NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Airmen of the Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineers, more known as RED HORSE, celebrated their birthday Oct. 12. The celebration involved physical activities and showing pride in what their unit stands for.
“We had an 8.2K fun run,” said Chief Master Sgt. James Lee, 820th RED HORSE superintendent. “We also had a parade [with] heavy equipment roll through the base, going down past the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron, Thunderbirds, 57th Wing, and the 99th Air Base Wing. At the end of the day, we had some birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday in honor of the RED HORSE units.”
RED HORSE used the parade as an opportunity to showcase their equipment and tradition.
“We had 15 pieces of heavy equipment to include dump trucks, loaders, and mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles,” Lee said. “We also took our ‘Charging Charlie’ horse statue we have displayed in front of our squadron and mounted it to a trailer so we could tow it with us.”
Prior to the creation of RED HORSE, the Air Force had no organic heavy repair or heavy construction capability for nearly 20 years. Because of the need for a rapid response base recovery, the first RED HORSE units were created with the activation of the 554th RED HORSE and the 555th RED HORSE in 1965.
The 820th RED HORSE roots go back to 1956 when it was called 820th Installations Squadron and was located in Plattsburgh AFB, N.Y. It officially became the 820th RED HORSE in 1966.
The 820th RED HORSE Squadron’s history includes its support at Tuy Hoa, Vietnam, The units support during the coalition effort for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and its continued deployment efforts with its capabilities today in the Southwest Asia area of operations.
With the addition of Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineers an organic heavy repair, construction capability for the Air Force was now possible.
“Throughout the years, you can see a significant foot print and impact that RED HORSE has made for Air Force operations,” said Col. Anthony Davit, 820th RED HORSE commander.
One example of how a RED HORSE unit can make a significant difference at a base in Southwest Asia with its heavy construction capabilities was in building living areas and parking aprons.
“When we first kicked off Operation Enduring Freedom RED HORSE [was the unit] that constructed the tent city,” Davit said. “RED HORSE units also built parking aprons at several bases for the tankers and a lot of associated hangar space. We also built all of the K-S pans.”
K-Spans are domed shaped facilities that can be used for aircraft maintenance facilities, back shops orfor storage.
RED HORSE is a great assignment and has a significant impact on Air Force operations, Davit said.
“For me, as a Civil Engineer officer, to be assigned to a RED HORSE unit three times is unheard of, but a blessing,” Davit said. “I really believe in the RED HORSE mission; it’s a great capability. Like I told our Airmen, ‘when someone from another nation or another service, even our Air Force, sees us walking with our red hats, they know things are only going to get better,’ to see the impact that RED HORSE has had in operations since 1965 is just phenomenal.”
From its activation to its 47th birthday, RED HORSE continues to provide a highly mobile civil engineering response force.