15 Barnes airmen to assist with relief efforts in Puerto Rico

Hampden County

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WWLP) – Hurricane Maria has caused the largest blackout in American history, leaving millions in Puerto Rico devastated, but more help from western Massachusetts is on the way.

Nearly 40 Air National Guardsmen were aboard this C-130 aircraft headed to Puerto Rico to assist with Hurricane Maria relief

Fifteen of these airmen are from the 104th fighter wing at Barnes National Guard Base in Westfield.

Also part of the team are members of the102nd Intelligence Wing and the 103rd Airlift Wing in Connecticut.

The airmen are expect to be in Puerto Rico for 30 days, and will provide security at federal facilities and assist with law enforcement while deployed.

This relief mission has a higher level of importance for Staff Sargeant Leopoldo Ortero who is from Puerto Rico, he told 22News, “I was born on this island of Puerto Rico and I still have family currently residing in Puerto Rico. It’s good to be able to take time out of my own schedule and actually help out the people of Puerto Rico.”

Roughly 75 percent of the island’s 3.4 million residents are still without power as a result of Hurricane Maria.

1st Lieutenant Colin Macechern told 22News leaving his family behind is tough but the trip will be rewarding, “Myself I have two young kids that I’m leaving for 30 days over the holidays, but this is what we do. We train not only to fight our nation’s wars but also to help our neighbors in time of need.”

And that’s what they were doing here Sunday.

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