U.S. airmen were among the first to respond after the devastating wave wiped out much of South Asia. One local airman is playing a vital part in the relief effort.
Thomasville native Marcus Harrison now calls Kadena Air Force Base in Japan home, and when the tsunami hit in late December, Harrison and other airmen worked around the clock loading airplanes with relief supplies.
"We basically took a lot of water and things like that to the places they couldn't get to by any type of vehicle, like the really hard hit places down in south Sri Lanka and things like that, so we just supported them doing that," shared Marcus E. Harrison, Airman First Class.
Harrison's parents say they're proud of their son and the operation has taught him a great deal about compassion.
"When he saw that I think it just really, it touched him in a global sense that he realizes that tragedy is just not isolated to America. It happens all over the world. I don't think he will ever be the same," said Kevin Harrison.
"We're proud of the job he's doing. We're proud of the direction that he took. We just want him to be safe," says Deborah Harrison.
It’s a direction that's taken him to the far corners of the world and shown him images that will remain forever etched into his memory.
Harrison works with Special Operations for the U.S. Air Force. He'll serve two more years overseas and his family says they look forward to his safe return.