FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico –
Two weeks after Hurricane Irma passed over Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria blasted through devastating the island leaving it without power, water and communications.
To gain accountability of all her Soldiers and ensure the well-being of them and their families, Brig. Gen. Dustin Shultz, commanding general for the 1st Mission Support Command, made a call over the radio for all Army Reserve Soldiers on the island to report to their closest Army Reserve Center for accountability.
“I was waiting in line for fuel when my niece told me that there was an announcement on the radio for Soldiers,” said Sgt. Sergio Alvarado, assigned to the 432nd Transportation Company, 346th Transportation Battalion, 166th Regional Support Group, 1st Mission Support Command and native of Orocovis. “I went over to listen and heard the general calling us all to report, so I asked my family to take me back.”
Once he arrived home, Alvarado packed his bags and made his way to the Reserve center to report. Since reporting, Alvarado has been a part of several recovery and relief missions in support of multiple municipalities.
“I have been out on missions since I reported,” continued Alvarado. “Today, our mission is to pick up 46 pallets of water and deliver them to San Juan. I feel very proud to be a part of this mission and am happy that I can help everybody stand back up. I want to make Puerto Rico, the Army Reserve and my unit proud.”
Working long days can takes a toll on Soldiers but the satisfaction of helping their fellow Puerto Ricans makes it worth it.
“We could be having an awful day, but when we see the reaction of the people when we arrive at these towns to deliver the food and water, the look of happiness when they see us, it just makes your day,” stated Alvarado. “That is what makes our work worth it. I am very proud of the work that I have been able to do to help Puerto Rico.”
Alvarado reminisced on an encounter he had with a woman waiting in the crowd while he was on his first relief mission to Lares.
“There was a mother in the crowd, and she wanted to talk to me,” said Alvarado. So I asked that she be allowed to come towards me.”
Alvarado stated that she was a mother of a service member and was unable to get a hold of him to let him know she was ok. She handed him a written note and asked Alvarado to please call her son. Alvarado did just that. He was able to speak with Captain Robert Studebaker, Navy Medical Corps, and sent him the written note his mother had written.
Studebaker immediately called back and thanked Alvarado for a simple act that connected a family. They were both very grateful for this kind act.
Spc. Jeffrey Lebron, assigned to the 432nd Transportation Company, 346th Transportation Battalion, 166th Regional Support Group, 1st Mission Support Command and native of Canovanas, Puerto Rico, also reported for duty at Fort Buchanan after his platoon sergeant called him for accountability.
“When my platoon sergeant contacted me and told me to report to Buchanan, I knew there was lots of work to do and that it was going to be difficult,” said Lebron. “I am doing the best I can, and I am proud to be from Puerto Rico and helping my fellow people during their time of need.”
The 432nd Transportation Company has completed numerous relief missions delivering commodities all over the island of Puerto Rico.
The vast majority of America’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.