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Rock Hill National Guard soldiers arrive in Hurricane Maria-damaged Puerto Rico

Nearly 50 U.S. National Guard Soldiers from the South Carolina National Guard's 122nd and 178th Engineer Battalions leave to provide Hurricane Maria relief support to Puerto Rico.
Nearly 50 U.S. National Guard Soldiers from the South Carolina National Guard's 122nd and 178th Engineer Battalions leave to provide Hurricane Maria relief support to Puerto Rico. South Carolina National Guard

Soldiers from Rock Hill’s National Guard have arrived in Puerto Rico to help with Hurricane Maria recovery. They could stay for as long as two months, military officials said.

Troops were told the mission could be 30-60 days, said Lt. Col. Cindi King, spokesperson for the National Guard.

South Carolina is sending about 150 Army National Guard soldiers from the 178th Combat Engineer Battalion in Rock Hill and another unit from Edgefield, King said. About half of the 150 are from armories in Rock Hill, Chester, Lancaster and Fort Mill, which are under the Rock Hill headquarters, King said.

Puerto Rico, a United States territory with almost 3.5 million American citizens, was devastated by the storm. The units were chosen because of their engineering expertise and experience in Iraq, Afghanistan, during the 2016 devastation of Hurricane Matthew and other missions, King said.

“The unit has a mix of capabilities needed in Puerto Rico,” King said.

Some of the soldiers arrived in Puerto Rico early Monday after leaving from an air base near Columbia late Sunday, said Capt. Paul Reed of the 178th command staff. The rest are leaving Monday, said King.

Equipment such as trucks and earth movers is being sent by ship from coastal ports, King said.

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