Florida Guardsmen Return From Southwest Border Mission

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jacob Hancock
  • 125th Fighter Wing

A 19-person combat engineering team from the Florida Air National Guard's 202d RED HORSE Squadron (RHS) returned after a 30-day mission to Fronton Island, Texas in support of Operation Lone Star, May 31, 2024. Their goal was to aid Texas in reducing illegal drug and immigration trafficking by restricting the movement of known cartel groups in one of the most contested and dangerous areas on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The unit’s primary task involved constructing a 40 foot by 30 foot water outlet spanning approximately 1.5 miles, while also accounting for the hydrodynamic and environmental challenges posed by the Rio Grande River. The team completed a full topographical survey of the 160 acre island, repaired over 33 miles of existing roads, and constructed five miles of new access roadways.

“Supporting Operation Lone Star is a continuation of our enduring commitment to serving our communities” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Richard L. Coffey, Florida National Guard Assistant Adjutant General-Air and Commander of the Florida Air National Guard. “Our engineers brought their top-notch skills to a challenging environment, playing a pivotal role in a mission that extends well beyond the immediate task at hand. The Florida National Guard has consistently been among the first to answer the call for border security missions in Texas and here in our own state. It's a role we undertake with pride and resolve as we recognize the critical importance of these missions to national and state security.”

RED HORSE units often integrate force protection and medical professionals alongside specialized civil engineers. This unique, organic interoperability allows the unit to effectively operate as agile small groups during high-stakes operations.

“I can see now why they were requested to do this job,” a U.S. Air Force medic assigned to the 125th Medical Group Detachment 1 shared. “Their ability to adapt and overcome while exceeding expectations truly impressed me. This experience was one of the top moments in my career, and I would be proud to go out with them again.”

The unit's success highlights the vital role that national guard units play in ensuring the nation’s security. It also underscores the guard’s ability to execute challenging missions under harsh conditions.

“The success of this mission will undoubtedly make a large impact in stopping illegal activity and traffic into the United States and Florida,” said a U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. assigned to the 202nd RHS. “However, the year is only getting started for us as we start to regroup and get ready for this year’s hurricane season.”