Face of Defense: Sailor Prepares for Mission Despite Losses
By U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Bristol
Special to American Forces Press Service
ABOARD THE USS BATAAN AT SEA, Jan. 18, 2010 As the USS Bataan begins a journey to bring aid to Haiti, one sailor, born in Haiti, is focusing on the mission, even as he is concerned about his family members in the earthquake-stricken nation.
Chief Warrant Officer Wilfrid Bossous, the Bataan's air boatswain, left Haiti when he was 13 and moved to Brooklyn in New York City. But he has 20 to 25 aunts, uncles and cousins still residing in Haiti when the 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated his old neighborhood in Port-au-Prince.
Bossous said he already knows that he has lost three family members, but is unsure about the status of the rest of his family.
"The toughest part is the fact that you just don't know," said Bossous. "You don't know the status of family members or friends."
Though he doesn't know the whereabouts of his family, Bossous said he keeps his mind on the mission at hand. He said he didn't want what is happening in his personal life to affect the way he works or the way he treats the sailors he leads.
"I am more concerned with my junior sailors on board," said Bossous. "We have many junior personnel who are also from Haiti, so I am more concerned about them than myself right now."
The last time Bossous traveled to his home country was in 1994 during Operation Uphold Democracy. He worked as a Creole translator for the Navy.
In addition to the Bataan, the relief mission also includes the USS Carter Hall, the USS Fort McHenry, the USS Gunston Hall and detachments from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22, Helicopter Mine Countermeasure Squadron 15, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, Fleet Surgical Team 8, Assault Craft Unit 4 and Beachmaster Unit 2.
(U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Bristol is assigned to the USS Bataan's public affairs team.)