Air Force

May 11, 2012

RED HORSE airborne engineers pave the way

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By Staff Sgt. Chris Hubenthal
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Troy Hollis, 820th RED HORSE Squadron airborne flight, checks equipment for Staff Sgt. Nick Urban, 820th RED HORSE Squadron airborne flight, prior to a static-line jump mission April 25, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Ten Airmen of the 820th RHS participated in the static-line jump mission.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Jumping out of the back of a C-130 Hercules, thousands of feet above the ground, is only a small part of the mission of the 820th RED HORSE Squadron airborne flight. Air drops are just another means to arrive at their destination to apply their light construction capabilities.

Tech. Sgt. Mitch Romag, 820th RED HORSE Squadron airborne flight jump master, values the training his flight is able to receive.

“Our guys benefit from this training by staying proficient in their job operations. The more you jump, the more comfortable you are and the better you get at it,” Romag said. “The less you jump, the more potential for injury is present.”

Air drop and air insert skill sets are easily lost if training isn’t emphasized. Repetition allows airborne RED HORSE Airmen to become a highly capable force.

“Anytime you do an air drop operation, you have to conduct what is called a pre-jump training,” Romag said. “That involves the air brief and practicing the actual jump. We have a mock up door of a C-130 Hercules outside where we can train and focus on certain details.”

A U.S. Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controller gets pulled by his parachute after landing during a training mission, April 26, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. A static line parachute allows jumps from very low altitudes since the chute opens immediately after the jumper leaves the aircraft.

The mission doesn’t end after the paratroopers exit the aircraft. The bulk of the operational requirements occur after landing successfully on the ground.

“The flight is designed to be a bridge between the seizure force and the follow-on forces,” Romag said. “We get to a runway where we apply light construction to involve airfield damage repair and set up of the landing zone.”

Once paratroopers reach the ground, Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Alessi, 820th RED HORSE Squadron airborne flight pavements and construction equipment operator, is the lead RED HORSE Airman on the ground during runway crater operations.

“The reason we drop in is we’re going into an area where aircraft is unable to land,” Alessi said. “We go in with the ability to repair the runway or to create a brand new landing zone so the follow-on forces of RED HORSE can arrive on location.”

Crater repair is one of the light constructions the RED HORSE airborne flight specializes in. Alessi is in charge of overseeing the task to completion.

“With crater repairs, we’re pretty much looking to make sure everything is being compacted so when the C-130’s land on the strip the aircraft will take no damage,” Alessi said.

Airmen train on a simulated bombed-out runway to ensure mission readiness and preparedness for their missions.

Airmen from the 820th RED HORSE Squadron airborne flight move equipment to a training site to fix a simulated runway during a training mission April 26, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. RED HORSE Combat Engineer Flights provide special capabilities to conduct expedient repairs to airfield surfaces and evaluate supporting infrastructure for potential follow-on forces.

“If the aircraft comes in hot and lands at the wrong angle and you have not compacted an area to what it needs to be, you’re going to cause damage to either the aircraft, or someone is going to lose their life,” Alessi said.

Training to fight and maintaining expertise in their mission are tasks the Airmen of the 820th RED HORSE airborne flight take very seriously. With a team of 40 airborne qualified members, the flight is a professional and proficient force.

From the air to the ground, the 820th RED HORSE Squadron airborne flight has the ability to operate anywhere around the world at any time.

“If you need light construction anywhere in the world, you can call us and we can get it there,” Romag said.




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