By Air Force Senior Airman Mercedes Taylor, 19th Airlift Wing
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Oct. 6, 2017 — What does a person do when family faces strife on an island thousands of miles away?
Air Force Airman 1st Class Kenny Rivera Rojas, a crew chief with the 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron based at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, responded to his family’s plight in Hurricane Maria-ravaged Puerto Rico by offering his helping hands.
The 19th squadron is part of the 19th Airlift Wing based at Little Rock AFB, that’s assigned to the Air Mobility Command’s 18th Air Force.
Volunteers for Duty at MacDill AFB
Rivera Rojas volunteered for a temporary duty assignment here to help maintain aircraft delivering aeromedical evacuation response and delivering supplies to Puerto Rico.
Rivera Rojas’s family is among the 3.4 million people in Puerto Rico impacted by Maria. His family resides in the city of Canovanas, Puerto Rico, about 30 minutes away from San Juan.
Rivera Rojas’s conduit to his family in Puerto Rico is through his sister, who works at San Juan Luis Munoz Marin Airport.
‘They Mean the World to Me’
“They mean the world to me,” Rivera Rojas said. “I’m very close to everyone, even my extended family. Although my sister hasn’t gotten the chance to talk to them, I try to call at least once a day. Since there isn’t electricity, all I hear is the phone ring. They don’t know I’m here.”
As many other Puerto Ricans, his family requires food, water and fuel. Puerto Rico is receiving support from federal and private agencies.
“It’s heartwarming to see people donate to help so much,” Rivera Rojas said.
Rivera Rojas has contributed to maintenance operations of responding aircraft by conducting preflight checks and loading supplies onto aircraft headed to Puerto Rico.
Every day, he wakes up with the resolve to do as much as possible stateside to help his family and others in need. Rivera Rojas said he will continue to do so as long as he can.
“Until I see my family again, I’m willing to do anything in my power to make sure they’re okay,” he said. “I’m here. I’m doing my best to help out and be there. I love you.”