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Relative of Meridian woman brings comfort to New York residents

By By Abigail Krueger/Special to The Star
Nov. 27, 2001
NEW YORK On Sept. 12, in response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the U.S. Navy activated one of its two Mercy-class hospital ships, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20). Tasked with a lifesaving mission known as Operation Noble Eagle, Comfort was soon under way.
Although its mission was to provide assistance and emergency care to a large number of anticipated casualties, it changed when it became obvious that saving lives would not be possible.
Instead of returning to its homeport in Baltimore, Comfort continued its journey to New York with a new mission: to provide care and comfort for a struggling city in need.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony E. Udell, son-in-law of Beverly Moore of Meridian, was one of 150 Navy personnel from various East Coast commands who checked on board Comfort to make the trip to New York. The ship and its emergency crew would spend the next three weeks providing logistical and support services to firefighters and emergency personnel working in the disaster recovery effort in Manhattan.
During their time in New York, Comfort sailors played a vital role. The crew's primary job had changed from operating a hospital to running a haven for emergency personnel. Comfort had become a place of refuge where firefighters, police officers and other rescue workers could receive a nutritious meal, take a hot shower and find a place to rest after an exhausting day spent digging through the rubble at "Ground Zero."
Udell joined the Navy in July of 1995, never knowing he would one day take part in one of the largest recovery efforts in American history. "I joined the Navy because I wanted an adventure," he said. "I wasn't ready for college at that point in my life and I thought it was a good way to start a career."
Sailors like Udell have been assisting in Comfort's mission to provide emergency medical services around the globe since the ship's commissioning in 1987. As a floating hospital, Comfort is capable of treating up to 1,000 patients per day, and with the largest galley afloat, it can feed up to 2,500 people three times a day.
Abigail Krueger is a journalist at the Navy Public Affairs Center in Norfolk, Va.