Spc. Ruben Ismael Alvarez joined the U.S. Army at 18 years old, graduated from his advanced individual training a few months after, and now works as a parachute rigger assigned to 151st Quartermaster Company, 189th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 82nd Sustainment Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.
He volunteered to serve his country and make his uncle proud. Alvarez continues to volunteer any opportunity he gets.
“Thursday, my platoon sergeant put out that we were on a two-hour recall in light of Hurricane Florence,” said Alvarez. “I told him right away that I wanted to be on that mission.”
On Sept. 13, 2018 paratroopers assigned to 189th CSSB, 82nd ADSB deployed to various parts of North Carolina in support of Hurricane Florence relief efforts. Paratroopers worked alongside 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command and other units to evacuate civilians, provide supplies and conduct highwater rescue missions.
Staged at East Hoke Middle School in Raeford, North Carolina, the paratroopers waited to be called by the local fire department.
Alvarez’s first mission took place in Hoke County.
“It was dusk when we were given the call to evacuate people in certain neighborhoods,” Alvarez said. “We were split up into teams of three people per vehicle, and I was in charge of my team.”
The mission took all night.
“I didn’t know it then, but this would be the most physically demanding mission,” said Alvarez, a Phoenix, Arizona native. “We were up for 27 hours straight.”
Pfc. Ryan James Price, a horizontal construction engineer assigned to 151st QM, 189th CSSB, 82nd ADSB, said he couldn’t have asked for a better teammate.
“Alvarez took charge right away,” Price said. “He knew exactly what to say to the residents to calm them down, so we all kind of stepped back and let him do his thing.”
Alvarez said he handled the task as if he were evacuating his own family.
“I was just trying to keep the civilians and my team safe,” Alvarez said. “I wasn’t nervous because I was too focused on the task at hand.”
Alvarez and Price met each other during the mission, but Price said he feels like he’s known him his whole life.
“I met him seven days ago,” said Price. “But Alvarez and I clicked right away.
He knows when to be a leader and when to be a friend,” he added.
Alvarez recalled his second mission.
“My team and I were sent to a lady’s house,” said Alvarez. “Her house was literally being flooded and we needed to get her out of there.”
Price said Alvarez remained calm and positive.
“I remember looking over at Alvarez while driving toward the woman’s house,” Price said. “He looked back at us and was like, ‘you ready boys?’
We all laughed for a second and then it was back to being a Soldier.”
Alvarez said he loves his job as a parachute rigger, but volunteering for the Hurricane Florence relief mission is one of the best moments in his career.
“These are the missions that count,” said Alvarez. “This mission clearly highlights selfless service because everyone was affected by the hurricane, but they were all still here.
Seeing all my teammates with me restores my faith in humanity.”
Alvarez said he would volunteer again without hesitation.
“No one wants a natural disaster to happen,” Alvarez said. “But in the off chance it does, I know I am ready to take on the mission.”