Four local veterans return home from hurricane relief in Texas

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Last week, four veterans left for Texas to help provide relief to those who had been hit hardest by Hurricane Harvey.

They returned home around 1 a.m. Saturday, already eager to head back.

"Our uniforms are off but our sense of duty and commitment to our country and our fellow Americans, that will never go away, ever," Chad Garcia said

Last week, Chris Quinones, Chad Garcia, Julio Torres and Kenny Sanders loaded up a van and headed to Texas with one goal -- help victims of Harvey in anyway possible.

First stop, Rockport.

"It was sad. First emotion that you feel I think was sad, right? I mean overwhelmingly sad, those are people's lives, everything is just destroyed. Everything," Garcia said.

Rockport had a curfew from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but that didn't stop the men from lending a hand.

"We broke that every night. Sorry Rockport, we broke that curfew every night," Garcia said.

"We did what we had to do. We were there to help, so any means necessary," Torres said.

From there, they headed to Beaumont, but because they didn't have a boat, there wasn't much they could do.

Their next stop was Houston.

With the help of Lili Marsh from Kern County Honor Flight, the men met up with the Sikh community in Rockport, teaming up to distribute one of three trucks full with items donated from thousands of people in Kern County.  

"Four of us went, but an entire city was behind us and we made sure that we represented Bakersfield in it's finest," Garcia said.

"They loved the part when we said we're pretty much a little Texas here," Torres said.

With hurricanes Irma and Jose approaching, the men say they are far from done.

"It was like turn right and go to Florida or go left and come home to our families," Garcia said. "You know we chose to come left, but we're already thinking about when we are going to go back. This isn't the last time we will get together and do something like this. This is a permanent deal that we started. We're just the first four to do it, but I'm sure our team will grow." 

The other two trucks of donated items went to Houston and Beaumont.

The men said one of the biggest things they learned through this experience is humanity is not dead.

They documented their experience on Facebook.


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