A lieutenant colonel with the Air National Guard has died while deployed to Qatar in support of the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Defense Department announced Sunday.
Lt. Col. James Willis, 55, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, died Saturday in a non-combat incident at Al Udeid Air Base, the Defense Department said in a release. The incident is under investigation.
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Willis was the commander of the 210th Red Horse Squadron, New Mexico Air National Guard at Kirtland Air Force Base, the release states. According to the Air Force, the unit deployed on April 16 for missions in Southwest Asia.
Red Horse, or "Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers" squadrons typically oversee substantial engineering operations in a combat setting, such as rebuilding runways in the event of a base attack.
A spokesman for the New Mexico Air National Guard was unable to immediately provide further information on Willis' career.
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