Fort Bragg troops aid Puerto Rico assistance

More than 3,800 soldiers and Army civilians were deployed to Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist in disaster relief

Fort Bragg troops aid Puerto Rico assistance

Soldiers assigned to the 602nd Area Support Medical Company, 261st Medical Battalion, 44th Medical Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C., farewell the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, in the Caribbean Sea, Sept. 23, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Alleea Oliver/DVIDSHUB)

Drew Brooks
The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.

Hurricane relief supplies destined for Puerto Rico were loaded aboard one of the Air Force’s largest planes at Fort Bragg late Wednesday.

A 47,000-pound generator and several pallets of food and water were among the supplies loaded onto the C-5 Galaxy being flown by an aircrew from the 22nd Airlift Squadron, 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base in California.

Airmen from the 43rd Air Mobility Squadron, part of the 43rd Air Mobility Operations Group based at Fort Bragg’s Pope Field, prepared the shipment earlier in the day. The supplies are meant to provide relief on the hurricane-ravaged island, which has been hammered by two named storms in recent weeks.

The latest storm, Maria, damaged much of Puerto Rico’s power grid.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said the generator — the size of a semi truck — would help officials direct the ever-growing air traffic coming onto the island.

Specifically, the generator would power important radar and communications equipment near San Juan.

Two generators typically serve as backups for that equipment, officials said. But both were damaged by the storm and only one is currently working.

“This generator will give us a lot more reliability,” a spokeswoman said.

The supplies are the latest example of support offered by Fort Bragg troops to the Caribbean.

On Tuesday, U.S. Northern Command announced that the Fort Bragg troops involved in relief operations in the Caribbean also include a Civil Affairs Information Support Element that include 25 personnel trained to support the dissemination of critical public information.

About 20 soldiers from the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command have also deployed along with tactical trucks and utility trailers to provide site assessments.

Soldiers from the 3rd ESC and 82nd Airborne Division previously deployed together to Florida to help in relief operations following Hurricane Irma earlier this month.

As of Tuesday, more than 3,800 soldiers and Army civilians were deployed to Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist in disaster relief.

That includes a team from the Army Corps of Engineers that deployed from Fort Bragg to Puerto Rico earlier this week. Soldiers and civilians from B Company, 249th Engineer Battalion are trained to maintain generators and provide power to military and civilian authorities.

And earlier this month, nearly 80 soldiers assigned to another Fort Bragg unit deployed to the Caribbean.

Soldiers from the 602nd Area Support Medical Company, 261st Multifunctional Medical Battalion have been in the U.S. Virgin Islands for several weeks, deploying shortly after Hurricane Irma struck the islands.

The soldiers are part of the 44th Medical Brigade and have been providing medical care at a damaged hospital in St. Thomas. They briefly evacuated for Hurricane Maria before returning late last week to the Virgin Islands to continue their mission.

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©2017 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service