Jacksonville-based logistics company sending 6,500 wreaths to fallen heroes in Puerto Rico

Honoring fallen service members

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Victor W. Gonzalez is a U.S. Army veteran who spent 24 years serving his country.

Gonzalez was born in the mountains of Cayey, Puerto Rico.

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As general manager for Crowley Solutions, he was honored to hear his company would team up with Wreaths Across America so wreaths can be placed on the headstones of fallen soldiers in Puerto Rico.

“What a great way to commemorate that and, you know, actually validate their service by having an event like this,” Gonzalez said.

Every December Wreaths Across America delivers wreaths to the graves of fallen soldiers at national cemeteries across the country, but in the past they’ve always had difficulties sending wreaths to the island.

That’s why Crowley Maritime Corporation is stepping in to provide a service that would typically cost them $17,000 at no cost.

“They mentioned that Puerto Rico was the biggest challenge to get the wreaths there because they were using air freight, which is a lot more expensive, and we thought we could completely help with that, absolutely,” Parker Harrison, the senior vice president of Crowley said.

The wreaths will leave Friday in temperature controlled containers and be loaded up on the ship El Coqui bound for San Juan.

"Basically what the eagle represents in the United States, a coqui represents to Puerto Rico. Once you land and it's sunset, there's no doubt you're in Puerto Rico because you will hear the coqui all over," Gonzalez said.

Crowley is helping to ship a total of 6,500 wreaths that will make their to the island by Monday.

Once there, they’ll be placed on graves at the Puerto Rico National Cemetery on Dec. 14 as part of Wreaths Across America’s Mission.

"It’s the meaning that they’re not forgotten," Gonzalez said.

In addition, Crowley is also donating $30,000 to help the organization bring wreaths to fallen heroes buried at national cemeteries across the U.S. and overseas.