Over the past few months, my cousin has been emailing me personal reports from Haiti written by Technical Sergeant Bradley Sharp of the 24th Air Expeditionary Group/Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, USAF. TSgt. Sharp was sent to Haiti as part of Operation United Response from the 446 Air Wing/Joint-Base Lewis McChord, Wash. He has been helping with the relief effort at the airport in Haiti since Feb. 15, 2010. His email letters to friends and family in the United States are honest and raw, often tough to read, other times darkly funny. I’ve followed coverage in the newspapers, but lately reporting feels remote. TSgt. Sharp reminds me things are still very, very bad and with heavy rains and hurricane season on the way—things will probably get worse before they get better. It is a sad but necessary reminder.
A Stray in Haiti
Winning over the men and women of Operation United ResponseBy Lisa Wogan, May 2010, Updated June 2021
Some of the lighter moments in TSgt. Sharp’s recent emails feature a sweet 30-pound stray. When I asked him if I could share his emails with our readers, he agreed and sent along some photos and updates.
March 29: A small sick dog came into camp and hid just outside of our reach. She was cute and a lot of the guys wanted to keep her. You could see the sores and cuts on her. After a few days and a lot of coaxing she decided to give us a try. We got in trouble for having her and they were going to put her down. Well, we are tough and we fight and cuss but we get a misty when you want to shoot our dog. We contacted the Army vet and they came down and fixed her up. So she is ours for the time being. [TSgt. Sharp has clarified that this is not technically true as personnel are not allowed to keep pets.]
Her name is Maggie—they wanted Molly but I would not allow it [the sergeant’s wife is named Mollie]—but she has a nickname, which is Balls [or Ballzee]. Why did they nickname her Balls? Well, she has decided that the rear rotors on the helicopters need to DIE, and she jumps in the air and tries to bite them. She will never do it but it is a ballsy thing to do so she got a proper military nickname. We are looking into how to get her back to the U.S. We have no less then 11 people who want to take her home. (I’m number nine on the list.)
April 9: The dog is getting spoiled now. They had ham for dinner the other day but she was so full she did not want it. She still roams freely and has begun to bark at thieves that sometimes try to sneak into camp at night. Needless to say, she is loved by all. I asked her if she wanted to be in The Bark and she seemed to say yes... I’m not 100 percent sure because she barks in French Creole.
April 13: Our camp’s first lady, Maggie decided that she needed to greet the First Lady of the United States today. She came up as I was putting the parking stops on Mrs. Obama’s plane. The Secret Service was concerned about the language barrier so it was decided that she should be tackled by one of our airmen, Jared Lacovara moments before the First Lady came off the plane. Maggie was shocked at the lack of planning on the military’s part in not allowing her to meet Mrs. Obama.
April 27: They decided to have a comedy show tonight and the main star was Maggie (photo, top right). Carole Montgomery and Leighann Lord managed to put Maggie in jokes no less then five times. After translation, Maggie was seen laughing and wagging her butt off. She watched the entire show with about 300 soldiers and airmen. She seemed a bit unimpressed with the Dolphins Cheerleaders... possibly she felt she is our biggest cheerleader and resented the competition.
Lastly, TSgt. Seth Zora (32APS/911AW Pittsburgh) wanted me share with you that the dog has gotten more care packages then most anyone. “Ballzee is our little slice of home. She puts a smile on my face with a simple game of just fetch. She truly makes me miss my two dogs at home.”