HomeNewsArticle Display

219th RED HORSE Squadron deploys to repair Colorado flood-damaged roads

219th RED HORSE Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Rusty Vaira assists Tech. Sgt. Douglas Dial and Staff Sgt. Mary St. Denis with assembling hard hats in preparation for a deployment to Colorado to support flood relief efforts on Oct. 10, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson)

219th RED HORSE Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Rusty Vaira assists Tech. Sgt. Douglas Dial and Staff Sgt. Mary St. Denis with assembling hard hats in preparation for a deployment to Colorado to support flood relief efforts on Oct. 10, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson)

219th RED HORSE Squadron Tech. Sgt. Rhoda Bargas helps Airman 1st Class Cody Lawhon with mobility paperwork in preparation for a deployment to Colorado to support flood relief efforts on Oct. 10, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson)

219th RED HORSE Squadron Tech. Sgt. Rhoda Bargas helps Airman 1st Class Cody Lawhon with mobility paperwork in preparation for a deployment to Colorado to support flood relief efforts on Oct. 10, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson)

Members of the 219th RED HORSE Squadron wish deploying personnel well as they board a bus bound for Colorado to support flood relief efforts on Oct. 11, 2013.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson)

Members of the 219th RED HORSE Squadron wish deploying personnel well as they board a bus bound for Colorado to support flood relief efforts on Oct. 11, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- Thirty -one members of the 219th RED HORSE Squadron of the Montana Air National Guard deployed to Colorado to support flood relief efforts on Oct. 11, 2013.

The engineering specialists were activated by Montana Governor Steve Bullock to assist the Colorado National Guard and the Colorado Department of Transportation with repairing roads and highways damaged by the devastating September flooding.

RED HORSE stands for Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers, and the squadrons serve as heavy construction units for the United States Air Force. The Colorado deployment allows them to put their vast training and experience to work during a state activation.

"The 219th RED HORSE Squadron's mission is to do engineering work to support nation and state," said 219th RHS Commander Lt. Col. Rusty Vaira. "And in this case, while we are going under state activation for the state of Montana, we'll be assisting a neighboring state.

The Montana Guardsmen will integrate with heavy construction units already in place from Colorado and Utah and repair roads located near the communities of Boulder, Estes Park and Longmont, Colo.

The request for volunteers was met with enthusiasm and excitement from unit members. There was no shortage of volunteers willing to help another state in need.

"We always have great participation from our members in anything we have to do," said Lt. Col. Vaira. "A lot of that is because we have great employers out there that are always willing to let their Guardsmen go and support both the state and nation. That's what makes this a success."

Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Carter will serve as the non-commissioned officer in charge of the Montana Guardsmen during the deployment. He requested leave from his civilian employment as the Jefferson County Road and Bridge Superintendent to volunteer for this deployment.

He says his request to participate in the deployment received the complete support of the Jefferson County Commission and he will be able to utilize his civilian skills to help the citizens of Colorado.

"This is right down my alley at work," Carter said. I was pleased to be able to be called out to do this because I feel real comfortable taking this team down there to do a great job," he said.

The 219th RHS has answered the call to deploy and serve on numerous federal and state missions but this is the first time that members of the 219th RHS have been activated to deploy to a neighboring state in need of assistance.

"We've been all over the nation and all over the world, but never on a state emergency activation like this," said Master Sgt. Robert Brewer,  219th RHS first sergeant. I've never been more proud of my unit and the state than to be able to respond to another state's emergency like this."

The Air Force construction and engineering training unit members received has prepared them well for the humanitarian mission in Colorado.

"They'll be running heavy equipment, they'll be doing a lot of ditch work, shovel work, cleaning culverts out and helping them rebuild their roads so that the citizens of the state can get back into their homes," said Brewer.

The deploying members of the 219th RHS consider the state activation an important opportunity to serve their fellow citizens during a time of need.

"We're here to help in natural disasters when needed," said Staff Sgt. Mary St. Denis, a Heavy Equipment Operator for the 219th RHS. "That is why I joined. I joined the military to make a difference, and this is exactly what I joined to do."

The 219th RHS deployment is scheduled to last 18 days. Follow-on units from Kansas, Tennessee and Florida will replace the Guardsmen once the state activation ends and they return home to Montana.
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.