0223HAITIaudListen as Alto native Rebecca Allen, now in the U.S. Navy, talks about relief efforts in earthquake-stricken Haiti.
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An Alto native is seeing Haiti’s devastation from a U.S. Navy point of view.
Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Rebecca Allen and fellow crew members aboard the USS Bataan (LHD 5), a multipurpose amphibious assault ship, have been stationed near Grand Goave, Haiti, since Jan. 18, six days after an earthquake rocked the nation, killing more than 200,000 people.
“It’s sad to see, but at the same time, it’s eye-opening to see how everyone is working together to rebuild, how friendly everyone is and how open (Haitians) are for us being there to help them,” Allen said.
Normally, Allen works as network administrator aboard the ship, but she is temporarily assigned to ship maintenance.
“But I’ve also been ashore,” said Allen, who has family in the Athens and Gainesville areas. “We’re basically helping to build up communities, food tents ... and get everyone situated.
“And the locals are learning. They are out here helping us and learning how to build the tents, pick up the debris and start cleaning up.”
The Bataan had returned Dec. 8 from a seven-month deployment conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. Fifth and Sixth Fleet areas of responsibility in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf regions, said Lt. Michael Quisao aboard the Bataan.
Some 2,700 sailors and Marines are now aboard the ship, he added.
“We’ll be out here until we’re no longer needed,” Allen said.
Allen, 24, grew up in Banks County, moving to Alabama after her junior year at Banks County High School.
Moving out of state caused her to lose the HOPE Scholarship heading into college, so “the Navy was my second best option as far as education,” she said in a phone interview last week.
Allen enlisted in June 2004. After boot camp, she spent two years in Naples, Italy, and then was assigned to the Bataan out of Norfolk, Va.
Allen, who last visited area relatives at Christmas, will leave the Bataan within the year, but she plans to re-enlist and “see from there where I go,” she said, adding that she prefers overseas assignments.
Overall, she said, her Navy experience has “been very good.”
“I’ve seen a lot of the world I thought I would never see and have had many experiences I never thought I would have had,” she said.