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​Nine airmen from the Puerto Rico Air National Guard's 156th Airlift Wing were killed when their WC-130 crashed on May 2. From left to right they are: Maj. Jose "JR" Roman, Maj. Carlos "Dulzura" Perez-Serra, 2nd Lt. David "Lani" Albandoz, SMSgt. Jan A. Paravisini-Ruiz, MSgt. Mario "Sully" Brana, (Bottom row) MSgt. Eric "Quillo" Circuns, MSgt. Victor "Vitin" Colon, MSgt. Jean M. "Audi" Audiffred Rivera, and SrA. Roberto Espada. Photo illustration by Dashton Parham; Photos courtesy Puerto Rico ANG.

The Puerto Rico Air National Guard on May 4 held a private memorial service at Muniz Air National Guard Base for the nine airmen killed when their WC-130 crashed near Savannah, Ga., last week.  The aircraft was one of the oldest in the Air Force’s inventory and was o​n its way to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., where it was to be retired. 

“I want to express my deepest and most sincere condolences to all impacted by this tragedy. Especially to the families and loved ones of our nine fallen airmen,” wrote Col. Raymond Figueroa​​, the wing commander, in a message to airmen. “Our hearts, prayers, and support go out to you at this very difficult time. Family doesn’t ask to help, we just do everything we can automatically. Please count on me, personally, and all my staff to provide any assistance you need.” 

Maj. Jose “JR” Roman was a WC-130 pilot assigned to the 198th Airlift Squadron. Roman, who served as the chief of training and flight commander for the 198 AS A-Flight, had 18 years of service in the Air Force and more than 3,700 flying hours as both an instructor and evaluator pilot. He played a significant role in Hurricane Irma relief efforts having “directly supported the evacuation of hundreds of American citizens from the neighboring island of St. Martin,” according to information posted on the wing’s Facebook page. He also supported Hurricane Maria relief efforts, and deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Joint Forge, and Coronet Oak. “He also contributed in the research and development of Shadow Harvest C-130 platform and Senior Scout,” according to the memo from the commander. Roman began his Air Force career as an aerial porter in the Puerto Rico Air National Guard. He is survived by his wife and two sons.

Maj. Carlos “Dulzura” Perez-Serra was a master navigator and evaluator with 23 years of service and more than 2,400 flying hours. He served as the chief of weapons and tactics for the 156th Operations Support Squadron. Like Roman, Perez-Serra supported the evacuation of hundreds of Americans from St. Martin following Hurricane Irma. He also supported Hurricane Maria relief efforts and deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Joint Forge, and Coronet Oak. He too “contributed to the research and development of Shadow Harvest C-130 platform and Senior Scout,” states the memo. He previously served as a life support journeyman. He is survived by his wife, two sons, and a daughter.

2nd Lt. David “Lani” Albandoz s​erved 16 years in the Air Force, of which 14 years were spent as a C-130 loadmaster. Albandoz was the co-pilot on the flight having recently completed co-pilot certification at Little Rock AFB, Ark. He had logged more than 2,000 flying hours while assigned to the 198th Airlift Squadron. He too supported Hurricanes Irma and Maria relief efforts, and deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Joint Forge, and Coronet Oak. He also supported research and development of the Shadow Harvest and Senior Scout. Albandoz also served as a mechanical engineer in the Missile Defense Agency in Alabama. He is survived by his wife and daughter.

SMSgt. Jan A. Paravisini-Ruiz was a maintenance management analyst with 21 years of service. He was assigned to the 156th Maintenance Operations Flight and previously served as a metals technology specialist in the 156th Maintenance Squadron. Paravisini’s oldest son recently joined the wing and plans to serve as an aircraft navigator. Paravisini supported Operations Enduring Freedom, Joint Forge, Coronet Oak, and Hurricanes Irma and Maria. He is survived by two daughters and a son.

MSgt. Mario “Sully” Brana was a flight engineer with more than 180 total flying hours. He was assigned to the 198th Airlift Squadron and had 17 years of service. Brana previously served as a flight engineer and an aircraft maintenance craftsman. He deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Coronet Oak, and Hurricanes Maria and Irma relief efforts. He is survived by his mother and daughter.

MSgt. Eric “Quillo” Circuns was a senior evaluator loadmaster with more than 2,900 flying hours and 31 years of service. He was assigned to the 198th Airlift Squadron and had deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Joint Forge, Coronet Oak, and Hurricanes Irma and Maria relief efforts. He also supported development of the Shadow Harvest C-130 platform and Senior Scout. Circuns helped train and certify Argentinian loadmasters in the C-130. He previously served as an avionics craftsmen with the 156th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 156th Tactical Fighter Group before cross training to the Logistics Readiness section where he served as a supply material handling specialist. He is survived by his wife, two step daughters, and a son.

MSgt. Victor “Vitin” Colon was assigned to the 156th Operations Support Squadron as an aircrew flight equipment craftsman. He had 22 years of service. He served as the subject matter expert for the Guard’s state partnership program with the Dominican Republic Air Forces. Colon had deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Joint Forge, Coronet Oak, Hurricanes Irma and Maria relief efforts. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

MSgt. Jean M. “Audi” Audiffred Rivera was an aircraft maintenance craftsman and flying crew chief who was assigned to the 156th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Rivera had 16 years of service and had previously served as air advisor for the International Security Assistance Force and deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Coronet Oak, and hurricane relief efforts. He is survived by his wife and two sons.

SrA. Roberto Espada had been in the Air Force for three years. He was an aircrew flight equipment journeyman assigned to the 156th Operations Support Squadron. He supported the State Partnership Program and deployed in support of Coronet Oak and hurricane relief efforts. Outside the military, Espada worked as an accountant. He is survived by his grandmother.


The Puerto Rico Air National Guard held a private memorial service at Muniz Air National Guard Base for the nine airmen killed in the May 2 WC-130 crash. Puerto Rico Air National Guard photo.

The crash was the third fatal crash in as many months for the Air Force. On March 15, seven airmen were killed when their HH-60G Pave Hawk crashed in Iraq and on April 4 USAF Thunderbirds pilot Maj. Stephen Del Bagno died when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed in Nevada during training. The Air Force announced in April it was examining accident rates after the recent series of fatal crashes and the House Armed Services Committee is considering establishing a National Commission on Military Aviation Safety.​