MIL-OSI USA: Soldiers lend a hand to Italian partners after Vicenza floods

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Source: United States Army

1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – VICENZA, IT- After flooding affected two local towns, Isola Vicentina and Castelnuovo, 25 members of the Vicenza Military Community quickly responded in volunteer efforts where they distributed sandbags and other supplies, cleared debris, and supported the emergency response teams. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – VICENZA, IT- After flooding affected two local towns, Isola Vicentina and Castelnuovo, 25 members of the Vicenza Military Community quickly responded in volunteer efforts where they distributed sandbags and other supplies, cleared debris, and supported the emergency response teams. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

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U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa

VICENZA, Italy – After flood waters struck Isola Vicentina in May, Lt. Col. Jae Marquis rallied a team of 14 Soldiers and unit family members, gathered supplies and headed out to lend a hand.

Marquis, commander of the 509th Signal Battalion, 2d Theater Signal Brigade, has built a strong rapport with the town — just north of Vicenza — through U.S. Army Garrison Italy’s Community Alliance Partnership program, a community relations program that partners U.S. Army units with local Italian communities.

For two days they cleared debris, distributed sandbags to protect homes and local businesses and assisted local emergency response teams in Isola Vicentina and nearby Castelnuovo.

“The volunteer opportunity, for us, was a way for us to give back to our host nation,” Marquis said. “We are guests here and we need to do our part to be good visitors to the host nation and their residents.”

As they began work, a call went out for volunteers in the Vicenza Military Community. Soon there were 25 Soldiers, spouses, U.S. Army civilians and local nationals on hand — not only from the 509th, but also the 173rd Airborne Brigade and U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF).

On May 15, heavy rains caused flooding across the Vicenza area. The next morning, Isola and several other towns woke to mudslides, flooded homes and damaged roads. More rain followed in the days ahead, saturating the ground and swelling local rivers. More than 1,500 people in Isola Vicentina were displaced.

Thomas Derr, a U.S. Army civilian, heard the call and hopped in his van. He didn’t even stop to change the new shoes he wore, which were ruined during the cleanup. That was nothing compared to the devastation families faced in Isola due to the flood waters.

“For us it’s over. For them, especially as it continues to rain, it’s still going,” Derr said. “For us to give back, it’s really what we’re all about, especially within the community.”

Tizziano Volpi, an Isola Vicentina resident who has worked for the U.S. Army for 31 years, was among those who helped.

“I live in the hills, where there was no water, but I went down to help people from Isola, my friends,” Volpi said.

VICENZA, IT- After flooding affected two local towns, Isola Vicentina and Castelnuovo, 25 members of the Vicenza Military Community quickly responded in volunteer efforts. They were recognized at the Community and Leaders Information Forum for their support by Col. Scott Horrigan, Garrison Commander, and Col. Froehlich, of Southern European Task Force, Africa. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

During the May 22, 2024, Community & Leaders Information Forum, Col. Scott Horrigan, USAG Italy’s commander and Col. Chad Froelich, chief of staff at SETAF-AF, recognized all 25 volunteers and thanked them for their support.

Afterward Marquis’s wife, Anastasia, said she didn’t think twice as she knew how important it was to help.

“Anytime we get the opportunity to help each other and show the community what we’re also here for — to get involved,” she said.

About 509th Signal Battalion

The 509th Signal Battalion provides reliable, resilient, and ready communications throughout Italy, the Balkans, the Black Sea Region, NATO’s Southern Flank, and Africa, to enable mission command capabilities for the Warfighter.

About SETAF-AF

SETAF-AF serves as a dedicated headquarters under U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Europe & Africa, coordinating Army activities across Africa to provide scalable crisis response options.

For further details on SETAF-AF’s activities, please visit www.setaf-africa.army.mil.

MIL OSI USA News