85th EIS deploys to Puerto Rico
By Senior Airman Travis Beihl, 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 13, 2017
KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Members from the 85th Engineering Installation Squadron deployed Oct. 13, from Savannah, Georgia, to aid Puerto Rico in Hurricane Maria relief.
In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s land mobile radio communications infrastructure for first responders are in dire need of repair and the 85th EIS were requested by name to help get it back up and running.
“The US Army North had some direct influence in our tasking to Puerto Rico,” said Maj. Jason Read, 85th EIS director of operations. “One of the comments a Federal Emergency Management Agency representative made was that they can’t make the proper assessments; that’s what they need us there for. At that point we knew we had to be prepared for everything.”
The 85th EIS is the only active duty engineering and installation unit in the Air Force and their expertise and reputation is the reason why they were selected for this mission. They handpicked every team member based on their skillsets ranging from radio frequency, airfield communications, cable antenna, translators and to someone who had local knowledge of Puerto Rico.
Capt. Jose Gutierrez del Arroyo, 85th EIS specialized engineering flight deputy commander, jumped at the opportunity to help as the destruction of Puerto Rico quite literally hit home as he has lived there for 10 years and still has family living on the island.
“My family stateside was collecting donations for Puerto Rico, but sending supplies was difficult,” said Gutierrez. “When Maj Read told us about this opportunity, I considered it a blessing to go there and actually be able to help both my family and the 3.4 million people in Puerto Rico who still need help.”
85th EIS will be deployed for an undetermined amount of time and are prepared to stay until their mission is complete.