203rd RED HORSE engineer projects aide VMI, Fort A. P. Hill

Airmen from the Virginia Beach-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron construct a pavilion that is part of an Innovative Readiness Training project July 11, 2014, for Virginia Military Institute at McKethan Park in Lexington, Va. Building on the concrete pad they laid last summer, the Airmen are working with local contractors and several VMI students to complete a pavilion with a two-sided fireplace and latrine during their annual training from July 7-Aug. 1, 2014. IRT projects provide service members opportunities for real-world training to support their wartime mission while the community benefits from the final product. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, Virginia Air National Guard Public Affairs)

Airmen from the Virginia Beach-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron construct a pavilion that is part of an Innovative Readiness Training project July 11, 2014, for Virginia Military Institute at McKethan Park in Lexington, Va. Building on the concrete pad they laid last summer, the Airmen are working with local contractors and several VMI students to complete a pavilion with a two-sided fireplace and latrine during their annual training from July 7 to Aug. 1, 2014. IRT projects provide service members opportunities for real-world training to support their wartime mission while the community benefits from the final product. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, Virginia Air National Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — Airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard’s Camp Pendleton-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron conducted engineer projects to construct a pavilion at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va. and reconstruct a runway at Fort A. P. Hill, Va., July 7 to Aug. 1, 2014. The projects provided opportunities for the Air Guard engineers to conduct real-world training that benefited both communities.

Approximately 48 Airmen from the 203rd constructed the pavilion as part of an Innovative Readiness Training project during their annual training for VMI at McKethan Park in Lexington, Va. Building on the concrete pads they laid during the first phase of the project last year, the Airmen worked with local contractors and several VMI students to complete a pavilion with a two-sided fireplace and a nearby latrine.

During the same time period as the project was underway in Lexington, about 38 Airmen from the 203rd reconstructed a runway at Finnegan Airfield unmanned aircraft system training site at Fort A.P. Hill. The project included removing the existing runway, leveling the grade of the runway to meet specifications, laying asphalt upon the completed runway subgrade and improving the drainage along the sides of the runway. The work included approximately 4,388 man-hours, and the removal of 1,500 tons of existing asphalt, grading and placement of 2,500 tons of stone base course, and installing 1,250 tons of pavement.

“Upon determining this project would provide excellent training for the 203rd RHS, the Virginia Joint Force Headquarters and Fort A.P. Hill staffs worked together to provide the tasking to the 203rd RHS,” said Lt. Col. Stock Dinsmore, commander of the 203rd RHS. “Airfield construction and repair is one of the primary special capabilities of RED HORSE units, so our Airmen were excited to execute this mission. This project provided a great opportunity to evaluate the problems with the existing landing strip and continue with the appropriate repair, which was replacement.”

The VMI project was part of the IRT program that allows engineers to put their military skills to work on community service projects approved by National Guard Bureau. IRT projects provide service members opportunities for real-world training to support their wartime mission while the community benefits from the final product.

The assistance of the Virginia National Guard’s 203rd RHS recent work on projects to improve McKethan Park, our local training area, is extremely important to VMI, said Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, VMI Superintendent.

“It is a “win-win” for both organizations,” said Peay. “This project helps maintain Guard member’s military occupational skills and, in turn, facilitates the training of our cadets, many of whom, upon graduation, will become leaders in the National Guard and in other reserve and active component units.”

The second phase of the project to erect the pavilion and the latrine incorporated brick masonry and vertical building including framing, trusses, and roof construction. According to Dinsmore, Air National Guard engineers at the VMI project put in approximately 4,120 man-hours of work valued around $50,000.

“The Airmen found it essential to work closely with local contractors to build the chimney and flume for the two-sided fireplace, which is a more specialized area that is not typically used by the RED HORSE,” said Cpt. Keith Britt, officer in charge of the VMI project. “They learned invaluable skills, tips and tricks from working so closely with the contractors.”

“The IRT project in 2013 and the construction of the pavilion this year, provided the rare opportunity for us to utilize many of our skilled trades in one location. One of the best training lessons from this project was the planning and coordination efforts between the customer, designer, local authorities, and the construction team,” said Lt. Col. Stock Dinsmore, commander of the 203rd RHS.

The project provided an opportunity to involve officers and non-commissioned officers in the planning process, said Dinsmore. The known requirements over the two years allowed flexibility, as the longer planning period gave the capability to allow many of the traditional Airmen to be directly responsible for much of the project management efforts, said Dinsmore.

The opportunity to work with vertical structures and framing was exciting for many of the Airman as this is not something we get to do often and we all enjoy it, said Staff. Sgt. James Sprinkle, the 203rd RHS masonry lead for the project.

The community will use the area for picnics and softball practices, while VMI will use it for Alumni use and for training the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps students.

The training area is also used periodically by other Virginia Guard units and police organizations to enhance their readiness, said Peay.

“We learn something every time we go somewhere and work together,” said Tech. Sgt. Keith A. Barker, the Fort A. P. Hill runway repair project manager for the 203rd RHS. “You never know who might know more than you, from the highest ranked person to the lowest, everyone contributes something to the project.”

The best thing about being a part of the Fort A. P. Hill project, in comparison with other projects with the 203rd, was being able to train on multiple types of equipment, said Airman 1st Class, Steven A. Conners, III.

“The project was a success for both the 203rd and Fort A. P. Hill staff and allowed the UAS training to resume as quickly as possible,” said Dinsmore.

The project at VMI primarily used an extendable forklift to stand up columns and set the roof trusses. The Airmen also used a backhoe and ditch trencher to install utility lines. The Fort A.P. Hill project used various pieces of heavy equipment used to remove the existing asphalt and provide the properly graded stone base, steel drum rollers and dump trucks were used throughout for compaction and material hauling, and finally the 203rd RHS used their asphalt paving machine install the new runway. According to Dinsmore, Air National Guard engineers at the Fort A.P. Hill project put in approximately 4,388 man-hours of work valued around $200,000.

RED HORSE stands for Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers, and the unit provides a highly mobile civil engineering response force to support contingency operations worldwide.

Additional reporting by Capt. Jenny K. Hartsock, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

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View and download high resolution photos on Flickr:

203rd RHS reconstructs unmanned aircraft system runway at Fort A.P. Hill
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157645512811958/

Senior leaders visit the 203rd RHS engineer project at VMI
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157645842828246/

203rd RHS builds on foundations with Innovative Readiness Training project at VMI
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157645686929335/