FAR ROCKAWAY, QUEENS, N.Y.- Marines have a saying amongst each other, “We take care of our own.” Normally this saying is limited to small acts of kindness, such as lending them a few dollars to get a haircut or helping them move from one barracks room to another. But sometimes they go out of their way to help one another in unexpected ways.
Hurricane Sandy ripped through New York killing dozens of people, destroying, homes and leaving the vast majority of the population without power.
Sgt. Michael F. Blake, a motor transportation clerk with 1st Marine Corps District, was one of the many residents of Far-Rockaway whose life was turned upside down when the super storm struck on Oct. 29.
His home was flooded with more than two feet of seawater, destroying nearly all of his furniture, electronics and countless articles of clothing but the truly expensive losses waited for him outside of his home.
“I had three vehicles that were destroyed by this storm,” Blake said.
Without his vehicle, Blake found himself facing serious financial damages and no cell reception to communicate with his loved ones.
That was when Sgt. Julian Ranas, 1MCD’s enhanced marketing vehicle driver, offered to loan Blake his pickup truck to help him back on his feet.
“It’s what Marines do. We help each other out,” said Ranas a 25-year-old native of Saipan. “All of his vehicles are down. Most of his belongings are gone or water-damaged and from what he tells me, things are pretty bad in his whole neighborhood. Its natural for Marines to help each other.”
For Blake, Ranas’ help is more than just a Marine helping another Marine.
“This is going to help me a lot a whole lot,” Blake said. “Right now I’m living without any electricity. I have no heat in my house, no way to charge my phone and I really haven’t been able to communicate with anyone because there isn’t any cell service.
“You know good people when you meet them and Sgt. Ranas has always been one of those people in my eyes, thanks to him, I’m going to have somewhere I can get warm, charge my phone and ill be able to drive out to where I can get a good signal so I can stay in contact with the world.”
Ranas’ leadership says his character drives him to excel in the workplace.
But Ranas’ good nature didn’t stop with a single act of kindness. Knowing that Sgt. Chue Fue Moua, the 1MCD legal clerk, had a pregnant wife and had no power in their home, Ranas offered to let them stay at his home in Hempstead N.Y. where they have lived since the hurricane hit.
“It [feels pretty bad] when you don’t have power or can’t shower, especially for a pregnant woman,” Ranas humbly said. “So I’m letting them stay at my house. Its no big deal.”
But he took it a step further. Not wanting their food to go to waste, Ranas strapped the Mouas’ fridge to his truck, hauled it to his place and plugged it into an open outlet in his apartment, saving all of their groceries in addition to giving his home.
“It was his idea,” Moua said. “He was like, ‘anything you need. I’m here for you.’”
Despite Ranas continuing to feel like he hasn’t done anything noteworthy, the people he has helped feel very differently.
“He is a wonderful and kind person who absolutely goes out of his way to support anyone he can and we are very grateful,” said Phoua Thao Moua, Sgt. Moua’s wife.