Names Released of Nine Guard Members Killed in WC-130 Crash


Names Released of Nine Guard Members Killed in WC-130 Crash

By Debbie Gregory

As military investigators seek the cause of  the May 2nd  crash of a WC-130 cargo plane in Savannah, Georgia, the Puerto Rico Air National Guard has released the names of the nine Guard members who lost their lives.

The pilot, Maj. José R. Román Rosado  had served 18 years and leaves behind a wife and two sons.

The co-pilot, 1st Lt. David Albandoz, had served 16 years and is survived by a wife and a daughter.

The navigator, Maj. Carlos Pérez Serra, had served 23 years and leaves behind a wife, two sons and a daughter.

The flight engineer, Master Sgt. Mario Braña, had served 17 years and leaves behind his mother and daughter.

The loadmaster, Master Sgt. Eric Circuns, had served 31 years and is survived by a wife, two step-daughters and a son.

The mechanic, Senior Master Sgt. Jan Paravisini, had 21 years of service and is survived by two daughters and a son.

Crew member Master Sgt. Jean Audriffred had served 16 years and is survived by a wife and two sons.

Crew member Master Sgt. Víctor Colón had 22 years of service and is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Crew member Senior Airman Roberto Espada had three years of service and is survived by his grandmother.

All nine crew members had helped with hurricane recovery efforts as part of the 198th Fighter Squadron. The plane was part of Puerto Rico’s Air National Guard’s fleet, and had been used to rescue Americans from the British Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma, and later supplied food and water to Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria.

The debris field stretched 600 feet in diameter, and the only part of the plane that was still intact was its tail section.

The May 2nd flight had been scheduled to be the last one for this transport.

We extend our sincerest sympathy to the families dealing with this tragic loss, and thank these nine brave men for their service and sacrifice.

Still Serving, Veterans Self-Deploy to Aid Puerto Rico


By Debbie Gregory.

When Hurricane Maria landed in Puerto Rico, the catastrophic damage was evident.  Sparking a humanitarian crisis of epic proportion, the majority of residents still don’t have electricity or access to clean water.

While the federal government has been slow to move with emergency response, U.S. veterans aren’t waiting around. A group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and first responders, who have  formed the Warfighter Disaster Response Team, are taking care of business.

After assisting Houston and Florida, the team is helping to restore communications to Puerto Rico, bringing much needed supplies and aid and helping to start the recovery process.  The Warfighter Disaster Response Team mission statement pretty much sums it up: Providing Veterans and First Responders with purpose and direction through service after service by helping their fellow man in times of dire need. Red tape frustrates them, especially when people are hurting and they can help, so they deploy themselves

Another contingent of veterans, led by Army vet Jason Maddy, is buying supplies with their own money, meeting the basic needs of the residents until other aid organizations get their footing.

“We learned through Hurricane Harvey that we were able to move a bit faster than FEMA and other government organizations because we became a ‘smaller task force,’ in a sense,” Maddy said.

Army veteran Chris Agron grew up in Puerto Rico before his family PCSed to California. He reached out to water filtration company Sawyer to purchase reusable mini filters and 170-gallon-a-day bucket adaptor systems at wholesale prices, and set up a GoFundMe to raise $10,000 to pay for the supplies.

“I know that anyone who’s been in the military is not afraid to ruck to bring aid to people.”

Agron plans on linking up with the other vets who have already “self-deployed” to Puerto Rico. And it’s there where Agron finally expects to put his military training to good use.

“We’re going to link up with the vets out there because they’re willing to go to where FEMA and the Red Cross are not,” Agron said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Deaths in Iraq May Have Links to Ft. Lauderdale Airport Shootings


By Debbie Gregory.

Could a sense of loss and grief have been at the root of the recent airport shooting in Ft. Lauderdale?

On Jan. 2, 2011, Jose Cintron Rosado and Jose Delgado Arroyo,  members of the Puerto Rican Army National Guard, were in a lead vehicle near Taji, Iraq, that was locating and disarming roadside bombs.

The two were best friends, as well as father figures to the younger soldiers who were members of the 1013th Engineering Company, 103rd Battalion, out of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

When Rosado and Arroyo were killed in a roadside blast, their deaths hit the tight-knit unit hard.

Among those in the unit was Esteban Santiago, who has been charged with killing five people during the shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The shooting came almost six years to the day after their deaths.

Santiago, who was born in New Jersey but raised in Peñuelas, Puerto Rico, flew to South Florida on a one-way ticket from Alaska.

Investigators have been trying to piece together the path that led the 26-year-old former National Guardsman to Fort Lauderdale.

For Bryan Santiago, his brother’s military service led to serious mental-health problems that coincided with his return from the war.

“You could just sense that he’d changed,” said Santiago, who still lives in Peñuelas.

He added that he didn’t know whether his brother knew Rosado or Arroyo, but he said his sibling, who was once “calm and humorous” suddenly becoming bitter and withdrawn.

Esteban Santiago’s tour ended in April 2011, and he remained in the National Guard Reserves until February 2014.

Santiago then moved to Alaska and joined the Alaskan National Guard.

Bryan Santiago said the last time he talked to his brother was on Christmas Day. He gave no indication he would snap 12 days later.

“We were just wishing each other Merry Christmas,” his brother said. “He was completely normal, but people with mental problems can seem completely normal, too.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.