United States Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard, When Orlando Morel was just 6 years old, the Haitian refugee was starving, dehydrated and lost among the masses of a tightly packed boat, feeling completely alone although he was with his mother. Morel was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard that day, 18 years ago. Today, he can do the same for someone else. On Wednesday, the 24-year-old graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut.
The ensign will be serving on a cutter out of Florida, helping to rescue Haitian refugees fleeing to the United States. But his path to the Coast Guard was not an easy one. Morel still recalls how he felt that day. “I remember being on the boat with my mom and being scared and alone,” Morel said. “It was so crowded. The sheer capacity of it all was so overwhelming.
We have no idea how long we were on that boat.” Morel was taken to Guantanamo Bay and separated from his mother, who was suffering from cancer in the Bethesda Naval Hospital, also known as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Caretaker Louise Jackson knew Morel’s mother was dying. Jackson, who was with the Navy at the time, was able to pull a few strings and reunite Morel, who was at Guantanamo Bay, with his mother before she died.