Posts From November, 2016

Texas Army National Guard trains, graduates first female cavalry scout in U.S. Army

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Peña

Posted: Nov. 22, 2016

Texas Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion 136th Regional Training Institute graduated the U.S. Army’s first female cavalry scout Nov. 17, 2016, during a graduation ceremony held at Fort Hood. The 136th RTI recently moved the cavalry scout course to Fort Hood to provide more space and accessibility to various training facilities. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)
U.S. Army Sgt. Kayci Landes, with the 1st Cavalry Division, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, poses with her family following her graduation as the first female cavalry scout Nov. 17, 2016. Texas Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion 136th Regional Training Institute trained and graduated Landes during a rigorous 20-day course at Fort Hood. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

FORT HOOD, Texas – It was a proud moment for the Texas Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion 136th Regional Training Institute when Army Sgt. Kayci Landes, walked across the stage as the U.S. Army’s first female cavalry scout Nov. 17, 2016, during a graduation ceremony held at Fort Hood.

The Department of Defense announced that all military occupations and positions would be open to women, Jan. 2016. Landes, a wife and mother of four, had been waiting for this moment since she was seven-years-old.

“I’ve always wanted to be in the combat military occupational specialty; I just wasn’t allowed. As soon as it opened I was like ‘hey combat MOS’s are open, I’m going to have this baby real quick then I’m going to re-enlist for it,” said Landes.

During the 20-day course Landes, along with her peers conducted 200 academic hours to include the Army’s new high physical demands test that both men and women needed to pass at the same standards.

“We’ve got a streak of seven years of not sending anyone home and we’re not afraid to break that,” said Texas Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Michael C. Dixon, an instructor at the cavalry scout course. “She did the 12-mile, she did the hand grenade toss, dummy drag and pulled out the Bradley main gun that weighs collectively almost 300 pounds. She’s done it all.”

The Texas National Guard’s 136th RTI, headquartered at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, offers courses to any soldier in the U.S. Army, active, guard or reserve, including numerous MOS’s such as the cavalry scout.

Texas Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Kristopher E. Townsend, instructor and course manager, said his favorite part of being an instructor is educating his students.

“It’s training soldiers, bringing guys into an MOS that I love and being able to depart my experience, what I’ve learned in my career down to the joe’s and bring them into the fold of the cavalry,” said Townsend.

The Texas National Guard instructors led the course for six prior service members that had made the decision to re-class to 19D.

“They have a really good training set up; it’s better than most Army training. It’s been fun and interesting,” said Landes.

In 2014, the U.S. Army Training Command awarded the 136th RTI as an Institution of Excellence, the highest accreditation an RTI can receive.

“We always want to go beyond the program of instruction and make the course better than just the minimum,” Sgt. Steven L. Conwill, 136th RTI. “Being new here to Fort Hood we have access to a lot of newer things that might not have had access to at Camp Mabry or Camp Bowie.”

As the Army welcomes women into combat roles, Texas’ RTI will continue to train soldiers across the force to the best standard possible.

“The RTI is proud to be a part of training so many fine men and women,” said Texas Army National Guard Col. Kevin Countie, 136th RTI commander.  “Supporting the Army’s readiness and combat performance is our top priority.” 

Landes will be stationed with the 1st Cavalry Division, stationed at Fort Hood.

Texas Military Department Announces New Air Guard Commander

Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General of TexasAUSTIN, Texas (November 18, 2015) – Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General of Texas, is pleased to announce Brig. Gen. David McMinn has been named the Commander of the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG), following the retirement of Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian.

McMinn received his commission upon graduation from Clemson University in 1985, completed Undergraduate Pilot Training and was assigned to Pope AFB, North Carolina as a C-130E pilot in 1986. While there, McMinn specialized in Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System Tactical Air Delivery and Adverse Weather Aerial Delivery System formation flying.

After serving during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, McMinn transferred to the TXANG and joined the 136th Airlift Wing as an instructor pilot and later served as the 321st Expeditionary Operations Group Commander during operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. He has also served as the Operations Group, Vice Wing, and Wing Commander in the 136th Airlift Wing. As a traditional Guardsman, McMinn has gained over 5,000 flying hours both in his role as a command pilot in the T-37, T-38, C-130E and C-130H2 aircraft and as a captain for a major commercial airline. He most recently served as the Chief of Staff for the TXANG.

As Commander of the TXANG, McMinn commands more than 3,000 service members and oversees TXANG operations, training, readiness and resource allocation for both state and federal missions.

The appointment follows the recent announcement regarding the retirement of Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian, Deputy Adjutant General-Air and Commander of the TXANG. Wisian is retiring with more than 32 years of service to the state and nation, including tours of duty in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. He now serves as director of the Coastal Protection division of the office of the Texas General Land Office.

Details regarding a change of command and/or retirement ceremonies for the above individuals are forthcoming.