NEWS | May 7, 2021

Virginia Air National Guard engineers return from Southwest Asia

By Cotton Puryear JFHQ Public Affairs

More than 100 Virginia Air National Guard engineers reunited with family, friends and fellow Airmen May 5, 2021, at the State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach, Virginia, after serving on federal active duty in Southwest Asia since October 2020. Virginia National Guard senior leaders were also on hand to thank them for their service and welcome them home. Airmen assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 203rd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers, or RED HORSE, were responsible for 15 engineer projects in six countries in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel.

While deployed, the Airmen of the 203rd RED HORSE served under the 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE, as part of the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineering Group, an organization made of up more than 400 personnel from the 203rd and other RED HORSE and Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force, or PRIME BEEF, units that was a mix of active duty and Air National Guard.

The 1st ECEG was headquartered in Southwest Asia and was responsible for providing theater engineer support for vertical and horizontal construction missions and projects that enhanced operations, safety and quality of life for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines in the Central Command area of operations.

During the rotation, the 557th ERHS conducted operations on 15 projects valued at more than $20 million. The unit's highest priorities were upgrading and expanding airfield pavement, bed down missions for personnel and aircraft, construction of several munitions storage areas, and security improvements to remote outposts. They utilized the full range of special construction capabilities including K-Span design and construction, erection of expeditionary shelter systems, erection of pre-engineered buildings, site development, asphalt, concrete and gravel pavements.

The unit had no Airmen killed or seriously wounded in combat action.

The 203rd also conducted deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003, 2006, 2011 and 2016.

Nearly 1,500 Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen served on federal active duty in the last 24 months, and VNG units conducted a wide variety of missions including F-22 fighter jet air dominance, cyber, mission command, partnership building, sustainment, security and rotary wing flight operations and maintenance. They join more than 15,000 Soldiers and Airmen who have mobilized for homeland security missions, combat operations and peacekeeping and stabilization missions since September 11, 2001.

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