PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WSAV) – It’s been two years since a military plane came crashing down onto Highway 21 in Port Wentworth.
May 2nd, 2018, dispatch received the following emergency call: “I just had a C-130 just take off from the airport and it just crashed here on 21 over by Gulfstream road. I’ve got plane and smoke coming out everywhere and stuff coming out of the sky.”
“I was actually the first officer on scene for this crash. Pulling up to the scene, just the heavy amount of smoke, I will never forget what that day, what I saw can never be unseen,” Port Wentworth Police Department Sergeant Nathan Jentzen described.
No one on the ground was injured but all nine 156th Airlift Wing Aviators from the Puerto Rico Air National Guard who were on board died.
The crew was on a mission to deliver the aircraft from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport to its retirement at a U.S. Air Force base in Arizona.
Investigators say one engine of the C-130 plane failed during takeoff and the crew ultimately couldn’t address an aircraft mishap.
On Saturday, a ceremony was held at the crash site, located on Highway 21 near the intersection of Crossgate and Gulfstream roads, to honor the following airmen:
- Maj. José R. Román Rosado – Pilot – 18 years of service – from Manati, PR. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
- Maj. Carlos Pérez Serra – Navigator – 23 years of service – from Canóvanas, PR. He is survived by his wife, two sons and daughter.
- 1st Lt. David Albandoz – Co-Pilot – 16 years of service – from PR, recently residing in Madison, Alabama. He is survived by his wife and daughter.
- Senior Master Sgt. Jan Paravisini – Mechanic – 21 years of service – from Canóvanas, PR. He is survived by two daughters and son.
- Master Sgt. Jean Audriffred – 16 years of service – from Carolina, PR. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
- Master Sgt. Mario Braña – Flight Engineer – 17 years of service – from Bayamón, PR. He is survived by his mother and daughter.
- Master Sgt. Víctor Colón – 22 years of service – from Santa Isabel, PR. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
- Master Sgt. Eric Circuns – Loadmaster – 31 years of service – from Rio Grande, PR. He is survived by his wife, two step-daughters and son.
- Senior Airman Roberto Espada- three years of service – from Salinas, PR. He is survived by his grandmother.
“Everybody in Port Wentworth and even the surrounding the Savannah area won’t forget, not only just for us but the bond that it brought with our department and our community, along with the 165th community, the community in Puerto Rico. It’s brought all of us together. They made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, for their families,” Jentzen said.
Although the service was kept small due to COVID-19, the Mayor of Port Wentworth, military members, first responders, and community members said they will continue to hold services for the airmen every year—encouraging others to visit their memorial located on Highway 21 near the intersection of Crossgate and Gulfstream roads