|PARRIS ISLAND, S.C., June 8, 2007 —
Pfc. Casey Coco, postal clerk, Depot Post Office, performs her job and duties like any other Marine. However, her reason for joining the Marine Corps is not like most.
Coco, a New Orleans native, was one of many victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
After the constant rain and loss of power forced New Orleans’ flood protection system to fail, the levees collapsed, causing 80 percent of the city to flood.
As the water continued to rise toward the rooftops, many families were stranded on top of their homes waiting for someone to come and rescue them. Coco and her family were no different.
“We were trapped on the roof,” said Coco. “No one in my family could swim, and these two men came to our roof in a boat and said, ‘We’re Marines. We’re here to save you.’”
The Marines took Coco and her family to the University of New Orleans where the water was only a few inches deep.
After being rescued from the grim situation, Coco and her family moved to Virginia. Once there, Coco tried to resume her life as normal.
“I was (attending) college at Norfolk State University,” said Coco. “I had decided college was not for me and my mom asked about joining the Marines. I was passing the recruiters office one day and (the recruiter) told me what the Corps was about,” she added. “One month later I was on my way to (recruit training).”
A friend who had been in the Marine Corps had told Coco what to expect at recruit training.
“He told me about the yellow footprints and that they would be yelling at me,” said Coco. She experienced her first tough challenge during the fourth week, when it came time for her to pass swim qualification.
“When I went to swim qualification I was terrified of the water,” said Coco. “I got in the water and I thought I had it. Once I got in the water I started panicking.
“Every time I closed my eyes I remembered being on the roof