203rd Red Horse Squadron

“Not for fame or reward, not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity, but in simple obedience to duty.” 
–Inscription at Arlington Cemetery

3/1/2013 – VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Virginia Beach-based 203rd RED HORSE Squadron plans to hold a brief ceremony to lay an honor wreath March 3, 2013, at 3 p.m. at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach to honor the 18 unit members and three Florida Army National Guard aviators who were killed in a military transport crash 12 years ago.

The Virginia Guard engineers and three Florida aviators from Detachment I, Company H, 171st Aviation Battalion, were killed on March 3, 2001, as the 203rd members were returning home after completing a two-week military construction project at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The C-23 Sherpa they were flying in crashed in a cotton field near Unadilla, Ga.

The C-23 crash was the worst peacetime aviation disaster in the history of the National Guard, and the worst loss of life in the Virginia National Guard since World War II.

The ceremony is scheduled to take place at the memorial built to the fallen Airmen. The memorial takes the form of a reflection or meditation garden complete with the unit’s mascot: a life-size, rearing red horse. The 30,000-square-foot memorial also includes a large bronze Minuteman statue rising up from a clear pool in front of a waterfall, and a second red horse. This horse kneels in front of a memorial made from a 7,000-pound, black granite boulder with the names of the 21 National Guard men etched into its one polished surface.

Encircling the border of the memorial is a winding path embracing 22 Bradford pear trees, and a plaque at the base of each tree honors each one of the Guardsmen. The 22nd tree bears a plaque honoring those who died during the terrorist acts of Sept. 11, which took place four days before the groundbreaking of the 203d’s memorial on Sept. 15, 2001.

The memorial incorporates ideas from several 203rd members and used a range of the construction skills found in RED HORSE units. Members of the 203rd, assisted by RED HORSE units from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Washington, Montana and Texas, built most of the memorial.

RED HORSE stands for Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers, and the unit provides a highly mobile civil engineering response force to support contingency operations worldwide.


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Master Sgt. James Beninati SSgt. Paul Blancato Tech. Sgt. Ernest Blawas SSgt. Andrew H. Bridges Master Sgt. Eric Bulman Staff Sgt. Paul Cramer Tech. Sgt. Michael East Staff Sgt. Ronald Elkin Sgt. James Ferguson Staff Sgt. Randy Johnson Senior Airman Mathew Kidd Master Sgt. Michael Lane Tech. Sgt.
Edwin Richardson Tech. Sgt. Dean Shelby Staff Sgt. John Sincavage Staff Sgt. Gregory Skurupey Staff Sgt Richard Summerell Maj. Frederick Watkins CW4 Johnny W. Duce CW2 Eric P. Larson SSG Robert F. Ward Jr

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