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Freedom Wing delivers New Jersey Fire Truck to Nicaragua

U.S. Airmen with the 305th Aerial Port Squadron and 732nd Airlift Squadron, guide a fire truck onto a C-17 on Joint Base Mcguire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Jan. 31, 2019.

U.S. Airmen with the 305th Aerial Port Squadron and 732nd Airlift Squadron, guide a fire truck onto a C-17 on Joint Base Mcguire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Jan. 31, 2019. The 732nd transported a fire truck, donated by the Hamilton Twp., District 8 Fire Department, to the volunteer fire department in Managua, Nicaragua. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sean M Evans)

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. --

A hook and ladder fire truck, donated by the Hamilton Township, District 8 Fire Department, embarked on a long trip to Nicaragua to be utilized by the volunteer fire brigade in the nation’s capital of Managua. 

U.S. Airmen with the 305th Aerial Port Squadron and 732nd Airlift Squadron at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., loaded the fire truck, worth over 1 million dollars, onto a C-17 Globemaster III to be airlifted to Managua, Nicaragua on Jan. 31, 2019. 

The Benemerito Fire Brigade of Managua relies on donations to operate; contributions to assist the citizens of Managua are put to effective use. 

Jorge A. Narvaez, a retired New Jersey Air National Guardsman Master Sgt., was responsible for organizing the effort to make this delivery a reality.

“They can use the ladder truck to put out fires and train other firefighters”, he said. “It’s a big deal for their fire department, their city, and the country of Nicaragua.”

Narvaez was born in Nicaragua and immigrated to the United States in 1981. He has served with the Princeton Police Department in New Jersey as a patrolman for 22 years. 

He joined the 108th Wing in October 1992, and, transferred to Security Forces in 1999, where he served on the commander's support staff until his retirement in April of 2018.

This is not the first time Narvaez has helped deliver a fire truck to Nicaragua. In 2016 he delivered a 1982 Mack fire truck, donated by the Princeton F.D.  

“I always believe in helping people,” Narvaez said. “I saw from my past visits the need in Nicaragua, I felt compelled to continue helping whenever I could and then Hamilton Township contacted me saying they have a truck they wanted to donate.” 

These deliveries were made through the Denton Program, which allows private citizens and organizations to use military cargo planes to transport humanitarian goods to countries in need. 

The program is administered jointly by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of State, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency and the Department of Defense. 

USAID reviews all applications to ensure they meet foreign policy objectives and that the donation meets a genuine humanitarian necessity in accordance with the country’s requirements. 

After the request made its way through the proper channels, the 514th Air Mobility Wing was tasked to airlift the truck and additional supplies to Managua, and the 732nd AS delivered the goods.

The 732nd conducts approximately six or seven Denton missions each year, with this mission being the first time the squadron loaded and airlifted a fire truck. 

The Denton missions are often flown overseas, providing the aircrew with valuable off-station training necessary to effectively perform their duties. 

Assisting Narvaez in the planning process was Lt. Col. Patrick Stafy, C-17 current operations chief with the 514th Operations Support Squadron. 

Stafy was the aircraft commander for the flight and the main mission planner with the assistance of Senior Master Sgt. Shawn Reynolds, loadmaster with the 514th Operations Group. 

“The 305th and 514th Maintenance Squadrons really stepped it up providing us with the C-17 to be loaded twenty-four hours early”, said Stafy. “It was a really great job on their part.” 

This endeavor was a total force effort with many moving pieces that included reserve and active duty squadrons, along with first responders from Hamilton Township and Hopewell, who got the fire truck and supplies to JBMDL. 

The humanitarian aid arrived in Nicaragua Feb. 3, and the U.S. Airmen were greeted by the U.S. consulate staff and firefighters with the volunteer fire brigade in Managua. 

“I’ve been a Reservist for twenty-three years and have been involved with Denton missions for twenty years,” Stafy said. “We usually donate food and supplies on palettes, but to unload a fire truck and have the fire brigade greet us and shake our hands was extremely gratifying.” 

It was a gratifying moment for Narvaez as well, who was able to see the result of his efforts pay dividends for the people of Nicaragua.

“It was incredible, everyone was key to this success, to the enlisted Airmen, to the civilians who worked beside them, and the fire departments who contributed,” recalled Narvaez. “Everyone involved went above and beyond; I was very proud that the aircrew were from New Jersey and that when we landed and I saw the tail of the plane said McGuire.”