Service & Sacrifice: Eye of the Storm

A snapshot of the burdens being shouldered by brave U.S. troops and military families around the world

A soldier with the Florida Army National Guard performs a maintenance check on a military vehicle in preparation for Hurricane Idalia response efforts on August 29, 2023.

By Tom Sileo Published on August 30, 2023

Natural Disasters

Valiant men and women of the U.S. military are on the ground in hurricane-ravaged Florida and wildfire-devastated Maui, Hawaii.

Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall on Wednesday morning near Keaton Beach, Florida, as a powerful Category 3 storm, caused widespread damage from Florida’s “Big Bend” – where the peninsula meets the panhandle – to parts of Georgia and the Carolinas. Multiple deaths were already confirmed by authorities as of Wednesday afternoon.

“Do not go outside in the midst of this storm,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is also a Republican presidential candidate, said on Wednesday in Tallahassee. “If it’s calm where you are, it may be because you’re in the eye of the storm, and those conditions will change very, very quickly.”

A few hours later, Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis posted the above image of a massive oak tree that fell on the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee. While Mrs. DeSantis and the couple’s three children were home at the time, nobody was injured.

Hundreds of Florida National Guard troops were getting ready to deploy around various parts of the state when the storm hit. The same can be said for military personnel in Georgia, the Carolinas, and other states in this deadly storm’s path. We thank these selfless service members for their service and pray for the victims of Hurricane Idalia.

In Hawaii, where hundreds of people are still missing after wildfires tore through the beautiful island of Maui earlier this month, the U.S. military continues to assist with search, rescue and recovery efforts.

More than 500 members of the National Guard, approximately 50 Coast Guardsmen and 40 members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer were on the ground in Maui as of August 25, according to the Department of Defense.

“It may seem slow from the outside,” said U.S. Army Col. David Fielder. “But … it’s been going very quickly, as needed, as requested by the local and state [officials], who are ultimately in charge of the entire operation.”

On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that the search effort in Maui is nearing its end. Please join all of us at The Stream in praying for the injured and loved ones of the dead and missing. We humbly ask the Lord to bring them comfort during this unimaginably difficult time.

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Australia

Three U.S. Marines were killed in Australia on Sunday when an MV-22B Osprey aircraft crashed during a military training exercise.

The tragic accident, which the Marine Corps said is under investigation, occurred on Melville Island, which is in Australia’s Northern Territory.

The three American heroes killed in the crash were identified on Monday.

  • U.S. Marine Cpl. Spencer Collart, 21, Arlington, Virginia
  • U.S. Marine Capt. Eleanor LeBeau, 29, Belleville, Illinois
  • U.S. Marine Maj. Tobin Lewis, 37, Jefferson, Colorado

Words cannot adequately express the sorrow we feel for these three grieving military families. Please keep the Collarts, LeBeaus and Lewises in your prayers, as well as friends and fellow Marines who are also grieving this terrible loss.

Middle East

“At least 32 people” have been killed in “intense clashes” this week in eastern Syria, according to ABC News.

As a result, “Syria’s Kurdish-led and U.S.-backed forces and an allied militia announced Wednesday they have removed the militia’s commander from his post after his arrest,” ABC reports.

There are about 900 U.S. military personnel still serving in Syria. Another 2,500 U.S. troops are stationed in neighboring Iraq, where a French soldier was reportedly killed while fighting ISIS earlier this week.

Please continue to pray for all the brave men and women of our military battling terrorists in Syria, Iraq, and throughout the Middle East region.

Coming Home

The guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton is back home after completing a lengthy deployment to dangerous areas including the Middle East, where Iran has long been harassing international ships.

Military Homecoming Paul Hamilton

A U.S. Navy sailor is greeted by his daughters upon returning to San Diego from a deployment aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton on August 28, 2023.

Welcome home to this destroyer’s command and crew! Thank you for your service and we hope you enjoy some well-deserved time with your loved ones.

 

Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is the author of the forthcoming I Have Your Back, the recently released Be Bold and co-author of Three Wise MenBrothers Forever8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on X @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.

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