Hard work, teamwork and "horse" work

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Joel Shepherd
  • Task Force Mahogany
I was assigned to the 823rd RED HORSE as the First Sergeant approximately six months ago, and I was issued a RED HORSE hat to wear with my ABU's. My first day in the squadron, I was allowed to wear this symbolic hat and I automatically got credit for the rich legacy previous RED HORSE members built through decades of hard work, perseverance, teamwork and an unparalleled dedication for task completion. I immediately got credit for that legacy; yet, I had done nothing to earn that credit. Furthermore, I had yet to even experience that legacy in action. I am now deployed with the 823rd Expeditionary RED HORSE (ERHS) assigned to Task Force Mahogany participating in an exercise known as New Horizons. I am witnessing firsthand how these Warriors have earned their legendary reputation and continue to expand their legacy. Working with such mighty members I realize teamwork feeds hard work and hard work breeds teamwork.

The mission of the 823rd EHRS, assigned to Task Force Mahogany, is to provide and receive training while building partnerships through the construction of four school buildings at four different sites in Belize. This enormous task is only made possible through the committed teamwork of many diverse, heavy-hitting sluggers from three different RED HORSE units, three Air Force Reserve civil engineer squadrons, two Marine Reserve engineer units and two Army National Guard engineer units in partnership with more than 120 Belizean Defence Force engineers. The lineup consists of structural craftsmen, dirt-boys, plumbers, electricians, engineering assistants, power-pro specialists, vehicle maintainers and petroleum, oil, and lubricant technicians. Witnessing this concerto of warriors battling away in harmony, sends a strong urge that catapults a desire to get off the bench and jump in; if anything, just to be lumped in with this legendary team. Many members from the task force staff agencies felt that urge and desire include the chaplain, judge advocate, medics, communications and services members. All these skilled warriors from diverse backgrounds and locations were voluntarily and joyfully working side-by-side at the construction sites. In this, I realize warriors are magnetically-drawn and addicted to teamwork. The reason why warriors are attracted to teamwork is because working side-by-side with fellow brothers and sisters breeds a motivational force that enables them to persevere through even the hardest tasks. Teamwork truly does feed hard work. The teamwork of the RED HORSE feeds a hard work ethic that would get even "Homer Simpson" off the couch.

Newt Gingrich once said, "Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did." The 823rd RHS had more than their share of hard work following the hard work they already finished. The strength they received to persevere through the extreme hard work came from their commitment to teamwork. That commitment explains how they poured 782 cubic yards of concrete (the size of a football field six inches deep) with minimal breaks, while waging war with the inconsistent and inefficient viscosity of the concrete that showed up two hours late with hour long delays between truckloads. This teamwork explains how a crew of 35 members busted their tails all day long, only to have the first concrete truck show up at 4 p.m. and work through six more deliveries late into the night under the dim lights from their rental vehicles and without any dinner. This teamwork enabled the placement of more than six thousand concrete blocks with a 130-degree heat index as these wingmen cut, buttered, and tapped the blocks into a straight horizontal and vertical line yielding a precise wall without error. This teamwork perpetuated a band-of-builders to carry buckets of concrete up scaffolding to pour into the block walls because the contractor's "pumper truck" was out of order. This teamwork yielded more than 50 thousand nails being placed by hand-and-hammer (no nail gun) into 128 roof trusses that had to be lifted into place without the use of a crane. This same teamwork inspired 257th Expeditionary RHS Airmen to push through sunburns, blisters, moisture rashes (in unmentionable places), pulled muscles, bug bites, and meals-ready-to-eat cramps to complete the multiple tasks assigned. These folks got dirty in the pits of hard work all while maintaining positive attitudes and high morale. As Warriors, we respect hard work. We respect it more than talent and we value it more than money because hard work breeds teamwork and we love playing on a hard-working team.

Three things I have learned with the 823rd RHS; teamwork is a multiplier feeding hard work; hard work breeds teamwork; and warriors are attracted to both teamwork and hard work. The 823rd RHS's teamwork and hard work is a true motivator for any that are fortunate to witness them in action. These warriors are not only living up to the legacy of the RED HORSE, but they're raising the bar and adding chapters to this legendary tale. I am gratefully honored to wear the RED HORSE hat and I am thankfully proud to be amongst this team of warriors. I can't help but pause and be awe-inspired at the fact we are only halfway through this deployment. I am anxious to experience what other mighty feats this team accomplishes in the next 45 days. "Can do, Will do, and Have done!!!" (RED HORSE motto). Thoughts of a RED HORSE First Sergeant...