(Photos of humanitarian missions from Master Sergeant Richard Day)
(Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa) Ten Airmen with the 132nd Wing, Iowa Air National Guard return to Des Moines today (Tuesday). They've been in Puerto Rico, since late September providing security after Hurricane Maria.They're expected back around 4 o'clock.
(Muniz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico) Iowa Air National Guard airmen continue working security in Hurricane-battered Puerto Rico.
Master Sergeant Richard Day, tells WHO-Radio News crews are working hard to fix the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in September, but he suspects it will take some time before the entire island is back to normal. The Iowans are providing back-fill security at an air-force base near San Juan. Day says many of their counterparts stationed permanently at the base, are dealing with personal devastation from the hurricane, including a lack of electricity. The Iowa Air Guard airmen have done a number of humanitarian missions off-base, where Day says they've witnessed a positive, determined recovery effort.
There are currently 17 Iowa Air National Guard airmen from Des Moines at the base. There had been more, but a group from Sioux City has since returned to Iowa. Day says when they first arrived, their team had to share tight-quarters in a conference room, sleeping on cots. He says about a week ago, they moved into a more comfortable tent-city. The tents have air conditioning, showers, and laundry facilities.
Temperatures in Puerto Rico are in the upper 80s, with 90-percent humidity. Day got to watch part of the Iowa-Ohio State football game Saturday, and says it was a little weird to be in such a tropical climate, watching Iowa fans wearing coats and hats.
He says if all goes well, they may return by Thanksgiving.
Nearly 400-Iowa Army National Guard soldiers continue training at Fort Hood, Texas, after being mobilized this fall. The soldiers are part of an Aviation Support Battalion, they'll eventually head to the Middle East, and the Central Command Theater of Operations, for a one year tour of duty.