Posts From May, 2015

Memorial Day Reflections: COL Charles Quist 

 Remembering Dad – A son’s memoirs of his father, a World War II and Texas Air National Guard veteran

Commentary by retired Col . Terry QuistCommentary by retired Col . Terry Quist

My Dad passed away peacefully on the evening of April 20, 2015.

Dad was 93 years old and almost within three months of reaching his 94th birthday.  He was born in 1921 in Austin, Texas, to the son of a Swedish immigrant and his Scottish-Irish wife.  Dad fibbed about his age to join the Texas National Guard at the age of 15 in 1937 and was mobilized for World War II.  In 1942, he went to pilot training and flew a wide range of aircraft in the Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa theaters of operations.  His adoring younger sister, Mary, gained a college degree from the University of Texas in two and a half years and followed him into flight training, serving as one of 1200 Women Air force Service Pilots flying military aircraft during World War II.

After the War, Dad continued in the Texas National Guard.  He and his sister Mary operated an airport and flight school for a few years in south Austin near the present site of St. Edwards University.  Aunt Mary married one of her students, Dad and his other partner eventually closed the business, and Dad became a full-time officer in the new Texas Air National Guard.  He met my mother, while she was working as a secretary at Camp Mabry, in Austin and married her. He moved his new family to San Antonio; this family included my older half-brother, Rick Dillard, whom he raised as his own son.  I was born to Mother and Dad in 1955.

Dad rose through the ranks, earning increasing levels of responsibility, until he became the Commander of the 149th “Lone Star Gunfighter” Tactical Fighter Group of the Texas Air National Guard (now the 149th Fighter Wing). He served as Commander for over eleven years from 1965 until his retirement in 1976.  During his command, his unit achieved a stellar record that included the distinction of being the first Air Force unit to earn an “Outstanding” rating four years in a row.  At the end of his career, he had documented flying 68 different military aircraft during his 6000 flight hours, which might have been an Air Force record in his final years for a living veteran pilot (a general called him several months ago saying Dad was the only pilot he could find who flew more aircraft).

Everyone always said Dad could have been a general officer, but that was not the most important thing for him, and he wasn’t groomed in the fashion of most post-War “modern major generals.”  He never went to civilian college, I know that he was uncomfortable undertaking the “book learning” of correspondence Air War College, and my Mother did not want to move the family to Austin. 

Having said this, during his eleven years of command he built the 149th to such a level of excellence and renown that it became a cradle for generals, growing and attracting future leaders of the Air Force.  Dad personally recruited a young lieutenant, Daniel James, the son of Tuskegee Airman Gen. Chappie James, into the 149th; retired Lt. Gen. Daniel James later became Gov. Bush’s Adjutant General and President Bush’s Director of the Air National Guard.  Maj. Gen. Hank Morrow became commander of First Air Force, responsible for homeland defense and support to civil authorities in disasters.  The current Vice Chief National Guard Bureau, and former U.S. Military Attaché to Egypt, Lt. Gen. Joseph Lengyel, is a former commander of what is now the 149th Fighter Wing.  The current Adjutant General of the Texas National Guard, Maj. Gen. John Nichols, commanded the 149th Fighter Wing, 2002-2009.

Dad spent a quiet retirement in the home to which he had moved the family in 1961 in a new development on old Maverick Sunshine Ranch territory in the Jefferson High School district. He tried real estate for a while, but his heart wasn’t in it, and his mortgage was paid, so he mostly played golf and enjoyed relaxing at his home.  He went to numerous unit reunions over the years.  Over the later years, the old colleagues became fewer and fewer, as well as the regular golf buddies.  He lost my mother due to her ill health and a precipitating fall and rib fracture in 1995.  He was driving himself around avidly until about six years ago.  As his health became frailer he insisted on continuing to live in his home with the support of my brother Rick, who lived close enough to manage his affairs, and a succession of loving and devoted caregivers.

My mother, Rick and I were all talkers.  You couldn’t shut us up.  Dad was quiet.  He almost never expressed extreme emotion, and the worst curse I remember him making when he was really frustrated was “Aww, nuts!”  It was harder to get to know Dad because he wouldn’t talk about himself, but he was always there for us, supporting us unstintingly in everything we wanted to do without judging us or attempting to micromanage or steer our lives.  If my mother complained, he just did what she wanted to keep the family peace.  On occasion we did get glimpses into his thought and his emotion and his personal history when he would unexpectedly pop out a war story, or a tale about his learning golf as a caddy in Austin, or (in his later years) a humorous exchange with one of his doctors.

Dad was not “literary,” but he read news and journals voraciously.  For some reason, perhaps due to his service in the Arctic during World War II, he became attached to the work of a Canadian poet named Robert Service, a sort of Jack London character who wrote grim and romantic ballads about the harsh life of the Far North.  On his last day, I began reading poems by Robert Service to Dad, and I believe by his expression and movement to the sound that he was listening.  Monday evening, I read one last poem and said, “That’s your last poem for the night, Dad!  I’m going to go eat, and I will be back in the morning.”  As I was going to my car, the caregiver called me back.  He had ceased breathing.

Dad was sadly predeceased by his younger sister and women’s aviation pioneer, Mary (Quist) Edwards.  My brother Rick is President of American Classic Music Tours and Festivals in San Antonio.  Besides Rick and me, Dad is survived by:  Rick’s wife, Jo Scurlock-Dillard, a former Reagan High School Choir Director and former President of the Texas Music Educators Association; my wife, Maria Meylikhova, a systems developer at Partners HealthCare in Boston; Rick’s son Kris, a personal counselor in Los Angeles; my son Mark, a University of Texas at Austin Plan two graduate and George Mason Law School graduate who has begun practicing law in Fairfax, Virginia; and my daughter Rachel, a University of Texas at Austin Plan two and Fine Arts graduating senior who will undertake graduate study in Art History next year at the University of Kansas.

I choose to believe that Dad’s spirit hovers over us and blesses our family and his Texas Air National Guard family. My Dad certainly lives on in the hundreds of lives he has touched through his many decades of love, devotion and service.

Col. Terry Quist retired from uniformed service in March 2015 after 30 years in the Massachusetts and Pennsylvania National Guards.  He is currently a civilian intelligence officer in the Joint Intelligence Directorate of the National Guard Bureau and lives in Arlington, Virginia, and Brookline, Massachusetts.

Friday, May 29, 2015 11:10:00 AM Categories: Blog

Texas guardsmen pay tribute to soldier killed saving drowning son 

Texas guardsmen pay tribute to soldier killed saving drowning son 

Story by: Capt. Maria Mengrone, 176th Engineer Brigade

Posted: May 28, 2015

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Ros, 386th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, with his children. Ros, while saving his son from drowning, lost his life on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. (Photo Courtesy of the Ros family)
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Ros, 386th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, with his children. Ros, while saving his son from drowning, lost his life on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. (Photo Courtesy of the Ros family)

A Memorial Day celebration turned tragic for a Texas Army National Guard family at Matagorda Beach, May 25, 2015. 

Van Vleck resident, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph T. Ros’ son was pulled under water by a strong riptide. Ros immediately went in to the water to pull his son out, and was able to get his son to safety, but was then pulled under by the same riptide, losing his life.
 
News of his passing quickly spread and invoked a wave of grief and disbelief among guardsmen who served alongside Ros, known to most as simply “Joe,” throughout Ros’ more than 20 years of military service.
  
“All his former soldiers were saying ‘not sergeant Ros, it can’t be him’,” said long-time friend of Ros, Texas Army National Guard Warrant Officer Joey Rodriguez, 237th Engineer Co., 386th Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade. “For many of us, he was more than a mentor. He was more like a brother to me.  He pushed me to do better for myself - he is the main reason I became a warrant officer.”

Ros entered service on April 17, 1989 as a combat engineer and served in various engineer units across Texas.  He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in late 2004 to 2005.

In his first year of service Ros met retired Sgt. Guadalupe Martinez Jr. of Brenham, Texas.

“We met in 1990 and ever since we have remained close friends,” said Martinez. “I remember sitting in the middle of Iraq and Joe asked me, ‘Why are you here in Iraq? Before I could answer, Joe said he was here because it was historical and it was something he wanted to be able to share with his children when they asked about this war.”

“We shared a common goal,” said Martinez. “To serve our country.”  

According to many of the guardsmen who served alongside him, being in the National Guard, for Ros, was about service – to his country and to his fellow Texans.

Just days before he passed, Ros was helping the Guard coordinate the engineer response to severe flooding across the state.

“I had just spoken to him a few days prior because he had volunteered for state active duty to assist in the flood missions,” said Staff Sgt. Nelson M. Zepeda, construction operations sergeant, 272nd Engineer Co. “That’s just the way he was, always wanted to help people.”

His love and dedication to his country and his state was big, but his devotion to his family was even bigger.

 “He loved his wife, three boys and little girl so much; nothing was going to come between his love for them,” said Zepeda. “I’m going to miss his calls and texts so much.”
 
Senior leaders also recognize the lasting impact of losing an important non-commissioned officer like Ros, particularly within the engineer community.

“I count him as one of my friends; I’ve known him for 20 years.  He was an outstanding individual both personally and professionally,“ said Maj. Mikel T. Sledge, battalion executive officer, 386th Engineer Bn.  “It will be a substantial loss to the unit, his friends and his family.”  
Leaders and peers saw him as both a friend and a good soldier.
“When I first met Joe I knew I had a high-speed soldier.  I told him my expectations and showed him the rules and regulations, he took off and excelled,” said retired Sgt. 1st Class McCord, former section sergeant to Ros.  “He was a good man, a good person.”

Ros, a traditional guardsman, also worked in education. He started out as a special education teacher in the Bay City school district. After several years in Bay City, he moved to the Van Vleck school district to work as a high school assistant principal and then the middle school principal. After his tenure as principal, Ros continued his service to the school district, and the children in Van Vleck, as Director of Maintenance and Transportation. 

Van Vleck ISD scheduled an early release day for faculty, staff and students so that they could have an opportunity to attend funeral services for Ros.

“I’m going to miss him greatly,” said McCord.  “I’m praying for his family, he loved them dearly.  Joe Ros is irreplaceable, one of a kind.  He is now an angel in heaven.” 

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Ros, 386th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, and his wife, after returning home from deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2004-2005. Ros, while saving his son from drowning, lost his life on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. (Photo courtesy of the Ros family)
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Ros, 386th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, and his wife, after returning home from deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2004-2005. Ros, while saving his son from drowning, lost his life on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. (Photo courtesy of the Ros family)

 

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Ros, 386th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, pictured here on a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2004-2005. Ros, while saving his son from drowning, lost his life on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. (Photo courtesy of the Ros family)
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Ros, 386th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, pictured here on a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2004-2005. Ros, while saving his son from drowning, lost his life on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. (Photo courtesy of the Ros family)

 

 

Thursday, May 28, 2015 2:19:00 PM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

Texas State Guard 39th Composite Regiment Assists in Flood Emergency 

TEXAS STATE GUARD 39th COMPOSITE REGIMENT ASSISTS IN FLOOD EMERGENCY

Story by: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Janet Schmelzer

Posted: May 28, 2015

Staff Sgt. William Wiley, Staff Sgt. Brenda Newton, and Spc. Desmon Dunn from the 39th Composite Regiment, Texas State Guard provide administrative support to the Disaster District Coordinators from the Texas Department of Emergency Management during the flood emergency operations in Wichita Falls, Texas, May 23, 2015.  The assistance of the soldiers to the emergency contributed to the ability first responders to rescue, evacuate, and provide emergency services to local residents.  (Texas State Guard photo by 39th Regiment/ Released)
Staff Sgt. William Wiley, Staff Sgt. Brenda Newton, and Spc. Desmon Dunn from the 39th Composite Regiment, Texas State Guard provide administrative support to the Disaster District Coordinators from the Texas Department of Emergency Management during the flood emergency operations in Wichita Falls, Texas, May 23, 2015.  The assistance of the soldiers to the emergency contributed to the ability first responders to rescue, evacuate, and provide emergency services to local residents.  (Texas State Guard photo by 39th Regiment/ Released)

WICHITA FALLS, Texas - Five soldiers from the 39th Composite Regiment, Texas State Guard, provided support to the Texas Disaster District Coordinators (DDC), the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Air National Guard during the recent flooding emergency in Wichita Falls, Texas, May 23-28, 2015.  

State Guard participation in Wichita Falls helped local residents affected by flood waters remain safe and receive necessary emergency assistance. 

Capt. Michael Garcia, Staff Sgt. Brenda Newton, Staff Sgt. William Willey, Spc. Desmon Dunn, and Spc. Zach Williams from the 39th Composite Regiment performed numerous tasks to support disaster coordination efforts, including administrative duties, answering phones, monitoring social media, and updating information on the Texas Web Emergency Operations Center. 

As the emergency unfolded, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott visited Wichita Falls, to thank the guardsmen, and other emergency responders and volunteers, for their service, May 25, 2015. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott shakes hands with Staff Sgt. William Willey, and thanks Capt. Michael Garcia, Staff Sgt. Brenda Newton, Spc. Zach Willams, and Spc. Desmon Dunn from the 39th Composite Regiment for their service during flood emergency in Wichita Falls, Texas, May 25, 2015.  (Texas State Guard photo by 39th Regiment/Released)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, shakes hands with Staff Sgt. William Willey, 39th Composite Regiment, Texas State Guard, left, thanking guardsmen from the 39th Composite Regiment for their service during the flood response operations in Wichita Falls, Texas, May 25, 2015.  More than 300 Guardsmen from the Texas Army, Air and State Guards mobilized to support Texans in need during historic flooding, May 2015. (Texas State Guard photo courtesy of the 39th Composite Regiment/Released)

The 39th Composite Regiment is well-equipped to provide emergency assistance. Since 2009, the regiment has worked closely with David Solis, State Coordinator Region 5, Texas Division Emergency Management, who integrated the 39th Composite Regiment into the Region 5 emergency coordination and training efforts.  This enabled the regiment to increase their emergency preparedness by working with other emergency response teams, even cross-training with the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency team in an effort to provide increased logistic support during crisis management.

This relationship has also increased the regiment’s support to disaster situations. During the winter storm of January, 2010, regiment guardsmen assisted Amarillo civil authorities and set up shelters in the Panhandle.  In May 2014, guardsmen were again mobilized, to support operations during the Double Diamond wildfires in Fritch, where they assisted with WEBEOC and radio communications and helped monitor social media.

"I am proud of the performance and dedication of the men and women of the 39th “Roughnecks” and the excellent working relationship we enjoy with our TDEM partners,” said Col. Barney Welch, commander of the 39th Composite Regiment. “Through that valuable partnership, this unique concept continues to evolve as a viable mission set for the State of Texas."

The 39th Composite Regiment was also mobilized for hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Dean, Operation Lone Star and Operation Border Star.  In 2012 the regiment became the only composite regiment in the Texas State Guard, because it’s unique internal medical staff.  The regiment covers a large part of West Texas and the Panhandle. It is headquartered in Midland, and has subordinate units located in Midland, Lubbock, El Paso, and Amarillo.

Thursday, May 28, 2015 10:02:00 AM Categories: Texas State Guard

Flag Ceremony Draws Spectators and Recruits​ 

Story by:  Sfc. Charlie Patak

Posted: May 27, 2015

Folding flag
Staff Sgt. Edward Thomas, Sgt. Joe Gahm, and Sfc. Ed Lack perform a flag folding ceremony at the National Polka Festival, Ennis, Texas, May 23, 2015.  They invited Boy Scout Troop 210 of Ennis, Texas, along with Scoutmasters Trent Clinton, Kelly McManus and Alan Linson to join in the ceremony.  (Texas State Guard photo by Sfc. Charlie Patak/Released)

ENNIS, Texas - The National Polka Festival attracts large crowds in Ennis, Texas.  This year the 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment, took advantage of the opportunity to recruit for the Texas State Guard in Ennis, May 23, 2015. Recruiters Sfc. Ed Lack, Staff Sgt. Edward Thomas, Sgt. Joe Gahm,  Pfc. John McClellon decided that they needed something unique that would most certainly attract a crowd.  

The recruiters had a prime location, among 165 other vendors, so that thousands of spectators would see them.  Led by Pfc. McClellon, the recruiters set up the tent and placed numerous recruiting items for people to see.  Although the rain kept many from attending the festival, visitors talked with the recruiters and requested information about the Texas State Guard and the 4th and 19th regiments and a dozen filled out applications.

Then Staff Sgt. Thomas had a great idea.  The recruiters decided to conduct a flag folding ceremony for the audience.   They invited Boy Scout Troop 210 of Ennis, Texas, along with Scoutmasters Trent Clinton, Kelly McManus and Alan Linson to join in the ceremony.  

Hundreds of spectators watched as the 2nd Battalion Color Guard soldiers Thomas and Gahm along with the Boy Scouts demonstrated how to fold the United States Flag properly as the ceremony is conducted in events honoring veterans, KIA personnel, and their families.  

"It is an honor to let others see how important it is to treat the flag with respect and dignity.  And to have the Boy Scouts assist was especially a great experience for all," commented Staff Sgt. Thomas.

 

 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 10:05:00 AM Categories: Texas State Guard

Texas Guardsmen rescue family from flooding waters 

Texas Guardsmen rescue family from flooding waters

Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Posted: May 27, 2015

Texas Guardsmen rescue family from flooding watersGRANBURY, Texas - A team of Texas National Guard engineers rescued three people from flooding waters, May 26, 2015 in Granbury, Texas.

Working with local and state first responders, Texas Guardsmen spent the Memorial Day weekend responding to many such calls for help all over Texas.

“We got a call around midnight from the local sheriff’s department,” said 1st Lt. Max Perez, 236th Engineer Company, 111th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard. “They asked us to check a neighborhood near the Brazos River for flooded homes and anyone in need.”

Perez took his team of engineers and split into two groups to better search the neighborhood for citizens in need.

“The soldiers responded very quickly; they only took 10 or 15 minutes to get ready to go,” said Perez. “They were pretty motivated about the mission – eager to save lives.”

With the help of a local police officer and a local firefighter, the engineers combed through the neighborhood checking on residents.

“We found a stranded car that couldn’t move,” said Perez. “There was water up to the window of the car.”

The engineers immediately stopped and got out to help; each soldier securing themselves to a safety line attached to their military vehicle or another stationary object first. 

“We saw a family – a woman, her daughter, about three or four, and a man, stuck in the car,” said Perez.

Staff Sgt. Thomas Kennington, 111th Forward Support Company, 111th Engineer Battalion, along with several other soldiers, pulled the little girl and her mother from the car and brought them to safety, then returned for the man. Once all three people were safe, the team pulled the vehicle to dry land, to ensure that it wouldn’t wash away, said Perez.

“This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this,” said Kennington. “When you’re in that moment with lights flashing, water rushing and soldiers around you whose safety you are concerned for – it’s an adrenaline flow.”

The engineers were grateful to have been able to help their fellow citizens in need that day.

“The little girl thanked me over and over for saving her and her Mama,” said Kennington. “That’s what this is all about.”

Perez said he was just thankful to have been asked to help and that he was proud of his soldiers.

“They showed me the reason why they put on the uniform that night,” said Perez. “Their bravery and dedication was amazing.”

Texas Guardsmen rescued more than 100 Texans in need during flooding across the state, mid-late May 2015.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 7:17:00 AM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

Multi Agency Task Force stands by for possible swift water rescues 

Multi Agency Task Force stands by for possible swift water rescues

Story by:  Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon

Posted: May 21, 2015

Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon National Guardsmen and members from Task Force 1 practice water rescues in preparation for possible floods in the Houston area, May 15-18, 2015. Guardsmen work side by side with local and state partners to help Texans in need during disaster situations. (Photo Courtesy of the Texas Military Forces)
Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon
National Guardsmen and members from Task Force 1 practice water rescues in preparation for possible floods in the Houston area, May 15-18, 2015. Guardsmen work side by side with local and state partners to help Texans in need during disaster situations. (Photo Courtesy of the Texas Military Forces)

HOUSTON – Rescue crews from three organizations geared up, flew into Ellington Field in Houston, and have been awaiting orders to launch over the weekend, May 15 – 18, 2015.

Due to the recent rainstorms, Texas has been on alert for floods and has put several rescue organizations on call, to include the Texas National Guard, Texas Task Force 1 and even the Louisiana National Guard for additional resources.

While most of the recent flooding and rescues took place in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, crews here are taking advantage of the down time to train with and build relationships with their counterparts. 

Joshua Powell, Helicopter Search and Rescue Technician with Task Force 1, likes the face time this provides with long time rescue partners from the Texas National Guard, as well as, new ones from the Louisiana National Guard.

“We try to train with the Texas National Guard about once a month, and it’s nice to have that connection, especially in the aircraft,” Powell said. “This weekend when we met the Louisiana guys we were a little nervous, but as soon as we did a little training here, it went really great. They showed us some of their techniques and we showed them ours.”

The Texas UH-60 Black Hawks the team flies in are scheduled to change hoist systems in the near future; a hoist system that the Louisiana aircraft already have, said Powell. 

“This weekend we have not only trained on and had a firsthand look at these new hoist systems we are getting, but doors have been opened for possible future rescue missions,” Powell said. “One day if Louisiana asks Texas to assist with a disaster, we already know their systems and their guys, so it’ll be a quicker and more effective response.”

UH-60 Black Hawk flight medic, Staff Sgt. Michael Hamilton, an experienced rescuer with the Louisiana National Guard, also believes this time meeting and training with new partners is valuable, but added that he is continually impressed by how state officials are able to come together and utilize each others’ assets in times like these. 

“It’s great that governors, adjutant generals and state aviation officers are able to coordinate and call upon each other to provide available resources to assist one another,” Hamilton said. “We’re here to help Texas out this time, and in turn, one day, they will come to help us out when we’re in need.”

Luckily, this time in southeast Texas, there was no need for any of the rescuers to be called out. They will be called home to rest for a day or two, then will reset and get ready for the next round of storms reported to come later in the week. 

Texas National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk pilot Maj. Edward Greber, has been on many missions like these before and stands ready with his crew,

“Wherever and whenever there is a need we will be prepared to provide assistance to rescue operations.”

Thursday, May 21, 2015 7:21:00 AM Categories: Texas Air National Guard

Texas Army National Guard Soldiers stand ready to provide flood support 

Texas Army National Guard Soldiers stand ready to provide flood support

Story by:  Capt. Maria Mengrone

Posted: May 21, 2015

 Capt. Maria Mengrone Texas Army National Guard soldiers on state active duty, conduct critical water rescue rehearsals with first responders from Texas Task Force 1 (TXTF-1), while on standby to respond to flooding in the North Texas region, May 16, 2015. Guardsmen provided light medium tactical vehicles to emplace TXTF-1 inflatable boats in flood waters to simulate potential flood victim rescues in controlled conditions. Guardsmen often work side by side with local and state partners to help Texans in need during disaster situations. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Maria Mengrone)
Capt. Maria Mengrone
Texas Army National Guard soldiers on state active duty, conduct critical water rescue rehearsals with first responders from Texas Task Force 1 (TXTF-1), while on standby to respond to flooding in the North Texas region, May 16, 2015. Guardsmen provided light medium tactical vehicles to emplace TXTF-1 inflatable boats in flood waters to simulate potential flood victim rescues in controlled conditions. Guardsmen often work side by side with local and state partners to help Texans in need during disaster situations. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Maria Mengrone)

DENTON, Texas – Texas Army National Guard Soldiers on state active duty conducted critical water rescue training with first responders from Texas Task Force 1 in response to recent floods in the North Texas region, May 16, 2015.

“We want to practice utilizing inflatable rescue boats during the day, under controlled conditions, so that our National Guard counterparts can implement the necessary safety measures when we are called to go out,” said Jeff Novak, Battalion Chief and Water Group Manager, Texas Task Force 1. 

The training consisted of guardsmen loading Texas Task Force 1 inflatable boats onto the light medium tactical vehicles and backing the vehicles into high water to launch the boats. 

“My soldiers have never backed an LMTV into flood water and I could see their confidence build as they saw the full capabilities of our equipment,” said Sgt. Matthew T. Wallace, squad leader, 236th Engineer Company, 111th Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade. 

“Having this preparation time is rare; we are running these evolutions and building a relationship with these soldiers. We’re going to respond together if we are called to move out,” said Ralph Diamond, Captain and Water Squad Leader, Texas Task Force 1. “We see how powerful working together can be and together improve the level of service to the state.”

Guardsmen took turns on the inflatable boats to simulate rescuing a potential flood victim. In addition, the guards’ use of high profile vehicles, such as the LMTV, is a unique asset to Texas Task Force 1. 

“They give us capabilities we do not have,” said Novak. “We are able to be more effective using these high profile vehicles; we can do more, and respond more quickly.” 

Guardsmen and Texas Task Force 1 first responders have been on stand by across the state, to respond to inclement weather and anticipated flooding, May 10-21, 2015. They are scheduled to remain on standby through the weekend, May 22-25, to respond to anticipated storms moving through Texas. 

The Texas Military Forces is made up of the Army and Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard who work for the Governor of Texas during domestic operations. The Texas Military Forces partners with local, state and federal agencies when called upon to support domestic operations and often partners with Texas Task Force 1. Texas Task Force 1 is comprised of various first-responder agencies from the State of Texas who provide search and rescue during domestic operations. Texas Task Force 1 is the most active urban search and rescue team in the country. Both teams are trained and skilled in responding to man-made and natural disasters.

Thursday, May 21, 2015 7:19:00 AM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

ARMY COMPONENT, TEXAS STATE GUARD WELCOMES NEW COMMANDER 

Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr.Commentary by CW2 Janet Schmelzer, 4th Regiment, PAO

AUSTIN, Texas – The Army Component Command of the Texas State Guard has a new commander and a new general, Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr.
 Maj. Gen. Jake Betty, Commander, Texas State Guard, promoted Palmer to the rank of brigadier general and formally handed over the Army Component to Palmer at a ceremony held at Camp Mabry in Austin, March 28, 2015.

Palmer will command almost 1,000 state guardsmen, assigned to six civil affairs regiments, located across the state.

"I couldn't be more honored, or more humbled, by the opportunity to lead one of the premier organizations of this type in the United States," said Palmer. "With my mentors' support and the support of the officers, NCOs, and enlisted members of the Army Component, we're going to continue moving forward as an organization with a culture and a strategy of continuous improvement."

Palmer was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Louisiana Army National Guard after completing the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Louisiana College in 1980 and ended his federal service as a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Army National Guard in 2008.  His active duty assignments include a deployment to Bosnia for Operation Joint Forge, in 2000, Operation Noble Eagle II, in 2003 and Operation Jump Start supporting border operations in Texas, from 2006-2008.  He is a graduate of the Field Artillery School Officer Basic Course, Field Artillery School Cannon Battery Officer Course, Field Artillery School Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, Command and General Staff College-Graduate and Field Artillery Pre-Command Course.

Palmer also received The State of Texas Outstanding Service Medal for exemplary service in the military forces of Texas during the ceremony.  Palmer's highest awards for military service are the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal with four oak leaf clusters, as well as various other state and federal ribbons.

Palmer joined the Texas State Guard at the rank of Colonel in 2008, most recently serving as the commander of the 4th Regiment.

Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and History from Louisiana College-Pineville, Pineville, Louisiana, and a Masters of Art in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University-Commerce in Commerce.  He is an Assistant Principal at Denton High School in Denton.  He is married to Dr. Mary "Beth" Palmer. They have a son, 1st Lt. Howard N. Palmer, III, US Air Force, and daughter-in-law Julia C. Palmer.
 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 1:42:00 PM Categories: Blog

Texas National Guard partners with Texas Task Force 1 during floodwater rescue 

Texas National Guard partners with Texas Task Force 1 during floodwater rescue

Story by: Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert

Posted: May 19, 2015

A meteorologist interviews members of Texas Task Force 1 and the Texas Army National Guard at the Army Natioanl Guard aviation support facility, in Grand Prairie, Texas, May 17, 2015. The combined team rescued a couple in distress early in the day and brought them to safety. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/Released)
A meteorologist interviews members of Texas Task Force 1 and the Texas Army National Guard at the Army National Guard aviation support facility, in Grand Prairie, Texas, May 17, 2015. The combined team rescued a couple in distress early in the day and brought them to safety. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/Released)

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Members of Texas Task Force 1 and the Texas Military Forces positioned at the Army aviation support facility in Grand Prairie, received a call from a local agency early-morning May 17, 2015, to rescue a couple stranded in front of their mobile home in Johnson County.

“When we arrived on scene, we were looking around the area for hazards and for any situation that could arise to ensure we could safely hoist the stranded couple up,” said Army National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Blake Arrington, pilot of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, Texas Military Forces. “The house was next to the river and the river rose due to the heavy rainfall. Their home was surrounded by water while the current kept ground rescuers away.”

The ground rescue operation failed due to the strong current pushing the boat away from the mobile home. At one point the first responders used a drone to drop a line to the couple and anchor it to their trailer. The line was used to pull a rescue raft towards the couple and extract them from the flood waters. The attempt failed. The call came in to Texas Task Force 1 and the flight was generated.

“The biggest issue we had were wires,” said Arrington. “We had to position the Black Hawk in the best possible way for our swimmers and the victims. We worked together as a team - from the crew chief, to the pilots, to the swimmers.”

The rescue team comprised of two Texas National Guard pilots, two Texas Task Force 1 swimmers and a Texas National Guard crew chief, each skillfully trained to conduct search and rescue operations for distressed Texans. 

It is the swimmers’ job to rescue the stranded from the disaster area, while the crew chief’s job is to be the go-between for the pilots and swimmers.

“He is our main eyes between the pilots and the swimmers. He controls the cable for the swimmers and tells the pilot where to move the Black Hawk,” said Arrington. “The swimmers are a vital part of rescuing; they interact with the victims extracting them from the dangerous situation.”

Once the couple was hoisted into the Black Hawk and secured, they were flown to safety a half mile away, into the hands of local first responders where they were examined for any possible injuries. The couple, safely evacuated from the flood waters, was able to return to their home by nightfall.

“We are just Texans helping Texas, said Arrington. “Here to do a job.” 

The Texas Military Forces is made up of the Army and Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard who work for the Governor of Texas during domestic operations. The Texas Military Forces partners with local, state and federal agencies when called upon to support domestic operations and often partners with Texas Task Force 1. Texas Task Force 1 is comprised of various first-responder agencies from the State of Texas who provide search and rescue during domestic operations. Texas Task Force 1 is the most active urban search and rescue team in the country. Both teams are trained and skilled in responding to man-made and natural disasters.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 7:23:00 AM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

Memorial Day Reflections: Capt. Jose Rafael de la Garza 

Captain Jose Rafael de la Garza Captain Jose Rafael de la Garza was born in 1838 to a prominent and wealthy San Antonio family with deep Texas roots. Jose was well educated at St. Joseph’s College in Bardstown, Kentucky. One of his teachers described him as a young man of "fine disposition… very mild and cheerful, always in good humor and someone who never utter an improper word."

After the secession of Texas in February, 1861, Jose was one of 90,000 Texans who joined the Confederate Army, in which he was appointed captain in Company K, 6th Texas Infantry. De la Garza was later a company commander in the 17th Texas Infantry. Jose was killed leading his company in a charge against Union forces at the Battle of Mansfield, Louisiana on May 8, 1864. He was 26 years old. A letter relaying the details of his death is below.

-Compiled by the Texas Military Forces Museum

 

Headquarters Waul’s Brigade
Walker’s Division, in the Field
Apl. 19, 1864

 

Friend Bart,

Having a few leisure moments, I thought I could not better employ them than by writing you. Our command having been halted at this place to give the men an opportunity to wash and clean up generally as they have been marching and fighting for the past month without rest.

I have some painful news to communicate to you. It is that Joe Garza fell while gallantly fighting at the head of his company at the battle of Mansfield on the evening of the 8th inst. He was shot above the knee with a shell and died soon after. This I was told by a number of his company who had assisted at his burial. Joe spent the greater part of the day with me the day before the fight and was in fine health and spirits…

I have had a pretty rough and hard time since I reached this command, as it was falling back from Marksville where we were going and the Yanks pursuing. As I had to relieve the then quartermaster of this brigade and everything being in confusion, I had a pretty rough time. I did not get into the battle of the 8th, but did in the 9th. It was a hard fight, but we whipped the Yanks badly. I think it was the most complete victory of the war. We had but about 8 or 9,000 in the first day’s fight and in the second about 12,000. The enemy had not less than 30,000 in the first, and were reinforced on the second day by a fresh corps. They were completely routed, losing about 300 wagons and trains, wagons loaded with stores, between 80 and 100 ambulances, 16 pieces of artillery with everything complete. All of these fell into our hands and were saved. They also destroyed quartermaster stores without number. Small arms it would be hard to estimate numbers, as all of our gun supplies and Enfield rifles that were left on the battlefield and there were wagon loads hauled off. As far as I was able to see and could learn from the parties sent out to bury the dead, theirs was at about 5 to 1 of our dead. And hundreds were reported laying in the woods, the men not taking the trouble to bury when there were none of our men killed.

In prisoners we got between 4 and 5,000. Our loss in officers has been terribly severe. We have to mourn the loss of Major General Tom Green, Brigadier General Mouton, some 9 or 10 colonels in the same proportion. After the two days fights we were ordered on the march. Where we are going is “Quien Sabe” but am inclined to think Arkansas is the point, unless [Union general Frederick] Steele happens to fall back too rapidly that there would be no chance for us to catch him…

 

H.B. Adams

Friday, May 15, 2015 12:46:00 PM Categories: Blog