202nd Airmen arrive home from overseas engineering mission

Written by  //  October 9, 2012  //  Feature Stories

Commander of the 125th Fighter Wing Col. James Eifert (left) greets 202nd RED HORSE Airmen as they return home from deployment, Oct. 7, 2012. Photo by Debra Cox

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Oct. 9, 2012) — More than 100 Airmen from the Florida Air National Guard’s 202nd RED HORSE Squadron returned home early Sunday morning, following a seven-month deployment to Southwest Asia.

The engineer unit was greeted by hundreds of friends and family members when it arrived at the Jacksonville International Airport shortly after midnight.

“We thank you for answering your nation’s call,” Adjutant General of Florida Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw Jr. said to the Airmen. “We thank you for performing your mission with distinction. And now we thank you and welcome you home.”

RED HORSE is an acronym for Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers. The unit’s mission is to provide a highly mobile, rapidly deployable civil engineering response force which can perform heavy damage repair for recovery of critical Air Force facilities.

Unit members departed for this deployment on March 3, 2012, and combined with about 100 members from the 254th RED HORSE from Guam. The combined force deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, where they jointly formed the 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron. During the deployment the Airmen worked on engineering projects throughout the region for various commands, including repairing air fields and radar sites. 

After arriving home and hugging his wife, Maj. Mark Keels of the 202nd said he was overwhelmed by the show of support for their return. 

“Words can’t describe it,” Keels said. “It’s awesome. I’ve been waiting on this day for a long time.”