202nd RED HORSE veteran proudly assumes command

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Carlynne DeVine
  • 125th Fighter Wing

The 202nd RED HORSE welcomed their new commander during an official ceremony, Sept. 8, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brian A. Vitetta, former director of operations for the 202nd, has now taken full command of this squadron.

“To be able to serve alongside such a great group of Airmen is an honor,” said Vitetta.

The 202nd RED HORSE, which stands for Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers, is an elite group within the Florida Air National Guard.  This self-sufficient mobile unit comes with its own equipment and supplies, capable of rapid response and independent operations in remote areas for any state or federal mission. Their response efforts incorporate such things as airfield recovery and lighting, asphalt paving, bare base setup and base camp design, debris removal, material testing, power generation, and even water purification.

This skill-set is what makes the RED HORSE so highly sought after not only for overseas deployments and humanitarian missions, but also here at home for hurricane relief. They run in when everyone else runs out in a panic. These guys and gals go into already-evacuated communities, even before the potential Cat-5 arrives, to be ready to disperse at the word go. 

When asked how he maintains composure and focus throughout such an event, Vitetta said panic only makes things worse.

“I let my Airmen do the jobs they’ve been trained to do,” said Vitetta. “I get them the resources, provide the guidance, and execute the proper top-cover to allow them to execute the mission.”

Folks who have worked for Vitetta in the past vouch for that. 125th Civil Engineer Squadron Commander and Base Civil Engineer, U.S. Air Force Maj. Brandon C. Pruitt, is one such person.

“Lt. Col. Vitetta is extremely intelligent, very focused, very hands-on, and a very knowledgeable Base Civil Engineer,” said Pruitt.

Being so hands-on is a skill Vitetta picked up during his enlisted years. Vitetta working his way up to Staff Sergeant while he earned his Master of Engineering degree before commissioning.

Having once been an enlisted student himself, Vitetta has walked in their shoes.

“I know the difficulties our Airmen face,” said Vitetta, “as DSGs (Drill Status Guardsmen), as college students, and with a shaky financial stability.”

Understanding these difficulties helps make Vitetta approachable, reliable and respected among his troops.

“I treat everyone as equals, no matter who they are,” said Vitetta. “I feel my Airmen know that I will always have their back, and that it’s about them and the mission, not me.”

Dedicated. Loyal. Compassionate. Vitetta uses these three words to describe himself, something that can be attributed to one of his favorite Bible verses.

Luke 6:31 reads: Do to others as you would have them do to you. In other words, what is known as the Golden Rule.

Vitetta describes his role as commander as being able to give his Airmen all the tools, training and support to allow them to be able to excel in their duties. He wants them to be the problem solvers, and for himself to be their guide to the correct solution.

Pruitt agreed Vitetta will do just that as commander.

“I know he is going to do a great job,” said Pruitt. “He is well equipped and very prepared to lead the 202nd RED HORSE to greater levels of success.”

The new commander expressed what it truly means to wear that coveted red hat, and to be a part of – and to lead – this elite, unique squadron.

“It’s what I am most proud of in my entire military career,” said Vitetta. “I’ve never worked with such a loyal, hardworking, and dedicated group of people in my life. They truly are the best!”