Posts From September, 2015

Houston Local Promoted to Brigadier General 

 Col. Richard Noriega, Assistant Division Commander for Support of the 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, was promoted to the rank of brigadier general during a ceremonyCommentary and photo by MAJ Randy Stillinger

HOUSTON (Sept. 30, 2015) – Col. Richard Noriega, Assistant Division Commander for Support of the 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, was promoted to the rank of brigadier general during a ceremony on Sept. 26, 2015 in Houston.

Deputy Adjutant General and Commander of the Texas Army National Guard, Maj. Gen. William “Len” Smith, promoted Noriega to the one-star rank in the shadow of the San Jacinto Monument with many friends, family members and colleagues present.

After enlisting as a private in the Army Reserves, Noriega received his Army Commission in 1984 through the University of Houston ROTC.

Over the course of his military career, he has deployed to Afghanistan and along the Texas-Mexico border during Operation Jump Start. He has also commanded units at the platoon, company, battalion and brigade levels, most recently serving as the commander of the 71st Theater Information Operations Group. He is now responsible for all support activity within the 36th Infantry Division.

On the civilian side, Noriega is the President and Chief Executive Officer of AVANCE, Inc., a non-profit organization that offers early childhood education, parenting and comprehensive family services to families. Noriega also served five terms representing District 145 in the Texas State House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009.

During the ceremony, Noriega thanked the friends, family and his colleagues that were in attendance, and also recognized his 3rd grade teacher, who was also present for the promotion.  

Noriega, who was born and raised in Houston, said, “with this rank comes a responsibility to talk to young Soldiers and ensure they know that if they work really hard, they can have opportunity and achieve their dreams.”

“He’s achieved a lot of things that we knew he’d be able to do, and he has strived to provide the best opportunity for those coming up behind him,” said Maj. Gen. Les Simpson, commanding general of the 36th Infantry Division. “I appreciate your hard work in all you do, and look forward to serving with you over the years.”

The event was family-focused with his mother, Tommie placing the new shoulder boards upon his uniform and his sons presenting him with traditional gifts: Ricky Noriega gave him with the signature general officer belt with brass buckle and Alex Noriega unfurled a red flag with a white star, symbolizing the new rank.

I want to dedicate this day to the rock of our family, my mother, who celebrated her 84th birthday this week,” Noriega said. “My mother was the drill sergeant in the house, and she embraced it.  Mom, this day is for you.” 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 1:52:00 PM Categories: Blog

Woodmansee Takes Command of 2nd Regiment 

Woodmansee Takes Command of 2nd Regiment

Story by:  Chief Warrant Officer Two Janet Schmelzer

Posted:  September 25, 2015

Col Woodmansee
Col. Robert Woodmansee assumed command of the 2nd Regiment, Army Component Command, Texas State Guard, at Camp Swift, Bastrop, Texas, September 19, 2015.  Woodmansee accepted the 2nd Regiment colors from Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr., commander, Army Component Command.  The 2nd Regiment is trained to provide mission essential tasks, such as shelter operations and food and water distribution, during an emergency or disaster.  (Photo by Chief Warrant Officer Two Janet Schmelzer/Released).

CAMP SWIFT, Bastrop, Texas - The 2nd Regiment, Texas State Guard, welcomed a new commander, Col. Robert A. Woodmansee, during an assumption of command ceremony at Camp Swift, Bastrop, September 19, 2015. Woodmansee will lead the 2nd Regiment, with headquarters in Gatesville and three battalions in San Marcos, Gatesville, and Taylor.

"Leading soldiers is an incredible honor,” commented Woodmansee.  “But more important, I’m looking forward to both serving and learning from these men and women.  They are the ones who are known for their selfless contributions, in the Central Texas community, during times of need.  It’s up to me to show them that I’m worthy to be in their ranks.”

Woodmansee received his commission as an armor officer from the United States Military Academy, West Point, in 1984.  His military schooling includes the Armor Officer Basic and Advance courses, Combined Arms and Services Staff School and the Command and General Staff Officer Course.  He is also a graduate of Air Assault, Airborne and Ranger school.  

His career includes overseas service in Germany, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.  He has served both on active duty and as a member of the Texas Army National Guard.

His command assignments include commander, A Company, 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor, 2nd Armored Division; commander, Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 144 Infantry, 49th Armored Division; commander, 5th Battalion,  112th Armor, 49th Armored Division; commander, 36th Infantry Division Rear Operations Cell;  commander, 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; and commander, Camp Eggers in Kabul, Afghanistan.

His operational assignments include three combat tours overseas.   In 1990 he deployed for Operation Desert Shield while serving as the Battalion Motor Officer for 3-67 Armor.  He later took command of Alpha Company, 3-67 Armor prior to Operation Desert Storm, 1990-1991.  His unit culminated operations at what was known as the Highway of Death, the road that leads from Kuwait City to Basra, Iraq.  

He deployed to Iraq with the 1st Cavalry Division, 2009-2010, serving as the Deputy Team Leader for the Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team.  He helped deliver essential services to the Province of Baghdad, as well as supporting State Department mentoring efforts to the local and provincial leaders of Baghdad.  

He deployed to Afghanistan with the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 2012-2013, serving as the commander of Camp Eggers in Kabul.  He provided life support and security for over 2,500 personnel from over 20 coalition countries.  

Woodmansee joined the Texas State Guard as the Army Component Command chief of staff, February, 2015.

Colonel Woodmansee is married to his 5th grade sweetheart, Caree.  They have seven children.

Friday, September 25, 2015 8:25:00 AM Categories: Texas State Guard

Air National Guard’s team effort achieves many firsts in Latvia 

Story by: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy

Post: September 24, 2015

1st Lt. Alicia Lacy  Guests listen to speakers during a distinguished visitor and media day Sept. 8, 2015, at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia. Officials invited distinguished guests and media to the air base to learn more about the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, and the Michigan National Guard's mission to fly the reconnaissance aircraft in its first non-combat deployment and its first flight in European air space. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)
1st Lt. Alicia Lacy 
Guests listen to speakers during a distinguished visitor and media day Sept. 8, 2015, at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia. Officials invited distinguished guests and media to the air base to learn more about the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, and the Michigan National Guard's mission to fly the reconnaissance aircraft in its first non-combat deployment and its first flight in European air space. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)

LIELVARDE AIR BASE, Latvia - The combined efforts of Air National Guardsmen from several states helped execute the first noncombat deployment of the MQ-1 Predator and its first flight in Eastern European airspace.

From mid-August to mid-September, airmen traveled to Latvia for the short deployment. The objectives achieved during the mobilization made the nation the prime option for remotely piloted aircraft operations in the Baltic region, said Lt. Col. Chris Recker, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance access and interoperability officer for United States Air Forces Europe-Africa.

Planning, airlift and the successful execution of the historical mission included the contributions from the Texas ANG’s 147th Reconnaissance Wing, the Michigan National Guard, the Tennessee ANG’s 164th Airlift Wing, the Mississippi ANG’s Airlift Wing, the TXANG’s 136th Airlift Wing and the New York ANG’s 105th Airlift Wing.

The deployment was nearly a 100 percent Air National Guard-executed mission, said Col. Stanley Jones, commander of the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard. From the conception to fly the RPAs at Lielvarde to the coordination, airlift, equipment and personnel, the Air National Guard accomplished nearly all of the efforts to make the mission a success. 

The contributions of all the units and agencies involved culminated with the first launch, operation and recovery of the Predator RPA on Sept. 1, 2015, at the Latvian air base. 

“This is a really historic day for Latvia,” said Latvia’s defense minister, Raimonds Bergmanis. “It’s the first time this system has been deployed in Europe, and I’m really proud that Latvia is hosting this aircraft.”

In addition to meeting objectives from the Michigan National Guard, the 147th and USAFE, the deployment was in direct support of the European Reassurance Initiative.

The ERI is a president-directed, congressionally-approved funding effort to bolster the security and capacity of the United States’ NATO partners.

“We are doing a lot to strengthen security in the Baltic region,” said Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis. 

The Michigan National Guard first conceptualized the idea to use Lielvarde Air Base for RPAs in September 2011 with Latvia’s State Partnership Program partners at the Michigan National Guard. From there, partnerships with the Michigan National Guard and several Latvian agencies, to include the Latvian Civil Aviation Authority, the Latvian National Armed Forces, Air Navigation Service Provider and the Riga Area Control Center helped make the execution of the historic flight possible.

With the flight of the Predator, Latvia became the first nation in Europe to develop nationwide RPA flight procedures with countrywide corridors that tie into special use airspace to de-conflict civilian and military flights, as well as allowing for nationwide use of surveillance capabilities to support a range of government needs, from search and rescue to firefighting and border control, said Col. James Andrew Roberts, Combat Readiness Training Center commander, Michigan National Guard.

The mission not only included an exchange with Latvian armed forces on RPA operations, but troops from Lithuania and Estonia also participated in the training mission to familiarize with air traffic management with MQ-1 operations, supporting one of the ERI’s objectives.

“The ERI is an important piece in European security,” echoed Lt. Gen. Raimonds Graube, the Latvian chief of defense.

The ERI demonstrates the steadfast commitment of the U.S. its NATO and European partners through a persistent, rotational presence of U.S. forces and by increasing the responsiveness of U.S. forces to contingencies in Central Europe.

Thursday, September 24, 2015 8:44:00 AM Categories: Texas Air National Guard

19th Regiment Texas State Guard Welcomes New Commander 

Story by:  Capt. Esperanza Meza

Posted:  September 24, 2015

DALLAS - The 19th Regiment, Texas State Guard, welcomed Lt. Col. Lloyd W. Lietz, as the new regimental commander, during a change of command ceremony at the Army National Guard Armory, Dallas, September 12, 2015.  Lietz will lead the regimental headquarters and three battalions located in Dallas, Greenville, and Kilgore.

Maj. Gen. Gerald "Jake" Betty, commander, Texas State Guard, and Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr., commander, Army Component Command, led the ceremony as Col. Robert Hastings, former 19th Regiment commander, formally handed to Lietz the 19th Regiment guidon.  

"Having seen the 19th Regiment in action over the last two years, I know what a fine unit of soldiers they are,” said Lietz. “I am excited to be taking command and I look forward to meeting our training challenges in the future."  

Brig. Gen. Palmer, Army Component Command, Texas State Guard, passes the colors to incoming 19th Regiment commander, Lt. Col. Lietz
Brig. Gen. Palmer, Army Component Command, Texas State Guard, passes the colors to incoming 19th Regiment commander, Lt. Col. Lietz, at the change of command ceremony at Red Bird National Guard Armory, Dallas, Texas, September 12, 2015. (Photo by Capt. Esperanza Meza/Released)

Lietz was commissioned a second lieutenant at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1979.  During his 27 years in the U.S. Army, he served as an infantry officer, including 5 years of battalion level command.  His active duty assignments included Operation Noble Eagle in  and Brussels for NATO support activity. 

He graduated from the Branch Immaterial Officers Candidate Course, Airborne School, Infantry Officers Basic and Advanced Courses, Mortar Platoon Leaders Course, the Adjutant/Personnel Officers Staff Course, Command and General Staff College and the Inspector General Course.

Lietz earned the Expert Infantryman and Parachutist badges.  His highest military awards include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal (3rd Award), as well as various other state and federal ribbons.

Upon his retirement from federal service in 2006, Lietz joined the Texas State Guard in 2013.  He has served as 4th Regiment operations officer, executive office, and interim regimental commander.

His professional associations include the American Legion, Association of the United States Army, Disabled American Veterans, Military Officers Association of America and State Guard Association of the United States.

Lietz graduated from the Allen Military Academy in Bryan in 1970 and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism from Texas A&M University and a Master of Arts Degree in Military History (Land Warfare) from American Military University.  Lietz has been married to his wife Gloria for 35 years and has three children, Charlene, June and Richard.

Lietz and his wife live in Stephenville and McKinney, Texas..

Thursday, September 24, 2015 8:27:00 AM Categories: Texas State Guard

Col. Robert Hastings Appointed Chief of Staff Army Component Command 

Story by: Chief Warrant Officer Two Janet Schmelzer

Posted:  September 23, 2015

CAMP MABRY, AUSTIN - The Texas State Guard Army Component Command welcomed a new chief of staff, Col. Robert Hastings, September 12, 2015.  As chief of staff, Hastings is the principal military advisor and second in command of the Army Component Command, Texas State Guard. 

"Our role as Army Component Command staff," Hastings stated, "is to make our soldiers successful; ensuring that they have the training, resources, leadership and support necessary to execute their missions, effectively and safely."

Col. Hastings
              Col. Robert Hastings

Hastings enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1978.  He was a distinguished graduate of the Warrant Officer Rotary Wing Aviator Course.  He piloted the AH-1 Attack Helicopter with the 7th Infantry Division, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and the Army Combat Developments Experimentation Command.

Graduating from Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in aviation.  He served as an Attack Helicopter Platoon leader and Forward Support Platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division, and as a Reserve Component Aviation advisor at the Fifth U.S. Army headquarters.

Hastings completed Armor Officer Advanced Course and returned to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment where he served as regimental operations officer, Air Cavalry Troop commander and Assault Helicopter Troop commander.  He served as a public affairs officer, Public Affairs Detachment commander with V Corps, and Senior Public Affairs instructor at the Defense Information School before retiring from the U.S. Army. 

His combat and expeditionary deployments include tours in Iraq, Bosnia and Honduras.

His military education includes the Aviation Officer Basic Course, Scout Platoon Leaders Course, Armor Officer Advanced Course, Cavalry Leaders Course, Public Affairs Officer Qualification and Advanced Courses, and Combined Armed and Services Staff School.

Hastings joined the George W. Bush Administration as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. As the senior public affairs official and spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense, he served as principal staff advisor to the Secretary of Defense for strategic communication, public information, internal information, and community relations, leading a worldwide public affairs community of some 4,000 military and civilian personnel.

Upon joining the Texas State Guard, Hastings has served as the Chief Public Affairs Officer for the Texas State Guard and commander of the 19th Regiment. 

Hastings received the Master Army Aviator, Pathfinder and Air Assault badges.  His military awards and decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Army Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, NATO Medal, and Secretary of Defense Staff Identification Badge. 

His civilian awards include the Secretary of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal and the Order of St. George Medallion.

Hastings resides in Keller, Texas.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 8:31:00 AM Categories: Texas State Guard

The road to a Texas Guard Warfighter, part 1 of 3 

The road to a Texas Guard Warfighter, part 1 of 3

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Pena

Posted: September 17, 2015

Sgt. Elizabeth Peña 
Texas National Guardsmen of the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, headquartered in Round Rock, Texas, conduct a command post exercise at the Round Rock Armed Forces Reserve Center, Sept. 11-13, 2015, as a ramp up to their Warfighter Exercise scheduled for Nov. 2015 at Fort Campbell, Ky. (Photo by Army National Guard Sgt. Elizabeth Pena/Released)

ROUND ROCK, Texas - The Soldiers of the Texas Army National Guard’s 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade serve their state and country with two necessary and complementing missions. Stateside, they help their fellow Texans during emergencies with search and extraction, decontamination, and medical triage capabilities. Overseas, they fulfill the Army’s mission to fight and win our nation’s wars through security and maneuver support operations.

This wartime mission requires extensive preparation and practice to achieve proficiency. Their barometer of success is the Warfighter Exercise, a three-week command and control simulation that tests and evaluates a headquarters’ coordination and methods of battle. Although their validation is not until November, the brigade’s journey to success begins months in advance, with command post exercises at its home station.

“This allows us to have trained soldiers, competent in their tasks and skills with coordinating efforts by other sections throughout the organization,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Esparza, the Brigade Information Services Technician. “It takes intensity. To be part of the MEB, you have to challenge yourself and Warfighter is a challenge we are definitely taking on.”

The command post exercises, held in July and September 2015, serve as preparatory rehearsals and proofs of concept for what they’ll encounter when they travel to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in November. The two exercises give the 136th MEB an opportunity to achieve unity of efforts across staff teams by allowing Soldiers, officers and enlisted alike, to define their individual roles and responsibilities and gain a better understanding of Warfighter as a whole.

“The feedback that we are getting on some of our products is great,” said Cpt. Carl Wilson, the brigade’s deputy logistics officer. “The collaboration with the advisors and trainers from the 101st will have long-lasting effects not just here and now, but further down the road in Kentucky.”

During the second command post exercise, held September 11-13, the Guardsmen teamed up with their active-duty counterparts from Fort Hood’s 1st Cavalry Division in field services, current operations, fires supports, knowledge management, and logistics to better understand the procedures and practices that will ensure a successful Warfighter.

“Everyone here wants to be part of a team,” said Esparza. “Anything you want to learn, you will be given opportunities to cross-train. We welcome anyone to come in and see how they can fit in and start working with direction and motivation.”

This is the first Warfighter for the 136th MEB since their deployment in 2012. Although this is not a mobilization, it still requires vast amounts of support, including supplies, maintenance gear, and transportation of equipment and Soldiers. The logistics section serves as the primary advisor for these tasks.

“Approximately 200 Soldiers from the brigade will be participating in Warfighter,” said Wilson, “requiring about 350 cases of MREs and a water buffalo that holds 400 gallons of water. Generators, HMMWVs, and LMTVs will be transported to Fort Campbell in late October prior to the main body movement.”

Crucial to mission success, communication support was another key element in learning how best to respond to the demands of a fast-paced, tactical environment. The brigade’s computers, telephones, and other electronic equipment requires 7,000 ft. of ethernet cable for the more than 500 different connections.

“We have to monitor networks, communication channels, information systems, and tactical systems,” said Esparza. “It is the architecture we build from the ground up at any location.”

The brigade is no stranger to self-sustaining operations through extensive practice with their Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter system in isolated areas without infrastructure. This command post exercise demonstrated once more the 136th MEB’s ability to establish a tactical footprint and execute their support mission.

“The way we prepared for this weekend was getting the personnel ready,” said Esparza, “as well as the communication pieces, the logistical support, cables, wires, and any other supplies we might need in order to make this happen.”

The Guardsmen will complete their final preparations in October before moving out November 4th for Fort Campbell. There, they will use the skills, products, and battle methods developed at their command post exercises during these summer months to achieve success at their culminating evaluation.

“Without this CPX, we could not perform well in Kentucky,” said Wilson. “I know for a fact they are setting us up for success.”

Thursday, September 17, 2015 8:48:00 AM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

US Air National Guard makes history in Latvia 

US Air National Guard makes history in Latvia

Story by: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy

Posted: September 17, 2015

An MQ-1B Predator from the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, based at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, is parked at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia, Aug. 31, 2015. Wing members mobilized with other members of the wing to the Baltic nation where they deployed an entire MQ-1B Predator package, launching and recovering the first large-scale remotely piloted aircraft in Latvia. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)
An MQ-1B Predator from the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, based at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, is parked at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia, Aug. 31, 2015. Wing members mobilized with other members of the wing to the Baltic nation where they deployed an entire MQ-1B Predator package, launching and recovering the first large-scale remotely piloted aircraft in Latvia. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)

LIELVARDE AIR BASE, Latvia - Airmen from the 147th Reconnaissance Wing made history launching, operating and recovering the first MQ-1 Predator in European airspace in the reconnaissance aircraft’s first non-combat deployment Sept. 1, 2015, at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia.

“Today at 7:47 a.m. Central Time, we made history with the successful launch, flight and recovery of our MQ-1 Predator in Latvia,” said Col. Stanley Jones, 147th Reconnaissance Wing commander, Texas Air National Guard, in a statement Sept. 1. “This deployment is a total wing effort with the critical contributions coming from every group in the wing. We could not have gotten to the point without every Texan contributing to the effort.” 

The guardsmen successfully executed this feat through a partnership with the Michigan National Guard and the Republic of Latvia. The coordination of all the components of the mission took four years to accomplish, from conception to execution, which began with Latvia’s State Partnership Program partner, the Michigan National Guard, and included the Latvian Civil Aviation Authority, the Latvian National Armed Forces, Air Navigation Service Provider, and the Riga Area Control Center. 

The Michigan guardsmen laid the foundation for the operation to take off. Inputs and contributions from Latvia, the Texas ANG and U.S. Air Forces in Europe helped finalize and eventually realize the mission. Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis stressed the significance of the U.S. presence in Latvia and the ability for Latvian troops to train side-­by-side with their NATO partners. 

“It’s important to train for interoperability between NATO partners,” Vejonis said. “It’s a good example of smart defense that we can use equipment that we don’t currently have.” 

The non­combat deployment allowed for country­wide corridors to tie into special use airspace to de­conflict civilian and military flights, as well as nationwide utilization of surveillance capabilities to support a broad range of government needs for Latvia, to include search and rescue, firefighting and border control according to Col. James Andrew Roberts, Combat Readiness Training Center commander, Michigan National Guard, and a major player in launching the operation.

In addition, the operation tested the wing’s ability to travel to a forward location and establish operations to assure its commitment to regional security and safety to its Latvian and NATO allies and European partners. The airmen trained using a satellite data link and trained Latvian military on long-range flights to help them understand the opportunities and challenges with remotely piloted aircraft operations.

The partner training included processing and sharing intelligence gathered by RPAs and close air support operations with Latvian forward air controllers. In addition to strengthening security in the region and the U.S. partnership with Latvia, the temporary deployment accomplished several objectives for those involved. For Latvia, it was the first use of the large-scale RPA in country. 

For the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, it was the first time the airmen deployed an entire package. Traditionally, when the MQ-1 Predator is deployed, maintainers and pilots are mobilized and equipment is moved from different locations, but for this mobilization, equipment and personnel deployed as an entire package.

“We palletized our own equipment, packed it up, and got our own people and equipment deployed as a package,” said Maj. Derek Weaver, 147th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, 147th Maintenance Group, 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas ANG. “We got it right. We came here and set up in a couple of days and it was so smooth.”

Weaver credits the efficient execution of the deployment to help from the Latvians, the Army stationed at Lielvarde and the professionalism of the 147th wing members. The forward deployment was executed in support of the European Reassurance Initiative – an effort by President Barack Obama and Congress to bolster the security and capacity of NATO allies. The ERI demonstrates the steadfast commitment of the U.S. to the security of NATO allies and partners in Europe through a persistent, rotational presence of U.S. forces and by increasing the responsiveness of U.S. forces to contingencies in Central Europe.

Thursday, September 17, 2015 8:46:00 AM Categories: Texas Air National Guard

Re-enactors Jump to Honor Historic Military Anniversaries 

Story by: Chief Warrant Officer Two Janet Schmelzer

Posted: September 13, 2015

jumps from plane
Senior Master Sgt. Denny Darnell and Sgt. Kyle Clark, Texas State Guard, are civilian re-enactors who parachuted from a C-47 during the commemoration of the World War II allied invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944.  They are members of the Liberty Jump Team which re-enacted the United States and British paratroopers at the 71st anniversary of the invasion at Normandy, France, June 2-7, 2015.  Texas State Guard soldiers, as civilians, participate in many civilian ceremonies that honor veterans and active duty personnel. (Courtesy Photo/Released)
Parachute Jump
Sgt. Kyle Clark, 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard, is a civilian re-enactor, who parachuted down to La Fiere-Merderet River drop zone, Normandy, France, June 7, 2015, to commemorate the World War II allied invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944. Texas State Guard soldiers, as civilians, participate in many civilian ceremonies that honor veterans and active duty personnel.  (Courtesy Photo/Released)

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Re-enactors honor the selfless service of active duty soldiers,  veterans, and fallen heroes of the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard in many ways. 

Five re-enactors are Texas State Guard soldiers who, as civilians, have chosen a very memorable way to pay tribute. 

They are civilian parachute jumpers and re-enactors.

Those five re-enactors are 1st Lt. Leland Burns and Senior Master Sgt. Denny Darnell, 4th Air Wing, Air Component Command, Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wood, Engineering Group, Staff Sgt. Gary Bostic and Sgt. Kyle Clark, 4th Regiment, Army Component Command.  

They are members of the Liberty Jump Team, which performs static line parachute jumps from an actual C-47 aircraft used on D-Day, just as soldiers did in World War II. 

The jumpers wear authentic World War II paratrooper uniforms. The Liberty Jump Team consists of 70 members who are active-duty, retired, and reserve United States and foreign military members.

"My father, a World War II veteran of the Okinawa campaign," commented Clark, "was only 18 years old and he believed that the service of United States soldiers was a job that needed to be done."

"I am honored to be able to pay tribute to the bravery, self-sacrifice, and heroism of the American soldier who fought to preserve our freedoms."  

Jumps from plane
Staff Sgt. Gary Bostic, 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard, (fourth on top row) is a civilian re-enactor who jumped from a C-47 during ceremonies commemorating the 75th anniversary of the first United States Army paratroopers at Fort Benning, Georgia, August 15, 2015.  The first jumps were over Lawson Army Airfield, Fort Benning, August 16, 1940. Texas State Guard soldiers, as civilians, participate in many civilian ceremonies that honor veterans and active duty personnel.  (Courtesy Photo/Released)

On the 71st anniversary of the Normandy invasion during World War II, Senior Master Sgt. Darnell and Sgt. Clark honored the 24,000 Normandy Allied paratroopers by re-enacting the June 1944 parachute jumps from a C-47 aircraft over Amfreville, Graignes, and La Fiere-Merderet River, France, June 2-7, 2015.

The final jump for this anniversary commemoration was performed by jumping from a C-47 over the "The Airborne Trooper," a statue of a World War II 82nd Airborne, United States Army  paratrooper overlooking the Merderet River from the La Fiere Bridge, Normandy, France.  Four  C-130 aircrafts with over two hundred paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne, United States Army, also participated in this event.  

On the other side of the Atlantic on the 75th anniversary of the first Army Airborne Infantry platoon jump in 1940, Bostic, along with eleven members of the Liberty Jump Team, jumped with almost 300 United States Army paratroopers at Lawson Army Airfield, Fort Benning, Georgia, August 15, 2015.

The Liberty Team, wearing the uniforms of World War II paratroopers, jumped from a C-47, just like the Army Airborne paratroopers of World War II.

"I am honored to be here to pay tribute to the Army Airborne paratroopers who gave selfless service during World War II," commented Bostic. 

"They were fearless soldiers who jumped into dangerous battle zones to help win World War II."

The first Army Airborne Infantry platoon was organized with 40 soldiers from the 29th Infantry located at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1940.  This platoon made the first jump as paratroopers in the United States Army, at Lawson Army Airfield, Fort Benning, August 16, 1940.

The first platoon mass jump occurred at Fort Benning, August 29, 1940.

Sunday, September 13, 2015 8:44:00 AM Categories: Texas State Guard

Texas Army National Guard G6 Deputy Chief of Staff Retires 

 retirement ceremony honoring Col. Brian HammernessCommentary and photo by: Michelle McBride
Texas Military Forces Public Affairs

CAMP MABRY, Texas  – The Texas Military Forces held a retirement ceremony honoring Col. Brian Hammerness, G6 deputy chief of staff for the Texas Army National Guard, at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Sept. 3, 2015.

“I wanted to celebrate my retirement in a place where a lot of memories were made,” said Hammerness, “and what better place than here.”

Hammerness received his commission through the Core of Cadets program at Texas A&M University as an armor officer in May of 1984.

Among various command positions Hammerness held, his service includes Chief of Future Operations, 49th Armor Division, Bosnia Herzegovina; Executive Officer 56th Brigade Combat Team, Iraq and Red Team Leader ISAF Joint Command, Afghanistan.  His last assignment was as the deputy chief of staff, G6 for Joint Forces Headquarters – Texas.

Throughout his career Hammerness has been awarded the Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, National Defense Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal and the Combat Action Badge, the Lone Star Distinguished Service Medal, Texas Outstanding Service Medal, Texas Medal of Merit, Adjutant General’s Individual Award, Federal Service Medal, Faithful Service Award, Humanitarian Service Ribbon and the Combat Service Ribbon.

His military education consists of the Armor Officers Basic and Advanced Courses, the Combined Arms Services and Staff School, Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.  Hammerness also holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Dallas and a Masters of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.

Hammerness now looks forward to spending time with his wife, Rena, and three daughters: Amanda, Paige and Emma.

“I will miss you all,” said Hammerness, “but I am confident that I am leaving you in good hands.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 1:33:00 PM Categories: Blog