Ke Sherman, a student at Quinebaug Valley Community College, took a break from his studies on Sept. 29 to board a Connecticut Air National Guard C-130H cargo plane and head to Puerto Rico to help in the relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Sherman, a senior airman, was one of ten guardsmen from the 103rd Airlift Wing deployed to help plan and organize air transportation activities, such as loading and unloading personnel and cargo, delivering food and water, and medical evacuation. They joined another contingent from the 103rd who had arrived earlier to assist in establishing and maintaining communications equipment.
Stationed at the Puerto Rican Air National Guard base outside San Juan, alongside units from Missouri, Kentucky, and Georgia, Sherman spent a month on the island working 12-hour days to help with the arduous recovery process.
The amount of destruction and debris was overwhelming. “I have never seen such devastation,” said Sherman. “The forests and trees were gone, windows blown out, buildings flattened. Almost no electrical power. People lost everything.” Parts of the island were covered in eight feet of water. The surrounding ocean was contaminated, and a smell of sewage hung in the air.
While Sherman said the recovery teams are working day and night to unload and deliver food, water, and supplies, it will take many years for Puerto Rico to recover from the crisis.
Sherman, who lives in Putnam, is studying Advanced Manufacturing Technology at QVCC, hoping to catch up on what he missed during his deployment so he can complete the program and graduate in December.
His month in Puerto Rico was “a humbling experience for me,” he said, that has made him look at things from a different perspective.
Released November 30, 2017