Thursday, December 22

Week 5 of Charlie chillin' in his body bag on the street in Port Sulphur

Port Sulphur, La., is in the middle of Plaquemines Parish. 42 miles South are the remains of Venice. About 40 miles North is the city of Belle Chase. From about Jesuit Bend on down, the Plaquemines were pretty much destroyed. Mind-numbing devastation that still photos can not begin to relate. If you lit off a small-sized air-burst nuke, say 50 kilotons or so, you might see comparable damage.
A part of all that damage unique to this corner of the world is the washing away of cemeteries. Bodies, caskets, crypts; all floating about and washing up in the damnedest places. Some never to be seen again. "Charlie" and the splintered remains of his wooden coffin landed on the grounds of what used to be Plaquemines Medical Center. An Air National Guard Graves Reg. team recovered the remains, bagged him, and left him on the street next to a damaged family graveyard. A Parish Council member was present at that time. That was, by all recollection, about 4 1/2 weeks ago (one novelty of Katrina relief work is the Groundhog Day effect- every day is Monday. If you are billeted in the French Quarter, I'm told, every night is Friday.).
Charlie chillin' in his body bag:
Charlie, chillin'

This past Monday night, the USO sent us an Army band from the LAARNG. They played, excellently, about 45 minutes worth of Christmas music. Then the USO passed out grab-bag gifts for all the troops present. An Air Guard NCO grabbed a small artificial Christmas tree and wreath. After a short delay, he and a couple of soldiers and me trooped over to Charlie and the NCO placed those items by him. One soldier said a simple and heart-felt prayer for Charlie. I showed them the 9 visible graves of veterans buried in the cemetery (background, below). We rendered a solemn salute to all our brethren there, and dispersed for the evening.
Charlie, with Christmas decorations:
Christmas Charlie

Photos copyright 2005. Cross-posted various places.

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