Posts From July, 2022

The Search for Excellence: Texas State Guard Soldiers Train for Highly Specialized Search and Rescue Missions

By Jeremy Stark, Pfc., 1st Brigade, Texas State Guard 

STEPHENVILLE, Texas – Over the past five months, 34 service members of the Texas State Guard have been participating in Search and Rescue (SAR) training to become the newest additions to the SAR mission-ready roster. During the May 2022 training weekend, candidates of the 22-01 SAR and Del Rio classes participated in Wilderness First Aid (WFA) training as a final hurdle before becoming SARTECH II certified by the highly respected National Association for Search and Rescue. 

Going through the SAR training program is no simple task, and the final Texas State Guard WFA training weekend was no exception. To ensure candidates are well-rounded and well-equipped to handle some of the most challenging medical conditions service members come across, instructors Capt. Richard Bruner and Sgt. Jennifer Lee of Dallas, both members of Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade of the Texas State Guard, demonstrated the improvised use of first aid equipment, instructed soldiers in wildlife identification (snakes, spiders, etc.), and led courses on how to deal with potential allergies and anaphylaxis (shock) in the field, in addition to standard first aid topics. The training was mentally and physically demanding. 

Candidates were evaluated on their knowledge of first aid skills which are used in caring for an ill or injured person in a remote environment where care by a physician in a controlled setting or transportation is not readily available (being an hour or more away from advanced care is a common real-world scenario for many SAR missions). Soldiers also had to demonstrate proficiency in various other topics including scene safety, proper use of personal protective equipment, triage/patient assessment, and prioritizing treatment as well as team dynamics. 

“It is extremely important for team leaders to be able to guide their team members in specific jobs to best provide care for, triage and package, then potentially transport individuals who are lost and found in a wilderness setting,” said 1st Brigade Staff Sgt. Christopher Parrish, of McKinney, one of the SAR instructors. “All these things must happen simultaneously, fluidly, and efficiently to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved and conclude a successful mission.” 

During WFA training, soldiers gained knowledge and skills necessary to provide first aid and medical care in an austere environment where they may not have access to the same resources often taken for granted in an urban environment.  

Although troops have completed the SAR course and are now set to become SARTECH II certified, soldiers know this is just a ‘next step’; since mission readiness is a watchword in the Texas State Guard, training is an ongoing process for every Guard member. Just as their instructors become experts in the field by participating in SAR missions over many years and in many different environments and situations, the new skills these candidates have learned will serve as a platform on which to build as they continue their journey as citizen-soldiers, fellow Texans serving Texas. 

Intensive and professional emergency training is a primary aspect of the commitment the men and women of the Texas State Guard sign up for when they swear in, no matter what area or mission they may be assigned to. For more than 80 years, soldiers wearing the uniform of the Texas State Guard have responded to weather disasters including tornadoes and hurricanes, civil disturbances, and Search and Rescue operations (including the aftermath of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster), and much more. 

“My goal in the State Guard is to be the best version of me that I can be by pushing myself in areas that not only would make me stand out but would provide me with the tools necessary to be most effective,” said Pfc. Chad Scott of the 6th Brigade, one of the SAR graduates. “One way to achieve that is by training in the specialized areas that will maximize my potential, such as SAR.” Many service members find training opportunities such as the SAR course to be a uniquely rewarding part of their service in the Guard, being also applicable to personal and professional life as they prepare to answer the call to support civil authorities during emergencies statewide. 

The Texas State Guard is one of three branches of the Texas Military Department, which also includes the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas Air National Guard. While many persons with previous federal military service are members of the Texas State Guard, prior military experience is not required. However, a willingness to serve others, to continually train and meet the high standards of the Texas State Guard is essential. A full range of benefits, opportunities, and recruitment contacts can be found online at under the “State Guard” tab. 


Texas State Guard Troops get a lesson in Teaching

By David D. Brown, 1LT, Texas State Guard

AUSTIN, Texas - For service members in the Texas State Guard, an eagerness to serve fellow Texans during times of emergency is a prerequisite. Yet that alone does not make a professional force. To be “Equal to the Task”, as its motto says, members of the Texas State Guard are constantly engaged in professional military education.  

But who trains the trainers?  

That’s the job of BIC: the Texas State Guard’s Basic Instructors Course.  The course is an intense and demanding five days of learning how to effectively teach fellow soldiers.  The objective of the program is to make sure instructors in the Texas State Guard are helping maintain a high state of mission readiness.  It is one of many specialized professional education programs provided to soldiers in the nation’s premier state guard force.  

“I’ve attended several training events before and this was the most stressed I’ve ever been, but the course was so rewarding,” said Sgt. Jason Zachman of Lubbock, a student in the March 2022 BIC class at Camp Mabry in Austin.  Zachman, a volunteer firefighter in the business of building and selling fire trucks and ambulances, is a Texas Emergency Tracking Network (TETN) instructor in the Texas State Guard’s 1st Brigade (North Texas).  

Zachman was one of six graduates of the March class. Others included Lt. Col. Mark Carey of Georgetown, Cpl. George Dollaway of Round Rock, Sgt. First Class Jared Dugger of Austin, Staff Sgt. Roy Patterson, of Lubbock, and Staff Sgt. Shawn Villareal of San Antonio.  

“The Basic Instructor Course standardizes all lesson plans to create consistency across the Texas State Guard training courses and programs,” says Chief Warrant Officer John Harrison Watts, the Officer-in-Charge of BIC training. “If a student were to sign up for this course outside of the Texas State Guard, it would cost upwards of $500 to take it.” 

 According to Watts, selected Texas State Guard classes taught by BIC-certified instructors can be used as advanced standing credits at Texas institutions of higher education, including Kilgore College and Tarleton State University.  College credit and tuition assistance are among the many important benefits of Guard membership.  Such benefits speak to the value the Texas State Guard places in ongoing education.  

“We’d be in the classroom learning instructional methods all day, get back to our hotel at 10:30 at night, then spend four or more hours doing our homework and preparing a 30-minute lecture with PowerPoints for presentations the next day. We might get 45 minutes of sleep…” Zachman said.  

Student presentations were critiqued and graded by instructors and fellow students, followed by more classes aimed at fine-tuning teaching skills - and then the cycle of lesson planning and presentations would start all over again. Each student completes four presentations, culminating in a 30-minute presentation on a relevant Texas State Guard topic, such as “Recruitment for Non-Recruiters” or “Proper Uniform Protocol”. Students prepare prototype lesson plans from scratch, which are a graded part of course completion requirements. 

Training is a centerpiece of the Texas State Guard, whose members have responded to hurricanes, floods, search and rescue operations, a pandemic, and countless other emergencies statewide for more than 80 years.  As one of three branches of the Texas Military Department (along with the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas Air National Guard), state-of-the-art training is imperative so that troops can answer the call to serve civilian officials during emergencies, often at short notice.  

“Out here in west Texas, you might have to drive several hours to Dallas or Austin to get the training you need,” and BIC certification makes it possible for more coursework to be offered locally, Zachman said.  “As a student, I’ve always just been handed a syllabus. BIC gives you a new appreciation for the demands of lesson planning and the art of teaching. It was a challenge to get out of my comfort zone.” 

The Texas State Guard BIC program is similar to teacher training offered by Texas law enforcement and emergency management agencies.  It is a complement to a battery of coursework from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other specialized training required of Texas State Guard instructors.    

Many soldiers in the Texas State Guard consider professional training opportunities one of the important benefits of service.  A full description of the benefits of Texas State Guard membership, as well as contacts for recruitment, can be found online at