September 13 – Spc. Fellenzer 

We didn’t get to go out today.  Some of the members of the 229th MP Company went over to the Civic Center and the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles today.  According to one of the Lieutenants, they spoke with former New Orleans residents who lost their homes, got to know some of the evacuees and gave them a sense of security. 

Funny thing about having a sense of security…  Sgt. Staggs and I were eating breakfast at the McNeese cafeteria this morning, and a student asked us if we were there to guard the campus.  We explained our mission to this young man, and he proceeded to tell us about the problems he’d been having on campus…  how someone broke into his friend’s car and stole a stereo… how thieves broke into his dorm room and stole his video games… 

He seemed friendly and happy to have the National Guard around.  It gave him a certain sense of security to know we were there.  He didn’t treat us as if we were a military occupying force.  He appeared glad to have us staying on campus, even though we weren’t there to police the school.   

Someone else mentioned this morning the McNeese campus police are happy we’re here as well.  Apparently our presence keeps the “undesirable element” away from the campus. 

That’s what the National Guard does.  We seem to give people a sense of security wherever we go.  Most Lake Charles residents seem happy to have our presence.  Cars pass us on the street as we walk around in uniform, and people wave to us and thank us.  The reports I’m getting from most military policemen who are helping provide security at the Burton Coliseum and the Civic Center are extremely positive.  The evacuees appear in good spirits, and morale is not as low as you would expect from those who just lost everything they owned to a devastating storm.  Most of the victims are happy to have the Guardsmen there, providing an extra measure of stability and security – something they’ve been sorely lacking since losing their homes. 

Meanwhile, Maj. General Claude Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia visited the Company today and spoke with soldiers at length about their concerns.  He reenlisted two Soldiers today and took the time to commend Pvt. Ian McAllister for his dedication to the National Guard and its mission. 

You see, McAllister has just finished his basic training.  He has not been to his Advanced Individual Training yet, and, therefore, isn’t entitled to the full benefits the rest of the Soldiers are receiving on this deployment.  He’s getting several hundred dollars per paycheck as his base pay, but that’s it.  And yet he’s here.  He chose to be here, even though he’s not receiving massive amounts of money… He’s excited to be helping people – glad to help provide a measure of security and safety to those in need. 

I’m proud to be serving with him and others like him on this deployment.  As Sgt. Staggs mentioned in a previous diary, this is why we put on this uniform and sign on the dotted line.  This is why we serve.