U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Edward L. Vaughan, Special Assistant to the Director, Air National Guard, for Puerto Rico Recovery, arrived on the island recently on special assignment as an advisor to the Adjutant General of Puerto Rico and the commanders in the Puerto Rico Air National Guard.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon and the National Guard Bureau continue the process to define, assign and transition the unit to a new mission in the near term.
Vaughan is no stranger to Puerto Rico. He served as the 156th Airlift Wing commander from 2015 to 2017. The purpose of his return is to support the current commander and help guide the Wing’s combat readiness and prepare his fellow “Bucaneros” for its future transition.
“The Air Force is not considering closing the Air Base on the island; however, all options for a new mission remain on the table. The Air National Guard leadership believes in and recognizes decades of accomplishments and courage of our Puerto Rican Airmen who have distinguished themselves innumerable times for their service and gallantry in defending the nation,” said Vaughan. “Puerto Rico Air National Guardsmen are my family, I love them and I attest to their commitment, dedication, and professionalism, we are here to help them move forward.”
Vaughan stated there is a possibility the 156th may continue with a flying mission in the future, but also emphasized there is no guarantee. “What is certain is that the 156th Airlift Wing will be assigned a mission that fully employs the special talents and high education level of our excellent Puerto Rican brothers and sisters in arms,” said Vaughan.
Vaughan added he wants to make it clear that the future mission for the PRANG will support the National Defense Strategy and align with the Secretary of the Air Force’s initiative known as the “Air Force we need.”
“We look forward to accepting our future mission and everyone is excited about the return of Brig. Gen. Vaughan,” said Col. Raymond Figueroa, 156th Airlift Wing commander. “As we continue to make training and readiness our priority, I know he will provide guidance and support to help us prepare for next steps. Meanwhile, there is a lot of activity at the base as we improve and repair our infrastructure impacted by Hurricane Maria, so our Airmen have the best facilities available.”
Since 1998, the 156th flew six C-130 aircraft as an airlift wing in support of its state and federal mission. Air Force basing decisions and mission realignment are common practices, not unusual to Puerto Rico.