Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas --
Members of Homestead Air Reserve Base’s 482nd Fighter Wing were able to maintain their focus and repair aircraft while away in Texas, thanks to the help of their Reserve Citizen Airmen brothers and sisters who stayed behind during Hurricane Irma.
Airman First Class Zyad Hassan, an active duty member assigned to Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, left his dog with another member of the unit and prepared his home for the storm.
“We came in to work the Tuesday after Labor Day and they asked for volunteers to come out to Texas,” said Hassan. “I volunteered right away, I’m single so I left my dog with my roommate, put up shutters on the windows, packed up and was ready to go the next morning.”
Hassan survived Hurricane Sandy, so he knows what weather can do to an area. “I remember after Sandy, some things never came back, the stores you used to go to just never opened back up. I’m a little nervous to see how things are back home, but luckily I’ve had unit members stop by my house and they tell me only a tree was blown over. Having them check on my house and my roommate taking care of my dog has allowed me to focus on what we need to do here [in Texas] and keep the jets ready to fly home.”
Staff Sgt. Joel Folgueira, an Air Reserve Technician with the 482nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron had a similar story. “Tuesday after work, some of my coworkers came over and helped me put the shutters on my house, and we left the next day.”
Before Folgueira left Florida, he gave his family information to military personnel who stayed behind. “I get at least two phone calls per day from my Reserve family letting me know how my family is doing. I have a big family, my dad and his four sisters, plus my mom and her family all live in the Miami area. It’s given me a nice feeling of assurance knowing they are stopping by and checking on my family.”
The feeling of assurance has allowed Folgueira to work with a clear mind and stay focused on maintaining aircraft.
“I have no worries; they’ve stopped by and looked at my house. I was getting text updates whenever there were changes to the storm,” Folguiera said. “Now, when I have a break from working on the jets, I pick up my phone and I have messages from both my family and my Reserve family, letting me know things are ok back home.”
Lt. Col. William McLeod, 482nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Commander, said, “I’m proud of how all these Airmen answered the call to drop everything, trust their reserve family, and fly to Texas to receive the evacuated aircraft. The support from our Reserve Citizen Airmen back home is what allows us to stay focused and make sure we keep our jets mission ready.”