(In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we followed Jose Alberto Morales-Velazquez’s journey from growing up in Puerto Rico to enlisting in the U.S. Air Force and working near nuclear weapons.)
For one minute and 15 seconds, Jose Alberto Morales-Velazquez had lost a nuclear weapon. He had no communication with his team and had no idea where the weapon or the team was.
Lieutenants, captains and even the colonel were at his throat, screaming and threatening to strip Morales-Velazquez of his rank. They called him a “grimy maggot” (among other names) and told him he was going to jail.
This is one of the biggest incidents that can happen in nuclear facilities. The lieutenant was shouting into the radios, “Broken arrow! Broken arrow.” Morales recognized that term, and knew it meant: “We lost a nuclear weapon.”
Eventually, Jose got back into contact with his team, and the nuclear weapon made it safely to the base. Moralez-Velazquez’s team had gone through a dead zone during their time of no contact. There was no radio signal and no cellphone signal. His team should have warned Morales-Velazquez about the dead zone, and he should have been keeping up with his status checks.
He got to keep his rank and didn’t go to jail but had to endure shame and scolding. Better communication between him and his team was needed in order to prevent that incident.
Morales-Velazquez’s journey from Puerto Rico to the Air Force
Overall, Morales-Velazquez’s path out of Puerto Rico and into the Air Force was a journey he will never forget.
It has changed my life. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for that decision.
When interacting with him, you can get a sense of his story and cultural fluidity just by striking up a conversation with him. His Puerto Rican roots shine through his dedication to family, his Spanish flair and his love for cooking.
He’s is in college now, studying to become a journalist. During the holidays, you can catch him offering you a glass of his famous coquito, a Puerto Rican alcoholic beverage like eggnog.
When having a meal with him, rice is almost always on the table and everyone in the family is usually eating at the same time.
Morales-Velazquez is proud of his Puerto Rican background and says his travels have given him a wider perspective on life. During his time in the military, he got married, had two children and went through a divorce.
When he left the Air Force, he and his two kids, Mariel and Anthony, decided to move to Colorado.
Throughout his travels and experiences, Morales-Velazquez has developed a love for film and journalism. His dream job would be a movie critic, and he has already written reviews about multiple films. He currently has a girlfriend, Robin, and hopes she will be his life companion.
She grew up in a dysfunctional family. She is a nonbinary and pan-sexual and has blossomed through her family’s expectations of her into a beautiful and unique woman.
He says her outlook on life has helped him grow as a person.
In Puerto Rico, men are not encouraged to express varieties of emotions as much as in the United States.
Men are taught to not cry, keep things in and be a man. He said Robin is working with him to develop a higher sense of emotional consciousness and maturity.
Jose Alberto Morales-Velazquez is proud of his past, but is choosing to combine different cultural practices and values in order to make up the unique and admirable human being he is today.