The Order of the White Hat
By 1st Lt. Robin Allen , 120th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
/ Published October 04, 2015
GREAT FALLS,Mont. -- Members of the 219th RED HORSE Squadron look forward to retirement and the long standing tradition of being inducted into an exclusive fraternity, the Order of the White Hat. May 2, 2015, three 219th RED HORSE members received their white hats, Senior Master Sgt. Joseph B. Carter, Senior Master Sgt. Mark E. Lund, and the squadron first sergeant, Master Sgt. Robert A. Brewer.
The first white hat presentation Brewer saw made him want to retire with the 219th RHS so he could receive his.
"It hooked me," Brewer said. "I wanted to retire from the horse and get mine."
The white hat represents initiative, integrity, leadership, boldness, resourcefulness, faithfulness, reliability, technical knowledge, military spirit, dedication to duty, loyalty to comrades, and exemplifying the finest traditions of RED HORSE, said Lt. Col. Rusty J. Vaira, 219th RHS commander.
The white hat means more to members than just the service commitment; it represents a family that RED HORSE members will always be a part of.
The white hat is all about tradition and family, Brewer said. "I'm part of a family that I'll always have ties to."
The RED HORSE has a unique mission. Combat engineers have specific skills to take initiative, be innovative and flexible, according to retired Col. Gary Shick, former 219th RHS commander. Their can-do, will-do attitude contributes to the pride, legacy, and heritage of being a HORSEman.
"The RED HORSE is a tight organization; individuals bond through work and the unit," Shick said. "The traditions and heritage make it fun."
Guard members traditionally have a long service commitment staying with the same unit throughout their career. This contributes to the 219th's strong bonds and wingman concept.
"When the 219th deploys, volunteers are not sought, everyone is expected to go," Shick said. "Everyone is an integral part. These trials and tribulations build bonding and comradery."
To Shick the white hat symbolizes the earning of it; members are always an integral part and have the wingman or battle buddy concept.
"The white hat builds pride and esprit de corps," Shick said.
"The members of the Order of the White Hat will always remain esteemed and valuable partners in the mission of the 219th RHS and therefore, shall forever be welcomed and accepted wherever the HORSE serves," Vaira said.
The first two 219th RHS white hats were presented during retirement ceremonies of Master Sgt. Larry Dagget from Great Falls, Montana, and Master Sgt. Wayne Maffit from Troy, Montana, in the late1990s, Shick said.