Twenty-six members of the 219th RED HORSE unit traveled to Puerto Rico in October to help with Hurricane Maria relief efforts.
Airman 1st Class Collin Sullivan said he joined the military to travel and help others.
“We saw a lot of infrastructure pretty ruined," Sullivan said. "A lot of debris, signs, everything on the streets, and houses destroyed."
The heavy construction specialists operated on a Puerto Rican guard base near San Juan.
“When we first got down there, we were sleeping out of a dugout or in a breezeway of a baseball field,” Senior Airman Micah Chambers said.
The airmen set up a disaster relief beddown for emergency responders helping those in need on the island.
"We set up tents and set up water and laundry, also bathroom facilities for the other branches of military that were aiding in Puerto Rico,” said Senior Airman Tyler Gandolfi.
Before the airmen arrived, a lot of the first responders were unable to do basic things like take a shower or wash clothes.
“My favorite part was seeing how happy some of these people could be for getting a washing machine," Chambers said. "I have never seen so many people so excited to do laundry."
Puerto Rico was the first humanitarian mission for most of the airmen and all of them said they would go back in a heartbeat.
“I saw a lot of devastation but I also saw a lot of hope and that was the most rewarding thing to see,” Chambers said.
What does RED HORSE mean? Rapid Engineer Deployable, Heavy Operational Repair Squadron, Engineer
From the Malmstrom AFB website:
RED HORSE's major wartime responsibility is to provide a highly mobile, rapidly deployable, civil engineering response force that is self-sufficient to perform heavy damage repair required for recovery of critical Air Force facilities and utility systems, and aircraft launch and recovery. In addition, it accomplishes engineer support for beddown of weapon systems required to initiate and sustain operations in an austere bare base environment, including remote hostile locations.