Alaska National Guard mission hits close to home for one soldier

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Soldiers and airmen with the Alaska National Guard flew to Puerto Rico to assist in hurricane relief left by the destruction from Hurricane Maria.

The mission was to get communication up and running on the island. Part of the Alaska National Guard crew worked on 24-hour logistical operations for Puerto Rico's main hub, San Juan International Airport.

For Sgt. Jorge Palermo, the mission hit close to home. He was born and raised in Puerto Rico.

"I thought it was going to be a total disaster, and it was a total disaster and every day we go there things change," Palermo said.

"People were really grateful," he added. "Most people don't have to tell you, you can just see it on their faces, really grateful."

The sergeant had the chance to hand deliver food, water, and even some Alaskan caribou jerky he brought along to his mother and father.

Seeing his parents in the midst of disaster was an emotional experience.

"I don't remember my mom saying anything, I just remember my mom crying and we just went from there," Palermo said.

For Palermo, words could not express how grateful he is to have taken part in the mission and how relieved he was to see his parents' faces.

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