shoe drive for Iraqi children, has not yet heard from her brother, who was home in Slidell, LA, (photos) when Katrina invaded the state.

In Jackson, MS, Wayne's Uncle Blair says he is grateful the huge oak tree that fell into his backyard didn't fall onto their house, where the entire family sheltered from the storm.
Many schools and homes in Jackson are still without power. If they can find gasoline, Wayne's cousins, Kimbell and Blair Marie, will travel to their grandmother's house in Monroe today.

We join the people in Louisiana for this Day of Prayer, proclaimed by Governor Kathleen Blanco.
"As we face the devastation wrought by Katrina, as we search for those in need, as we comfort those in pain and as we begin the long task of rebuilding, we turn to God for strength, hope and comfort..Pray for the victims and the rescuers. Please pray that God give us all the physical and spiritual strength to work through this crisis and rebuild. Please pray for patience for those anxiously waiting to hear from family members or to get word about their homes. Pray for the safety of our hard-working rescuers and those they are bringing to safety...We can pull together and draw strength we need; strength, that only God can give us...Also thank God for the strong and resilient people of this state and how they are working to meet this challenge."