Soldiers of Haitian descent stand ready to provide Creole translation when needed
Florida National Guard soldiers offer an eclectic range of skill sets and life experiences that often add to unit capabilities in real-world missions. Case and point: The Orange County Convention Center Community Based Testing Site is in Orlando, which is home to a significant Haitian-Creole speaking population. In their extensive preparation for as many scenarios as possible leading up to the initial opening of the site, the 3rd Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery Regiment identified soldiers who spoke the language in the event a translation is needed.
Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Florexil, who works as a full-time Readiness Non-Commissioned Officer in the 3-265th ADA said growing up and hearing it at home, he was able to speak it as a kid, and though he isn’t as fluent as he once was, he’s ready to help someone if they’re having trouble at some point in the testing process.
Following the 2010 Earthquake that devastated Haiti, relief efforts involved flying people into Miami and Orlando in large quantities. Florexil went over to help direct and guide people who were coming off the plane, often still not knowing where their families were; the value of assistance as simple as familiar translation is not new to him.
“I even brought it up when we first got here, just to ask you know, ‘Are we planning for this?’” said Florexil. Other soldiers were identified and asked to assist when needed, like Marc Legagnour; also attached to 3rd Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery Regiment. Legagnour moved from Jeremie, Haiti to New York when he was fourteen and is still highly proficient.
"I was identified as a trilingual soldier, with Creole being the language of interest for this specific mission. I have colleagues at work that speak Creole, and being in Florida, I encounter fellow Haitians in my everyday life,” said Legagnour. “I think, as it is in any language, that having someone that speaks your language walk you through the steps or provide instructions provides a piece of mind. It not only reassures them but likely decreases any uncertainty they may be experiencing.”
Sgt. Maj. William Carlton, the 3rd-265th Command Sgt. Maj and senior enlisted leader for all guard personnel at the Orange County Convention Center, expressed the value of having a plethora of different backgrounds and what it brings to the table for their activations.
“You know it’s encouraging the number of soldiers we have that span such a wide variety, whether it is an executive, to you know, a truck driver to soldiers in school. You know it’s just a vast difference that soldier’s backgrounds come from in the National Guard,” said Carlton. “It’s awesome to be able to utilize that on the diverse different mission sets that get brought to our attention, and that we’re able to support in that. Having soldiers with that many backgrounds, no matter their rank, to be able to achieve way more than you would have if you were all coming from the same area.”