HomeNewsArticle Display

219th RED HORSE Squadron earns national honor

Members of the 219th RED HORSE Squadron salute during the posting of the colors during a change of command ceremony held at Malmstrom Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. John Turner)

Members of the 219th RED HORSE Squadron salute during the posting of the colors during a change of command ceremony held at Malmstrom Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. John Turner)

A Red Horse statue, symbolizing the 219th RED HORSE Squadron, and Malmstrom's 819th RED HORSE Squadron proudly stands outside of the administrative offices at Malmstrom Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson)

A Red Horse statue, symbolizing the 219th RED HORSE Squadron, and Malmstrom's 819th RED HORSE Squadron proudly stands outside of the administrative offices at Malmstrom Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson)

GREAT FALLS, MONT. -- The Director of the Air National Guard announced in a letter that the 219th RED HORSE Squadron of the Montana Air National Guard was selected to receive a National Guard Association of the United States award for 2013.

In the letter, Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clark III congratulated the MTANG unit members for earning the NGAUS Distinguished Mission Support Plaque in the annual national competition. This is the fourth consecutive year that the 219 RHS has won this prestigious award.

"I'm very proud of the organization," said Lt. Col. Rusty Vaira, 219th RHS commander. "To win this award four times for us is outstanding. We have a great mission and enjoy great support from the community and state and I credit those members being committed to the unit for making these things happen."

The 219th RHS is a highly mobile civil-engineering response force that supports United States Air Force military contingencies and special operations for both state and federal operations throughout the world.

The nomination for the award listed numerous unit members deployed to assist with training personnel or construction projects.

During the year, 10 219th RHS Guardsmen supported a National Guard Bureau request and accepted a humanitarian civic assistance mission to Slunj, Croatia. While in-country, the unit members repaired walls for a Croatian Army medical training facility, repaired a local civilian school and trained Croatian military personnel and civilians on modern construction techniques.

The unit also supported a request from the U.S. Navy to construct training facilities at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. During the deployment, 34 Guardsmen completed a high-priority obstacle course used by over 1,000 special forces personnel annually.

Closer to home, 30 Guardsmen completed a 50-foot by 150-foot K-Span structure intended to protect emergency response vehicles at Fort Harrison, Mont. in less than 30 days.

It was also noted that 219th RHS members supported deployments to Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan during the award period.

Vaira said the diversity of deployments that the 219th RHS members participated in is a testament to the wide range of careers represented in the unit and the high level of experience held by the personnel.

"Our mission is to deploy in support of contingencies to the world-wide theater and also to support the state, so our mission is geared toward a lot of different construction and emergency response type activities," said Vaira. "We are a self-contained unit so we can take the unit and go to a location, be self-supportive and we can do our job in those environments."

He's also impressed at the level of dedication offered to the unit by its personnel. Many of the members travel great distances to attend their unit training assemblies held at Malmstrom Air Force Base each month.

"They travel almost a combined 24,000 miles round trip to come here to a drill on any given weekend," Vaira said. "They like the unit, they like the mission, they like the camaraderie, so I would think that really contributes to how we are able to be successful."

Community service is also an important component of the Air National Guard mission, and the 219th RHS continually serves the community well.

The unit performed a site survey for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation. During the survey, unit members evaluated a dam and a flood-prevention plan that impacts tribal land.

The 219th RHS also supported the Montana National Guard Youth Challenge program, assisted the Montana National Guard Camp Runamucka and developed a mobile aircraft arresting system plan for a Kalispell, Mont. air show.

More recently, the 219th RHS participated in a community service project for the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, located in Great Falls.

The organization was moving to a new location and needed assistance with facility renovations. Unit members constructed a 50-foot wall with a door in the interior of a large warehouse. Vaira saw an opportunity in the project to serve the community and provide valuable leadership training for his personnel.

"It provided a small unit leadership opportunity," he said. "We put a noncommissioned officer in charge of those types of projects so they get to lead the team. They're responsible to make sure that they do all of the safety briefings, have the right materials and have the right tools. They interact with not just the military but also our community in a positive way."
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.