By Anthony Cave, News21
Marine Corps veteran Luis Camacho spent more than two years in Iraq, logging three tours of duty from 2004 through 2008; he knows what it is like to fill sandbags.
When he heard that residents of Yarnell, Ariz. – where a raging forest fire killed 19 men June 30 – faced possible flash floods, Camacho, 27, took action.
“If there is something that veterans know about, its filling sandbags,” the public service and public policy major at Arizona State University said.
He used Facebook to ask ASU student veterans to volunteer to take the 90-minute ride north with him over the July 20 weekend. Only one responded, but that did not deter him.
A few Marines were among the fallen Granite Mountain HotShots. Camacho wanted to “honor their memory” through service.
“There’s a brotherhood there. There was that extra incentive to go help out,” he said. “Had they not died, that is the type of work that they would have done for their community – filling up sandbags.”
The two ASU veterans spent nearly six hours, taking a half-hour for lunch, filling “hundreds” of sandbags, he said.
And they were needed. With no vegetation, water and ash from the fire easily could flood houses. Residents took up to 30 sandbags each.
He also met with the Yarnell Fire Department captain and talked to residents.
“Their stories are just heartbreaking, and I’ve experienced a lot more than people should have,” Camacho said, reflecting on his volunteer weekend and his Iraq war experiences.