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Havre native helps in Haiti relief

 

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Air Force Capt. Bert King looked down at Port-au-Prince Airport during one of his many flights into the beleaguered city. The 1996 Havre High School graduate saw what appeared to be a fence that stretched for miles into Haiti's largest airport. As he moved closer, he could see it wasn't a fence. It was people — Haitians patiently lined up single file, hoping against hope that somehow, if they got to the airport, they would find a way out of the country. It is a memory he will always carry with him. King has had many flight missions in his nine-year career in the service. He's delivered troops, supplies, even nuclear weapons 100 times the power of the one that destroyed Hiroshima. But taking part in Operation Unified Response was the most memorable, he said. "It was humbling. It was rewarding," he said of the experience. Shortly after the earthquake took place, he was deployed to help in the massive relief effort. He f l ew i n s u p p l i e s — of ten food and water — and sometimes even newsmen. "We flew in a CNN camera crew," he said. "We flew in some people from Fox News." Once the supplies were unloaded, Haitians who had visas to come to the United States were placed into the planes and taken back to Orlando for processing. Some Americans who were in Haiti at the time of the earthquake were also brought back. Unlike any mission he had ever flown, "you could see f i rs t -hand what you were doing," he said. "The kids . . . They were smi l ing. They we re s o happy," said King, a 2000 Carroll College graduate. During one of the stops at the airport, a magnitude 6.3 aftershock struck. "It seemed like it lasted about 10 seconds," he said. The airport, already damaged by the f i rs t quake, seemed even more damaged after the aftershocks, he said. "Our goal was to get as much help there as fast as possible," he said. The help was desperately needed. "I never saw such devastation," he said. The degree of cooperation between the armed forces was impressive, he said. As he flew in, he could see a U.S. Navy hospital ship that treated thousands of Haitians, many of them flown in on Army helicopters. Af t e r re turning to the states, he got a promotion. He made Major.

 

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