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HISTORY


In 1898 during the Spanish–American War, the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico, landing at Guánica. At war’s end, Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S. under the Treaty of Paris, thereby making the small country a U.S. territory. There have been many iterations of the country’s status since then. Its people’s mood has vacillated from breaking free to become a sovereign nation, to ceding their independence to become the 51st state.


Puerto Rico has no vote in the U.S. Congress, but remains under U.S. overarching authority. The territory has its own constitution and local governments. In this complex strategic, political, and economic relationship, Puerto Ricans are natural born U.S. citizens, and the U.S. is obligated to protect the territory.


AVIATION BATTALION


Based in the capital city of San Juan, the PRNG Aviation Element consists of D Company (air ambulance) and Detachment 1 B Company 1-114th Security & Support Battalion with four Airbus UH- 72A Lakotas. The A Company 2-149th GSAB and its four detachments consists of six Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawks. The 777th ASB conducts maintenance, and one C-12 (BE200) fixed-wing aircraft belongs to Detachment 7 C Company 2-641st Aviation Regiment. It takes approximately 24 pilots, 42 mechanics, and 80 support personnel to keep the element’s 11 aircraft staffed and mission ready.


The aviation element’s mission falls into two basic categories: (1) maintain deployment readiness through training, and (2) protect the island through aerial support activities. These aerial support activities include security and surveillance missions, medevac operations, natural disaster support, and VIP support of government agencies.


The unit keeps a busy schedule, flying an average of 2,000 flight hours per year, with approximately 800 of those hours being flown by the Lakotas. Approximately 70 percent of the unit’s flying is training to maintain a high level of readiness, while the remaining 30 percent is for support missions.


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