April 2011

IBEW On Duty
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Members Tackle Heavy Construction Jobs in Mideast

When the Air Force needs large construction work done quickly in and around combat zones, the men and women of RED HORSE ride in.

Members of the construction squad formally called "Rapid Engineers Deployable: Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineers" handle upgrades on airfields, drill wells, and complete large projects involving demolition and construction—all to ensure that U.S. troops have the infrastructure to do their jobs in Iraq, Afghanistan and surrounding countries.

Allentown, Pa., Local 375 member Bruce Snyder served as superintendent of the 1st Expeditionary RED HORSE's electrical division in Afghanistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. There, he and fellow IBEW members joined other skilled trades workers to construct and electrify medical stations, communications centers and other structures.

"We take pride in being able to build anything the Air Force needs here," said Snyder, who joined the National Guard after four years of active duty in 1986. "IBEW members are a valuable part of this effort, and we don't take our responsibilities lightly."

Fellow RED HORSE member Gavin Fisher, a reservist and meter reader with Reading, Pa., Local 777, worked with Snyder as part of a convoy team to deliver bulldozers and heavy equipment to construction sites in the Kandahar province of southern Afghanistan.

"It was tough work, and you always had to keep your eyes open," said Fisher, 27, who is looking to become a lineman with Metropolitan Edison Co.

A typical RED HORSE squadron is made up of more than 400 servicemen and women, including members of the carpenters, masons, sheet metal workers, plumbers and various other trades. Squad members stay on the move, often connecting with other RED HORSE groups at various sites.

"I met many of my fellow members from around the nation doing similar work," said Snyder, who returned home last spring. "It was always a thrill to get to a new place and ask around if anyone was IBEW."

IBEW members from far and wide make up various construction squads in Afghanistan and beyond. Pictured left to right: Eric Altice, Reading, Pa., Local 777; George Flick, Bethlehem, Pa., Local 1600; Michael Negrete, Harrisburg, Pa., Local 143; Monty Stiltner, Toledo, Ohio, Local 8; Lawrence Jones, Columbus, Ohio, Local 683; Anthony Ross, Philadelphia Local 98; Jose Santiago, Local 143; Gavin Fisher, Local 777; Stanley Poleshuk, Local 143; Bruce Snyder, Allentown, Pa., Local 375; Steve Bandura, Norristown, Pa., Local 380; and Mark "Salty" Salter, St. Louis Local 2.