Hands that are used to firing weapons are now swinging hammers, drilling holes, and cutting boards. Members of the 2-305th Field Artillery at Camp Shelby train troops for duty in danger zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. But this week, they're volunteering in a disaster zone in East Biloxi.
"All of us in my unit felt Katrina's wrath in some way, shape, or form. Even the ones that live as far north as Jackson," says Col. John Hadjis of the 177th Armored Brigade. "So this is an opportunity frankly, to give back to people that really were hurt very badly."
The leader of this special operation is Staff Sergeant Joe Baxter.
"It feels good to give to somebody, to help them, and give them a place to live," Ssg. Baxter said.
Baxter was serving in Mosul, Iraq, last August when Katrina flooded his house in Biloxi. While Baxter is fixing up his own house, he still finds time to repair the dilapidated home on Crawford Street, so another family can move back.
"I like giving back. I received a lot when I lost my house down here," says Baxter. "I didn't have any idea that I'd be doing this when I came back. I figured I'd just be training guys going back over. It's different, but it feels good."
They are building hope for a family in need. It's a unique mission the men in the unit gladly accept. The unit will spend three more weeks, working on the house on Crawford Street. Camp Shelby joined forces with St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Hattiesburg to repair the home.