Posts From September, 2015

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.

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.

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.”

TAG Talks: LTC Ross Davis

On this edition of TAG Talks, LTC Ross Davis speaks about the Adult Learning Theory and the differences between Pedagogy Learning and Andragogy Learning. TAG Talks are a series of unique presentations put together by students in The Adjutant General's Executive Leadership Development Program offering the perspective of future Senior leaders of the Texas Military Forces.