PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WSAV) – They were fathers, husbands and sons who dedicated their lives to serving our country.
On Thursday, the City of Port Wentworth held a memorial service for the nine Puerto Rico National Guardsmen who died in a crash one year ago.
Family members of the airmen, fellow soldiers, and the community gathered solemnly at the site of the future city hall.
A spokesperson for the 165th Airlift Wing reflected on the day, saying he had gone numb at the news of the crash last year. Now, he says he honors this chance to support his sister unit and their families.
“The nine airmen between them had over 150 years of service to our country, dedicated service, so we just want to make sure we’re honoring them, their legacy, their families,” said 2nd Lt. Brandon Patterson. “I know that they would be eternally grateful to us for memorializing them.”
Loved ones of the fallen airmen attended the service; some to speak, others to pay tribute to their family.
A copy of House Resolution 792, sponsored by Representatives Bill Hitchens (R-161) and John Burns (R-159), was given to the families in honor of:
- Major Jose Ramon
- Major Carlos Perez-Serra
- 54 First Lieutenant David Samuel Albandoz
- Senior Master Sergeant Jan A. Paravisini-Ruiz
- 55 Senior Master Sergeant Victor Colon
- Master Sergeant Mario Braña-Ortega
- Master Sergeant 56 Eric Raul Circuns
- Master Sergeant Jean Michael Rivera
- Senior Airman Roberto 57 Espada
A local pastor told the family that while they are heartbroken, the airmen did not die in vain.
“The grief doesn’t stop after a year, the grief continues, and we are honored as a city to be able to take this time to recognize the wonderful life of these brave soldiers, and while we certainly are heartbroken over their passing, we do realize their death is not in vain,” he said.
The city also planted nine trees in honor of the lives of the airmen.