Air Force Squadron Improves Base in Iraq
By Army Sgt. Frank Vaughn
Special to American Forces Press Service
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq, Jul. 13, 2009 The landscape of this base is changing rapidly. Some buildings already have been built to improve the operational capability of Multinational Division South, with others planned for the near future.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Ratliff, from the 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron, helps build a new hall for the Red Bull Band at Contingency Operating Base Basra, Iraq, in June 2009. The squadron plans to start construction on a post chapel soon. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Frank Vaughn
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The progress evident throughout the base is due largely in part to the efforts of the U.S. Air Force’s 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron. RED HORSE stands for Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operation Repair Squadron Engineers.
The squadron includes engineering specialists from 76 bases throughout the United States, Air Force Master Sgt. Barry Snyder Jr. said.
“We have multiple skills from multiple bases,” said Snyder, who is deployed with the 819th RED HORSE Squadron from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. “We have 11 specialties on our team, including heavy equipment operators, pest management, plumbers, power production, [vertical construction] and logistics.”
The team already has constructed a 30,000-square-foot headquarters building here for the 4th Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Snyder, the acting first sergeant for the squadron, said his team is especially proud of the new headquarters building.
“We put a lot of work into that building to make it functional for those guys,” he said.
Snyder credits his troops and their leaders for the success of the RED HORSE mission so far.
“These guys are phenomenal,” he said. “They work hard and make me proud to be a RED HORSE. Leadership over here has also been outstanding in keeping everyone focused on our goals.”
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Ratliff, a carpenter with the squadron, said staying focused has been fairly easy under the circumstances.
“I love this job,” said Ratliff, a native of Lexington Park, Md. “We get to the job site at 7 a.m., get our materials together and discuss what we’re going to do for the day. Then we get to work. I love seeing the contributions we’ve made to this place when the projects are completed.”
Ratliff said the squadron’s members have come together as a team since the beginning of the deployment.
“We all mesh together pretty good,” he said. “We’re not all from the same station, but it’s good to meet new people.”
The RED HORSE members currently are working on a hall for the Red Bull Band. The building, located near the recently completed mail-sorting facility, will house office space and room for band rehearsals, said Ratliff, who is serving his fourth deployment.
Future projects include a post chapel.
(Army Sgt. Frank Vaughn serves in Multinational Division South.)