MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Less than a mile from Gaza, Myrtle Beach firefighter Brett Holland responded to rocket fires in a country caught in the middle of conflict.
He is part of the Emergency Volunteer Project task force, selected from firefighters across the country to aide Israel in times of need.
"There are 14 of us from the States that are here. We have been split into two man teams and stationed with Israeli firefighters," wrote Bret Holland while stationed two kilometers from Gaza. He added, "as the threat of Hamas infiltration and their promise to kidnap civilians became evident we were ordered to pull out."
For the majority of the month of July, Holland was on the ground chasing after rockets to help extinguish the flames once they crashed.
"You've got 80 to 100 pound rockets that even if they don't explode they'll cause damage when they crash," explained Holland.
Missile after missile shook the ground below him throughout his stay. He explained the Iron Dome was ineffective because they were stationed so close to Gaza. It took less than ten seconds for the rocket to strike the ground.
"The sound of missiles was our warning signal," he recalled.
Caught in the middle of the gun fire, Holland explained the rockets have become part of the everyday life routine for people living in Israel.
"If they couldn't get to a bomb shelter in time, they would bunker right next to a wall and cover their head with their arms," he described while showing pictures of the damage done by shrapnel. Parts of concrete walls and stainless steel poles were cut straight through.
While the alarms were constant, he explained that civilians took every signal as a warning. Local children playing on a playground would run across a sidewalk into a makeshift bomb shelter for protection.
Monday night, Holland returned home to his wife and two young daughters. While he is glad to be home, his thoughts and prayers remain in Israel.
"The bombs are still going off. Our friends, our brothers, they are still there."
On Tuesday, Holland returned to work with the Myrtle Beach Fire Department. This wraps up his second trip to Israel with the EVP.
To read about the organization and how he got involved: http://www.wmbfnews.com/story/23734491/local-firefighter-deploying-overseas-to-volunteer?autostart=true