Posts in Category: Texas State Guard

Texas State Guard Gonzales Cup Challenges the Best of the Best of the Army Component

Texas State Guard Gonzales Cup Challenges the Best of the Best of the Army Component
Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Army Component, Texas State Guard

The 1st Regiment Army Component Texas State Guard team won the Gonzales Cup during the competition held in Stephenville, Texas, October 12-14, 2018.  Brig. Gen. Robert Hastings, Commander, Army Component, presented the Gonzales Cup to the team.  1st Regiment team members are Spc. Jorge Ramirez, Pvt. Alberto Sanchez, Pvt. Jason Perez, Pfc. Kevin Stepherson, Pvt. Ruben Garza, Pfc. Emilio Trevino, and Spc. Ruben Lopez. (Texas State Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer)
The 1st Regiment Army Component Texas State Guard team won the Gonzales Cup during the competition held in Stephenville, Texas, October 12-14, 2018.  Brig. Gen. Robert Hastings, Commander, Army Component, presented the Gonzales Cup to the team.  1st Regiment team members are Spc. Jorge Ramirez, Pvt. Alberto Sanchez, Pvt. Jason Perez, Pfc. Kevin Stepherson, Pvt. Ruben Garza, Pfc. Emilio Trevino, and Spc. Ruben Lopez. (Texas State Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer)

STEPHENVILLE, Texas - The Texas State Guard Army Component’s 1st Regiment won the Gonzales Cup and the 19th Regiment’s Pfc. Brandon McVean won the Top Individual Award following the three-day competition held Oct. 12-14, 2018.  Twenty-nine members representing the 1st, 4th, 8th, and 19th Regiments of the Texas State Guard accepted the challenge to become the Army Component's best of the best and take home the coveted Gonzales Cup.
 
"The Gonzales Cup competition is important as a meaningful and purposeful training for our members.  It builds comradery and teamwork, challenges perseverance in the most adverse conditions, tests skills that we need to be mission ready, and creates a spirit to achieve to be the best," commented Command Sgt. Maj. Barton Williams, senior enlisted advisor, Army Component, who organized this year's competition.

The first day's challenge was a written test which covered the Texas State Guard Army Component mission essential skills which included shelter management operations, emergency tracking network operations, military customs and history, and ground search and rescue.  

That evening in the midst of a torrential rainstorm, four teams went out on a search and rescue task to find missing persons who were lost following a simulated disaster at Hunewell Ranch in Erath County, Texas.  The darkness, bad weather, mud, and rain-soaked terrain added to the realism of what state guardsmen might face during search and rescue missions. 
 
Teams had to follow clues to find the missing persons within a time limit of three and a half hours.  Each team was scored on how proficient they were at finding the person, evaluating the condition of the person, providing first aid, fashioning a litter, and evacuating the person back to the starting point. 

Pfc. Laura Peck, 8th Regiment, was one of three female state guardsmen to participate in the competition.  “I never pictured myself doing things like slogging through mud and water on a six-kilometer hike with a 35-pound knapsack on my back,” said Peck who has been in the Texas State Guard 10 months.  “The search and rescue challenge was an awesome experience.”  

The second day opened with the Army Physical Fitness test of sit-ups, pushups, and a two-mile run.  This challenge supports the Texas State Guard Health and Fitness program which emphasizes exercise, strength and a healthy lifestyle.  

Teams then moved to the Leadership Challenge Course at Tarleton State University.   This challenge required each team to work together and make decisions on how to complete a series of rope course challenges.  

The afternoon mission was a land navigation challenge course back at Hunewell Ranch.   Teams had to locate 20 sites using maps, protractors, and compasses.

McVean found the Gonzales Cup challenge to be a “unique opportunity to demonstrate and sharpen my mission essential skills.  I liked the land navigation challenge as it strengthened my confidence to find a specific spot with maps, coordinates, protractor, and compass.  I am honored to have been a competitor and a member of a great 19th Regiment team.”

On the last day, the final challenge for each team was to create a team movement order for a simulated deployment to assist with the evacuation of 5,000 people from Lake Jackson as a category five hurricane approached the Texas coast.  Teams had to avoid crossing rivers, lakes, and contraflow evacuation routes, in addition to planning for rest stops and gas refueling.   

The Gonzales Cup is named for the famous 1835 Battle of Gonzales, near Gonzales, Texas, where brave and courageous Texians refused to return a cannon to the Mexican Army and told them to “Come and Take It,” which is the motto of the competition.    
 

An Evacuation System with Accountability

Story by: Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer
Texas State Guard Public Affairs

In an Emergency Tracking Network system exercise in Huntsville, Texas, Pfcs. James Little and Lee McWilliams, 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment, Texas State Guard, scan an ETN band attached to the collar of a dog, February 24, 2018.  The system would track the dog's location to a designated pet shelter during an emergency or disaster so that the pet can be located by the pet owner.  (Texas State Guard Photo by Cpl. Christopher Feriante)
In an Emergency Tracking Network system exercise in Huntsville, Texas, Pfcs. James Little and Lee McWilliams, 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment, Texas State Guard, scan an ETN band attached to the collar of a dog, February 24, 2018.  The system would track the dog's location to a designated pet shelter during an emergency or disaster so that the pet can be located by the pet owner.  (Texas State Guard Photo by Cpl. Christopher Feriante)

When a hurricane, flood, chemical spill, wildfire, or other catastrophe strikes Texas, people may have to evacuate the affected area, often with little or no time to prepare.  Their lives have been turned upside down: they do not know where they are going; they do not know when they will return, and sometimes families and loved ones get separated.  They need someone to show them the way out of the danger zone to safety and comfort.  

When support for evacuation operations is needed, the Texas State Guard is trained and ready. Guardsmen provide a very specialized skill set during an evacuation, operation of the Emergency Tracking Network (ETN).   ETN is an electronic system that tracks evacuees from an evacuation hub to designated shelters away from the disaster area.  

“One of the big lessons learned during the Katrina and Rita hurricanes was the need to track the location of thousands of people rapidly evacuating the strike zone,” said Col. Robert Hastings, Commander, Army Component, Texas State Guard.  “In some cases, families were separated and ended up in different shelters with no means to communicate or locate each other.  ETN was designed to prevent that from happening.”

The Texas State Guard is the principal state agency with the Emergency Tracking Network mission.  

"Without a system of accountability, we would not know who we evacuated or which designated mass evacuation transportation they got on.  With the ETN system, we have information which tracks the evacuee from an embarkation point to a shelter.  Because we are trained on ETN, the Texas State Guard is performing a vital service to Texans who are evacuated during an emergency or disaster," said Staff Sgt. Greg Illich, 8th Regiment, TXSG. 

At an evacuation hub, one of the first people that an evacuee will encounter is a member of the Texas State Guard.  As evacuees enter the hub, guardsmen can answer their questions about what happens at the hub and show them where to register for transportation to a shelter.  At the registration table, guardsmen begin the process of registering evacuees into the emergency tracking system.  They can explain to evacuees how the system works to ease any concerns that evacuees may have about what will happen when they are registered into the system.  Family members at the hub are registered at the same time.  This process allows them to travel together and stay together at the same shelter.   

"During an evacuation, we want to assist family members in this way.  Keeping families together is comforting to them and helps ease their anxiety during this time of uncertainty," stated 1st Lt. Kendra Neuendorff, 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard.  

As the registration process continues, guardsmen place a wristband on each evacuee.  Each wristband has a unique identification number which is recorded into the ETN system along with the evacuee's information.  Personal medical equipment, such as a walker or wheelchair, is also banded and registered into the system.  And family pets are banded on the collar or travel kennel and evacuated to a designated pet shelter.  In this way, families know that their pet will not be abandoned but sheltered and fed until they can be reunited.

"Sometimes pet owners are afraid to leave a pet behind and as a result are reluctant to evacuate.  If owners know that their pets are going to evacuated, banded into ETN, and sheltered, they feel relief that their pet has not been left behind," commented Pfc. Sonya Martinez, 39th Regiment, Texas State Gaurd. 

Guardsmen then direct the evacuees to designated mass evacuation transportation located at the hub.  As evacuees board a bus, plane or helicopter, guardsmen scan the wristbands again to begin tracking their movement.  The system records each individual who boards the transportation headed to a specific shelter.  And when evacuees arrive at the shelter, guardsmen, for accountability, again scan the wristbands to log their location.  ETN now has recorded the evacuee's travel from the evacuation hub to the shelter.  

“ETN is a very versatile system,” said Hastings.  “During Hurricane Harvey ETN was used to manage evacuations, determine population at the shelters, and keep track of pets and medical equipment, among other tasks.  Keeping track of our evacuating citizens and helping families stay connected is one of the most important missions we train for.” 

 

Texas State Guard Builds Partnerships

Story and photos by Sgt. Chris Feriante 
Texas State Guard Public Affairs

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Privates 1st Class . James Little and Lee McWilliams, 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment, Texas State Guard, scan an Emergency Tracking Network (ETN) identification wristband on a volunteer, role playing as an evacuee, and on her dog during a training exercise with Walker County Office of Emergency Management in Huntsville, Texas, February 24, 2018.  The Texas State Guard is trained on ETN which helps to track the location of evacuees and pets during an emergency or disaster.  (Texas State Guard photo by Cpl. Chris Feriante)

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – In preparation for the 2018 hurricane season, the 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment, Texas State Guard, partnered with local and state emergency management agencies February 24, 2018 to practice and rehearse combined operation capabilities in Huntsville.

The Texas State Guard, in coordination with Walker County Emergency Management, Texas Division of Emergency Management and Sam Houston State University Emergency Management, participated in a joint evacuation exercise to strengthen skills using the Emergency Tracking Network system.  Operating the ETN is one of the Texas State Guard's mission-essential tasks.
    
"We are focused on this exercise as both a training opportunity for our guardsmen to use the ETN system and as an opportunity to build a strong relationship with the Walker County emergency management folks and the Huntsville community," said Lt. Col. Arthur Levesque, 2nd battalion commander.
    
The ETN provides a network to maintain accountability of evacuees throughout a disaster; from the time they board evacuation mass transit, to their arrival at a shelter and finally back to where they boarded the mass transit after a storm.  Each evacuee is given a yellow wrist band which has an identification number unique to each individual.  Family pets, as well as medical and mobility devices are also banded and can be tracked together.    
    
With students from Sam Houston State University acting as evacuees being transported to the Walker County Emergency Shelter, 40 guardsmen from the unit registered evacuees and tracked the role player’s movements from the simulated evacuation site at the university to the shelter.  To make the exercise as real as possible, both pets and medical and mobility equipment were required to be evacuated and tracked.  
    
"The objective of our training today is to give guardsmen hands-on experience using ETN so that we are ready to provide to our fellow Texans effective assistance during an emergency or disaster," said 1st Sgt. Charles Sumner.
    
Walker County Judge Danny Pierce stressed the importance of training with the Texas State Guard and emergency management agencies. 
    
“During Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, we sheltered 150,000 evacuees along the I-45 corridor within Walker County,” said Pierce.  “At that time we did not have a way to track the movement of evacuees.  So we lost people, and we couldn’t find them.  The Texas State Guard turned out in huge numbers for this ETN exercise which raised our comfort level knowing that we have these guys behind us in an emergency.”
    
The Walker County Office of Emergency Management coordinated the exercise which also included the Walker County Community Emergency Response Team, the Walker County Sheriff's Department, Huntsville Independent School District, the Walker County Animal Issues Group and the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council.
    
The Atlantic Hurricane season begins June 1st. 

Breaking the Language Barrier: Texas State Guard Utilizes Different Languages to Serve Fellow Texans

Story by Capt. Esperanza Meza
19th Regiment, Texas State Guard Public Affairs

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Sgt. Allen Barnfield, 19th Regiment, Texas State Guard, communicates using sign language with a shelter guest during Hurricane Harvey at Athens Elementary School, San Antonio, Texas, August 27, 2017. (Texas State Guard photo by Capt. Esperanza Meza)

Whether rescuing families and pets from flooded homes, lending a helping hand to parents and children who need a place to sleep in a shelter, or distributing basic necessities and medical care during a natural disaster or emergency, the Texas State Guard knows that communicating with people is vital to every mission. When every minute counts these guardsmen do not want language to become a barrier for getting their fellow Texans help.

Sgt. Allen Barnfield, 2nd Battalion, 19th Regiment, Army Component, decided to learn American Sign Language because he wanted to assist people who could not hear.  Last summer when Hurricane Harvey displaced tens-of thousands of residents, he used his sign language skills to communicate with eleven evacuees at shelters.

“Being able to interpret for the deaf evacuees made me realize how important it is to be able to communicate with them,” he said. “The fact that I could provide them with information through sign language made them feel much better about staying in the shelter.”

Barfield said that he was brought to tears when one of the children he had interpreted for drew him a picture to thank him for making their stay more bearable.

For another member of the Texas State Guard, it was his knowledge of Spanish that helped place a frightened young by at ease when carrying him to a rescue boat.

“If time is of the essence and English skills are limited, providing direction and guidance in their language gives them confidence that we will get their family to safety,” said Master Sgt. Robert Lewis, 3rd Battalion, Texas Maritime Regiment.

While the size and geographic diversity of the state makes it a melting pot, guardsman like Cpl. Zaw Maung of the 19th Regiment, who speaks Burmese, become a critical language asset during times of need. Maung used Burmese with shelter guests at the NRG Stadium in Houston during Hurricane Harvey.  He created signs and gave announcements in Burmese and worked as a translator at a help desk.  
    
“If I had not been in the Texas State Guard, I would not have been in the position to help this community,” said Maung.  Communicating in my native tongue made the Burmese guests feel a little better during a most distressful time because of the hurricane." 
    
During Operation Lone Star, the largest medical humanitarian operation in the country and mass casualty training exercise in the Rio Grande Valley, Capt. Margarita Elestwani, Texas Medical Brigade, assisted patients and physicians through her ability to communicate medical terms in Spanish, Tagalog (Filipino language) and French.  Another Texas Medical Brigade member at OLS, who also speaks Tagalog, Capt. Abram Braza, 2nd Battalion, used his ability to communicate in a Filipino dialect to reunite a lost elderly Filipino man with his family.  
    
Although those with multilingual skillsets help serve fellow Texans, there are times these language capabilities also help communicate with the members of the media and dignitary visitors, further enhancing the delivery of needed messaging. For Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich, 1st Battalion, 8th Regiment, his Spanish fluency enabled him to serve as an interpreter when a Chilean military delegation observed OLS.  
    
“One member of the Chilean delegation gave me a challenge coin for assisting them and I gave him my Texas flag patch from my uniform,” said Illich. “I was honored to be able to use my fluency in Spanish to assist the Rio Grande Valley community as well as act as interpreter for our Chilean guests.”
    

Texas State Guard Engineers Lead the Way

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Texas State Guard Engineer Group conducts an inspection of the Texas National Guard Armory in La Porte, Texas, June 7, 2013.  The Engineer Group was tasked by the Texas Military Department to conduct installation status reports of 36 armories.  (Texas State Guard photo by Sfc. Malcolm Cowdin)

Story by: Chief Warrant Officer Three Janet Schmelzer

Texas State Guard Public Affairs

 

AUSTIN, Texas –The Texas State Guard Engineer Group is a little-known asset utilized by the Texas Military Department and municipalities throughout the state. Over the past five years, these 44 members have built a reputation as the “go-to” resource when engineering and technical service support are needed to assess infrastructure and critical facilities, including military installations, water plants, wastewater treatment, power plants and environmental impact.

The engineers in this unit are highly qualified professionals who hold professional licenses in architecture, civil, mechanical, electrical and environmental engineering and are project and construction management experts in their civilian careers.  Many are members of the Society of Military Engineers and the Texas Society of Professional Engineers, and hold state licenses or certifications in water and wastewater treatment.

“The members of this Engineering Group, like all members of the Texas State Guard, are volunteers who give back to their communities and to the state through their service in the Guard,” said Col. Patrick Fink, commander of the Engineering Group, Texas State Guard. “The engineers and technical support members are bringing their civilian skills, knowledge and expertise to their tasks and missions. Many of our members have previously served in state and federal military forces as well as the Army Corps of Engineers.”

These engineers and technical support personnel therefore became a perfect choice to assist the Construction and Facilities Management Office of the Texas Military Department with annual installation status assessments. In the past five years, Texas State Guard engineering teams have conducted installation status reports at 36Texas Army and Air National armories and facilities in Houston, Austin, San Antonio and the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

These reports included specific and detailed information on the conditions of facilities which the Texas Military Department utilizes to prioritize funding for future construction and renovation projects. Additionally, this group helps the military department annually to receive tens of millions of additional dollars to renovate facilities from state and federal agencies.

“During their service, our unit members have contributed thousands of hours of professional skills and labor to the Texas State Guard and the Texas Military Department,” said Col. Robert Hudnall, Executive Officer, Engineer Group. “They have saved the state almost $700,000 in consulting and labor costs.”

While providing support to other Texas Army National Guard Engineering units when this unit was also tasked to perform special demolition projects at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, these guardsmen led the demolition of Building 32, the Texas State Guard Headquarters. As well as the preservation of the building’s historic architectural support and roof beams during the renovation phase, they also conducted the exterior demolition, remediation, compaction and backfill of the 15-foot sign in front of Building 34 and are assisting with the layout and construction of a new Camp Mabry soccer field.

For the Engineer Group, mission readiness during a disaster, such as flooding, hurricanes, and tornadoes, is to provide augmentation, in a surge capacity, for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  Last year, Hurricane Harvey demonstrated just how critical the engineer group was to disaster response. With flooding and high winds damaging hundreds of water and sewage systems, forcing residents to boil drinking water and swamping sewer systems, the primary tasks for the unit were to assess water and wastewater facilities to determine what should be done to get services back online and helping residents to begin to recover from the disaster. As a supporting agency, the Texas State Guard engineers worked in coordination with the commission and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, traveling to the devastated areas to conduct visual assessments of water and wastewater facilities.

The guardsmen also provided professional advice on the restoration of water and waste water systems to municipalities and Councils of Government. In this way, local governments could begin planning timelines for the restoration of drinking water to residents. These assessments would also assist Texas in securing emergency assistance to recover the damaged or inoperable systems.

In Rockport, Texas, the engineers assessed the condition of a water tower that had sustained a broken a cross support arm from high winds during the hurricane. Without the cross support, the tower would, at some point, begin to spin and collapse. The engineers concluded that the condition of the tower was a serious risk to residents and the local municipality took the tower out of service.

“We want to be there when Texans need our engineering expertise following a disaster,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Loftis, Operations Officer, Engineer Group, Texas State Guard. “We can help them and their communities to regain some normalcy with essential water and wastewater service. We want to make sure that each resident can turn on a faucet at home and drink a glass of good, clean water. That is why we serve in the Engineer Group of the Texas State Guard.”

Texas State Guard Fights Rabies One Packet at a Time

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Sgt. Stephen Schaus, 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, Texas State Guard, reviews the daily flight plan and the amount of bait to be dropped with Staff Sgt. Joel Hernandez, 3rd Battalion, during the aerial rabies vaccine bait distribution over the Zapata-based Border Maintenance Zone during the Oral Rabies Vaccination Program, sponsored by the Texas Department of State Health Services Zoonosis Control Branch, January 10, 2018.    (Texas State Guard photo by Capt. Stephen Walker)

Story by: Chief Warrant Officer Three Janet Schmelzer

Texas State Guard Public Affairs

 

ALPINE, Texas – Six members from the 1st Regiment, Texas State Guard, climbed into the cockpits and rear cabins of Beechcraft aircraft January 10-20, 2018 to support a vital public health and environmental program along the Rio Grande Valley.

Now in its 24th year, the Oral Rabies Vaccination Program is sponsored and run by the Texas Department of State Health Services, Zoonosis Control Branch. In their 15th year assisting with the aerial distribution of the rabies vaccine bait packets, citizen-Guardsmen continue to give back to the Texas communities.

The ORVP is a joint operation of state and federal agencies along with businesses, to control and eradicate the spread of rabies among grey foxes and coyotes with the goal of helping to eliminate the threat of rabies from spreading to humans and domesticated animals. The operation covered 16,400 square miles in three border maintenance zones--Zapata, Del Rio and Alpine. 

This year Guardsmen assisted in distributing more than one million vaccine/baits across a zone covering 19 Texas counties.

“The Texas State Guard, as a force multiplier, was ready to support this vital operation in any way that we could,” said Texas State Guard ORVP mission officer in charge, Capt. Stephen Walker, 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment.  “During this mission we provided manpower as navigators in the cockpit and operated the bait drop distributor in the back of the plane. On the ground we unloaded and loaded bait from delivery trucks onto aircraft and cleaned hangers and debris from the flight line.”

The navigators, who serve as the “eyes in the sky,” monitor the GPS system for correct flight alignment as well as control and monitor the amount of bait distributed. Additionally, they are responsible for warning the pilot of radio towers, birds and other aircraft, and maintaining a comprehensive flight log.

The bait distributors funnel bait into the bait counters and the aerial distributors, while also helping to load and unload plastic bags of bait, clean hangers, keep the area clear of debris, assist ground crews and maintain a safety zone around aircraft.

“We do any task from throwing out trash, cleaning toilets, moving equipment, policing runways and preparing baits for loading,” said Staff Sgt. Joel Hernandez, 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, who operated a bait distribution equipment in drop zones.

According to statistics from the Department of State Health Services, the program has been successful in controlling the spread of rabies since its inception in 1995. Not a single case of domestic dog/coyote variant rabies in South Texas has been recorded since 2005 or of the Texas Fox variant rabies in West-Central Texas since 2014. No human cases of the coyote and gray fox rabies virus have been reported since the program began.

“We are proud to be part of a program that helps to prevent the spread of rabies and as a result contributes to savings in health care costs as fewer humans are exposed to rabies,” said Walker. “This impacts the environment and the economy in a positive way and reduces the exposure of livestock and wildlife to rabid animals.”

Guardsmen joined forces with partnering agencies to undergo the necessary training for a successful mission. Dr. Ronald Tyler, DSHS Public Health Region 11 Zoonosis Control Branch veterinarian and Angel Guevara, Public Health Specialist conducted training on the safe handling of the rabies vaccine/bait packets.

“It is very important for us to understand the proper way to handle baits.  We wear gloves and tight-fitting clothing so that our skin is not exposed to the vaccine.  We stay hydrated while flying, just as we would do if we were on a mission on the ground.  Drinking water also helps us to avoid air sickness from the very smelly fish meal that covers the packets,” said Hernandez.

For Pfc. Kevin Stepherson, 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, the importance of ORVP and stopping the spread of rabies is clear.

“There is no doubt in my mind that this program saves people’s lives.  That is why I am here and why I am proud member of the Texas State Guard,” he said.

The Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program utilizes the services of such local, state and federal agencies and businesses such as the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Cooperative Extension Wildlife Services, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, Texas Military Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dynamic Aviation Group, Inc. and the U.S. Army Veterinary Laboratory in Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio.

TOYS FOR YOUNG TEXAS HEROES

Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard

Texas State Guard "Young Heroes of the Guard" AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas State Guard kicked off its ninth annual “Young Heroes of the Guard” Christmas Toy Drive on November, 20, 2017.  The toy drive delivers toys to thousands of children at pediatric hospitals, women’s shelters and foster homes across Texas.  

 “Just a few months ago, the Texas State Guard was fully engaged in helping our fellow Texans recover and rebuild during Hurricane Harvey.  Now, we are working to bring joy and happiness to children in need this holiday season, many of whom have a long road toward rebuilding their lives,” state Sgt. 1st Class John Gately, Texas State Guard toy drive coordinator.

Since the toy drive began in 2009, State Guardsmen have distributed more than 100,000 toys, donated by individuals and organizations alike.  Last year alone, the Texas State Guard distributed more than 33,000 toys and expects to distribute even more toys this year.  Over the past nine years the toy drive has grown from serving pediatric hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to serving children in need across the state.  

 “The Texas State Guard wants every child who cannot be at home this year to have a joyous holiday season. The toy drive brings comfort to thousands of Texas children, and our State Guardsmen have as much fun giving out the toys as the children do receiving them,” said Sgt. Lynda Briggs, 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard. “When we deliver the toys, kids see us in our Santa hats and greet us with pure joy, even though many face unthinkable circumstances no child should endure.  The toy drive is the most rewarding and heartwarming activity of the Texas State Guard, and it is just another example of how we serve the people of Texas,” stated Sgt. Derrick Williams, 19th Regiment, Texas State Guard.

For more information on the Texas State Guard “Young Heroes of the Guard” Toy Drive, visit the toy drive website at http://www.txsgtoydrive.com.  

 

 

 

Bvt. Lt. Gen. Gerald R. Betty Retires as Texas State Guard Commander

Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard Public Affairs

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Bvt. Lt. Gen. Gerald R. “Jake” Betty retired as the commander of the Texas State Guard during a ceremony held at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, October 29, 2017.  Betty received the Texas Superior Service Medal and was brevetted to lieutenant general.  Betty served both Texas and the United States Army for forty-one years.  (Texas State Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Malana Nall)

AUSTIN, Texas – “I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by heroes all my life, starting with my family, my education at Texas A&M University and my military career.  And the Texas State Guard is full of patriots and heroes,” Bvt. Lt. Gen. Gerald R. “Jake” Betty told the gathering of family, friends and fellow State Guardsmen at his retirement ceremony at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, October 29, 2017.  Betty’s retirement was the culmination of forty-one years of military service to Texas and the United States and three years as the commanding general of the Texas State Guard. Betty was brevetted to lieutenant general on October 31, 2017.

Betty began his military career upon graduating from Texas A&M University and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U. S. Army in 1973, branching infantry.  He was assigned to the 1st /501st Infantry Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  He served as an infantry platoon leader, infantry company executive officer, recon platoon leader and battalion operations officer.  

 After leaving active duty in 1977, he served as the company commander of C Company, 1st /143 Infantry, 36th Airborne Brigade, Texas Army National Guard.  In 1979 he transferred to the U. S. Army Reserves and served a nine-month deployment for Operation Joint Guard in Bosnia from 1997 to 1998.  He served as the commander of the 3419th Military Intelligence Detachment, Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, Texas, until he was deployed with the Defense Intelligence Agency as chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Fusion Center-CONUS as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in February 2003.  That same year he retired with the rank of colonel from the U. S. Army Reserve after 30 years of military service.

 In 2006 Betty joined the Texas State Guard.  He served as commander of the 8th Regiment, as a joint staff personnel and administration officer and as the commanding general of the Army Component Command.  He deployed for state active duty missions for hurricanes Dean, Gustav, Dolly, Edouard and Ike.     

 On September 1, 2014, he was promoted to major general and named as the commanding general of the Texas State Guard.  During his tenure, Betty focused on strengthening the military doctrine, policies and procedures, training doctrine implementation and the readiness management system within the Texas State Guard.  He also increased joint training between components and cooperation between the Texas State Guard and the Texas Military Department through joint training events and joint mission deployments.  

“Lt. Gen. Betty embodies all the great leadership qualities expected from a senior leader,” said Maj. Gen. Robert J. Bodisch, Interim Commander, Texas State Guard.  “His integrity and his military professionalism are unmatched. His sense of duty, responsibility and accountability, as well as his genuine care for his troops, will serve as a cornerstone of his legacy of military service.”

Betty led the Texas State Guard during Operation Lone Star, Operation Border Star, Operation Strong Safety and Operation Secure Texas. He also led the Texas State Guard during Hurricane Harvey.  

“General Betty, because of your leadership, Texas had the Texas State Guard when Texas needed the State Guard.  When we called, you answered.  When citizens called, you came.  When they asked for help, you did,” stated Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, Adjutant General for the State of Texas. 

Betty was instrumental in the renovation of the headquarters building of the Texas State Guard at Camp Mabry and in maintaining the continuity and functionality of the Texas State Guard to provide services and support to members during the renovation.      

“Lt. Gen. Betty’s guiding principle was ‘Do your duty, take care of your people and go home with your honor.’ He never passed up an opportunity to reinforce it in the minds of our guardsmen and commanders,” said Col. Thomas Hamilton, Chief of Staff, Texas State Guard.

Betty’s military education includes U. S. Army Airborne School, U. S. Army Ranger School, Infantry Officer Basic Course, U. S. Army Air Assault School, Jungle Operations Training Course, Civil Affairs Officer Advanced Course, Command and General Staff College (non-resident), Nuclear Biological Chemical Operations Course, Reserve Components Support Command Course, Combat Service Support Multifunctional Course and Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course.

During the retirement ceremony, Betty received the Texas Superior Service Medal for his honorable state and federal service and superior performance in key leadership positions.  His other military awards and honors include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Commendation Medal (with four Oak Leaf Clusters), Joint Meritorious Unit Award (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (with four Oak Leaf Clusters), National Defense Service Medal (with two Bronze Service Stars), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal (with Silver Hourglass, “M” Device and Numeral 2), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon (with Numeral 7), Lone Star Distinguished Service Medal, Texas Outstanding Service Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Texas Humanitarian Service Ribbon, Commanding General’s Individual Award, Texas State Guard Service Medal, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, Ranger Tab and Air Assault Badge.

Betty has been married to Julianne for 43 years, and they have two children. Son Josh is a major in the U. S. Army and assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas, where he lives with his wife Jen. Daughter Alison is married to Sgt. 1st Class James Perdue and lives in Mansfield, Texas.

Betty holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics and Master of Science in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University.

 

    

 

I AM HERE TO HELP YOU

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Lampasas County Sheriff Jesus “Jess” Ramos thanks Sgt. Moody for his good-Samaritan action

Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard

 

Lampasas, Texas- Texas State Guard Sgt. 1st Class Howard Moody has driven between Austin and Granbury, Texas, so many times that it has become routine.

But in a split second, his routine drive turned into the scene of a life-threating emergency.

During that drive along U.S. Highway 281 on Jun. 3, 2017, a terrible two-vehicle crash had just occurred as Moody was making his commute.  One mangled vehicle was on its side leaking fuel. The other, upright but badly damaged, was smoking from the engine.

Texas Department of Public Safety State Troopers Nestor Reyes and Tyler Ross were already on the scene.  Moody, who works full-time on the Texas Military Department’s Domestic Operations Task Force and is trained in combat life-saving and emergency response, followed to see if he could assist.

“Working as a team with emergency responders and law enforcement agencies, such as the Department of Public Safety and the Lampasas County Sheriff’s Office, to assist fellow Texans during an emergency or disaster is what the Texas State Guard is all about,” Moody said.

Moody, along with Reyes, ran to the car lying on its side and looked inside.

A little girl in a car seat was trapped in the wreckage.  Her legs were pinned between seats so she couldn’t move.  

“We instinctively knew something had to be done quickly to extract the occupants of the vehicle who were obviously injured and trapped,” Moody said. “Waiting for the fire department didn’t seem like the best option.  We didn’t discuss it.  We just glanced at one another and went to work.” 

Moody tried to open the rear hatch, but it wouldn’t budge. Reyes and Ross broke the rear window to get to the little girl pinned inside.

Moody crawled in.  

“It’s going to be okay.  You are okay.  We are going to get you out.  I am here to help you.” Moody says he told the girl trying to reassure her as he climbed inside.

A trooper handed Moody a coat to cover the trapped girl, while he broke the side window. Another trooper and a passing motorist, who had stopped to help, reached in and pried the seats apart, giving Moody just enough room to gently extract the pinned girl’s legs.

Once the little girl was free, Moody lifted her up to the side window and handed her to first responders, who took her to an ambulance and eventually a medical helicopter.

Within minutes, other emergency personnel, Lampasas County sheriff’s deputies and more DPS troopers arrived.  Everyone was working together with a common purpose to care for the injured.

But Moody was still in the car, and it was still leaking fuel.

He moved forward to the front to help the woman buckled in the driver’s seat.  He covered her with a coat while firefighters cut the vehicle open to help the injured woman.  When emergency responders got to the woman, Moody backed out of the vehicle.  

It wasn’t until the Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter lifted off with the little girl and an ambulance had transported the other injured people to local hospitals that Moody had a moment to gather his thoughts. He hadn’t realized his leg was bleeding.

“I was so focused on the task at hand, I didn’t realize I was bleeding.  The emergency responders bandaged my wound, and later that evening a shard of glass was removed from my leg.”  Moody said.

Since the accident, the first responders have expressed their gratitude for Moody’s actions that day.

“I am very grateful that Sgt. 1st Class Howard Moody, stopped to assist DPS Troopers Nester Reyes and Tyler Ross. Moody was responsible for climbing into the wreckage to rescue a little girl,” said Lampasas County Sheriff Jesus “Jess” Ramos. “Thank you, Sgt. Moody.  We appreciate your good-Samaritan action and your service to our country.”

Wet Feet – Hurricane Harvey 2017

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GOODEN, WAYNE CPL TXSG-PHOTO

By Cpl. Wayne Gooden, 4th Regiment PAO

 

I happened to look down at the floor and saw wet footprints on the church’s hardwood floors. I don’t know why, but I was a little shocked that someone was so wet inside the church.

I was part of a Texas State Guard shelter management team, assigned from 4th Regiment 3B, Texas State Guard.  My normal job was on the command staff, but since I was mission trained and certified, I was placed in the capable hands of seasoned leadership to carry out my duty for the citizens of Texas.  

Our first mission was to assist a church in Champions, Texas. The church had set up a shelter and requested support. We arrived to find church members and community volunteers accepting donations and feeding storm victims and first responders. There were several residents present when we arrived mid-morning. We assisted church leaders in managing the incoming donations, providing a secure presence and giving their leadership our support and expertise in shelter management. 

I soon learned that the wet footprints belonged to a father who was running around making sure everyone in his family had dry clothes, a towel and a hot shower.  The family had been forced to evacuate with just a trash bag of clothes as floodwaters rose in their subdivision.
A group of Army veterans, who had come from Austin with their boat to help fellow Texans, rescued the family, transporting them to a main road where a trash truck ultimately brought them to this church shelter.  The truck drivers helped the father, mother, grandmother, son and daughter into the back of the truck.   

I was humbled by the father’s strength of will.  He did not complain but always had a smile.  There he stood, wet feet, dripping water on the hardwood floor. Yet, he remained positive and hopeful.  One church leader expressed condolences that the man had lost everything. “I didn’t lose everything,” the father replied. “I never lost hope.”

For seven days, our team performed several missions, and each time I found the people whose lives had been turned upside down giving me reassurance that they would be okay.  I returned from my mission a better man, husband, father and soldier than when I left.