No Flip Flop Left Behind: How One Veteran Made a Difference in the Bayou

  • Baton Rouge Flooding

Last week we got a message from Doc, a veteran saying he'd lost his flip flops.

But, he didn't just misplace them, he lost them rescuing people during the Baton Rouge flooding.  

He didn't ask for a free pair. In fact, he didn't want one.

Doc, a former Navy Corpsman who did Search and Rescue (as well as a few stints with the Marines), just wanted to let us know that his Combat Flip Flops had been part of an epic mission to help those who truly needed it. 

And, after insisting that he let us send him a free replacement pair, we also asked him to share his story to give people a real-work look at the devastating impact of this flooding. We're so proud to have men like Doc in the CFF Community. His story is below: 

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Driving the Mission Forward:  A Veteran's Story of Rescue in the Bayou

Baton Rouge is about 45 minutes west from where I live. It was Sunday morning, I was lying in bed watching the news, trying to catch up on the horrific floods. That's when my phone started going crazy with text messages and phone calls.

One of my good friends and his wife were very concerned about the welfare of their 9-year-old and the family he was staying with. Coms were down for most people, but we were able to communicate via Facetime.

However, the family’s house was taking on water and they needed to be rescued. I took off in my Jeep, headed that way. I got about 30 minutes into my drive and when I found out that interstates were closed on both sides of their house and back roads were flooded. The only entrance was bumper-to-bumper traffic, so there was a lot of hurry up and wait.

This gave me the time to plan my route and how we were going to execute the recovery.

1 ½ hours later, I was able to get to a buddies house. He was in his lifted truck and me in my Jeep, we took off, like we were going to drive right to the house. We made the first left out of his neighborhood and the fun began. Water was not too bad, about 3 feet.

Reuters Louisiana Flooding

Cars were everywhere, as well as people standing around like zombies. This was reminiscent of Katrina, people in shock and awe over the massive amounts of water as far as the eye could see.  

When we finally got to the opening of the neighborhood, were we shocked. The water was about 5’ deep, I’m thinking that I drive a Jeep so I’m invincible. That feeling lasted for about 5 minutes when my Jeep actually lost traction after a huge wake.

Baton Rouge Flooding

Once we realized lifted truck or Jeeps were not going to do, we contacted a few friends with boats. The real rescue began as soon as we were able to get boats in the water. We then realized that my buddy’s parents were home, too. Lucky for us it was on the same street. I was able to Facetime both families with instructions that when boat shows up, “GET ON”.

First rescue were my buddy’s parents.

His dad was pretty beat up and bleeding. I tended to his wounds and got him dried off. The next wave of my friends started to come in, all 11 of them, plus one dog. One of this group, just had major surgery and we had to get her comfortable right away.

 We rounded up 13 people and 2 animals on this trip and got them to my buddy’s house. We then went back out to do more, and ended up rescuing 20 people and several animals––it was a long day. 

Somewhere along the way, my buddy looks down at my feet and ask where my flip flops were. Honestly I could not tell you. I know I was stuck in some muck, but that was least of my worries.

Then it hit me.

Those were the Combat Flip Flops I'd received as a gift just a few weeks back.

Combat Flip Flops Floperators

I would love to say I had tears in my eye, but my adrenaline was in overload. Emotions were not an option.

I was a Navy Corpsman. I did Search and Rescue and a few stents with the Marines. Damn it felt good to do this again.

I don’t want any praise, this is what we do in the land of Bayous.


Mandy Stephenson
Mandy Stephenson


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