FORT BUCHANAN, PR -Puerto Rico National Guard Citizen-Soldiers and helicopters deployed to Haiti Tuesday night as part of U.S. relief efforts at the request of USAID, after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastated the southwest area of the country, causing more than 1,940 deaths and leaving at least 10,000 people injured as well as the collapse of vital infrastructure, according to news reports.
“The Department of Defense activated the Puerto Rico Army National Guard’s aviation unit to assist in the rescue and medical transport of injured individuals and aerial assessments of the area,” said Maj. Gen. José J. Reyes, adjutant general of Puerto Rico. “This mobilization is part of our responsibility towards our Caribbean neighbors. In 2010, we were the first to assist the Haitian people after an earthquake left more than 300,000 victims.”
On Aug. 17, 20 Citizen-Soldiers and three helicopters departed Puerto Rico to San Isidro Air Base in the Dominican Republic to establish an operational base. From there, they will conduct search and rescue operations, medical transport, and aerial assessment to evaluate the damage caused by the earthquake. This deployment of the PRNG takes place during the most active time in the hurricane season in the Caribbean.
“We are aware that this humanitarian mission occurs in the middle of hurricane season and that we are part of Puerto Rico’s emergency response team. Nevertheless, even with this mobilization, we still have enough personnel and equipment to accomplish our state responsibility if necessary,” Reyes said.
The PRARNG personnel departed from the Army Aviation Support Facility at the Fernando Ribas Dominicci Airport on Tuesday.