In the late morning on Wednesday, May 2, a military plane crashed in Port Wentworth, killing all nine members of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard on board.
The plane crashed onto Highway 21 around 11:30 a.m., shortly after taking off from the Savannah Hilton Head International Airport. The craft was a WC-130 Hercules, or “Hurricane Hunter,” making its final flight to Pheonix, Arizona for decommissioning.
The Puerto Rico National Guard (PRANG) identified the victims of the crash as members of the 156th Airlift Wing Aviators, Maj. José R. Román Rosado, Maj. Carlos Pérez Serra, First Lt. David Albandoz, Senior Master Sgt. Jan Paravisini, Master Sgt. Jean Audriffred, Master Sgt. Mario Braña, Master Sgt. Víctor Colón, Master Sgt. Eric Circuns and Senior Airman Roberto Espada.
A private memorial service on May 4 honored the deceased service members. The Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) released this video from the service, featuring the images and names of the victims. The families and fellow 156th Airlift Wing Aviators call out “presente y vive” after each name is called, which translates to “present and living.”
“Their souls, characters, memories and sacrifices will always remain Present and Living with their families, the PRANG and the island of Puerto Rico,” said the DVIDS press release, issued on Saturday, May 5.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation, according to the latest statement from the Chatham County Board of Commissioners.
“Clean up of aircraft and debris field will be conducted after the investigation is concluded,” read the May 3 press release. “Any hazardous materials will need to be mitigated [and] the road will need to be evaluated and repaired by GDOT [Georgia Department of Transportation].”
Highway 21 will be closed between the Crossgate Road and Dean Forest Road exits until the United States Air Force concludes the investigation of the crash site and debris.
By Shelby Loebker.