Posts From February, 2015

Journey to becoming Army Fit 

drink water during the day on the warm daysWeek 5

Texas weather can be a challenge to beginning runners.  Since the new year, we’ve had very cold days followed quickly by warm days in the 70s and 80s. Cold and hot temperatures take a little more planning and preparation.  We learned the hard way that you have to drink water during the day on the warm days because it's too late to try and hydrate once you begin to run. 

When we run this week in the warm weather, both of us comment that we have a tough time swallowing because we are so parched and did not drink enough water.  We also have the pleasure of running with colleagues CPT Wayne Marrs and Amy Cowan. Their speed is quicker than our speed so (of course) we pick up our pace, only to be heaving and gasping for air and wanting water at the end of the two miles. We feel proud of ourselves for not quitting, and even prouder when we see that we took a minute off of our run time.

As for the pushups and sit ups, both of us are plodding along.  Tracy has found that having her 15-year-old sonhold her feet while doing her situps and saying, “Come on Mom, you can do a few more!”  helps her keep going and crank out a couple more.  Thanks to his coaching she is up to 18 situps.  Courtney's pushups look strong and she is able to have parallel arms on many of them.  She too is able to do 18 sit-ups.  That's only 14 short of her goal of 32.  

Physical Fitness Tips (learned the hard way):

•    Drink plenty of water throughout the day.  Recommended is 64 ounces. (Tracy finds that adding electrolytes by drinking coconut water or Emergenc-C Electro Mix packets mixed in water seem to help with cramping).
•    Running with people faster than you can motivate you to pick up your pace. 
•    Asking family members to help you makes the challenge of exercise more enjoyable.   
•    Having a goal about three months out helps keep up motivation when your body aches from the new activity and you just want to sit and watch TV.  For example, set a goal to participate in a 5K race. Make sure you pay for the race and get the T-shirt and the packet to remind you to keep training.  Old Race Rule- you can't wear the shirt until you run the race. 

Mental Fitness Tips: 

•    "For mild depression, physical activity can be as good as antidepressants or psychological treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy.”
•    “In some areas in the UK, GPs (family doctors) can prescribe exercise”.
•    “Exercise can also help you to cope better by improving how you feel about yourself and getting you together with other people”. 

from: Royal College of Psychiatrists (http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/treatmentswellbeing/physicalactivity.aspx)

Commentary by Courtney J. Lynch and Tracy K. Ward, Psychological Health Coordinators

Friday, February 27, 2015 9:09:00 AM Categories: Blog

Texas Air, Army and State Guard vie for Governor’s Twenty tab 

Story By: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy

Posted: Feb 26, 2015

1st Lt. Alicia Lacy Spc. Jordan Norkett, C Troop, 1-124 Cavalry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, receives the second place novice award from Maj. John B. Conley following the Texas Military Forces' Governor's 20 Sniper competition Feb. 22, 2015, at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas. Only one team of two, a sniper and a spotter, can make up the Governor's 20.

1st Lt. Alicia Lacy
Spc. Jordan Norkett, C Troop, 1-124 Cavalry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, receives the second place novice award from Maj. John B. Conley following the Texas Military Forces' Governor's 20 Sniper competition Feb. 22, 2015, at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas. Only one team of two, a sniper and a spotter, can make up the Governor's 20.

BASTROP, Texas – It was a show of joint camaraderie, but also friendly competition as Texas Air, Army and State Guardsmen shared the common interest of putting bullets down range. 

About two dozen Guardsmen converged at Camp Swift near Bastrop for the Governor’s Twenty sniper competition Feb. 20-22, 2015.

The three-day shooting event is one of four state-level marksmanship matches held throughout the year to determine the top 20 marksmen who comprise that year’s Governor’s Twenty and earning the coveted Governor’s Twenty tab.

The tab is a state-level marksmanship award for the top 20 shooters in the state. It is awarded to the top eight pistol marksmen, two snipers, eight riflemen, and two machine gunners.

In addition to providing a venue for Guardsmen to compete among their peers throughout the state, the marksmen competitions allow another avenue for them to receive valuable training.

“There’s no better training than going out,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Brors, 204 Security Forces Squadron, Texas Air National Guard. “When we do unknown distance, it’s our ranges, so whether we put up the targets or not, I know what the different distances are, but coming out here I really have to use the training we’ve been taught.”

Most often, troops only shoot to qualify a few times a year, if that; however, the matches provide vital training and an opportunity for soldiers and airmen to hone their marksman skills, a critical portion of their job. 

“The sniper is growing in importance,” Sgt. Craig Feldschneider, C Troop, 1-124 Cavalry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard. “It’s one of the most important things we have on the battlefield.”

For Army snipers, their training ends when they complete the Army Sniper School with no opportunities for advanced training.

“We top out at sniper school,” said Sgt. Chase Smith, C Troop, 1-124 Cavalry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard. “The field is always changing. There are new formulas and new ways of doing things.”

During each competition, participants vie for the possibility to travel to the Winston P. Wilson rifle and pistol championships at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center at Camp Joseph T. Robinson near Little Rock, Arkansas.

Following the competition in Arkansas, the chief of the National Guard Bureau awards the Chief’s Fifty Marksmanship badge to the top 35 in combat rifle, 10 in combat pistol, three machine gunners and two snipers.

“If we do good here, the Arkansas match is where your skillset gets pushed,” Smith said. “You have to pull every skill together to make it work. If you’re just a good shot, you won’t do good at all. You have to incorporate everything at the same time.”

Though pistol marksmen, riflemen and machine gunners can move on to compete for the President’s 100 tab, the competition for snipers ends at the WPW match.

“Snipers top out at Arkansas,” Smith said. “You can get the Chief’s 50, but you can’t get the President’s 100 tab.”

In addition to the Governor’s 20 tab, soldiers and airmen can earn points toward Excellence in Competition badges, ranging from a bronze and silver badge to the Distinguished Rifleman and Distinguished Pistol Shot badges.

“This event is a great thing and we love doing it because it’s a chance to bring a lot of people together from the state that all have common interests and common occupations,” Feldschneider said. “We can come out here and put some rounds down range and everybody has fun. It’s competitive, but it’s friendly.”

The state hosted the pistol match in late January. The rifle competition is set for late March

Thursday, February 26, 2015 7:55:00 AM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

TAG Talks: Major David Darsey 

On this edition of TAG Talks Major David Darsey speaks on his ideas for maintaining a strong pre-mobilization instructor force. This force should be comprised of professional, technically and tactically competent non-commissioned officers within the Texas Army National Guard. TAG Talks are a series of unique presentations put together by students in The Adjutant General's Executive Leadership Development Program offering the perspective of future Senior leaders of the Texas Military Forces.

Thursday, February 26, 2015 7:25:00 AM Categories: Blog

36th Infantry Division honors Fort Hood 'Hug Lady' 

Story by: Maj. Randall Stillinger

Posted: Feb 24, 2015

Maj. Randall Stillinger A Soldier from the 1-112th Cavalry Regiment, 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, receives a hug from Elizabeth Laird before boarding a plane at Robert Gray Army Airfield on Sep. 13, 2015. Laird is commonly known as “The Hug Lady” and is at Fort Hood for almost every arriving and departing flight. The 1-112th deployed to Egypt as part of the Multinational Force and Observers mission, which enforces the 1979 treaty between Israel and Egypt. (36th Infantry Division photo by Maj. Randy Stillinger)
Maj. Randall Stillinger
A Soldier from the 1-112th Cavalry Regiment, 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, receives a hug from Elizabeth Laird before boarding a plane at Robert Gray Army Airfield on Sep. 13, 2015. Laird is commonly known as “The Hug Lady” and is at Fort Hood for almost every arriving and departing flight. The 1-112th deployed to Egypt as part of the Multinational Force and Observers mission, which enforces the 1979 treaty between Israel and Egypt. (36th Infantry Division photo by Maj. Randy Stillinger)

FORT HOOD, Texas – The 36th Infantry Division Commander and Command Sgt. Maj. honored Elizabeth Laird at Fort Hood’s Robert Gray Army Airfield Feb. 13, 2015.

Soldiers of the 1st of the 112th Cavalry Regiment, Texas Army National Guard, were on hand as Maj. Gen. Les Simpson and Command Sgt. Maj. John Sampa presented a plaque and a dozen yellow roses to Laird, who is well known within the military community as “The Hug Lady.”

For almost 12 years Laird has been going out to hug Soldiers as they boarded flights bound for war zones. After checking in at the terminal, each Soldier receives a hug on their way into the waiting area.

Simpson told the departing 36th Infantry Division Soldiers that regardless of the weather, regardless of the circumstances, she comes out to see troops go, and then to see them return.

“She doesn’t get paid to do that. She really cares about you,” Simpson said.

The certificate presented by Simpson reads “Your unending love, support and care for our deploying soldiers means more than you will ever know. Your steadfast, faithful commitment, regardless of the time of day, does not go unnoticed. Thank you for always being there to send us off, and for being the first one to welcome us home.”

The 83-year old Laird has a long history of service and employment with the U.S. military. She enlisted in the Air Force in 1950 on her 18th birthday as a cook, but also played trumpet in a band. 

After military service, she was employed by the Army as a stenographer, secretary and then as a computer analyst. She’s been in the Fort Hood/Killeen area for the last 42 years. These days, when she’s not hugging troops, she’s helping others with their taxes.

During the early days of the global war on terrorism, Laird started volunteering at Fort Hood with the Salvation Army and was involved in the mobilization and deployment process. One day in 2003, she was invited to come over and shake the hands of deploying Soldiers as they boarded a bus.

Laird recalls the day that started it all: “This one Soldier hugged me. There was another Soldier behind him in line and I just had to hug him,” Laird said. “It just snowballed from there.” 

She is now personally notified of each departing and returning flight, and is given the opportunity to speak to each group of Soldiers before they board the plane. She even has her own “III Corps Hug Lady” business card. 

When asked what motivates her to come out for every flight, Laird said, “I just want to thank our Soldiers for what they do. Without our military, we wouldn’t be here.” 

“I just want to say ‘thanks, thanks, thanks,’” Laird said.

Even during this interview, a young 1st Cavalry Division Soldier politely interrupted so he wouldn’t miss his opportunity to hug the iconic Hug Lady. He was getting ready to board a flight to the National Training Center in California, but he had received his first hug on his way to Afghanistan a few years ago.

“You want a hug?” Laird asked him.

“Yes ma’am,” the Soldier replied enthusiastically. He received his hug and the interview continued.

The 36th Infantry Division command team was at Fort Hood to send off the 1-112th Cavalry Regiment as they left for Egypt as part of the Multinational Force and Observers mission, which was created during the 1979 treaty between Egypt and Israel. 

First Lt. Josue Munoz of Grand Prairie, one of the Soldiers deploying with the 1-112th, had received a hug from Laird during a previous deployment and appreciated her being there once again.

“The fact that she’s still out here makes me feel good that there are people that support what we do,” Munoz said. “Having just one person do what she does makes a world of difference.”

Laird’s health has been a concern recently and is usually the only thing that prevents her from coming out for flights. She spent the ten days prior to the 1-112th Cavalry’s departure in the hospital, but immediately got right back to doing what she loves best. 

“As long as the Lord will allow me, I’ll keep doing this," Laird said. "Each of them are special.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 7:57:00 AM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

Taking Care of our Own 

By: SSG Timothy Pruitt

Group Picture

SPC Poncher and PFC Katz are both full time students while serving in the Texas State Guard.  During this years winter break, they parked SPC Poncher's car at the airport in what they thought was secured parking. 

The car had been broken into and both soldier's gear, uniforms  and other personal items were taken.  The soldiers, over the last few weeks have been slowly replacing all the missing items.

Today during drill at Camp Swift, 1SG Smith and LTC Dudenhoeffer presented replacement ruck sacks to the soldiers.  They used their personal funds to purchase the ruck sacks for their soldiers.

Col Dudenhoeffer said," this is how we take care of our troops in 1BN 2nd REGT."  The purchase of the bags send a message that the troops will be taken care of if the need  arises.

Monday, February 23, 2015 10:18:00 AM Categories: Texas State Guard

Texas general embraces international goodwill 

Sgt. Michael Vanpool Isela Flores, a senior at Martin High School in Laredo, Texas, holds the Texas state flag at parade rest during the International Bridge Ceremony in Laredo, Texas, Feb. 21. The ceremony commemorates the bonds between the United States and Mexico and features a series of abrazos, or embraces, between representatives of the two countries in the center of the bridge. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Vanpool, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs/Released)
Sgt. Michael Vanpool
Isela Flores, a senior at Martin High School in Laredo, Texas, holds the Texas state flag at parade rest during the International Bridge Ceremony in Laredo, Texas, Feb. 21. The ceremony commemorates the bonds between the United States and Mexico and features a series of abrazos, or embraces, between representatives of the two countries in the center of the bridge. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Vanpool, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs/Released)

Story by: Sgt. Michael Vanpool

Posted: Feb 22, 2015

LAREDO, Texas – Standstill traffic is not uncommon on the Lincoln-Juarez International Bridge linking the United States and Mexico. On the morning of Feb. 21, there were no cars, but still scores of people still standing.

At the middle of the bridge, Americans and Mexicans waited together for the ceremony to begin. National anthems were sung. Prayers were said. Speeches were delivered. But the crowd was waiting for what came next.

Dignitaries from both countries walked to the center of the bridge to exchange abrazos, or embraces, with their counterparts and to show their neighborliness during the International Bridge Ceremony, part of the 118th George Washington Birthday Celebration in Laredo, Texas. 

Two children from each country, dressed in historical clothes, began the ceremony by meeting in the middle of the bridge, embracing (or abrazando), and exchanging each other’s flags. 

After the children, dignitaries begin exchanging their abrazos, including Brig. Gen. Orlando Salinas, the deputy assistant adjutant general for the Texas Army National Guard. At the middle of the bridge, Salinas met and exchanged an abrazo with Mexican General de Brigada Georges Andre Van Lissum Gomez.

“Having this opportunity to meet the general and being that military liaison between the two countries is always a good opportunity to learn from each other,” Salinas said.

Following the abrazo, Salinas escorted his counterpart to the American side. Tradition dictates that the Americans invite the Mexicans to the city of Laredo. For the past few decades, they have been treated to a parade that gathers thousands of people.

“Our ability to meet with and continue military relations with the Mexican army is of paramount importance as we work towards the safety of not just the nation, but also the state of Texas,” Salinas said.

The abrazo was a part of Salinas’s role as the honorary air marshal of this year’s Washington’s Birthday celebration. The prior week, he oversaw the Stars and Stripes Air Show Spectacular.

Salinas commanded the 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, based in the Rio Grande Valley. Many of his Soldiers were from Laredo, a city known for rallying around its service members throughout the years. This was especially true when they deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. 

“Laredo has always held a special place in my heart,” Salinas said. “Laredo’s support of the men and women in uniform is some of the best support I’ve ever seen.”

The tradition of abrazando, or embracing, on the bridge began in 1898. It started as a simple sign of goodwill between neighbors and now represents the shared heritage of the sister cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.

“For those of us who live on the border,” said Veronica Castillon, President of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association, “the International Bridge Ceremony is a reminder that Laredo and Nuevo Laredo share more than a river. We share family, business and a cultural heritage that bind us as one community.”

The cities also recognized their shared lineage as former members of the Republic of the Rio Grande, an independent nation that lasted 294 days in 1840. The sisterhood of the two cities remains, as does the short-lived country’s flag. Throughout the ceremony, the three-starred, red, white, and black flag joined the signature six flags of Texas in honor of their unique history.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, delivered the keynote speech at the event. He said that the goodwill exchanged between the sister cities has reinforced a strong neighborly bond, rich with patriotism.

For the city of Laredo, the George Washington Birthday Celebration is a month of festivities, with events ranging from parades and pageants to air shows and fireworks.

The celebration evolved over the years, from a patriotic memorial of America’s first president to a celebration that unites the sister cities. The meetings between civil and military officials from both sides of the bridge aim to honor their mutual histories.

Sunday, February 22, 2015 7:58:00 AM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

Journey to becoming Army Fit 

SGT Cook and SGT De la Garza, Master Fitness Trainers, saw us and came to our rescue to give us guidance on proper form for pushups and sit-ups.Week 4

We planned to meet at the track after work to check our progress. How many pushups can we do? Sit-ups? And how is our time on the two-mile run?

Tracy went first and counted twelve pushups. Courtney did eleven. We then each did fourteen sit-ups. Or so we thought!

SGT Cook and SGT De la Garza, Master Fitness Trainers, saw us and came to our rescue to give us guidance on proper form for pushups and sit-ups. They demonstrated and helped us with our pushup form, hand positioning, and getting our upper arms parallel to the ground. 

After we tried our pushups and sit-ups using what they taught us, we realized we can only do one or two proper pushups (i.e. pushups that would PASS the PT test). We did have some success this week however, as we completed our two-mile run in 22:34, which is above the 60% standard for both of us!

The Master Fitness Trainers also demonstrated several exercises we should do prior to each workout, as well as exercises to help build upper body and core strength. Their knowledge is vast, their patience immense, and we so appreciate their willingness to help and teach us. 

Physical fitness tips (from the Master Trainers): 

  • Although doing pushups with arms placed out wide may be easier and will ‘pass’, moving hands closer together (directly under your shoulders) will help to protect your shoulders and joints from strain. 
  • Squeezing glute muscles will help you maintain a straighter plank or pushup position.
  • To build upper body strength, lie flat on the ground and lift your body into the push-up position, then return to lying on the ground, and push back up. 

Mental fitness tips: 
     
If you keep active, you are:

  • less likely to be depressed, anxious or tense
  • more likely to feel good about yourself
  • more likely to concentrate and focus better
  • more likely to sleep better
  • more likely to cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms if you try to give up a habit such as smoking or alcohol
  • more likely to be able to keep mobile and independent as you get older
  • possibly less likely to have problems with memory and dementia

from: Royal College of Psychiatrists (http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/treatmentswellbeing/physicalactivity.aspx)

Commentary by Courtney J. Lynch and Tracy K. Ward, Psychological Health Coordinators

Friday, February 20, 2015 11:49:00 AM Categories: Blog

Texas cavalrymen begin peacekeeping mission in the Sinai 

Story by: Sgt. Thomas Duval

Posted: Feb 19, 2015

Sgt. Thomas Duval Maj. Gabe Simonds, commander for 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry Regiment addresses an audience during a Transfer of Authority Ceremony held on the Multinational Force and Observer's South Camp in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt Feb. 19, 2015. The 1-112th Soldiers relinquished command of the U.S. Security Battalion to Soldiers from the 4th Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment.
Sgt. Thomas Duval
Maj. Gabe Simonds, commander for 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry Regiment addresses an audience during a Transfer of Authority Ceremony held on the Multinational Force and Observer's South Camp in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt Feb. 19, 2015. The 1-112th Soldiers relinquished command of the U.S. Security Battalion to Soldiers from the 4th Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment.

EL GORAH, Egypt - The cavalry has arrived and as their unit motto suggests, they are "Rarin to Go." Texas Army National Guard Soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry Regiment assumed command of the U.S. Army Security Battalion from the Fort-Hood based 4th Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, during a transfer of authority ceremony held on the Multinational Force and Observer’s South Camp in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Feb. 18, 2015.

The ceremony marks the 60th rotation of U.S. Soldiers to deploy in support of the MFO’s peacekeeping mission and comes during a time when much of the world’s focus has shifted to the region. The Army National Guardsmen from Bryan, Texas, will be responsible for the security of a number of remote out posts along the Sinai Peninsula and Red Sea and will look to build upon the success’ of their predecessors. 

The 4th Squadron, 3rdd CR will redeploy to Fort Hood having reached a number of milestones along the way. During their time in the Sinai, the 3d CR Soldiers brought the U.S. back to the podium in a number of physical competitions across the MFO to include taking home the Commander’s Cup in the coveted Force Skills Competition. The Soldiers from the "Longknife Squadron" also achieved success from an operational standpoint by patrolling more than 107,000 miles, conducting more than 375 sling-load missions across the Strait of Tiran and transporting almost a million pounds of cargo.

The Texas Army National Guard will pick up where their active-duty battle buddies left off.

Their experience as trained Cavalry Scouts will be required in the manning of multiple response teams on both of the MFO’s North and South camps while accomplishing the overarching mission of observing and reporting compliance of the Camp David Accords Peace Treaty. To accomplish their mission, the Soldiers will have a lot of help along the way as the 1-112th will work closely with service members from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom, Uruguay and the Republic of the Fiji Islands.

Although grasping the reigns of the multi-echelon mission is a daunting task for many, Maj. Gabe Simonds, 1-112th commander, said he and his team are ready for the challenge. 

“The Multinational Forces and Observers have been quietly and professionally serving as welcomed guests for 32 years now,” said Simonds. “It is truly a privilege to be here in the Sinai and we look forward to working with our partners in the MFO…we are ready to stand our posts!”

--READERS NOTE--
The Multinational Force & Observers (MFO) is and independent peacekeeping organization which is headquartered in Rome and based in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Created by agreement between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the State of Israel it is comprised of military members and from 13 nations. Australia, Canada, Colombia, the Czech Republic, the Republic of the Fiji Islands, France, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, the United States and Uruguay contribute contingents to make up the MFO's Force.

Thursday, February 19, 2015 8:01:00 AM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

TAG Talks: Major Chol Chong 

On our first edition of TAG Talks Major Chol Chong speaks about the current status of the Texas Army National Guard Medical Department, issues within it and proposed solution. TAG Talks are a series of unique presentations put together by students in The Adjutant General's Executive Leadership Development Program offering the perspective of future Senior leaders of the Texas Military Forces.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 2:36:00 PM Categories: Blog

Community, military team up for Laredo air show 

Story by: Sgt. Michael Vanpool

Posted: Feb 16, 2015

PHOTO: Sgt. Michael Vanpool Brig. Gen. Orlando Salinas, the deputy assistant adjutant general of the Texas Army National Guard, gives a thumbs up after being designated the air marshal of the 2015 Stars and Stripes Spectacular Air Show in Laredo, Texas, Feb. 15. The Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association Stars and Stripes Spectacular Air Show is one of many events for Laredo’s month-long celebration for America’s first president. (Texas Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Vanpool, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs)
Sgt. Michael Vanpool
Brig. Gen. Orlando Salinas, the deputy assistant adjutant general of the Texas Army National Guard, gives a thumbs up after being designated the air marshal of the 2015 Stars and Stripes Spectacular Air Show in Laredo, Texas, Feb. 15. The Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association Stars and Stripes Spectacular Air Show is one of many events for Laredo’s month-long celebration for America’s first president. (Texas Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Vanpool, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

LAREDO, Texas – Texas Guardsmen parachutists flew the American and Texan flags over Laredo to open the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association’s Stars and Stripes Air Show Spectacular at Laredo International Airport, Feb. 15.

Capt. Tim Hanrahan and Staff Sgt. Zachary Bowen lowered the flags onto the flight line. This was the fifth year for Hanrahan, who said he continues to jump because it’s an “opportunity to represent our country and the Texas Army National Guard.”

For those watching, seeing the flags drop down from the sky has a personal attachment.

“I no longer see red, white, and blue on our nation’s colors,” said Brig. Gen. Orlando Salinas, the air marshal for this year’s show. “What we see now is names and faces of friends and places.”

The air show was first included nearly 20 years ago in the Washington’s Birthday Celebration, a monthlong celebration for the Laredo area. That was when Carlos Garza took the position as the first sergeant for the Texas Army National Guard’s 436th Chemical Company. 

Garza knew the importance of the military in the history of the border town, not just from books but his family’s experience. Laredo is where his mother and family sought refuge during the Mexican Revolution of 1910. 

When Garza began to drill in Laredo, he felt that the city’s attachment to the military had waned. He said that he could grow the community’s patriotism by showcasing the aircraft that helped win World War II. So he helped put together the Stars and Stripes Air Show.

“It started small with war-birds,” Garza said, “but now it’s the biggest event for Laredo and Washington’s Birthday.” 

The spins and rolls captivated the audiences, making the show an integral event for the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association (WBCA). Garza served as a WBCA board member and currently is its military liaison. 

This year brought in nearly 40,000 spectators to the airfield, with countless others looking up to the sky.

The air show now features civilian and stunt pilots from across the country, but the event still holds onto its military roots. Every year, one Soldier from the Texas Military Forces is chosen to preside over the show as the air marshal.

This year, Brig. Gen Orlando Salinas, the deputy assistant adjutant general for the Texas Army National Guard, was selected for the honor. Salinas grew up in San Diego, Texas and said that he had fond memories of visiting Laredo. 

“To me, personally, it is extremely important to say thank you on behalf of a native south Texan to be invited to be your air marshal,” Salinas said to the crowd. “With all the duties that I have and all the places I have visited there is no place in the world I would rather be than sharing this great day with you.”

This year’s show saw the return of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, which was the only fighter plane produced in America during World War II. The particular plane flown was dug from its grave and completely restored to its original glory, said Garza.

For the city of Laredo, Washington’s Birthday is a month long celebration filled with pageants, parades, and so much more; many of which are reminiscent of the days of George and Martha Washington. 

The air show is one of the more grand departures from Washington’s times. However, the airplanes, helicopters and airborne Soldiers are very much a part of today’s military celebrated year after year here in Laredo.

Monday, February 16, 2015 8:03:00 AM Categories: Texas Air National Guard