RED HORSE Airmen receive awards after first all-guard deployment
By Staff Sgt. Lindsey Soulsby, 120th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
/ Published January 06, 2017
GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- Seventy-nine Airmen of the 219th Rapid Engineering, Deployable, Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer, or RED HORSE Squadron, were honored Dec. 4 during an awards ceremony at Malmstrom Air Force Base for their efforts while deployed in support of operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom's Sentinel.
This Montana Air National Guard deployment was the first time the squadron deployed as an all National Guard unit.
"I liked it being all guard, as far as three guard squadrons coming together from different areas of the world, Guam, Montana and New Mexico," said Staff Sgt. Derek Smith, structural craftsman. "We took three teams and built one big team, it was good to see that."
Smith, a second-time deployer, wasn't alone.
"A good portion of our squadron is new, and many of them have never deployed," said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Furr, logistics superintendent. "We had some experience, one of our strong points is a lot of our people do the same trade on the outside every single day."
A RED HORSE squadron involves combat-ready civil engineers who are skilled in mechanical, electrical, structural, pavement and other fields, Furr said. The deployed unit, a hub and spoke operation, worked in seven countries during the seven-month deployment. Their common identifier among all RED HORSE squadrons are red ball-caps that they wear in uniform.
"It was a typical RED HORSE deployment with airfield work, a lot of dirt and equipment work and some vertical work," said Tech. Sgt. Robert Johnson, material management craftsman. "We were everywhere, doing everything."
Johnson said it was business as usual.
"Everyone's an operator and everyone wants to be the best at what they do, it's contagious," Johnson said.
219th RED HORSE Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Rusty Vaira, congratulated the members who deployed, as well as the team that continued home operations and the families.