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Marines drive 1,000 miles to Cashion to aide tornado cleanup

Cashion resident Pfc. Dustin Buckner and two Marines left Camp Pendleton, Calif., on Friday for Cashion to help with tornado cleanup.
BY BRYAN DEAN Published: June 2, 2011

U.S. Marine Pfc. Dustin Buckner watched in disbelief as national news broadcasts showed the devastation from a tornado that hit his hometown of Cashion last week.

Buckner, 19, wanted to pitch in, but there wasn't much he could do from his station more than 1,000 miles away at Camp Pendleton, Calif. So he told his gunnery sergeant about his desire to help. The response was immediate. Take two friends, drive to Oklahoma and help however you can, his sergeant told him.

“I brought it up to him at 7 a.m., and we were out of there at noon,” Buckner said.

Friday, just as Kevin Roady was wondering how he was going to keep digging through the remains of his Piedmont home without a backhoe, reinforcements arrived in the form of Buckner and his two friends, Pfc. Robert Southwick, 19, of Long Island, N.Y., and Pfc. James Belohlavek, 20, of North Dakota.

The three went straight to work, lifting huge pieces of wood off the pile of debris Roady once called home, searching for pictures and other keepsakes that could be salvaged.

“Where did those guys come from?” Roady said.

Destruction surprising

Buckner said he couldn't believe the damage when he saw it firsthand.

“I've seen it on TV before, but it is a lot different when you see it in person,” Buckner said. “You see one of your friend's houses that you used to see every day, and now it's just leveled.”

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