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NEWS | Oct. 7, 2017

Keeping fuel flowing to Puerto Rico's hospitals

By Sgt. Carlos Garcia U.S. Army Reserve Command

U.S. Army Reserve soldiers, assigned to the 941st Quartermaster Company, 346th Transportation Battalion, 166th Regional Support Group, 1st Mission Support Command, out of Salinas, Puerto Rico, perform preventive maintenance checks and services on their vehicles prior to mission assignments, here Oct. 5, 2017.

The 941st QM has been tasked to deliver diesel fuel to all hospitals and clinics in Puerto Rico, as part of the ongoing Hurricane Maria relief efforts.

“Before Hurricane Maria made landfall, we were organizing to help the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricane Irma,” said U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Jeremy Nazario, the fuel operations non-commissioned officer in charge for the 941st QM; a native of San German, Puerto Rico. “But, our plans quickly changed after Maria.” 

Nazario also said, soldiers are faced with not only ensuring their families are taken care but also helping their local communities. 

The 941st QM has been operating and executing fuel missions since Sept. 26, 2017. The unit successfully completed over 75 missions and delivered more than 100-thousand gallons of diesel fuel to community hospitals and clinics.

“My wife is also a service member here, and we’re both engaged in this mission,” said Sgt. 1st Class Marcial Ortiz, the first sergeant for the 941st QM, “we have Soldiers who have lost their homes and are living with their parents, but the community is showing their appreciation for their efforts, and that fuels them to keep going.”

Working long days are critical to meet the high demand of diesel fuel delivery every day. A typical day begins at 5 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m., but missions have lasted well after midnight, said Ortiz.

The vast majority of the U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers assigned to Puerto Rico are natives to the island. They are the sons and daughters of this land who are giving their best in support of their communities during this emergency.

“I know the days are long and I get tired,” said U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Luis R. Cartagena, a petroleum supply specialist, assigned to the 941st, and a native of Coamo, Puerto Rico, “but, the response we receive when we deliver the fuel at the hospitals revitalizes me, and I forget how tired I am.”