Peter Hauschulz, USMC Veteran, Reflects on Operation: What the Flood

I walked up the driveway into a double-wide garage swarming with broom-wielding kids. They were happy and boisterous, ranging from 8 to 12 and all equally content to push dirt around the floor. Proud to be doing something grown-up and useful. Most of them wore bright colors, blues and yellows under caked streaks of mud. I looked at the tallest girl and said, jokingly, “Are you the owner of the house?”

She said that she was.

I started to tell her about Team Rubicon, how we’re a veteran-led disaster relief organization and that we want to help if we can. She seemed to enjoy the momentary responsibility of ownership, but quickly added that her parents were at the store buying supplies. I told her that I would make sure to stop by and check on them on my way back to our truck.

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Peter Hauschulz, after mucking out a basement in Longmont, CO

But before I could turn to leave, a little boy, perhaps 9, took two steps towards me.

“Did you go to war?” he asked. I cringed a little. The other children stopped what they were doing.

“Yes, I have.” My voice was even and firm.

“You made it back!” He yelled, clapping his hands and jumping. The others joined in immediately, clapping and cheering. The room filled with applause, the sound of small excited hands coming together and echoing off of barren drywall and exposed two-by-fours.

I put my hand over my heart and bowed because I had no idea what else to do. In a devastated neighborhood of Longmont, Colorado, previously unknown to me, I received the welcome that I didn’t know I still needed. It was the welcome that so many of us never got, and the one that some of us can no longer get. It’s only the first day, and I already feel like these citizens have given me more than I could ever give them, even if I were to single-handedly rebuild every basement in this neighborhood.

5 Responses to “Peter Hauschulz, USMC Veteran, Reflects on Operation: What the Flood”

  1. Anonymous says:

    What a remarkable young man. Peter, thank you so much for what you have done and continue to do. You are such a contribution to our society. I don’t have to know you to love you. God bless you abundantly!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Dear Anonymous,

    You are welcome! And thank you.

  3. Eric says:

    I got to serve with these remarkable men and women in Oklahoma. And while I got to help out several families while I was there, I think they helped me more. It was a great privilege to me to get to help them. To hear their stories, and give them some kind of, at least momentary relief. It was also a great honor for me as a non military person to get to work with such extraordinary people, who are all there for one thing, to get stuff done. While I wasn’t called on to help in Colorado (I would be on the next plane), I hope to one day get to work with this group of people again. They are truly amazing, selfless people.

  4. Carol says:

    Out of the mouths of babes :)

  5. Pul says:

    Thank you so much for the story. And thank you – and everyone else who volunteered to help those of us in Longmont. From the photo, it might have been my neighborhood where you were helping. Although you didn’t help me directly, we could have never done the cleanup without you and all the other volunteers like you who selflessly pitched in to help. Thank you to all! And thank you to my neighbors in Longmont who gave you the thank you for your service and the welcome home you so deserved.

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