PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - Helpful, loving, and dedicated to both their families and their military service. Those are just some of the ways some of the children of some the Puerto Rican airmen killed in last year’s C-130 plane crash remember their dads.
When you talk with the daughter and sons of Senior Master Sgt. Victor Colón, Senior Master Sgt. Jan Paravisini and Master Sgt. Eric Circuns, they seem a lot older than 11, 13, and 17.
“It’s hard,” said Eric Circuns Perez, son of Master Sgt. Eric Circuns. “The process is tough, but you can make it through.”
Part of the healing process for him, Josiel Santiago Ramos and Camelia Colón Gonzalez is spending the week in the Savannah and Port Wentworth, just like their dads did a year ago.
“After the accident, we wanted to come,” said Josiel Santiago Ramos, son of Senior Master Sgt. Jan Paravasini. “He helped you with everything. It could be 1 in the morning. He would wake up and go help you. He was a very cheerful person, always looking on the good side. He was the one who took me to my first orientation flight."
“He was a very good person, and he was always with me and helping me in everything I needed," said Camelia Colón Gonzalez, daughter of Senior Master Sgt. Victor Colón. “I always went with my dad to the base, and in his office, he had something like a parachute, and we’d get on it.”
“He had a good heart,” Circuns Perez said. “He had a great sense of humor. If you would start talking with him, he would bring so many topics to the table. We could stay days talking with him. We used to go out as me and him, like a boy’s day out. Typical dad and son stuff.”
All three children say memories like those as well as physical reminders help them keep their fathers close.
“His workers, his coworkers back at the base, a lot of them used to say a lot of nice things to me about him,” Circuns Perez said. “I started to cry because I was like, ‘That’s my dad,' you know? That’s him. A respectable, charismatic man, who died doing what he loved to do.”
Santiago Ramos keeps his dad’s dog tag in his wallet, and Colón Gonzalez wears her dad’s around her neck.
“You feel insecure, and I always look at it like this," Colón Gonzalez said. “I know I can do this, and I will do it for my dad. I know he would be very proud of me if he could be here with me.”
Santiago Ramos said, “I believe he’s still here. I believe they’re all here. I know he’s dead, but to me, he isn’t. He’s still in our hearts. He’s everywhere we go.”
A love of military service was passed on to each of them.
“He went to Dominican Republic, and he taught some defense things to the Dominicans," Colón Gonzalez said. “When he showed me the picture, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I want to be like him when I grow up,’ but now, I literally don’t want to be in airplanes. I prefer like being a Marine or something. Nothing with airplanes.”
Santiago Ramos said he wants to fly fighter jets and is already in a flight training program.
Circuns Perez also wants to fly.
“I want to be a pilot," Circuns Perez said. "I want to serve in the Air Force. I was thinking of joining ROTC when I go to the university; try to enlist with some rank, you know?”
The three will be attending some private memorial services for their fathers before going to Thursday’s public memorial service in Port Wentworth.
“We decided to go,” Santiago Ramos said. “It’s going to be a long day, but we can get through it.”
Even though it will be a tough day, they say they want to be there to honor their dads.
“It’s going to be overwhelming seeing a lot of people sending good messages, good thoughts to one another and to the families,” Circuns Perez said. “It’s just a lot to take in for all of us, for all children, for all the kids, for all the families, for the wives, and for the people back at home. They have been sending us messages and supporting us in every way possible.”
They say the support they’ve received from each other, the 156th and 165th Air Lift Wings, and the countless others throughout the last year makes handling the loss easier.
"After all we’ve been through, we’ve never been alone,” Circuns Perez said. “We’ve always been together as a family united.”