ROSECRANS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mo. --
For the past five years, Airmen and volunteers of the 139th Airlift Wing have had a unique role at the home football games of the Kansas City Chiefs. Guardsmen with the Missouri Air National Guard unit, as well as retirees and their family members have been supporting the pyrotechnic crew at Arrowhead Stadium.
At every game, 21 members provide the manpower to push the pyrotechnic carts down the tunnel and onto the field for the player introductions.
Maj. Robert Lovelady, commander of the 139th Maintenance Squadron, has been part of the crew since the beginning.
“We make sure all the equipment is aligned and plugged in for the smoke and flames,” Lovelady explained. “Once all the players are introduced, we unplug all the carts and push them back up the tunnel for storage for the next game.”
In 2017 the volunteers from the 139th were given the name “Red Rampage”, complete with t-shirts that say “Red Rampage - Powered by the 139th AW”.
Lovelady says that the camaraderie built with the “Red Rampage” team over the past five years has been the best part of the experience. “We tailgated, laughed and really just enjoyed everyone’s company.”
There have been many memorable games that come to Lovelady’s mind. At the December 18th, 2016 game the temperature was seven below zero when they arrived to the stadium. “It was cold but the crowd was still loud,” he recollected.
In 2019, when the stadium thought the Chiefs had won the AFC Championship game, only to find out that the Patriots would be taking home the trophy, was particularly painful Lovelady said. “It was absolutely the quietest and most somber moment I ever experienced in Arrowhead.”
The 2020 playoffs games however were some of his favorite memories with the “Red Rampage”. “When the Texans got up 24 to 0 on us, the crowd was still loud and motivating the players; who in turn fed off of those cheers.” The Chiefs ended up making a comeback and winning the game. “Nothing felt better than seeing the last second tick off the clock in the AFC Championship game.”
“None of us on the team were even born the last time the Chiefs had been to a Superbowl, so it was something very special to see them raise the Lamar Hunt trophy in KC,” Lovelady said.