Meet the new 819th RED HORSE Squadron commander

  • Published
  • By Airman Cortney Paxton
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
A diverse career in the civil engineer profession has led up to his "dream come true" serving in a RED HORSE Squadron. Col. Mark Zimmerhanzel joined Team Malmstrom this past June to serve as the 819th RHS commander.

Zimmerhanzel was commissioned through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1989 after receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

From there, he journeyed to Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., where he served his first assignment as a construction inspector, design engineer, readiness challenge officer in charge and chief of the utilities element for the 49th Civil Engineer Squadron.

His second, and favorite assignment, was as a design engineer for the 65th Civil Engineer Squadron at Lajes Field in Azores, Portugal.

"[My family and I] loved the island, the Portuguese people and the people I worked with," he said. "[Out] of all of our assignments, we have the most long-term friends and people we keep up with from our time at Lajes."

Following that tour, this central-Texas native, served one more overseas - at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey - and has been in CONUS locations ever since. His wife, Beth; whom he met in college; has been with him throughout his entire Air Force career offering him support throughout their journey together.

"My wife and I have always wanted to travel and it was definitely something I had in mind when I joined," Zimmerhanzel said. "We enjoy seeing different parts of the U.S. and other countries."

His Air Force career has been broadened by four deployments, two MAJCOM tours and one Air Staff tour.

"Working on a staff gives you a completely different perspective and you are able to have a much wider impact across the command or the Air Force," Zimmerhanzel said. "While on the Air Staff, I had the opportunity to work on the [Program Objective Memorandum] and see how the Air Force Corporate Structure works."

Zimmerhanzel received orders to Malmstrom during his last assignment serving as the base civil engineer for the 319th Civil Engineer Squadron at Grand Forks AFB, N.D., making him familiar with the Northern Tier but not the missile community.

"This is my first assignment to a missile base and I'm interested in learning about the mission of this base," he said.

His enthusiasm for the base doesn't stop at the mission; the colonel, along with his wife and five boys, Eric, 15; David, 13; Nicholas, 8; Jacob, 6; and Drew, 4, have already taken advantage of the programs and facilities Malmstrom has to offer and the great outdoors that Montana is known for.

"My family and I are very excited to be here at Malmstrom and in Montana," Zimmerhanzel said. "We have already been on a canoe trip and some of my kids have been on youth trips. We already made a trip to Glacier National Park and are going to Yellowstone in September; we are very excited about all of the stuff to do here."

Whether he is hunting and fishing with his older boys or getting the family together for a camping trip, this colonel is a great example of a hard-working family man. But his dedication and determination doesn't stay at home; his commitment at work has allowed him to grow as a leader and, ultimately, get the chance to lead the unique mission of a tenant unit.

"I'm excited to command a tenant unit," he said. "Not all Air Force civil engineers get the opportunity to be in RED HORSE and a part of this unique mission. I'm very excited that after 22 years I am finally able to serve in RED HORSE."