View Full Version : Military groups come to the aid of a reservist, family

11-08-03, 06:43 AM
Submitted by: MCAS Miramar
Story Identification Number: 2003117191636
Story by Sgt. M. P. Shelato

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif.(Nov. 7, 2003) -- After purchasing their first home in Fresno, the Hamre family thought they had it made. After all, life was good; Ryan was scheduled for promotion to fire captain in his civilian career at the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, and Suzanne and Tyler, Ryan's wife and 3-year-old son, were healthy, fortunate and happy.

As a sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserves and a civilian firefighter, Ryan Hamre thought he was living the American dream. However, after residing in their new home for only six months, the Hamre's literally opened Pandora's box.

While unpacking, Suzanne moved a box of children's clothing from a closet in Tyler's bedroom and noticed an ominous-looking dark stain on the carpet. After closer examination, the stain was found to contain mold, which had apparently taken advantage of a dark, damp environment and began to grow.

Wasting no time, Ryan went to a home-improvement store and purchased a do-it-yourself home mold test kit. Several days after mailing the sample to a laboratory for test results, the Hamre's received an alarming call from the laboratory processing the sample.

The list of different types of mold found in the Hamre's home reads like things from a mad scientists' experiment, including aspergillus, chaetomium, cladosporium and scopulariopsis. Ryan explained that according to laboratory findings, excessive levels of penicillium and stachybotrys chartarum, commonly referred to as "toxic mold," meant the Hamre's were not safe in their own home.

"Our house looks like someone just went to work and never came home," Ryan said.

Ryan believes a leak from an air conditioning unit was the probable cause of the dampness within the wall and in the carpet, which became a perfect breeding ground for mold.

"The mold took over the whole room," said Ryan. "After a contractor removed the drywall from the area to look for the water leak, the whole house was exposed to high amounts of it."

Shortly after Ryan found out about the hazardous mold infesting his home, he was called to active duty by Marine Wing Support Squadron 473 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. An aircraft rescue firefighter, Ryan was stationed here, augmenting the Marines of MWSS-373 deployed in support of OIF. He suddenly found himself hundreds of miles away from the microscopic enemy attacking his family.

"Right after I left home for Miramar, our doctor ordered my family out of our house because of the contamination," said Ryan. "(The doctor) found high amounts of mold in Suzanne's blood and Tyler has black spots on his lungs, recurring bronchitis and asthma."

Ryan said after being advised to leave the house, Suzanne and Tyler had to stay with family members or at friends' houses until the Hamre's could find a place to stay.

While Ryan was serving here on active duty, he said he attempted to fix his family problems.

"I tried to make contacts and do what I could from (Miramar) but it wasn't easy," said Ryan. "Now we're exactly where we were eight months ago. Everything we own is still in the house, but somehow I have nothing."

Even when it seemed all was hopeless, Ryan was able to find help. Fellow Marines at MWSS-473 conducted fund-raising activities and have donated spare furniture to help a Marine family in need.

"People have been coming out of the woodwork to help," said Sgt. Christian M. Marinello, heavy equipment operator, MWSS-473. "I never knew how much people could care about a stranger," Marinello said.

Marinello has been arranging the fund-raisers to help the Hamre family get by. Besides being a friend to the family, Marinello has written a press release to get the word out about his fellow Marine's family, and helped create a bank account for donated funds.

Although the Hamre family appreciates the help they have received from the military community, he said he wouldn't be truly satisfied until he gets his home back, ending the nightmare his family has been living for nearly a year and living the American dream again.

"For our peace of mind, we just want our home back," said Ryan. "Everyone helping us has gone above and beyond what we ever expected. We're all very thankful."

For more information on toxic molds, visit http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/default.htm.