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Local sailor enjoyed helping in Bangladesh

By Curt Yeomans

One of the members of the United States Navy, who participated in international humanitarian efforts in the coastal areas of Bangladesh following Tropical Cyclone Sidr, has ties to the Southern Crescent.

Second Class Petty Officer Edward Nagbe, a 2002 graduate of North Clayton High School, was part of the Navy's response effort following the storm, which hit the tiny South Asian country on Nov. 15. Nagbe, 25, is assigned to the U.S.S. Tarawa, which provided food, medicine and fresh water to residents from Monday through Friday. The Tarawa replaced the US.S. Kearsarge, which provided the initial response following the storm.

The storm killed more than 3,200 people, left nearly 35,000 people injured, and damaged more than 450,000 homes in the region, according to media reports. More than 1,000 people were reported missing in late November. Since the storm hit, the United States, India and Pakistan have sent military aid to Bangladesh to help distribute supplies, and provide medical care. Pledges of international aid to the country exceed $500 million.

"It's just sad to know a lot of people have lost their lives, and many more need help," said Nagbe, as his ship moved through the western Pacific Ocean on Friday.

He said fresh water was the biggest need in the area as U.S. troops, and the Bangladesh government worked to purify the area's water supply. American troops set up water purification plants in the area, so residents would have a clean supply of drinking water.

The two groups who have affected Nagbe the most are the children, and elderly citizens of the area. He said it is emotional to work with those people because they have the least ability to help themselves after the cyclone.

"These are people who you really feel sorry for," he said. "Parents are used to providing basic necessities for their children, but they are in a situation where they can't do that. The elderly people have to sit and wait for medicine."

Nagbe said, upon arrival, the sailors and marines on his ship were greeted with excitement from the residents of the storm-stricken area. The local citizens recognized the fact that the United States servicemen and women were there to provided them with basic supplies to keep them going in the weeks following the storm.

"They appreciated us being there," he said. "I can say 100 percent that they are happy we were there for them."

Lt. Stephanie Murdoch, a spokesperson for the Tarawa, said the involvement of the United States military in the recovery efforts is ending because the government of Bangladesh has said that it, and civilian groups, are now ready to take over the efforts.

Nagbe said he's pleased to have spent the last week helping the people in Bangladesh recover from the storm. "I makes me feel good to know that I spent my time helping someone out," he said.

Nagbe's father, Phillip, wasn't surprised to hear his son participated in the humanitarian efforts in Bangladesh, because the younger Nagbe has always wanted to be a humanitarian, or a philanthropist. The Nagbe family moved to Georgia, from Liberia, in 1997. While living in Liberia, Edward was exposed to a lot of civil strife, his father said.

Edward Nagbe, the oldest of eight children, left Gordon College after his second year, so he could join the Navy and participate in humanitarian efforts.

"I taught him to believe service to humanity is service to God," said Phillip Nagbe, who lives in Riverdale. "I could never feel prouder of him than when he's offering his services to humanity."

- The Associated Press contributed to this story