Family Forged Through Sweat

Jonah Thompson

Former deck officer with the Merchant Marine, Irene Mason deployed to Mississippi with Team Rubicon and grew her extended family.

Former deck officer in the Merchant Marine, Irene Mason deployed to Hattiesburg, MS in the wake of an EF-3 tornado.

“How can I not go?” This was the first thought when I heard the Team Rubicon bat signal was up for Hattiesburg, Mississippi. After all, I started college in that town.

Pulling up to the FOB in a church parking lot, it all seemed right. Everyone was outside doing an inventory of the gear in the trailer. I walked up and was welcomed into the work, greeted by a smile on every face. We took a ride to scope out the area, conducting damage assessments and sending strike teams out the next morning.

As the morning brief finished, we set out, eager to help as many people as possible. Locals, who had just lost everything but their good name greeted us with a smile and thanked us for coming to help. Many hugs were shared as if long-lost friends reunited.

In the evenings, the sound of laughter was omnipresent as memories, talk of the future, and goofing off lightened the mood before the snore fest. This was what I missed so much: a group of people united to labor for the good of others in their time of need, who happen to laugh at farts. I realize we benefit from this as much as the people we help. This operation reminded me that not all family is by blood; some is forged through sweat.

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