GREAT FALLS, Mont. --
Members of the 219th RED HORSE Squadron completed major
construction projects while deployed to Israel during the summer of 2017.
The Montana Air National Guard heavy construction specialists participated in several rotations into the country.
The Airmen worked with their Air Guard RED HORSE counterparts from Guam and New Mexico and a contingent of United States Navy SeaBees to complete work on buildings located on an Israeli military base.
Engineers determined poor soil conditions had allowed the building foundations to settle, causing the interior floors to fall below the level of the outdoor sidewalks. As a consequence, doors were unable to open to the outside of the buildings and serious tripping hazards were created.
219th RHS Maj. Hillary Killorn said the construction team went to work correcting the construction problems.
The exterior work included demolishing and rebuilding the sidewalks near buildings. They also installed gutters on the buildings, dug retention ponds and worked on improving the water drainage around the entire site.
Poor-quality concrete floorings were reground within the building interiors and refinished. Airmen added an epoxy coating to leave the flooring smooth and to display a professional appearance.
Airman 1st Class Danielle Baranko serves as an administrative assistant with the 219th RHS. Her work wasn’t limited to working in an office. Baranko was able to assist her fellow RED HORSE members working on a tool inventory and organizing supplies, in addition to helping survey, paint and do concrete work.
She also enjoyed working with her RED HORSE counterparts from the 210th RED HORSE Squadron from New Mexico and the 254th RED HORSE Squadron from Guam.
“It was a good experience,” Baranko said. “I’m glad this was my first deployment and I’m glad that I went with the people I went with, it was a good group of people.”
Structures Specialist Staff Sgt. Damian Guzman brings his prior active-duty service with the 819th RED HORSE Squadron to work as a guardsman with the 219th RHS. He said he enjoys the family atmosphere inherent within the Montana guard unit.
“When I came into the 219th it was even better than I expected it to be,” Guzman said. “Everybody here is kind and gets along and they’re very helpful and motivated. So I was very excited when I got here and found out it was going to be a good transition. It made it real easy."
Killorn said the deployments offer much more than Air Force career field training for members of the 219th RHS. Airmen were able to visit many historic locations during their off-duty weekends. Guided tours to Nazareth and Galilee were available and the Airmen could take a choice between group trips to Tel Aviv located on the Mediterranean Sea or to Eilat on the Red Sea.
“Getting a world view is really important for what we do,” Killorn said. “Granted, we get tasked to deploy into warzones and build buildings, but getting to see the other parts of the world that aren’t at war-or in Israel’s case-they do have definitely a high-terrorist threat with their bordering nation-states. But just to get out of our own little secluded U.S. picture is such a big important thing to realize what we’re part of.”
On the final day of their deployment the Airmen were able to visit the holy sites in Jerusalem.
“We went to Jerusalem and that was a very cool trip,” Baranko said. “To see something like that is just very moving because you never think you’re going to see something like that.”