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NEWS | Oct. 26, 2016

Virginia Beach-based Va. Guard Airmen return from federal duty in Southwest Asia

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

More than 120 Virginia Air National Guard engineers reunited with friends and family Oct. 26, 2016, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach after serving on federal active duty in Southwest Asia since March. Leaders from state government and the Virginia National Guard were also on hand to thank the Airmen for the service and welcome them home. Airmen assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 203rd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers, or RED HORSE, completed 35 projects at 11 different locations in seven countries in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and Operation Inherent Resolve.

“It was an outstanding effort by all of our Airmen,” said Lt. Col. Stock Dinsmore, commander of the 203rd. “They worked hard, they pushed six and seven days a week, and we helped directly provide combat power support in our area of operations. Because we were spread across t 11 different sites in seven countries, our impact was felt all across the theater. Everywhere you go from the top down, you know who RED HORSE is.”

While deployed, the Airmen of the 203rd RED HORSE served under the 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron, as part of the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineering Group, an organization made of up more than 600 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 completed 35 projects valued at more than $34 million. The unit’s highest priorities were upgrading and expanding airfield pavement, bed down missions for aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles, 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 and well drilling operations.

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

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

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