Posts From July, 2019

Safety on the Flight Line

Story by Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich, Texas State Guard

Posted July 26, 2019

Pvt. Mary Jane Moore, 8th Regiment, Army Component, Texas State Guard, stands at a flight line to guide visitors, who are looking at the collection of commemorative aircraft, safely away from the active ramps and taxiways where aircraft are moved and refueled at the Commemorative Air Force Wings Over Houston Airshow at Ellington Airport, Houston, Texas, October 19, 2018. (Texas State Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich)
Pvt. Mary Jane Moore, 8th Regiment, Army Component, Texas State Guard, stands at a flight line to guide visitors, who are looking at the collection of commemorative aircraft, safely away from the active ramps and taxiways where aircraft are moved and refueled at the Commemorative Air Force Wings Over Houston Airshow at Ellington Airport, Houston, Texas, October 19, 2018. (Texas State Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich)

HOUSTON –The Texas State Guard provided logistical and medical support for the 19th consecutive year to the annual Commemorative Air Force Wings over Houston Airshow at Ellington Airport, Houston, from October 17-21, 2018.  With the anticipated number of visitors to exceed 50,000, air show organizers have come to depend upon the Texas State Guard support at one of the largest airshows in the country.
Securing the flight line is one of the important assignments of the Texas State Guard.  Guard members from the 8th Regiment, Army Component, were on duty to maintain a safe distance from the active ramps and taxiways to prevent visitors from accidentally wandering into areas where aircraft are moving for takeoff, landing, or refueling. 

"We are like a guardrail for airshow visitors.  We stand along the taxiways to safeguard visitors who do not realize that they are approaching an off-limits area or a danger zone.  We want everyone to enjoy the show but from a safe distance," stated Pvt. Mary Jane Moore, 8th Regiment, Army Component, Texas State Guard.

Guard members also staffed gated entry points to the airport.  They checked to ensure items carried onto airport property adhered to airport rules.  They also provided airshow information and directions to visitors.
The guard members from the 5th Air Wing, Air Component, assisted airport ramp personnel who moved aircraft as ramps were opened and closed to public access.  They also established communications using the Texas Interoperable Communications Package, which is used as a means of communication when other types of communication equipment are not available, normal communication channels are damaged during an emergency or disaster, such as a hurricane or flooding, or when electronic data is sent from remote locations. 
The 2nd Battalion, Texas Medical Brigade, staffed a medic tent with civilian counterparts to provide first aid to visitors. 
Guard members support to the Wings over Houston Airshow is one example of how the Texas State Guard uses community service activities to exercise skills that are used to support state and local authorities in times of emergencies or disasters.  Guard members practiced command and control, logistics, communications and other skills which apply to shelter management operations and traffic flow during the distribution of food and water.
"Anytime that the Texas State Guard can support our local communities, whether disaster support or community activity support, means that the Texas State Guard is serving our fellow Texans.  We are Texans Serving Texas!" stated Maj. Austin Green, Executive Officer, 8th Regiment.

Sgt. Maj. Elwood H. Imken-A Life Well Lived

Story by: Brandon Jones
Texas Military Department Public Affairs

Sgt. Maj. Imken Photo

AUSTIN, Texas- Once in a while, you’ll cross paths with someone who will make you smile, laugh, and push you to the best of your abilities. It is almost impossible to forget someone like that.  If you ask family and friends of retired Sgt. Maj. Elwood H. Imken he fits the description in every way.  Imken passed away last year, but, his story is one people will tell for generations. To commemorate his service, the Texas Military Department will honor him again during a special dedication ceremony.

Growing up in Pflugerville and attending college at Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now known as Texas State University), Imken is a homegrown Texan. In March 1967, he boldly stood up for God and country and joined the Texas Army National Guard.

Imken's five decades-long service to the military would take him to places some Soldiers could only dream of. His career reached every echelon from platoon to division and every level of leadership, culminating as the Division Operations Sergeant Major for the 49th Armored Division and the 36th Infantry Division. From directing the mobilization of Texas Soldiers in state active duty missions to overseeing all four division warfighter exercises, Imken's work showed a love for his job. Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bob Marshall knows a thing or two about Imken's service.  They met in 1980 when Imken was with the 124th Cavalry Regiment. The two remained friends until Imken's death. "E.H. had a way of looking out for people regardless of your command level. It really made you humble yourself and get the job done," said Marshall. " He was also one heck of a hunter and fisher. I'm going to miss that tenacity he had."

Community outreach was another important value for Imken. He worked for outreach missions like Operation Blue Santa and Food for Families. Imken said he learned early in his career that planning and program management were important for taking care of Soldiers. His efforts didn't go unnoticed especially from the organization he signed up to serve with so many years ago. 

On May 14, 2016, The Texas Military Department inducted Imken into its Hall of Honor. The Hall of Honor, which was established in 1980, recognizes outstanding service and leadership of individuals serving as members of the Texas Military Department in a state or federal status. A room in the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, displays portraits and histories of military members inducted into the Hall of Honor.  His desire to serve others and give back on a much larger scale, characterized his career. It was this induction that allowed the organization to give back to him.

One Soldier who knows Imken's compassion for the men and women in uniform is retired Texas Army National Guard Col. Guy Schultz.  Col. Schultz is a close friend of Imken and coordinator with the Military Funeral Honors Team so he is happy to see his friend get this kind of recognition. "His work and life will have an impact for generations to come,” said Schultz. “However, when he took the time to know you, it was easy to recognize him as a great mentor who always strived for the best.”

Now three years after his Hall of Honor induction, the honors for Imken, and his legacy, continue even after his death. On July 12, 2019, the Texas Military Department will rename its Joint Operations Center as the Sergeant Major E.H. Imken Joint Force Headquarters-Texas Joint Operations Center. Imken was instrumental in the creation of the Joint Operations Center by using his extensive network to aid in disaster response efforts.  The Adjutant General of Texas, Maj. Gen. Tracy R. Norris, will speak at the dedication ceremony for her dear friend.
“I imagine that a few things surprised him, and it’s appropriate that we rename our JOC in honor of him,” said Norris.

Imken's family and friends will tell you his life of service shaped the Texas Military Department to always be ready to serve.  The recent JOC dedication is one more to note that ‘E.H. Imken had a life that was well lived! If you are visiting Austin and have the chance to stop by our museum to view the Hall of Honor, please do so. We are proud of our rich heritage at the Texas Military Department and honored to remember one of our own who crossed our path and lit the way for future generations. We also want to remember and honor all those who have had a lasting impact on us and who shaped who we are as “Texans Serving Texas.”

Healthy Coping

“Coping refers to the human behavioral process for dealing with demands,both internal or external, in situations that are perceived as threats.”

Sometimes we need to cope with things that happen to us, and other times we must cope with things that happen within us. Some events may require us to deal with both internal and external demands. In moments like these, it’s important to have techniques that help you to re-center and move toward a state of calm. 

What does healthy coping look like?

Healthy coping strategies accelerate a return to calm. Building personal go-to coping techniques that are effective for you will help you to create a foundation of mental fitness. Like just about all things related to the psyche, coping skills sound simple — and they are. But just because they’re simple does not mean that they’re easy. 

The following three steps may help you develop your personal coping techniques: 

1. Establish strategies that are effective for you. Identify how you best cope and practice strategies for calm when you’re in an average state of mind.
2. Recognize that coping strategies are not one-size-fits-all. Mental fitness, just like physical fitness, requires a personalized approach. Try different coping strategies, examine the possibilities, eliminate those that are not effective for you, and give those strategies that have potential a genuine try.
3. When you find a strategy that works, practice it regularly. The goal here is for healthy coping to become your first inclination when chaos rears its head.

The Mental Health Wellness Week website describes the following as healthy coping skills:
•    Practicing meditation and relaxation techniques;
•    Having time to yourself;
•    Engaging in physical activity or exercise; 
•    Reading;
•    Spending time with friends;
•    Finding humor;
•    Spending time on your hobbies;
•    Engaging in spirituality;
•    Spending quality time with your pets;
•    Getting a good night’s sleep;
•    Eating healthy.

There are nearly infinite ways to cope with situations that you may be experiencing, it’s simply a matter of finding which ones work for you, and in which situations they are most effective.
Cynthia M. Reyes, MA, LPC
Texas Military Department Counseling Program
Counseling Line 512-782-5069