Posts From March, 2012

Texas State Guard wins rifle competition... Again!

CPT Esperanza Meza, PAO, TXSG
AUSTIN, Texas – For the second time in the last two years, the Texas State Guard’s 19th Regiment Marksmanship Team has won top honors in this year’s 2012 Adjutant’s General’s Combat Rifle Competition Match and Sustainment Exercise held at Camp Swift. This is the second competition won this year, with part of the same winning team for the Combat Pistol Match held earlier this year.

The Rifle Team included CPT Theodore Baroody, Quick Response Team Commander and Officer in Charge of the team, SGT Scott Hunt, 19th REGT HQ, SGT Sean Mounger, 1st Battalion, and SGT Wade Lay, 19th REGT HQ. Of the eight Governor’s 20 tabs for the Rifle Competition in 2012, four went to the State Guard. SGT Hunt was awarded one of the coveted tabs that included the Pistol Competition earlier along with SGT Mounger.

For the past two years, 19th Regiment’s rifle and pistol team has dominated the Adjutant General’s rifle and pistol competitions winning both events, a feat not held by the same unit since the start of the Texas State Guard’s initial entry into the events in 2008.

Approximately 100 competitors from the Texas National Guard, Texas Air Guard and Texas State Guard participated in the event held February 25 and 26 at Camp Swift, a training facility near Bastrop.

COL David Erinakes, Commander of the 19th Regiment, congratulated his soldiers on their performance.

“This win showed the drive and determination of their team that represents the same drive and determination the entire State Guard brings to the table for the citizens of Texas.“

CPT Baroody, the team’s OIC, added “The 19th Regt Marksmanship Team purchased their own ammo and rifles for the competition, and practiced on their own time.“

The competition was organized by the State Competitive Marksmanship (SCM) Program in the Texas National Guard. The SCM is managed by the State Competitive Marksmanship Coordinator, MAJ John Suprynowicz.

Agricultural development team trains for deployment

 Story by: Sgt. Josiah Pugh
 Posted: March 28, 2012

Sgt. Josiah Pugh Agribusiness Development Team Six soldiers work in groups on practice agricultural projects in College Station, Texas. The team is scheduled to deploy to the Ghazni province in Afghanistan this summer to help train Afghans in lost agricultural techniques.
Sgt. Josiah Pugh
Agribusiness Development Team Six soldiers work in groups on practice agricultural projects in College Station, Texas. The team is scheduled to deploy to the Ghazni province in Afghanistan this summer to help train Afghans in lost agricultural techniques.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Instructors from the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture of Texas A&M University trained 12 soldiers from the Texas National Guard Agribusiness Development Team Six to better prepare them for their upcoming deployment to the Ghazni province of Afghanistan later this year.

The team is comprised of troops specializing in agricultural fields such as animal, soil, irrigation and crop sciences. During the weeklong training, the Borlaug Institute instructors taught the soldiers how to manage future agricultural projects that will benefit the Afghan people. 

“You have an agricultural society that lives off of subsistence agriculture,” said Lt. Col. Jet Hays, commander of the Agribusiness Development Team Six.

Hays explained that at one time, the Afghan people had very complicated irrigation systems that were well engineered and had existed for thousands of years. They also had a very sophisticated way to move agricultural goods around. But with the Russian invasion in 1979, many of the farmers ended up in refugee camps in Pakistan. By the time the war was over, much of the knowledge about advanced agricultural practices was lost. 

“Basically you had a generation that forgot their techniques for storing food and farming methods,” said Hays. “We’ll be trying to help them regain some of that knowledge.”

“One of our projects we will be teaching them is how to preserve their food,” said Staff Sgt. Melissa Bright, an agriculture specialist with the team. “They currently sell 90 percent of their production to Pakistan and then rebuy it a couple of months later because they don’t remember how to can their goods.” 

With the help of the Borlaug Institute instructors, the team will be able to successfully accomplish their mission of improving the agricultural prosperity of the Ghazni province. But, the benefit of working together extends in both directions.

“They have be so wonderful and they are so diligent,” said Piya Abeygunawardena, Associate Director at the Borlaug Institute. “It has been one of the most pleasant and exciting experiences for me.”

“We have several individuals flown here just to talk with us,” said Bright. “The experience is amazing.”

Agribusiness Development Team Six is scheduled to depart this summer.

Reaching out and strengthening ties

Maj. Gen. Nichols speaks to members of the Central Texas Chapter of the military Officers association of America.
On Friday, March 16, 2012, Texas Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols speaks to members of the Central Texas Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, in Killeen, about the role of the Texas Military Forces in both federal and state missions. During the presentation, Nichols explained how members of the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard come together to serve the citizens of Texas through search and rescue missions, evacuation support and shelter management.

 Reaching out and strengthening ties

 Story by Laura Lopez 
 KILLEEN, Texas – Just an hour north of Austin, members of the Killeen Heights Rotary Club and the Central Texas  Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America received a special visit from Texas Adjutant General, Maj. Gen.  John F. Nichols on March 16, 2012.
 Nichols illustrated the role of the Texas Military Forces in both state and federal missions, and explained how the Texas  Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard operate as a joint force. From performing  search and rescue missions, evacuation and re-entry support and providing shelter and mass care management, one  message was prevalent.
 “We are citizen-soldiers from all over the state of Texas here to help our citizens in times of need or disasters,” said  Nichols. “When you get out there and help them get off their roof, get them out of the water; there is no greater feeling  than helping our citizens.” 
 With the wildfires in Bastrop and other counties throughout the state, more recent examples of circumstances in which  the Texas Military Forces was called in for support, Nichols emphasized that the organization is simply a small piece of  the puzzle providing assistance in conjunction with other interagency partners. While our aviators dropped more than  two million gallons of water out of helicopters in treacherous conditions, our role was secondary to that of the Texas  Parks and Wildlife organization.
 “During the Bastrop fires we had 600 firefighters from around the nation at Camp Swift, with members from our forces  helping to coordinate shelter” said Nichols.
 Jim Bondi, president elect for the Killeen Heights Rotary Club stated that, “This presentation reminds us all of the  contributions the National Guard provides the state, and us close to Fort Hood, and also shows how organizations  partner together and the importance of the citizens of Texas.” 
 Although the mission of the Texas Military Forces is to provide the governor and the president with ready and fully  trained forces, Nichols’ goal is to also build and strengthen relationships not only with the residents of Killeen and Fort Hood, but the communities across the state.

TXSG Flies High with Austin Kite Festival

TXSG Flies High With Austin Kite Festival
MAJ Michael Quinn Sullivan, PAO, TXSG
Provides support for 30,000 people attending annual event

AUSTIN, Texas -- As kite-lovers descended on Zilker Park, they were first greeted by soldiers from the Texas State Guard’s Army Component.

“We’re proud to support this historic community event,” said Warrant Officer Darrell Prather, who oversaw the TXSG on-site participation. “Our soldiers were honored to help people enjoy the festival and be part of this great tradition.”

Established in the late 1920s, Austin’s kite festival is the oldest in the nation with 30,000 attendees participating in the annual event. The festival is organized by the Austin Exchange Club. TXSG soldiers assisting in the event are from the 2nd Regiment, part of the TXSG’s Army Component based in central Texas.

“We were struggling to put the logistics together this year. When the state guard heard about our situation, they stepped forward to help,” said festival organizer Dorcy Twidwell. “We’ve been incredibly glad they did. We really appreciate these men and women giving up their weekend to help everyone here be safe and have fun.”

The TXSG provided logistical support for the event. Most visibly, soldiers are assisting attendees with event parking and on-site transportation, while also providing organizers and other participating entities with communications support.

Prather said assisting the festival organizers and participants gives TXSG soldiers real-world training for the kind of logistical support the organization provides during natural disasters and other emergencies.

“This gives us the opportunity to put our training and expertise into practical use in advance of our response to hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or fires anywhere in Texas when ordered by the governor,” he said. “But most importantly, it’s another way for the men and women of the Texas State Guard to serve our fellow Texans.”