Louisiana National Guard Soldiers secure Larose
Staff Sgt. Jeff Lowry
120th Public Affairs Detachment
LAROSE, La. - When no one else there, the Louisiana National Guard was, according to residents of this southeast Louisiana town.
"It's awesome that they are here, because we didn't have anybody else," said Cheryl Vizier.
Citizen-Soldiers with Troop C, 2nd Battalion, 108th Cavalry Regiment of the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team started patrolling the streets in Larose, and their efforts have been noticed by many residents.
"I love it," said Jamie Estay of the Soldiers’ presence. "I feel safe. I know when they come up to me, and they ask 'What's wrong?' or 'How can we help?' that they care about us."
The Soldiers helped guard property when the residents evacuated, and they provided security to businesses that could have been looted.
"It lets everybody know we are looking out for them, and that we're here for them," said Pvt. Billy McIntire of Converse, La., a rifleman with Troop C.
The Guard Soldiers were there for Larose residents, but the residents were there for the Guard Soldiers as well, said the Soldiers.
"They bake us meals, do our laundry, and now we can't keep them out of our A.O. (area of operation)," said Cpl. Jeffrey Smith jokingly.
Smith, a truck commander for a recent patrol, is from Coushatta, La., and a scout with the troop.
The relationship between the Soldiers and residents was not always this close. "When we first got here they looked at us funny and were iffy about us," said Spc. Bryan Lane as he drove a Humvee through the narrow Larose streets.
Lane, a driver for the hurricane relief mission, is also a grenadier with the unit. "Now the support is 100 percent. We gained a lot of respect from the people here," he said.
"The local population adores us," added Smith as he waved to family members cleaning the debris in their yard.
Bringing the senior citizens back home meant a lot to McIntire. "That was a fulfilling day," he said. “They'd laugh, joke and giggle with us and tell us stories. That day brought into focus why we are here."
"I enjoy being down here; I enjoy helping people. Guard Soldiers are there when no one else is.”