By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Fort Hood Herald
Sgt. Whitney Magerl said her time in Haiti was harder and more challenging than her previous deployment to Iraq, "but far more rewarding."
Magerl returned to Fort Hood Thursday evening with the 13th Sustainment Command's 583rd Medical Logistics Company, 1st Medical Brigade. She and more than 60 others departed Feb. 9, and they performed maintenance on medical equipment and provided Class VIII medical supplies - things like bandages, gauze and syringes - to health care providers in Haiti.
Also returning Thursday evening were soldiers from the brigade's 43rd Veterinary Detachment. About 50 from the detachment departed Fort Hood Jan. 29 and spent more than six weeks inspecting food and water supplies and caring for military working dogs.
Fewer than 10 from the detachment stayed in Haiti to continue the food inspection mission, said Lt. Col. Cheryl Sofaly, the detachment's commander.
Magerl is a Fort Sam Houston soldier who the 583rd borrowed for the Haiti mission.
Living conditions in Haiti were primitive, she said. Soldiers lived in tents when they first arrived in the country, and later upgraded to indoor sleeping areas. Showers were created out of ponchos and water jugs.
The company's soldiers lived on Meals Ready-to-Eat until the end of February when a field dining facility was set up to provide hot food, Magerl said. She turned 24 years old on Feb. 13, and her soldiers celebrated by giving her the candy from their MREs, she said.
Magerl has deployed to Iraq, and said she got more fulfilment out of the tour to Haiti. It was a "very humbling experience," and something she would remember a long time. It causes one to grow a lot, she added.
A lot of people would say the Haitians' situation is hopeless, Magerl said, and the people just don't want to work. The people wanted jobs, but they weren't there. It's hard to make something from nothing, she added.
Magerl was proud of her and the company's contributions in Haiti. The soldiers worked with some health care providers who weren't familiar with the medical equipment, and there were times when those in the 583rd stepped in and saved lives, she said.
The 1st Medical Brigade's headquarters is deployed to Iraq. The 13th Sustainment Command is the only Fort Hood unit that deployed soldiers to Haiti, and they were all specialty support units like the medical and veterinary soldiers.
A Fort Hood postal unit remains one of several still in Haiti.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at email@example.com or (254) 501-7547. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.