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U.S. Marine Pfc. Casey Coco
Katrina Survivor Joins Corps After Rescue by Marines
By Lance Cpl. Jon Holmes
Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island
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

U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Casey Coco, a postal clerk, places a package on a shelf while she sorts mail at Parris Island, S.C. Coco joined the corps as a way of showing thanks for Marines who rescued her and her family after Hurricane Katrina. Photo courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps

and seeing things floating in the water.”

After finally passing swim qualification, Coco wrote her mom about the pool.

“She told me never to go swimming again unless I was with an instructor,” said Coco.

With swim qualification out of the way, Coco continued her training.

“The next hardest part for me was the physical part,” said Coco. “(Recruit training) was the first time I had ever run, and people kept shouting at me ‘Come on Coco, don’t give up.’ The Marines (who rescued my family) didn’t give up on me. So, why should I?”

Coco’s diligence and hard work eventually paid off as she stood on the parade deck for graduation.

“My family was proud of me,” said Coco. “(Joining the Marine Corps) was my way of paying back the two Marines for saving me.”

Coco plans to re-enlist and has future hopes of one day becoming an officer or drill instructor.
Last Updated:
06/08/2007, Eastern Daylight Time
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