An F-16 fighter flew overhead, and family and friends said good-bye yesterday to members of Camp Perry's 200th Red Horse Squadron as they headed overseas to help build and install equipment at airfields needed to stop terrorism.
“It's a joyous kind of thing,'' said Maj. Barbara Herrington Clemens, acting director of the Ohio National Guard, who was among well-wishers at the 180th Fighter Wing Air National Guard base at Toledo Express Airport. “Folks, I think are saddened, but there's a dignified air to [the good-byes] because people are proud.''
Little information is being released about Operation Enduring Freedom, a classified mission, she said.
“I can't really discuss the length or the nature of the mission. There are going to be rotations, people coming back, people going over, it's an extended mission,'' she said.
What she can say is the squadron, which includes about 200 soldiers from Camp Perry in Port Clinton and about 200 in its sister unit in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., is prepared for what lies ahead.
“They will be going and doing what they're trained to do,'' Major Clemens said. “They're a trained and capable force.''
According to a released statement, Red Horse trains specialty teams that will “engineer the construction of airfield facilities needed by the United States and Allied Air Forces to stop terrorism and secure peace in the region.''
The Red Horse Squadron is trained to work in remote and hostile environments to engineer installation of weapons systems and utility and support systems used to initiate and sustain operations. The squadron supports combat air power worldwide.
Teams are trained for “mobile concrete operations, explosive demolition, expeditionary aircraft barrier installation, engineering material testing, and water well drilling. Red Horse is trained with automatic weapons, light machine guns, and grenade launchers,” according to the National Guard statement.
Major Clemens said mobilization of the Red Horse Squadron is common.
“They go and do these things all the time. It's more the times that we're living in and the spin that it puts on it, that has people concerned,'' she said.