MANSFIELD -- The 179th Airlift Wing keeps busy.
Members of the Ohio Air National Guard unit based at Mansfield Lahm Airport have a dual mission -- serving the governor of Ohio with state missions and also the U.S. president with federal obligations.
That combined tasking keeps the unit functioning at a high speed, Col. Michael Hrynciw said Thursday during a media day event.
Hrynciw is a commander for the 200th RED HORSE squadron or Rapid Engineer Deployable: Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers. The Port Clinton-based unit has a detachment assigned to the 179th Airlift Wing.
“We basically are the construction crew of the Air Force,” Hrynciw said. showing photos of his crew’s projects, including an airport created during Operation Desert Storm.
There are 409 citizen-airmen in the 200th RED HORSE squadron and more than 1,000 in the overall 179th Airlift Wing. The group responds to natural disasters and domestic terrorist attacks, serving first responders with road repair, water purification or debris or snow removal.
The squadron's most recent missions were to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to help with hurricane relief.
“Our missions are unique in that we get to build and repair things,” said the RED HORSE commander. "I think traditionally, you'll see military actions overseas being kinetic operations and we try and repair things.
"Some of our missions are nation-building and I think that's a difference between our's and others' missions," the colonel said.
The 179th Airlift Wing serves Ohio on multiple fronts. Aside from helping with disaster relief and conducting military operations around the world, these airmen can be seen around Ohio giving health screenings and check-ups or helping with drug enforcement agencies.
"We are the second largest Air Wing to California," said Brig. Gen. Todd Audet, assistant adjutant general for air, Ohio National Guard.
CMSgt. Todd Hunter said he enjoys flying around the world to help deliver cargo and services to those in need.
The 179th is one of seven Air Force installations in Ohio.With 47 Army installations, Audet said the Ohio National Guard is located within 600 miles of 89 percent of the nation's population.