219th RHS deploys to Puerto Rico

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson
  • 120th Airlift Wing
Twenty-six members of the 219th RED HORSE Squadron of the Montana Air National Guard deployed to the United States territory of Puerto Rico to assist with Hurricane Maria relief efforts Oct. 11, 2017.

The Montana guardsmen left Great Falls on the first leg of their journey aboard a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft assigned to the 120th Airlift Wing of the MTANG.

“RED HORSE stands for rapid engineering deployable heavy operational repair squadron engineer,” said 219th RHS Commander Col. Rusty Vaira. “So when the nation calls or the state calls we have to be ready to go. That’s what we plan for and that’s what we train for-either for a federal or state disaster.”

In Puerto Rico the heavy construction specialists will use their experience working with the squadron’s Disaster Relief Bed-down Set to operate and maintain a similar system located at a tent city near the capital city of San Juan.

During a natural disaster the DRBS system can offer shelter and services to emergency responders. The deployed guardsmen will also provide power generation and water purification for the emergency personnel working from the location.

The 219th RHS has a DRBS assigned to the unit and its members have trained extensively with the system.

“When it deploys, it’s able to house 150 members,” said 219th RHS Chief Master Sgt. Scott Fink. “It also has shave and shower kits and can provide drinking water.”

The deployed squadron members hold a variety of job specialties, to include carpenters, electricians, power generation specialists and logisticians.

Twenty-four of the 26 Montana guardsmen are part-time drill-status guardsmen who left home to help assist with relief operations in the devastated territory. They are joined in their effort by a smaller contingent of RED HORSE members from the state of Ohio.

“We have about a half-dozen members out of the 200th RED HORSE Squadron out of Ohio, and we’re going to be utilizing some of their equipment assets that we’ll actually be setting up,” Vaira said. “So we have the primary team and we’ve asked them to link in with us, so it’ll be a symbiotic relationship there.”

219th RHS leadership thanked the Airmen who accepted the short-notice mission and their families and employers for allowing them to respond and provide assistance during a critical time of need.

“I’m very proud of our Montana Airmen here with the 219th RED HORSE Squadron,” Vaira said. “Thanks to their families, their friends, and that support system that’s going to stay here and also to the employers who take a big hit when we do have missions that we have to take care of.”

The deployed guardsmen of the 219th RHS are scheduled to serve 30 days on active duty for the contingency.