Marine helps in Nepal

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Suffolk man is in Nepal helping the country recover from a devastating April 25 earthquake.



U.S. Marine Cpl. David A. Waterfield Jr. is with the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, based in Okinawa, Japan. The unit was deployed to Nepal about two weeks after the magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit the Asian country, killing more than 8,000 people and leveling many villages.

“We would have liked to be there earlier, but stuff on the diplomatic level was being coordinated,” Waterfield said. “There’s a lot of coordination that takes place.”

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Waterfield is serving as the night watch chief for the humanitarian aid disaster relief the Marines are performing in the country. He keeps those higher in the chain of command informed of anything that changes in operations during the nighttime, he said.

The Marines are delivering aid such as blankets and food to the hardest-hit areas of the country, Waterfield said. While in Nepal, they are based near Kathmandu, the capital.

It’s been a tough few weeks for the Marines serving in Nepal. They have dealt with severe aftershocks — including a magnitude-7.3 one on May 12 that killed an additional 200 people — and a Marine helicopter that disappeared the same day while trying to deliver aid to outlying villages. It was later found with all eight on board dead.

“It definitely hit the unit a little bit to lose six Marines, five brothers and a sister,” Waterfield said. “We’re bouncing back. We’ve got to keep pushing on through the rest of the mission. But our condolences go out to the families of those lost.”

Two Nepalese soldiers were also on board the helicopter.

Waterfield said aftershocks continue to hit the country about every other day, in the 4 to 5 magnitude range. The large May 12 aftershock was the first experience with an earthquake for some of the Marines, Waterfield said.

“It’s been tough at times,” he said.

But the important thing is to help out the people in need, he said.

“It’s been a pleasure to come by here and conduct these operations,” he said. “We have capabilities to help USAID (the U.S. Agency for International Development) get materials and food to certain locations. We use our aircraft and stuff like that to get to the villages on the side of the mountain, that nobody can really just walk to.”

Waterfield has been in the Marines for four years and said he was inspired to serve after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“That was one of the big things for me growing up,” he said, adding that he wanted to help people who are in need as well as to serve his country. “I plan on staying in and making it a career.”