Posts From February, 2011

Changing of Command builds on TXSG Success 

Changing Of Command Builds On TXSG Success
MAJ Michael Quinn Sullivan, PAO, TXSG
2011/02/27

Photo of Commanding General Ray Peters (Center) promoted Manuel Rodriguez, left, to Brigadier General and Deputy Commanding General, Army. Rodriguez takes over from retiring BG Victor Ortiz (right).
Commanding General Ray Peters (center) promoted Manuel Rodriguez, left, to Brigadier General and Deputy Commanding General, Army. Rodriguez takes over from retiring BG Victor Ortiz (right).

AUSTIN - A new commander of the Texas State Guard’s army component took charge today as the state’s defense support soldiers expressed gratitude to retiring Brig. Gen. Victor Ortiz.

Serving as Deputy Commander (Army) of the Texas State Guard since 2006, Ortiz said he was proud of the achievements of the men and women he has served alongside.

“They have truly exemplified the spirit of Texas,” said Ortiz. “It has been an absolute honor serving with them. This is what our country is all about.”

More than 2,000 men and women actively service in the Texas State Guard, with two-thirds of them in the Army component. The other sections of the Texas State Guard are the Air Division, Maritime Regiment and Medical Brigade. The TXSG, commanded by Maj. Gen. Ray Peters, is part of the Texas Military Forces, which includes the Army National Guard and Air National Guard.

After retiring from the United States Army National Guard, Ortiz entered the Texas State Guard in August of 2005 as commander of the 1st Civil Affairs Regiment. His entry was a baptism by hurricane; Katrina hit on Sept. 8, 2005, resulting in the largest activation of the TXSG in modern history.

Having been commissioned into the Army in 1969, Ortiz served in Vietnam as a fire direction officer and executive officer. He entered the Texas Army National Guard in 1979, holding numerous leadership positions, including Commander of the Joint Task Force Safe Boarder (Military Observer Mission Ecuador and Peru and Commander 49th Armored Division Artillery.

Ortiz described the Texas State Guard as “a great way to serve your community.”

Brig. Gen. Ortiz works as a volunteer with the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve. He and his wife Martha have two grown sons, two grandchildren.

Replacing Ortiz as the Deputy Commander (Army) is Manuel Rodriguez, recently confirmed as a brigadier general by the Texas Senate. Retired from the United States Army, Rodriguez – like Ortiz – was introduced to the Texas State Guard by a friend.

“I couldn’t believe what I saw,” said Rodriguez of his first visit to a training weekend. “The men and women serving in the state guard ask for nothing, but give a whole lot to Texas, and want to do the right thing. I had to be a part of that.”

He joined in March 2006, serving first as commander of the 2nd Civil Affairs Regiment, and later as the headquarters personnel officer.

Rodriguez was commissioned in 1983 upon graduation from the University of Southern Mississippi, and found himself posted first at Fort Hood. During his career, the Army had him in Germany, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, among other assignments. Primarily an intelligence officer, he retired from active duty in 2005. He and his wife own a ranch outside Copperas Cove. He has a college-age son, two grown daughters and a granddaughter.

Rodriguez said he was honored to take command from Ortiz.

“He has led with his heart, putting the soldiers first in everything he has done,” said Rodriguez. “I look forward to building on his successful work.”

Gen. Peters, presiding over Sunday’s ceremony at Camp Mabry, said both Ortiz and Rodriguez represent the kind of strong, hands-on leadership the state guard has been cultivating.

“As we continue to grow and mature organizationally, Gen. Rodriguez’s emphasis on training will enhance the esprit de corps that Gen. Ortiz has embodied.”

Sunday, February 27, 2011 10:09:00 AM Categories: Texas State Guard

Ceremony brings sister cities together 

Ceremony brings sister cities together
Staff Sgt. Daniel Griego, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
2011/02/25

Brig. Gen. Charles A. Miller, chief of staff for the Texas State Guard, Col. Donald Prince, commander of the 5th Air Wing Texas State Guard, applaud during the International Bridge Ceremony. Prince helped organize the George Washington Birthday Celebration, a traditional event in Laredo. Texas Military Forces often support community events such as this one.Photo by 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Army National Guard Pfc. Paco Pineda
Brig. Gen. Charles A. Miller, chief of staff for the Texas State Guard, Col. Donald Prince, commander of the 5th Air Wing Texas State Guard, applaud during the International Bridge Ceremony. Prince helped organize the George Washington Birthday Celebration, a traditional event in Laredo. Texas Military Forces often support community events such as this one.Photo by 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Army National Guard Pfc. Paco Pineda

LAREDO, Texas - A miniature George and Martha Washington meet with a Mexican cowboy and his wife on the Texas-Mexican border. The annual International Bridge Ceremony commences with the exchange of the “abrazo,” or hug, between four children; one couple portraying the first American president and his wife, and the other representing the people of Mexico.

For more than thirty years, the International Good Neighbor Council, in conjunction with the Washington Birthday Celebration Association of Laredo, Inc., has hosted the ceremony on the Lincoln-Juarez International Bridge in Laredo, Texas. This ceremony serves as the culmination to a month long event that celebrates the birthday of the first U.S. president. In this annual tradition, dignitaries from the sister cities of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, the states of Tamaulipas and Texas, and both countries, come together to exchange the Abrazo.

"Both countries have a similar cultural history,” said Carlos Garza, military liaison for the WBCA. "The only thing that has divided the United States and Mexico is a river."

Laredo was once a Mexican city, but after the Texas Annexation in 1845, it officially became a part of Texas and the U.S. Feeling like they belonged in Mexico, many families eventually returned across the river to found the city of Nuevo Laredo.

“They are related in business," said Garza. "They are related in family.”

The Bridge Ceremony is a century-old tradition, yet the abrazo has only been incorporated in the last 70 years. Ever since, the IGNC has invited Texas Military Forces and government officials to participate in this unique occasion.

According to Garza, Laredo has a long military history, which influences the local youth. The United South High School Marine Corps JROTC participated in this year’s Bridge Ceremony as the link between the two nations. Their sabers were raised over the representatives of each country as they walked onto a ceremonial red carpet in the middle of the international bridge. The Martin High School Army JROTC held the 50 U.S. state flags and the local Texas Army National Guard’s Color Guard presented the nation’s flag during the National Anthem.

Honored military guests included Maj. Gen. Jose S. Mayorga, former Texas Adjutant General; Brig. Gen. Charles A. Miller, Texas State Guard chief of staff; and Col. Donald Prince, commander of the 5th Air Wing Texas State Guard.

“Patriotism for the American flag is a top priority,” said Garza.

Along with the abrazo, dignitaries trade small American and Mexican flags to symbolize the countries’ support and good will toward each other. Honored guest, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Joseph R. Straus, exchanged flags with Monica Gonzales Garcia, representative of the state of Tamaulipas. Other government officials followed these delegates, to include the revered first U.S. President George Washington.

Francis Averill Jr. portrayed the first president of the United States and an actor playing Father Miguel Hidalgo, the father of Mexican Independence, served as his counterpart. Both historical figures exchanged the Abrazo and traded their respective nation’s flags. This symbolic gesture ends the International Bridge Ceremony each year.

The deep Hispanic heritage embedded in the people of Laredo, helps build a unique relationship with Nuevo Laredo and its country.

“We are blessed to have a culture that is a mix of both American and Mexican,” explained Garza, “and it’s a great honor and privilege to be a part of these festivities.”

Friday, February 25, 2011 10:11:00 AM Categories: Texas State Guard

Ceremony brings sister cities together 2-2 

A George Washington portrayer hold a small Mexican flag to represent the unity of not only the twin sister cities of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, but The United States and Mexico themselves in All I Want for Christmas Is New Year's Day.
A George Washington portrayer hold a small Mexican flag to represent the unity of not only the twin sister cities of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, but The United States and Mexico themselves in All I Want for Christmas Is New Year's Day. The representation is part of a traditional ceremony held during the George Washington's Birthday Celebration in Laredo. 

 

 Story by Pfc. Praxedis Pineda 

 LAREDO, Texas - A miniature George and Martha Washington meet with a Mexican cowboy and his wife on the Texas-  Mexican border. The annual International Bridge Ceremony commences with the exchange of the “abrazo,” or hug,  between four children; one couple portraying the first American president and his wife, and the other representing the  people of Mexico. 

 For more than thirty years, the International Good Neighbor Council, in conjunction with the Washington Birthday  Celebration Association of Laredo, Inc., has hosted the ceremony on the Lincoln-Juarez International Bridge in Laredo,  Texas. This ceremony serves as the culmination to a month long event that celebrates the birthday of the first U.S.  president. In this annual tradition, dignitaries from the sister cities of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, the states of  Tamaulipas and Texas, and both countries, come together to exchange the Abrazo.

 "Both countries have a similar cultural history,” said Carlos Garza, military liaison for the WBCA. "The only thing that has  divided the United States and Mexico is a river."

 Laredo was once a Mexican city, but after the Texas Annexation in 1845, it officially became a part of Texas and the  U.S. Feeling like they belonged in Mexico, many families eventually returned across the river to found the city of Nuevo  Laredo. 

 “They are related in business," said Garza. "They are related in family.”

 The Bridge Ceremony is a century-old tradition, yet the abrazo has only been incorporated in the last 70 years. Ever  since, the IGNC has invited Texas Military Forces and government officials to participate in this unique occasion.

 According to Garza, Laredo has a long military history, which influences the local youth. The United South High School  Marine Corps JROTC participated in this year’s Bridge Ceremony as the link between the two nations. Their sabers  were raised over the representatives of each country as they walked onto a ceremonial red carpet in the middle of the  international bridge. The Martin High School Army JROTC held the 50 U.S. state flags and the local Texas Army  National Guard’s Color Guard presented the nation’s flag during the National Anthem. 

 Honored military guests included Maj. Gen. Jose S. Mayorga, former Texas Adjutant General; Brig. Gen. Charles A.  Miller, Texas State Guard chief of staff; and Col. Donald Prince, commander of the 5th Air Wing Texas State Guard. 

 “Patriotism for the American flag is a top priority,” said Garza.

Along with the abrazo, dignitaries trade small American and Mexican flags to symbolize the countries’ support and good will toward each other. Honored guest, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Joseph R. Straus, exchanged flags with Monica Gonzales Garcia, representative of the state of Tamaulipas. Other government officials followed these delegates, to include the revered first U.S. President George Washington.

Francis Averill Jr. portrayed the first president of the United States and an actor playing Father Miguel Hidalgo, the father of Mexican Independence, served as his counter part. Both historical figures exchanged the Abrazo and traded their respective nation’s flags. This symbolic gesture ends the International Bridge Ceremony each year. 

The deep Hispanic heritage embedded in the people of Laredo, helps build a unique relationship with Nuevo Laredo and its country.

“We are blessed to have a culture that is a mix of both American and Mexican,” explained Garza, “and it’s a great honor and privilege to be a part of these festivities.”

Saturday, February 19, 2011 11:14:00 AM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

Laredo community proud to celebrate first US president 

Anheuser-Busch Washington's Birthday Parade participants prepare to march through Laredo, Texas, Feb. 19.
Anheuser-Busch Washington's Birthday Parade participants prepare to march through Laredo, Texas, Feb. 19. The parade is part of Laredo's 114th year celebrating the United States' first president. The Washington Birthday Celebration Association invites the Texas Military Forces to participate in the parade in recognition of the TXMF's support in the Laredo community and its celebration.

 

 Story by Spc. Suzanne Carter

 LAREDO, Texas - Most of the United States lets George Washington's birthday pass unceremoniously, observed as  President's Day on the third Monday in February. That doesn't fly in Laredo, Texas.

 "They've been celebrating George Washington's Birthday for 114 years," said Carlos Garza, a Washington's Birthday  Celebration Association of Laredo, Inc., volunteer and liaison for the Texas Military Forces. 

 The George Washington Birthday Celebration began in 1898 with a mock battle between Laredoans and Native  Americans, where Laredoans presented the local Great Chief Sachem with the key to the city. Laredoans and people in  the surrounding area saw George Washington as the Sachem of the United States according to the Association. 

 "George Washington was so revered in the United States and Mexico that we honor him," Garza said. In and around  Laredo, Washington is the people's symbol of freedom and the celebration demonstrates their love of American history,  he said. 

 Growing from a simple two-day fiesta to the current month-long extravaganza, the celebration features parades, parties,  a carnival, an air show, and many other events. In the months leading up to and during the celebration, citizens of  Laredo portray George and Martha Washington during visits to schools, re-enactments, parades, and parties.

 "The Washington Birthday Celebration is one of the oldest celebrations of George Washington's birthday," said Francis C. Averill, this year's Washington. "Throughout the United States, not many of them take place. In Laredo, Texas, yes, we do have a grand one. People come from all over."

The celebration, which attracts more than 400,000 people each year, came packed with public and invitation-only events during its fourth and final weekend, February 18-20. Each event highlighted a different piece of Laredo's traditions and community as it honored the country's first president.

"Many people basically say, 'Laredo, Texas? George Washington?'" said Javier Cabello, a member of the Laredo Knights of Columbus. "We're here. We're part of the United States. We're honored to be citizens of this great country. We're blessed to have a culture that is a mix of both American and Mexican heritage. It's a great honor and privilege to be part of these festivities."

The celebration allows Laredoans to honor prominent members of the community while celebrating American history. During a welcome luncheon on Friday, February 18, the WBCA and La Posada Hotel honored one of the U.S. military's first female pilots, Laredoan Barbara Fasken. 

Texas State Guard Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Charlie Miller presented the Congressional Gold Medal to Fasken's grandson, Spc. Robert D. Dickson of the 124th Cavalry Regt., during the luncheon. Fasken received the medal posthumously in recognition for her service in the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II.

Los Caballeros de la Republica del Rio Grande hosted the Caballeros Cocktail Party at the Laredo Civic Center Friday, where former Texas Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Jose S. Mayorga, Brig. Gen. Miller, and other Texas Military Forces representatives were honored guests.

"It's good to see the military here," said Charlie Elizalde, a photographer from San Antonio. "It's great to meet and greet them and thank them for their service."

Later that evening, the civic center's auditorium sparkled during the Society of Martha Washington Colonial Pageant and Ball. 

Averill and his Martha Washington, portrayed by Betty Ann B. Moreno, received nine debutantes and their escorts during the pageant, which recreated an event the Washingtons would have attended during George's presidency. Each couple represented significant figures from the Colonial period, decked in elaborate costumes that glittered in the spotlight as they promenaded across the stage.

"Wow! Those look great," Sam N. Johnson, a Laredoan who played Washington in 1979, said about the hand-beaded ball gowns. Johnson said the gowns get more elaborate every year.

Meanwhile, the rest of Laredo prepared for the next day's Anheuser-Busch Washington's Birthday Parade. Folding chairs tethered to parked vehicles lined the parade route by 6 p.m. Friday evening. Spectators filled those spots long before the parade began around 9 a.m. Sunday.

More than 160 floats, bands, performance troupes, and other participants marched in the parade, a GWBC staple since the celebration began. Spectators waved at passing public officials such as the mayors of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, Texas Speaker of the House and Mr. South Texas Joseph R. Strauss, and Maj. Gen. Mayorga. 

Cabello said that Laredoans from all walks of life have the opportunity to participate in the parade, whether they're walking with a float or waving from the sidelines. 

"They always take great joy in seeing all of the entries in the parade, all the military units, all the civic and religious organizations that participate," he said.

Cabello said Laredoans enjoy the opportunity to host such a unique celebration.

"Laredo, we are a very friendly people," he said. "We are honored and proud to be part of this celebration, and we welcome [the public] with open arms."

Saturday, February 19, 2011 11:11:00 AM Categories: Texas Air National Guard

Texas Guard at 70! 

Texas Guard At 70!
MAJ Michael Quinn Sullivan, TXSG 
2011/02/09

Photo of Banner with Color Guard that says "Texas State Guard at 70"
Image of the 2nd Battalion Color Guard, Texas Defense Guard in Houston, Texas, 1942

AUSTIN - While its history can be traced to Stephen F. Austin’s colonial militia, the modern Texas State Guard is celebrating its 70th anniversary this week. Today’s guard features more than 2,000 men and women serving the state – peak participation since World War II.

“Whatever the task, the Texas State Guard has been, and will continue to be, equal to it,” said Commanding General Ray Peters, who leads the Guard under the direction of the Texas Adjutant General and the Governor. “This is Texans serving Texans in practical and pragmatic ways.”

On Feb. 10, 1941, Texas Gov. Lee O’Daniel signed the Defense Act creating the Texas Defense Guard. The U.S. Congress had previously authorized the states to establish defensive units to serve at the discretion of the governor in support capacities. When the federal authority for the “Defense Guard” expired in 1947, the Texas Legislature re-authorized the entity under the banner of the “Texas State Guard Reserve Corps.”

Today’s state guard is one of three components of the Texas Military Forces, alongside the Army National Guard and Air National Guard. But unlike the National Guard entities, the State Guard generally serves only within the borders of the Texas and answers only to the governor. When activated, guardsmen provide critical services in times of natural and man-made disasters. In recent years the Texas State Guard has played critical roles in a wide-range of situations, from the search-and-recovery of the Columbia to shelter management in last summer’s Hurricane Alex.

“The flexibility of having 2,000 professional, civic-minded and uniformed Texans serving in the State Guard means we can mobilize anywhere in the state within hours of activation by the governor,” said Peters. “We serve to support the needs of local authorities, and provide for the relief and comfort of our neighbors at the worst of times. Whether it’s search and rescue operations with the Texas Parks and Wildlife, providing logistical support to the National Guard, or offering emergency medical care during a disaster, our men and women are trained to do it all.”

With only a half-dozen full-time staff, the Texas State Guard is composed of volunteer citizen-soldiers from all walks of life.

“For 70 years the men and women of the Texas State Guard have been honored to serve the people of Texas,” said Peters.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 10:12:00 AM Categories: Texas State Guard