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319th CES Airmen deploy to support Puerto Rico relief efforts

Grand Forks AFB Airmen assist in hurricane relief

Grand Forks Air Force Base Airmen and South Dakota Army National Guardsmen guide a vehicle into a C-17 Globemaster III on Grand Forks AFB, N.D., Oct. 8, 2017. Grand Forks AFB Airmen assisted the South Dakota Army National Guard in deploying to Puerto Rico to provide humanitarian efforts to the victims of Hurricane Maria. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elijaih Tiggs)

Grand Forks AFB Airmen assist in hurricane relief

South Dakota Army National Guardsmen board a C-17 on Grand Forks AFB, N.D., Oct. 8, 2017. Grand Forks AFB Airmen assisted the South Dakota Army National Guard in deploying to Puerto Rico to provide humanitarian efforts to the victims of Hurricane Maria. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elijaih Tiggs)

Grand Forks AFB Airmen assist in hurricane relief

Grand Forks Air Force Base Airmen place a supply pallet into a C-17 on Grand Forks AFB, N.D., Oct. 8, 2017. Grand Forks AFB Airmen assisted the South Dakota Army National Guard in deploying to Puerto Rico to provide humanitarian efforts to the victims of Hurricane Maria. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elijaih Tiggs)

Grand Forks AFB Airmen assist in hurricane relief

A C-17 taxis before being loaded with supplies to assist the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico on Grand Forks AFB, N.D., Oct. 8, 2017. Grand Forks AFB Airmen assisted the South Dakota Army National Guard in deploying to Puerto Rico to provide humanitarian efforts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elijaih Tiggs)

Grand Forks AFB Airmen assist in hurricane relief

Grand Forks Air Force Base Airmen and South Dakota Army National Guardsmen guide a vehicle into a C-17 Globemaster III on Grand Forks AFB, N.D., Oct. 8, 2017. Grand Forks AFB Airmen assisted the South Dakota Army National Guard in deploying to Puerto Rico to provide humanitarian efforts to the victims of Hurricane Maria. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elijaih Tiggs)

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D -- Two Airmen from the 319th Civil Engineer Squadron recently deployed to Puerto Rico in support of Hurricane Maria relief efforts.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Metzger and Airman 1st Class Malcom Edgar, 319 CES firefighters, volunteered to deploy to Puerto Rico after the unit received a call from Air Combat Command deployment section.

After being hit by a Category 5 hurricane, the storm left thousands of locals without power, food and water. Within days, the United States Armed Forces deployed hundreds of service members and supplies to aid in the relief efforts and help get Puerto Rico back on its feet.

“When the unit deployment manager asked for volunteers to go to Puerto Rico, I knew I wanted to go,” said Metzger. “I have never participated in a humanitarian mission, so I was excited to go and lend a helping hand.”

The two-man team left almost two months after the disaster struck and are the first assigned personnel from Grand Forks Air Force Base to support the relief efforts. Back in October, the South Dakota Army National Guard departed from the airfield here on numerous C-17 Globemaster IIIs, with the help of Airmen from various units across the base.

While in Puerto Rico, Metzger and Edgar will spend 30 days working alongside sister services providing fire coverage for an airfield to ensure planes are capable of landing and delivering much-needed humanitarian supplies such as food, water and equipment.

“There are so many hands involved in getting Puerto Rico back on its feet,” Mertzger said. “The Federal Emergency Management Agency is also assisting with the military.”

The team will be pulling 12-hour shifts to ensure the safety of the aircraft landing and the airfield.

“Being able to do our job and help people at the same time is an amazing experience,” said Metzger. “It’s also a new experience for us; it really is a good chance to help those in need and help Puerto Rico rebuild.”

Metzger and Edgar will be the only Airmen from Grand Forks to deploy in support of Hurricane Maria relief efforts.

“It’s a good opportunity to help out after a natural disaster;” Edgar said. “To be able to support those who need it really means a lot and I am grateful to be able to experience it.”