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RED HORSE creates new building for first Reaper squadron at Creech

Senior Airman Ken Urey, structural craftsman for the 820th REDHORSE Squadron, attaches braces to secure roof panels onto the 42nd Attack Squadron’s new administration facility at Creech. The new building is just one of a series of projects REDHORSE is in the process of completing. U.S. Airt Force Photo by Capt. Steve Thomas

Senior Airman Ken Urey, structural craftsman for the 820th RED HORSE Squadron, attaches braces to secure roof panels onto the 42nd Attack Squadron’s new administration facility at Creech. The new building is just one of a series of projects RED HORSE is in the process of completing. (U.S. Airt Force Photo/Capt. Steve Thomas)

 The multi-crafted team of REDHORSE Airmen pose for a group picture outside their recently constructed facilities for the 42nd Attack Squadron and 11th Reconnaissance Squadron at Creech. U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Steve Thomas / 820th REDHORSE

The multi-crafted team of RED HORSE Airmen pose for a group picture outside their recently constructed facilities for the 42nd Attack Squadron and 11th Reconnaissance Squadron at Creech. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Steve Thomas)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- RED HORSE, which stands for Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron, is unlike any other unit in the Air Force.

It is completely self-sustainable in that they possess weapons, vehicles/equipment and vehicle maintenance, food service, supply and medical equipment and are capable of rapid response and independent operations in remote, high-threat environments worldwide.

They provide heavy repair capability and construction support when requirements exceed normal base civil engineer capabilities and where Army Corps of Engineer support is not readily available.

The primary RED HORSE tasking is contingency and wartime operations. So when the Airmen are not deployed, they participate in troop training projects. They travel to other Air Force bases in the country and take on projects. They transition the knowledge they learn during this time into wartime scenarios.

"I think the biggest thing that helps these Airmen take on the amount of tasks put on them is the pride in their work and the pride in each other they have. It's not like any other unit I've been a part of," Capt. Steven Thomas said.

Captain Thomas is a civil engineer with the 820th RED HORSE Squadron. In the last year, the unit returned from deployment and immediately began a series of construction projects up at Creech Air Force Base, Nev.,, that will be wrapped up in the coming weeks. Creech is located about 45 miles northwest of Nellis Air Force Base.

The projects, which began in May, included the construction of two buildings, a parking lot, a loading ramp and the drilling of a well.

"Before the team could begin construction, the site for the buildings needed to be cleared out," said Master Sgt. Reid Fussell, 820th RED HORSE heavy equipment operator and site manager for the project. "A swimming pool that hadn't been used in years was taken out, and they built a new loading dock before tearing down the old one."

The first building, which is completed, currently houses the newly developed 42nd Attack Squadron personnel. The 42nd AT activated Nov. 9 and is the Air Force's first MQ-9 Reaper squadron.

"They needed a place quick," said Captain Thomas. "So RED HORSE stepped up to the task and knocked it out."

Although they are still putting on the finishing touches on the second building, it is close to completion. It will shelter 10 flying simulators for the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron. Each simulator room requires additional ventilation system requirements due to the amount of heat the simulation equipment emits.

The brains behind the construction projects was Capt. Meghan Leach. She developed and ran it flawlessly, according to Captain Thomas.

"I've never seen people work as hard and efficiently as the people from this unit," he said.

Sergeant Fussell seconded that sentiment and added, "This unit is amazing. It's the next best thing to being stationed overseas in terms of camaraderie."

"A lot of time and energy has gone into this, but I've learned more in the last seven months than I have in my entire Air Force career," said Tech Sgt. Gerald Huffman, project manager and non-commissioned officer in charge for the construction project.

As part of a separate project, they drilled an 800-foot well that will soon be a part of Creech's main water supply. Until the second well was drilled, Creech only had one well for a water source. The second well will provide a fail-safe back-up in case the main well is contaminated or damaged.

Capt. Stacy Nimmo and Tech. Sgt. Michael Anzalda oversaw the well-drilling project for RED HORSE.

The cost of the building project was approximately $1.4 million and the well drilling was close to $500,000, but utilizing RED HORSE saved the Air Force countless dollars.

The members working on the project maintained a schedule of 10 days on and four days off, and each workday consists of an 11-hour shift.

Because of the amount of commitment that was needed for this project, the RED HORSE members will remain on temporary duty status and stay in billeting until the project is complete.

"There is no way an outside contractor would have been able to do what we did in the time we did it, and still remain under the monetary limit [military construction] gave us," said Captain Thomas.

"It takes about five to six months to construct a building, but in this case we were working on two buildings yet maintained the same timeline," he said. "That's amazing."

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