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RED HORSE Airmen Lend Helping Hand to Homeless Shelter in Guam

Airmen assigned to the 554th RED HORSE Squadron expand a garden Sept. 26, 2015, at the Guma San Jose Homeless Shelter in Dededo, Guam. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Joshua Smoot)
Airmen assigned to the 554th RED HORSE Squadron expand a garden Sept. 26, 2015, at the Guma San Jose Homeless Shelter in Dededo, Guam. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Joshua Smoot)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam — RED HORSE Airmen are part of a uniquely trained unit that provides rapid response for quick airfield or facility repairs in remote areas.

But Airmen assigned to 554th RED HORSE Squadron — short for Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineers — used their training in a different setting Sept. 26 as they helped the Guma San Jose Homeless Shelter in Dededo.

The Airmen assisted shelter staff with electrical, plumbing and air conditioning improvements, and also expanded a garden to allow residents to grow fruits and vegetables.

"We were happy to have RED HORSE come out here and help us with our needs," said Michael Suzuki, the homeless shelter manager. "Whatever they can do for the shelter is an immediate assistance to our residents."

The shelter's small maintenance staff has struggled to keep up with facility repairs, Suzuki said, forcing the shelter to close rooms and turn down families.

But the Airmen's electrical repairs will allow the shelter to accommodate an extra family rather than having the room closed down for a night or longer. That could mean the difference between a family sleeping on the streets or in a comfortable bed, Suzuki said.

Tech. Sgt. Michael Tewes, the squadron's NCO in charge of contingency engineering instruction, came up with the idea to assist the shelter during a previous volunteer event.

"When I came over to the homeless shelter, I got to speak with some of the shelter managers and tenants and quickly realized that they needed some help," Tewes said. "That's what sparked the idea of 'Hey, we have all the specialties in our squadron. Let's use the skills that the Air Force has given us to help out this shelter.'"

This is another example of how Andersen Air Force Base Airmen reach out and volunteer in the local community, Tewes said.

"Even though Guam is a U.S. territory, they are our host," he said. "We are showing that we support the community. Guam in a sense is serving us, so we are just returning the favor."

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