NEWS | Oct. 6, 2021

‘To the Horse!’ Virginia Air National Guard’s Civil Engineering Squadron welcomes its new commander

By Tech. Sgt. Lucretia Cunningham | 192nd Wing

The 192nd Wing’s 203rd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers (RED HORSE) welcomed a new commander during a change of command ceremony Oct. 2, 2021, at the State Military Reservation where the unit is stationed in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Col. David Lands, 192nd Mission Support Group commander, presided over the ceremony where Maj. Ayad M. Abisaab assumed command from Lt. Col. Jeffrey E. Getz.

Getz joined the RED HORSE after commissioning into the Virginia Air National Guard in 2009 and has served as the squadron’s commander since March 2018. During the ceremony, Getz was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his achievements including commanding the squadron through nine deployment-for-training exercises across three countries and six locations worldwide, and the largest National Guard civil-support activation in the unit’s history in support of Hurricane Florence. His tenure also includes multiple stateside and overseas deployments - from October 2020 to April 2021, he served as commander for the 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

“Lt. Col. Getz, thank you for your leadership and commitment to the care of our Airmen in the 203rd,” Lands said during the ceremony. “Your dedication to the mission is sincerely appreciated.”

Lands ceremoniously handed the 203rd RED HORSE’s guidon to Abisaab marking the beginning of his command at the VaANG’s largest geographically separated unit.

“I’m extremely excited to lead this group of very talented men and women that chose to be on the frontline of service,” Abisaab said in his remarks. “I’m grateful and privileged that God blessed me with this new challenge of commanding this unit.”

Abisaab has been assigned to the 203rd since joining the VaANG in 2008 and has served as deputy commander since 2020. He has deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Inherent Resolve and New Horizons. Prior to becoming deputy commander, Abisaab served as the 192nd Civil Engineering Flight officer in charge.

“Leadership is a gift given by those who follow; you have to be worthy of it,” Abisaab said as he quoted retired Gen. Mark Welsh III, former Air Force chief of staff. “I am determined to be worthy!”

RED HORSE units provide highly mobile civil engineering teams to support contingency and special operations worldwide. They are self-sufficient with rapid response capabilities conducting independent operations in remote, high-threat environments. They can create or repair runways and erect permanent structures in a matter of weeks from concept and design to engineering and construction.