August 24 , 2005
By Maj. Debbie Magaldi
The 203d RED HORSE Squadron of the Virginia Air National Guard gathered on June 11, 2005, to celebrate the unit’s 20th anniversary. The event was marked by a ceremony in the Virginia Beach-based unit’s headquarters building and followed by a Family Day on the beach at the State Military Reservation (SMR). It was attended by current and retired unit members, many of their families and a number of distinguished visitors.
In honor of the historical significance of the day, unit members enjoyed a short slide show highlighting many of the unit’s unique military deployments, and emergency response and humanitarian assistance missions from over the years.
Twenty years ago the 203d RED HORSE (then) Flight was established at the SMR, while its sister unit, the 202d RED HORSE Squadron was sited at Camp Blanding, Florida. On a cold January day back in 1985, the flight held its first unit training assembly with 50 members present.
Over the past 20 years, the 203d has deployed for construction, humanitarian, and disaster relief projects to locations throughout the United States and around the world. Destinations in Honduras, Panama, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Israel, Italy, Azores, Spain, Germany, England, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and Korea are just some of the locations the unit has deployed.
On Mar. 3, 2001, the unit suffered a tragic loss when a plane crash claimed the lives of 18 203d unit members and the flight crew of three from the Florida Army National Guard. The men were returning home from a two-week training mission in Florida when the aircraft crashed in Unadilla, Georgia. One year later on Mar. 3, 2002, the unit proudly dedicated the memorial built in front of the 203d Headquarters building – a memorial that forever stands in honor of those that paid the ultimate sacrifice.
In 2003, the 203d RED HORSE Flight was activated for the first time and deployed to Southwest Asia for six months in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
During 2004 the 203d RED HORSE Flight was re-designated the 203d RED HORSE Squadron.