Dover MX Airman returns to Puerto Rico

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Team Dover has responded in force to support the ongoing Hurricane Maria relief operations in Puerto Rico since the storm made landfall and devastated the island two weeks ago.

"The 436th Maintenance Group is 'all in' to support disaster recovery efforts in Puerto Rico,” said Col. Tyler Knack, 436th MXG commander. “From here at home, we've been providing safe, reliable aircraft far above our normal tasking levels to ensure we meet all emerging requirements and will continue to do so to the very best of our ability.”

A team of seven Airmen from the 436th MXG volunteered to deploy to Puerto Rico to support aircraft maintenance operations for incoming and outgoing Air Mobility Command aircraft transiting the island while delivering humanitarian relief supplies and personnel. One of these seven, Airman 1st Class Ronald Morales-Rosado, 436th Maintenance Squadron crew chief, is a Puerto Rican native.

The team of seven maintainers departed on a bus from Dover AFB Oct. 4, 2017, to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. There they caught a flight on a C-17 Globemaster III to San Juan.

They are expected to remain on the island from anywhere between 45 days to four months, depending on several variables. While in location, their mission will be to provide maintenance support for C-5M Super Galaxy and C-17 aircraft. They will work hand-in-hand with other aircraft maintenance Airmen from other AMC bases. They are also expected to be joined by additional maintenance Airmen from Dover AFB in the upcoming weeks.

“We are proud to send A1C Morales-Rosado, a native from Puerto Rico, to assist in the relief effort, directly impacting his family and friends on the island,” said Knack.

Morales-Rosado is from Guánica, a small town in southern Puerto Rico, and has been in the Air Force for just over two-and-a-half years. He is looking forward to returning home to help.

“It’s pretty amazing to go back home and help your people,” Morales-Rosado said. “All of my family is there, except for my wife and 1-year-old daughter.”

According to Morales-Rosado, all of his family made it through the storm without injury or harm.

“They’re all fine and their houses are fine,” he said. “So that’s a relief.”
But the conditions on the ground for them are not great, Morales-Rosado said.

“When I told my mom that I was coming, she actually told me not to come,” he said. “It’s pretty bad there. They have no cell phone signal, no electricity, they barely have any water, they have some food, but not a lot.”

While there, he is unsure if he’ll have the opportunity to see his family.
“I would hope to see them,” he said. “I might see them, or I might not.”
Morales-Rosado was selected for this mission to Puerto Rico when it became aware to his leadership that he was from there.

“I had my promotion ceremony last week and they were talking about this trip to Puerto Rico,” he said. “When I went up to get my new stripes, they announced where I was from and the chief heard it, and he got me on this trip.”

According to Morales-Rosado, his leadership has been nothing but helpful throughout this entire ordeal.

“They’ve helped me a bunch,” he said. “They’ve given me time to do what I need to do.”