Airmen, veterans, families celebrate 30th anniversary of 203rd RED HORSE

Retired Col. William A. Prosise, the first commander of the 203rd RED HORSE Squadron, speaks to former and current Airmen of the 203rd RHS during a ceremony celebrating the unit's 30th anniversary Aug. 8, 2015, at Camp Pendleton, Va. Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and Command Sgt. Maj. Alan M. Ferris, the Virginia National Guard Senior Enlisted Advisor, joined the celebration and Lt. Col. Stock Dinsmore, the current commander of the 203rd, hosted the event and served as the master of ceremonies. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Retired Col. William A. Prosise, the first commander of the 203rd RED HORSE Squadron, speaks to former and current Airmen of the 203rd RHS during a ceremony celebrating the unit’s 30th anniversary Aug. 8, 2015, at Camp Pendleton, Va. Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and Command Sgt. Maj. Alan M. Ferris, the Virginia National Guard Senior Enlisted Advisor, joined the celebration and Lt. Col. Stock Dinsmore, the current commander of the 203rd, hosted the event and served as the master of ceremonies. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

CAMP PENDLETON, Va. — Current and former members of the Virginia Air National Guard’s Camp Pendleton-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron celebrated the unit’s 30th anniversary Aug. 8, 2015, at Camp Pendleton, Va. The ceremony kicked off the 203rd’s Family Day activities, which featured food, games, and a cardboard boat race on Lake Christine.

Retired Col. William A. Prosise, the first commander of the 203rd RHS, spoke on behalf of the former commanders in attendance, which included retired Col. Thomas J. Turlip, retired Col. Paul D. Julian, and retired Lt. Col. Scott A. Hill. Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and Command Sgt. Maj. Alan M. Ferris, the Virginia National Guard Senior Enlisted Advisor, joined the celebration and Lt. Col. Stock Dinsmore, the current commander of the 203rd, hosted the event and served as the master of ceremonies.

Lt. Col. Stock Dinsmore, the current commander of the 203rd RED HORSE Squadron, speaks to current and former current Airmen of the 203rd RHS during a ceremony celebrating the unit's 30th anniversary Aug. 8, 2015, at Camp Pendleton, Va. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Lt. Col. Stock Dinsmore, the current commander of the 203rd RED HORSE Squadron, speaks to current and former current Airmen of the 203rd RHS during a ceremony celebrating the unit’s 30th anniversary Aug. 8, 2015, at Camp Pendleton, Va. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“This is a very close knit unit and it means a lot to us to see the veterans and family members come back here,” Dinsmore said. “I thank you all for all your efforts and I thank the members who came before us who helped us establish those traditions and those values. You helped stand up this unit and get us started on the right track.”

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.

“Thank you so much for your service and what you did,” Williams said to the veterans in attendance. “To our current Airmen, you’re magnificent. You do fantastic work. I look at the 203rd as probably our most precious resource in the commonwealth.”

The 203rd RHS was stood up in January of 1985 with no history and very little equipment, according to Prosise. A handful of veterans from that original unit were on hand and Prosise shared stories about the early days.

“We had to struggle to get 45 people in the unit, which you needed to get federal recognition,” he said. “The nicest thing about this unit is we had Air Force, we had Navy, we had Army, we had Marines. But we had no history. So we could do it our way.”

In the 30 years, since the 203rd RHS has performed state and federal missions both across the country and around the globe.

“The 203rd has established a tremendous reputation, not only in the Guard, but amongst our active duty RED HORSE counterparts as well,” Dinsmore said. “We’ve conducted missions and put our stamp on 10 different states and 17 countries around the world, covering three quarters of the globe, from the Middle East to Guam. I think we’ve established ourselves as a leader among the RED HORSE and engineering community.”

The ceremony included a moment of silence for the 18 Airmen of the 203rd RHS killed in a plane crash March 3, 2001.

As a token on their appreciation to former commanders who led the way, the Airmen of the 203rd presented small desk plaques and 30th anniversary personalized dogtags to the former commanders in attendance.

Prosise, Turlip, Julian and Hill returned the favor and presented an engraved plaque to Dinsmore and the Airmen of the 203rd RHS.

“Have another great 30 years,” Prosise said.

Current Airmen of the 203rd RED HORSE Squadron stand in formation during a ceremony celebrating the unit's 30th anniversary Aug. 8, 2015, at Camp Pendleton, Va. The ceremony kicked off the 203rd’s Family Day activities, which featured food, games, and a cardboard boat race on Lake Christine. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Current Airmen of the 203rd RED HORSE Squadron stand in formation during a ceremony celebrating the unit’s 30th anniversary Aug. 8, 2015, at Camp Pendleton, Va. The ceremony kicked off the 203rd’s Family Day activities, which featured food, games, and a cardboard boat race on Lake Christine. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)