U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Joshua Brashears, director of facilities at Urbana University, received the state’s 2018 First Sergeant of the Year award in a ceremony at the Toledo Club on Jan. 12. Although living in Mechanicsburg, he is the first sergeant for the 200th RED HORSE Detachment 1 in Mansfield, where he oversees mission effectiveness of the enlisted members under the authority of the commander.
“I attribute my success to God, sacrifices and support of my family, and great leaders who paved the way, giving me the tools to excel,” he said. “I also couldn’t have been successful without the support and encouragement of my civilian employer Urbana University division of Franklin University. My nomination for this award was attributed to the support provided to the members of my unit on and off duty as well as my community involvement.”
Brashears enlisted in May 2001 to the active duty Air Force, but transferred to the Ohio Air National Guard in July 2004. He has deployed 27 times over the course of his 18 year career, including as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, which took him to Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said he joined the active duty Air Force because his father had served for 24 years before retiring, and that it had become a family tradition. He attributes his success as a First Sergeant, whose role is to communicate the orders of the commander and ensure those orders are followed, to his willingness to engage with lower enlisted airmen.
“I actively engage with the members of our unit,” he said. “I reach out outside of work. I have empathy for everyone in the unit and try to show compassion. I also use my personal experience that I’ve went through, going through the ranks, to relate to the younger generation. I’m approachable when I go out and do my walkabouts. I go around and engage new troops and new members.”
RED HORSE is an acronym that stands for Rapid Expeditionary Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers. They last deployed as a unit in 2010, but Brashears said his unit has such a high tempo that they travel around the world frequently. National Guard soldiers typically train once a months and for two weeks a year, but RED HORSE typically serves in uniform much more often than that.
“If you want to go and see the world and make a difference, RED HORSE is definitely the avenue to go to,” he said. “We built a clinic in Panama, and built a school in the Dominican Republic, but we’ve also sent people to Romania and Serbia as well. Our unit went to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and were making water out of seawater within hours of arriving. We went to Toledo when they had their water crisis to make water, and we went to West Virginia for the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree.”
Brashears was selected to appear before a board of officers at the RED HORSE detachment, who reviewed his whole military career and community involvement, then forwarded his packet to the state level. He said he plans to remain in Ohio and retire from RED HORSE.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304