SANDSTON, Va. –
When Chief Warrant Officer 3 Darrell Busquets joined the military, it was an enlisted engineer. Since then, he’s trained as an infantryman, deployed as a combat engineer, and earned his wings as an Army aviator. Today, he’s the battalion standardization pilot for the Virginia National Guard’s Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division.
“The pilot thing came later,” Busquets said, explaining that his family has a legacy of military service and aeronautical interest. His grandfather and two of his uncles served in the U.S. Air Force and his father just celebrated his retirement from NASA after more than 42 years. “I realized I had all this aviation experience in my family and that it was kind of destiny.”
During recent training with new a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter model, Busquets said the multi-functional displays he used there are the same his father worked on at NASA in the 1990s.
“He was at NASA working on things that I’m using to fly today,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.”
In joining the National Guard, Busquets said one of the best parts about military service, especially in the aviation community, is the family that’s created from working, training and flying together.
“Obviously flying the aircraft is top three, but I think more than that it’s the people that are involved in it and the family you create,” he said, explaining that family, both inside and outside the military, is huge for him. His parents met in Puerto Rico before his father was recruited by NASA, at which point they moved to Hampton, Virginia, where both Busquets and his brother were born. Being Puerto Rican, Busquets said, means being a proud American while also being proud of the unique heritage and lineage of Puerto Rico.
“Not a lot of people realize that [Puerto Rico] is part of America. It’s a pretty cool history on how we became part of the United States,” he said. The island spent 400 years under Spanish control until 1898 when the U.S. declared war on Spain and, on July 25, invaded Puerto Rico for several months during the Spanish-American War. Later that year, Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S. and its been a U.S. territory ever since.
“If you’ve never been to the island, definitely go. They welcome anybody to come there and they treat you like you’re one of their own,” Busquets said. The food, he said, is the best around, and, “being Puerto Rican, you live everyday as if it’s the best day of your life.”
Busquets is currently preparing for a deployment to Kosovo with the 2-224th, slated to begin early next year. He’ll join around 120 others from his unit who will serve as aviation task force for the NATO-led Kosovo Force Regional Command-East. The aviation task force will support the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Headquarters as they take responsibility for the 30th rotation of U.S. military forces based at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo.
“It’s been heck of a ride so far and I’m looking forward to many years to come,” Busquets said.