RED HORSE saddles up for large ‘short’ parade at Camp Blanding

Florida Air National Guard Airmen take part in the 202nd RED HORSE Squadron equipment parade during the unit's family day at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Oct. 4, 2014. Photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

Florida Air National Guard Airmen take part in the 202nd RED HORSE Squadron equipment parade during the unit’s family day at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Oct. 4, 2014. Photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

STARKE, Fla. (Oct. 5, 2014) – The Florida Air National Guard’s premier heavy engineering unit held what might have been one of the largest “shortest” parades in Camp Blanding history, as part of its family day Oct. 4.

Airmen from 202nd RED HORSE Squadron formed a parade of more than 65 pieces of construction and maintenance equipment – from bulldozers to lawn mowers – that snaked less than three-quarters of a mile through the unit’s compound during the morning event. Unit members and their families lined the short parade route as 202nd RED HORSE Squadron Commander Col. Robert Niesen and Airmen tossed handfuls of candy to waving children.

Commander of the 202nd RED HORSE Squadron Col. Robert Niesen during his unit's family day parade at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Oct. 4, 2014. Photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

Commander of the 202nd RED HORSE Squadron Col. Robert Niesen during his unit’s family day parade at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Oct. 4, 2014. Photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

Appropriately the military parade was led by two horses from nearby Seamark Ranch – a youth organization from Clay County. Niesen, who followed behind with a stylized RED HORSE wheelbarrow, said the parade was a great chance for the unit members to get together, have fun, and let their families see the equipment and Airmen in action.

He added that the morale-building event was especially important since about half of the people in the 202nd – including himself – are relatively new.

“We are in a rebuilding time now, so have a lot of new people,” he explained. “In addition to that we really haven’t had time to get the families out here, and step back and appreciate what we have done.”

Florida’s Assistant Adjutant General for Air Brig. Gen. James Eifert officiated the compact parade as its grand marshal, riding along with dignitaries to include: Adjutant General of Florida Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw Jr.; Air National Guard Assistant to the Commander for the Air Combat Command Maj. Gen. Robert Branyon; incoming Florida Air National Guard State Command Chief Master Sgt. Jerry Gardner; and their spouses.

The 202nd RED HORSE is a highly mobile, rapidly deployable civil engineering response force. The unit performs heavy damage repair and recovery of critical Air Force facilities and utilities following enemy attacks or natural disasters.

Since 2001 members of the unit have deployed to assist with construction projects in areas around the globe, to include: Afghanistan; Qatar; Doha; Kuwait; Iraq; and the Horn of Africa.

RED HORSE is an acronym for Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers.

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