203rd RHS completes Phase I of IRT project at Virginia Military Institute

Airmen from the Virginia Beach-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron work on an Innovative Readiness Training project for Virginia Military Institute June 26, 2013, at McKethan Park, Lexington, Va. IRT projects provide service members opportunities for training to support the wartime mission while the community benefits from the final product. The 203rd RHS re-routed a road, and completed two concrete pads, one for a pavilion and one for a latrine, both which will be completed through a future IRT project, while completing their annual training from June 3-28, 2013. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, Virginia Air National Guard Public Affairs)

Airmen from the Virginia Beach-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron work on an Innovative Readiness Training project for Virginia Military Institute June 26, 2013, at McKethan Park, Lexington, Va. IRT projects provide service members opportunities for training to support the wartime mission while the community benefits from the final product. The 203rd RHS re-routed a road, and completed two concrete pads, one for a pavilion and one for a latrine, both which will be completed through a future IRT project, while completing their annual training from June 3-28, 2013. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, Virginia Air National Guard Public Affairs)

LEXINGTON, Va. – The Virginia Beach-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron completed the first phase of an Innovative Readiness Training project while conducting their annual training from June 3-28, 2013, at Virginia Military Institute’s McKethan Park in Lexington, Va. laying concrete pads and re-locating a road to provide a safer entrance to the park.

“The Airmen worked well through any adversity they faced and were willing to go above and beyond,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jimmy D. Kidd, superintendent of the 203 RHS Airfield shop and Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the VMI project. “The Airmen gave it their all, while working long days of 12-14 hours, and facing challenges caused by four days of rain.”

Approximately 30 Virginia Air National Guard Airmen worked at the site while conducting their annual training from June 3-28, to complete phase I of the project, which included laying a cement pad for a pavilion and another cement pad for a restroom. The Airmen also re-directed the entrance road to the park, building it up more than eight feet in elevation to match the surrounding terrain. Phase II, the building of the pavilion and restroom, is scheduled for completion with a future IRT project. The project is part of the Innovative Readiness Training program that allows engineers to put their military skills to work on community service projects approved by National Guard Bureau.

The Virginia Air Guard engineers put their experience and equipment to work for the community service project. The project provided the Airmen valuable real-world training they can put to use for both their federal and state missions, while helping the Lexington community.

The work included pouring and leveling the two cement pads as well as laying river rock for a sidewalk to the cement pads. The road re-location included building up the road, hauling and spreading material and proved challenging to level the site while building up the road, said Kidd.

“The Air National Guard brought in the equipment and manpower, while the Lexington community provided the materials to complete this project,” said Col. Keith Jarvis, VMI Coordinator for the IRT project. “This project was designed in 2008, and the coordination to complete it took until now.”

Once the project is completed, the community will use the area for picnics and softball practices, while VMI will use it for Alumni use and for training the its cadets, all of whom participate in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.

“This is the really good hands-on training,” said Senior Airman Jason Nixon. “It has a meaning for the community.”

This is the biggest project that Staff Sgt. Christopher Klein has worked on with the 203rd RHS. “I enjoyed the work, even though it was challenging with the weather and rain, and setting up the area to work.”

The Airmen moved more than 1,400 tons of material, 120 yards of concrete and 1,200 tons of fill-material for the project, said Kidd. The equipment included heavy equipment and tractor-trailers for transport.

According to Lt. Col. Pete Garner, 203rd RHS commander, Air National Guard engineers at the VMI project put in almost 4,300 man-hours of work valued around $250,000.

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