MANSFIELD, Ohio (AFNS) --
Approximately 25 Airmen, assigned to the Ohio Air National Guard, 200th RED HORSE Squadron, departed Jan. 17 for Puerto Rico to help with earthquake relief on the island. RED HORSE stands for Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineers.
A series of earthquakes killed one person and caused extensive damage and power outages in Puerto Rico in December and January.
Along with personnel, the Ohio National Guard unit contributed two Disaster Response Bed-down Systems to provide shelter for as many as 150 people.
After packing up the DRBS and sending their equipment ahead of them, Airmen of the 200th RHS packed their bags and loaded onto a bus to leave Mansfield. Some of the Airmen are seasoned veterans who have deployed multiple times; others are on their first trip.
Col. Michael Hrynciw, 200th RHS commander, told the Airmen they had a unique opportunity to represent the unit, their state and their country in a time of need.
"Some of you may have deployed in support of contingencies around the globe before, but most of you have never been activated by our state governor to support a disaster outside the state of Ohio," he said. "It's a historical moment and a chance to help the people on that island. I know you'll represent us well and make us all very proud."
Airman 1st Class David Young and Airman Alexis Miller, both new members of the unit, said they looked forward to the mission.
"I'm an electrician in the Air Force, and so I hope to learn a lot from this trip, get more knowledge for my electrician career and help the Puerto Ricans out," Miller said.
Young expressed what a privilege it was to be selected to go on this kind of trip so early in his career.
"To know that there are people in need and that we have the capability to go fulfill that need to help them, support them and actually take part in that humanitarian effort, it's a huge honor and a privilege," Young said.