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Ohio’s 200th RED HORSE Squadron teams with Navy, Marines to help Hawaiian community

By 1st Lt. Paul Stennett | 179th Airlift Wing | October 31, 2017

KAPAA, Hawaii — The Ohio Air National Guard's 200th RED HORSE Squadron led a multiservice team of engineers this summer in the construction of an elevated boardwalk to help provide a safer, more direct route to connect people living near the Kauai Path.

Airmen from the 200th RED HORSE (Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer) Squadron teamed with Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 25 in Port Hueneme, California, and Marines from the Engineer Services Company in Springfield, Oregon, to conduct an Innovative Readiness Training mission in Kapaa.

Established by the Department of Defense, Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) provides opportunities for military units to build proficiency and readiness while addressing public and civil-society needs — such as infrastructure, health care, transportation and cybersecurity — that align with military mission essential training requirements. These types of missions are conducted to strengthen the bond between American citizens and the U.S. military, while fostering a spirit of service and volunteerism among all partners and the communities they serve.

The IRT mission here was to construct the Kawaihau Elevated Boardwalk, an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant path that will provide a safe connection between lower and upper portions of the Kawaihau Spur. This summer's iteration was the third phase of construction out of six phases. The Kauai Path extends about 20 miles along the eastern coast of the island.

There are three schools, elderly housing, a library, swimming pool and the largest bedroom community in the area that will be better connected due to the installation of the elevated boardwalk.

"Not only do we get great comprehensive training, to include logistics, engineering and construction skills from missions like these but we get to give back to communities and leave a positive impact for the community; an impact that lasts long after we are gone," said Lt. Col. Joe Logan, 200th RHS deputy commander.

IRT projects on Kauai first started a few years back when the Kauai District Health Office successfully applied to the Pentagon for support from military medical professionals to help provide free, basic health services to citizens who need it, under a program dubbed Tropic Care.

The elevated boardwalk construction project is, in a sense, an extension of the medical support mission as the Kauai District Health Office is promoting walkways, like the Kawaihau Elevated Boardwalk, as a means to increase awareness of and encourage healthier living and fitness choices.

The path provides for the community of walkers, joggers, runners and bicyclists a route to reach the Kauai Path where people on the island go for fitness and physical exercise. It will provide a path that is safer and more accessible than the existing local roads and informal trails. The path features more than 1,000 feet of 12-foot wide boardwalk, with the framing, decking and railings made of fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP).

This IRT mission and others like it help provide mission-essential training to military members. And, with the versatile capabilities of the 200th RED HORSE Squadron, projects such as these allow the unit's Airmen to receive training on horizontal and vertical construction that they cannot replicate at home.

"We can only do so much training in garrison because our capabilities allow us to literally build bases in the middle of nowhere," said Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Barron. "Since we don't have the space at home, we have used these missions to build schools, hospitals, etc., so our Airmen can be proficient when it comes time to forward deploy."