BEAUMONT, TX, UNITED STATES -- After an exhaustive but humbling week of search and rescue operations, U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Andy Sosa, an amphibious assault crewmember, rested and conducted necessary maintenance on amphibious assault vehicles at the Ford Park Entertainment Complex, Beaumont, Texas, on Sept. 1, 2017.
Sosa is a Texas native and member of Charlie Company, 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, based in Galveston, Texas. Along with his unit, Sosa assisted in the disaster relief efforts following Hurricane Harvey, under immediate response authority through the Galveston Fire Department. Charlie Company, brought over 60 Marines and Sailors, as well as ten amphibious assault vehicles to the operation.
Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas area Aug. 25, 2017, causing catastrophic flooding and leaving thousands without shelter, electricity, food and water. Texas received more than 40 inches of rain with record breaking accumulations of 51 inches.
Sosa, along with the Marines of Charlie Company and the Galveston Fire Department, quickly activated and made their way down to the Houston area with AAVs to help rescue local residents.
A resident of Houston himself, Sosa jumped at the opportunity to help the people of his hometown.
“I was home at the very start of it and when they gave us the call, I immediately grabbed my stuff.” said Sosa.
Sosa is highly trained in AAV maintenance and operations but this is the first time he has performed his duties for Defense Support of Civil Authorities. AAVs are equipped for ship to shore movement and have the unique capability of being able to move over land and through water.
“To keep the missions going, we had to ensure we were tirelessly keeping our vehicles up and running, making sure we were focused while operating.” said Sosa.
Sosa helped to rescue citizens stranded in their flooded homes, moving from house to house through neighborhoods in the areas they worked. Certain flooded areas were completely covered in water, making movement impossible for almost any vehicle.
“Most of the time we had to switch to our water jets, to maneuver around homes completely submerged under water, meaning our 11 foot vehicles couldn’t touch the ground at all.” said Sosa
Sosa and his fellow Marines and Sailors with Charlie Company helped rescue over 300 people from flooded homes, executed multiple medical evacuations and delivered supplies.
“Seeing all those people losing everything but still being able to smile as we showed up to help them was more than enough to shake off our fatigue and keep helping others.” said Sosa.
Though the impact of Hurricane Harvey on Sosa’s community weighs heavy in his heart, he feels pride about the way Texan’s have responded.
“We all want to ensure the same outcome of everybody’s safety,” said Sosa. “We’re all working together to achieve that.”