Posts From April, 2011

Volunteers Reenact World War II During American Heroes 2011

Reenactment enthusiasts recreate a battle from World War II on Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, April 16.
Reenactment enthusiasts recreate a battle from World War II on Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, April 16. The show for service members, their families and civilians was a part of the American Heroes celebration. The two-day event was designed to increase the communication and interaction between the local community and the military.


 Story by Sgt. Joisah Pugh

 CAMP MABRY, Texas – Once a year, Austin hosts a Texas Military Forces celebration designed to increase interaction  between the local community and service members called American Heroes. One of the more popular events taking place  during the two-day event was a World War II reenactment performed by a group of local enthusiasts.

 “We see this as a time capsule for our visitors to walk into, so that as much as possible, we can surround them with the look  and feel of what happened back in the 1940s,” said Director of the Texas Military Forces Museum, Jeff Hunt.

 Volunteers as young as 14 participated in the simulation, although most of the reenactors were older. Students, doctors,  lawyers, army veterans, historians and teachers comprised a majority of the actors. They slept in World War II style tents near  the battlegrounds and did their best to mimic what life was like for American soldiers of the period. 

 “For so many kids today, history is compressed. They go through it so fast in the schools and memorize the name, place, date,  what happened and regurgitate it on a standardized test,” said Hunt. “History is really a much more dramatic and exciting thing  than that. We want kids to understand that history is not just a lecture, not an old documentary and it’s not a story that grandpa  tells that maybe you only half believe. History is something that lives and breathes. You can hear it, you can feel it, you can  taste it, you can smell it. When the kids get out here and they feel the rumble of a Sherman tank going by, they hear the crack of  one of those guns, they smell the smoke, they see the muzzle flash and they watch people not a lot older than themselves moving across the battlefield, it really does breathe life into the whole experience.”

The emulated battle replicates one fought by the 36th Infantry Division during the invasion of southern France. The museum spent more than $4,000 on pyrotechnics, airplanes, vehicles and blank ammunition to wow the audience. To onlookers, the museum’s budget may have appeared far more massive because the nearly 180 reenactors augmented the museum’s props with their own equipment like uniforms, tents, private vehicles and even tanks.

“If the movie companies were doing this, it’d be a million dollar shot,” said Hunt.

“I think it’s pretty important that young people understand the luxury of peace they have, the security they have and the freedoms they have,” said Hunt. “All of that was purchased and all of that has been secured in the price of service and sacrifice of the men and women in uniform. Many of whom have spilled their blood and many of whom have laid down their lives to give us the kind of world where battles are the sort of thing you reenact and they aren’t things that really happen.”

“It’s good for recruiting because you get a little eight-year-old boy out here watching this battle reenactment and his eyes are popping out,” said Hunt, “You know he walks away with a positive attitude about the military and ten years later he’s much more likely to raise his right hand and take that oath than a kid who’s never been exposed to the history in this way.” 

“It was really cool and I thought it was a good example of World War II,” said Geno Albini, a young boy who watched the show.

Diane Laube, a first-time visitor to the American Heroes celebration, explained her mother was a French denizen who lived through World War II. She imagines that the reenactment might have been what her mother experienced as a young woman in war-torn France.

“I had a great experience here today,” said Laube. “Keep doing it, keep educating everybody, because this is a legacy we need to keep perpetuating.”

TXMF hosts naturalization ceremony during American Heroes Celebration

Texas Military Forces, civilian and military attendees of the American Heroes Air Show paid tribute to names on the American Veterans Traveling Vietnam War Memorial on Camp Mabry Saturday, April 16.
In this image released by the Texas Military Forces, civilian and military attendees of the American Heroes Air Show paid tribute to names on the American Veterans Traveling Vietnam War Memorial on Camp Mabry Saturday, April 16. The exhibit was just one part of the AHAS, a decades old event held in Austin to honor veterans and currently serving military members.


 Story by Sgt. Melissa Bright

 AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Police Department and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services paired with the Texas Military Forces to host a naturalization ceremony April 16, during the American Heroes Celebration at Camp Mabry in  Austin, Texas.

 The ceremony is just one element of the two-day festival that also featured static displays, multiple military  demonstrations and family activities designed to increase awareness within the Austin community of it's substantial  military heritage.

 "This is the second year we have been able to hold this ceremony during American Heroes weekend," said Wuthipong  'Tang' Tantaksinanukij, a corporal with Austin Police Department's Air Operations Unit. "In 2010, Jim Paules invited us to  hold a ceremony here during their American Heroes weekend and we were able to swear-in 13 service members from all  five branches of service. We had double that number this year and hit all branches of service again except for the Coast  Guard."

 Paules, president of the American Heroes Aviation Network, coordinated with the founders of the American Veterans  Traveling Tribute to bring a replica of the Vietnam War Memorial stretching over 380 ft long from end to end to serve as the  backdrop for the ceremony.

"My husband Edmond was in Vietnam in 1968 and again in 1970 to 1971," said Alma Croix as they walked in front of the wall. "I think being able to see this exhibit in Austin is just wonderful."

"The first time we saw the wall in San Antonio I was so overwhelmed," she said. "I couldn't even speak the names of the friends we lost, I had to write them down for the assistants to look up."

The 80 percent-scale replica of the Washington, D.C., Vietnam Memorial Wall displays all 58,253 names of the men and women killed in the Vietnam War.

"It is an honor for us to provide our Vietnam Memorial Wall as the backdrop for members of the military as they recite their oath of allegiance," said Don Allen, executive director of the AVTT and retired U.S. Army Special Forces. 

The AVTT is a veteran-owned project that travels the country to provide a forum for communities to honor, respect and remember those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. 

The wall was the perfect reminder of what it takes to be American for the 25 service members and military one spouse representing 15 different countries sworn in by the Honorable Lee Yeakei, U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Texas.

"I am very excited to be able to do this but today is even more special for me because I was able to do a rubbing of my uncle's name for my mom," said Marine Cpl. Alejandro Mascorro.

"We’re proud to be part of this event at the Texas Military Force’s historic Camp Mabry while we honor all Veterans and those currently serving by letting them know they will never be forgotten," Allen added.

"This is start of my new life," said Army Spc. Jeanette Ponce, with Charlie Company of the 36th Infantry Division in Austin. "I am just so excited to be here today finally fulfilling my dream."

The Adjutant General of Texas hosts Texas Military Forces senior leadership conference

Texas Military Forces, Col. Patrick Hamilton addresses key military and civilian leaders at the JJ Pickle Research Campus, in Austin, Texas, Thursday, April 7.
In this image released by the Texas Military Forces, Col. Patrick Hamilton addresses key military and civilian leaders at the JJ Pickle Research Campus, in Austin, Texas, Thursday, April 7. Hamilton was recently appointed Chief of Staff for Maj. Gen. John Nichols, The Adjutant General of Texas. Nichols had several goals for the event including enhancing interpersonal relationships within the different groups and beginning to address issues that impact the culture and readiness of the TXMF. Representatives came from the Texas State Guard, the Air National Guard, the United States Property and Fiscal Office, several Army National Guard brigade commanders and the office of the TAG.


 Story by Staff Sgt. Melissa Bright 

 AUSTIN, Texas - Coffee cups and presentation packets vied for table space as senior members of the Texas Military  Forces gathered for a two-day information and introduction conference at the JJ Pickle Research Campus with Maj.  Gen. John Nichols, the most recent appointee to the office of the Adjutant General for Texas.

 Attendees of the conference included members of the Texas Army National Guard , Air National Guard and State  Guard, with a cross section of representatives from the officer, enlisted and civilian workforce directly involved with the  Adjutant General’s office. 

 Nichols’ goal for the event was two-fold. First, he wanted to provide an opportunity for interpersonal relationships to  develop, enhancing communication across the services. Second, he sought to open a forum introducing and  addressing issues impacting the culture and readiness of the TXMF.

 “This is an opportunity for each of our groups to calibrate our compasses to be in tune with the vision [Nichols] has for  Texas service members,” said Col. William Hall, Joint Task Force 71 commander. “But also, for each of our groups to be  in tune with each other; to better see how we can support and in turn be supported.”

 Conference planners designed the gathering to function as a relationship-building and advance-planning tool in a  mutually-supportive environment. Each group took the opportunity to present their resources, expertise and potential for  growth while maintaining frankness on limitations and opening the floor for discussion. 

 “One of the greatest advantages our members bring to the table is our passion for volunteerism,” said Maj. Gen. Ray  Peters, commander of the Texas State Guard, as he presented the capabilities and limitations of the no-contract force  that make up the TSG. “To join the State Guard you have to possess a distinct passion to serve, specifically as a selfless  leader.”

 “However,” he continued, “we are faced with true tests as leaders to keep our members engaged without any contractual obligation.”

Conference attendees fulfilled Nichols, few yet substantial goals through a series of break-out sessions and forums where both the officers and enlisted personnel discuss new training programs, the current state of the Texas Military Force as a whole, and new changes in doctrine like the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. 

“When our leadership starts talking policy, how best to create or enforce it, I consider it my highest priority to be in the room,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Broyles, command sergeant major for the Texas Army National Guard. “There are times when the enlisted voice needs to speak up. I use my experience to help guide these talks to increase the chances of a positive outcome for both enlisted and officers.” 

Nichols noted that this casual format enables individuals to spend more time informing themselves on issues and opportunities that exist in support of command and its mission, while allowing ample time to develop crucial personal networks.

“The cross talk that results from having us all here together allows synchronization and development of improved ways ahead,” said Brig. Gen. Joyce L. Stevens, the assistant adjutant general-Army for Texas and commander of the Texas Army National Guard. 

Stevens supervises the operations, training and readiness, and resource allocation for both state and federal missions and serves as the principal advisor to Nichols on all matters concerning the Texas Army National Guard.

Nichols closed out the event by requesting the attendees re-affirm their promise to uphold the values that act as a common bond for the Texas Military Forces.

As one the group stood, raised their right hand and recited the TXMF values that spell out LONE STAR: Loyalty, Opportunity, Networked, Ethics & Excellence, Selfless Service, Texas Spirit, Adaptability and Ready.