219th RED HORSE Squadron rebuild flood-damaged roads in Colorado
By Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson, 120th Fighter Wing Pubic Affairs Office
/ Published November 21, 2013
Great Falls, Mont. -- The 31 members of the 219th RED HORSE Squadron that deployed to Colorado to support flood relief efforts returned home to Montana Nov. 19.
During the deployment the Guardsmen were able to assist with rebuilding State Highway 36 damaged by the September flooding between Lyons and Estes Park area of Colorado.
The engineering specialists were also able to utilize a Guardsman's specialized civilian experience to build a retaining wall used to support a highway off-ramp from State Highway 36 to Longmont Dam Road. This was an important project, because that road leads to a reservoir that provides the water supply for the community of Longmont Colo.
In his civilian career, 219RHS Guardsman Staff Sgt. Ben Parriman has worked with similar construction projects in Montana and was excited to put his knowledge and experience to work for the state of Colorado.
"In this situation we had an Airman who has a business on the side where he actually does landscape construction and so he's building a retaining wall here using that skill set," said Lt. Col. Michael Turley, who serves with the 1457th Engineer Battalion of the Utah Army National Guard.
The project required the Guardsmen to stack boulders on top of one another in a sort of puzzle-like fashion. Heavy equipment operators using excavators had to gauge the size of each rock prior to placing them into the retaining wall. A flowable sealing material was then poured into the crevasses between the rocks.
"I came down here and did a site visit and I knew right away that it was something that I could handle and the 219th RED HORSE could accomplish," Parriman said.
In the flood-damaged location, the North Saint Vrain Creek had breached its banks and was running far from its normal channel. The flooding destroyed home foundations located near the original river. The Guardsmen planned on returning the river to its original riverbank to allow homeowners to reclaim their property.
Another unique aspect of the deployment was the fact that the senior enlisted member during the trip was Parriman's uncle. Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Carter served as the NCOIC for the deployed members of the 219RHS during the deployment.
"That's another aspect of the Air National Guard that allows families to work together and serve together," said Turley.
The Guardsmen are confident that the Colorado residents appreciate the contribution that 219RHS members made to rebuilding flood-damaged roads in their communities. They also believe that Colorado would return the favor to the state of Montana, if it were needed.
"We know that this could happen in our communities back home," said 219RHS First Sergeant Robert Brewer. "We love to jump in, get our hands dirty and get the job done. Maybe someday they'll come help my community out. It's what Guard family is all about."
The deployed leadership was satisfied that the members of the 219RHS did their best in their effort to fix broken roads to help bring back a sense of normalcy to the residents of Colorado affected by the flooding.
"I have never been more proud of working with a group of individuals, than I have on this project," said Brewer. "I've had five deployments in my career and have been all over the world. The attitude of the Airmen and soldiers I worked with - was outstanding. I've never worked with a finer group of people."