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A Marine’s Experience: Hurricane Charley's visit to Florida on Friday the 13th

By Cpl. Beth Zimmerman | | September 2, 2004

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One Marine on vacation in Florida encountered more than he expected during his visit with family on Friday, August 13.Marine Corps Reserve Lt. Col. Timothy Hoyle and his family unexpectedly found themselves in the middle of Hurricane Charley during their family vacation in Punta Gorda, Fla., last month. Hoyle credits their safety from the storm to lessons he has learned in the Marine Corps. "Like many who have finished a tour in the Far East," said Hoyle, "I thought my days of tropical storms were over."That changed when he met Charley.Hoyle's son, Jesse Heaven-Hoyle, graduated from High School this past year. He and his father then traveled to Florida the second week in August to celebrate. Soon after they arrived, they heard Hurricane Charley was on his way south."We knew a storm was en route to Florida, but we weren't too concerned," said Hoyle. "The worst of the storm was supposed to occur about 100 miles north of my parents house."The Hoyle family assumed they were safe in Punta Gorda based on the weather reports they had heard. Mother Nature soon proved them wrong. The local news station reported the storm had quickly changed its course and was headed straight toward them. "I should have remembered from the tropical storms I endured on Okinawa how quickly these things change course and strength," Hoyle said. He initially enlisted in the Corps in 1975, and he went to Officer Candidate School in 1983. Hoyle spent three years at what was then called the Far East Network in Okinawa, Japan. "We would broadcast all the typhoon information," said Hoyle. "We'd run safety tips for the Marines and their families to use during a storm."According to MSNBC Research Online, hurricanes are cyclones of tropical origin with wind speeds of at least 74 miles per hour. They are called typhoons in the Pacific and cyclones in the Indian Ocean. Hoyle took charge. With the storm headed straight towards him, his son, and his parents, he knew he had to act quickly. "The best thing I could do was to stay calm and make sure to take as many steps as possible for protection," said Hoyle. He, his son, and his father found a central room away from glass objects and windows to wait out the storm in. His mother nestled into the bathtub with the family dog, Scooter. "He put some pool floats into the tub with us," said Hoyle's mom, Jean Hoyle. The floats and blankets helped protect her and the dog from debris in the small bathroom. "We had a nice little cocoon," Jean said. "Scooter wasn't scared at all."Since last month, Associated Press stories have reported millions of dollars of damage in Florida from Hurricane Charley. However, the Hoyle family made it through the storm with very little trouble, thanks to a Marine's quick planning. "He saved our lives," said Jean. "He knew just what to do."Hoyle felt it was a bit of a trade-off. "They have always supported my decision to serve," he said. "So it only seems right that I was able to share with them what I had learned in the Corps.""I've always heard that the lessons we learn in the Corps will serve us in all areas of our lives," Hoyle added. "The (hurricane experience) proved that well."
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