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Alumni: Caputi to be awarded Humanitarian Service Medal for hurricane response

SALAMANCA — New York Army National Guard Specialist Anthony Caputi of Salamanca recently received the Humanitarian Service Award for his service last autumn in the hurricane response in Puerto Rico.

Early last month, Major General Anthony P. German, the Adjutant General of New York, announced the recent award recognitions for members of the New York Army National Guard who participated in the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support missions following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017. Caputi was among those National Guard members who will receive an award recognition.

“The support of our New York National Guard in the Caribbean following Hurricanes Irma and Maria was nothing short of exceptional, and our soldiers are the reason for that success,” German said. “Our Citizen Soldiers are used to responding here at home, so the effort to move troops and equipment to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands presented unique challenges. The presentation of the Humanitarian Service Medal is a great reflection of our soldiers’ commitment to serve others.”

Caputi, who serves with the 152nd Engineer Company of the New York Army National Guard, based in Buffalo, was among 125 other soldiers from the same company that departed for Puerto Rico from the 914th Air Refueling Wing at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, Oct. 18 and 19, according to a press release issued by the air reserve station.

According to Caputi, the soldiers were sent there with heavy equipment to help clean up the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria and restore lines of communication. He said the task included a mission to distribute food and potable water to locals in need.

Caputi said he is trained on 10 different pieces of heavy equipment and operated a high-mobility engineer excavator almost daily while in Puerto Rico. He said it’s basically a modified version of a backhoe loader that is meant to travel at high speeds.

“Personally, I was on debris removal missions for a majority of my time down there,” he said. “We made roads passable so people could get to where they needed to go.”

Along with his fellow Guard soldiers, Caputi has gone through a lot of special training to be able to successfully perform these tasks. He said they train every drill weekend and during their annual training.

“All of the training I did up to that point prepared me for it (Puerto Rico) and we continue to train for natural disasters,” he said.