United States Navy Seaman and Newtown High School 2010 graduate Dustin Hanson arrived in the Philippines November 14.
The massive Typhoon Haiyan made landfall November 8, battering central Philippines and leaving in its wake a death toll that was more than 5,000 by November 22. Tens of thousands were left homeless following the typhoon.
“The Marines and Army are on land helping out with the disaster relief, and the ships are sending aircraft to help supply the people with food and water,” Mr Hanson said.
While he said, in a message to The Bee, that he cannot share details about what he is doing for the Navy in the Philippines, he said people are helping to donate food, water, candy, and money.
“I looked through my big binoculars on my ship and the land looks like 10,000 big feet stomped on the ground,” Mr Hanson said. “The palm trees are just trunks, and buildings and houses/ huts and a lot is destroyed.”
The Navy’s ships, Mr Hanson said, send aircraft to help in the efforts to deliver relief supplies.
“All the children smile from ear to ear,” Mr Hanson said. “When our guys are on land they surround them with a big hug and cheer to the sky. Everyone has tears of joy, basically when one of our guys is on land.”
This is Mr Hanson’s second deployment with the Navy. As a cryptologic technician technical (CTT), Mr Hanson said he has never done anything like what he is doing in the Philippines before. He also said he has been with the Navy for nearly three years.
One thing Mr Hanson said he thinks makes sense is an Aircrew phrase, “for the children,” used in describing recovery efforts.
“The Marines and Army are cleaning up the place pretty much,” Mr Hanson said.
According to the Associated Press, Mr Hanson’s ship, the USS Cowpens, went on to have a near collision on December 5, in the South China Sea, international waters, with a Chinese warship.
(Associated Press reports were used in this story.)