Improving Our Foxhole: RED HORSE Builds for Future on Contingency Operating Base Basra
on Friday, 10 July 2009

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Story by Sgt. Frank Vaughn

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq – The landscape of Contingency Operating Base Basra is changing rapidly. Some buildings have already been erected to improve the operational capability of Multi-National Division - South, with others planned for the near future.

The progress evident all over COB Basra is due largely to the efforts of the U.S. Air Force's 557th Expeditionary Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operation Repair Squadron Engineers. The 557th "RED HORSE" Sqdn. is comprised of engineering specialists from 76 bases all over the U.S., said Air Force Master Sgt. Barry Snyder Jr.

"We have multiple skills from multiple bases," said Snyder, who is currently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with 819th RED HORSE Squadron from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. "We have 11 specialties on our team, including heavy equipment operators, pest management, plumbers, power production, [vertical construction] and logistics."

The team has already constructed a 30,000 square-foot headquarters building here for 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. Snyder, the acting first sergeant for the squadron, said his team is especially proud of the 2-4 headquarters.

"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! This job is fun. I love seeing the contributions we've made to this place when the projects are completed."

Ratliff also said the squadron has come together well since meeting each other at the beginning of this 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 service members are currently working on a hall for the Red Bull Band. The building, located near the mail sorting facility they have already constructed, will house office space and plenty of room for band rehearsals, said Ratliff, who is currently serving his fourth deployment.

Snyder said future projects include a post chapel that will be located near Dining Facility 3. He said the RED HORSE service members are dedicated to meeting all the needs of the tenants of COB Basra, including work space and a place to worship.

The RED HORSE squadron, through hard work and lots of sweat, is doing its part to improve our foxhole.

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Last update: Friday, 10 July 2009

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