Posts in Category: Texas State Guard

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

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)
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

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

GOODEN, WAYNE CPL TXSG-PHOTO
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. 
 

8th Regiment Honors The Fallen

Sgt. Eseil Hernandez, 8th Regiment, Texas State Guard, reads names of fallen Texas service members during the annual Watermelon Run for the Fallen remembrance ceremony held at the Staff Sgt. Jeffery Lee Hartley Memorial Park, in Hempstead, Texas, August 19, 2017. This event honors Texas service members who have died in the service of Texas and the country since September 11, 2001. (Texas State Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich)
Sgt. Eseil Hernandez, 8th Regiment, Texas State Guard, reads names of fallen Texas service members during the annual Watermelon Run for the Fallen remembrance ceremony held at the Staff Sgt. Jeffery Lee Hartley Memorial Park, in Hempstead, Texas, August 19, 2017. This event honors Texas service members who have died in the service of Texas and the country since September 11, 2001. (Texas State Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich)

Story by: Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich

Texas State Guard

 

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The 8th Regiment, Texas State Guard, honored Texas service members at the 8th annual Watermelon Run for The Fallen, held in Hempstead, Texas, August 19, 2017.  The event recognizes those service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving their state and nation since September 11, 2001. 
 
    Guard members assisted the event organizers by placing photos of the 834 fallen service members along a 5K run from Hempstead High School to the Staff Sgt. Jeffery Lee Hartley Memorial park.  Hartley, a Hempstead native, was killed in Iraq in 2008.

    Sgt. Eseil Hernandez, 8th Regiment, was chosen to read names of the fallen service members. “It was heartbreaking to read the names of so many brave service members. I was proud to have the honor read the roll of those who have sacrificed so much for Texas and our country,” stated Hernandez.

    This is the third year the 8th Regiment has participated in this event.  “The assistance of the Texas State Guard makes the event go so smoothly and so seamlessly.  They have that mindset, that mentality: all right, we have a job to do, we are going to do it,” stated Scott Duncan, Vice President of the Watermelon Run.

    This annual event included Gold Star Families, who have lost a loved one in the service to the country, members of the Texas National Guard, U.S. Army and U.S. Marines, Hempstead residents and hundreds of visitors.
    
 

Col. Grantham Tapped as Army Component Chief of Staff

Texas State Guard Army Component Command welcomed a new chief of staff, Col. E. A. “Buddy” Grantham, at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, August 1, 2017
Texas State Guard Army Component Command welcomed a new chief of staff, Col. E. A. “Buddy” Grantham, at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, August 1, 2017

Story by: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Malana Nall

Texas State Guard

 

AUSTIN, Texas- The Texas State Guard Army Component Command welcomed a new chief of staff, Col. E. A. “Buddy” Grantham, at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, August 1, 2017.  As chief of staff, Grantham will be the principal military advisor to Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr, the Army Component commander.

“When I received a call from Brig. Gen. Palmer, who tells you that he wants you to be his chief of staff, I was truly honored,” Grantham said. “I have great examples of previous chiefs of staff to follow, Col. Paul Watkins, Col. Robert Hastings and Col. Robert Woodmansee.  I will follow in their footsteps to help build a stronger and well-trained Army Component.”  

Grantham’s military career began when he enlisted in the Texas National Guard in 1979 and then commissioned as a second lieutenant through the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets in 1981. He entered active duty in the United States Army in 1985 and served as an Armor and Calvary Officer in Operation Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Desert Calm, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Joint Forge (Bosnia) and Noble Eagle I and II. He also served in West Germany, South Korea and Hungary.

Grantham retired from active duty in 2005 after 20 years of service.  He joined the Texas State Guard in 2007.  He served as the commander of the 8th Regiment from 2014-2017.  He also served previously as the 8th Regiment operations and training officer, regimental executive officer, and 1st Battalion commander.  He has deployed for Hurricanes Dean, Gustav, Dolly, Ike and Alex and Tropical Storm Edouard. 

“I chose Col. Grantham as my chief of staff because I value his opinions, and he asks the right questions to make the Texas State Guard Army Component ready to serve our fellow Texans, when called upon,” Palmer said.  “He brings a wealth of talent and knowledge to this position, and I am very happy to have him by my side.” 

Grantham recently received the Texas Outstanding Service Medal for his service to the State of Texas while serving as the commander of the 8th Regiment.  He has also received for his service in the United States Army the Bronze Star, Valorous Unit Award, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (5th Award), Army Commendation Award (6th Award), Army Achievement Medal (3rd Award), National Defense Medal (2nd Award) and in the Texas State Guard, the Texas Humanitarian Service Ribbon.

Grantham lives in Houston, Texas, with his wife of 36 years, Julie, and is a proud father of daughters Jennifer and Kathleen and her husband Sean, and his son Capt. William Grantham, U.S. Army Reserves, and his wife, Alicia. Grantham and his wife have six grandchildren. 
 

4th Regiment Command Welcomes New Leader

Texas State Guard welcomed its new commander, Col. Robert Hastings
Texas State Guard welcomed its new commander, Col. Robert Hastings

Story by: Cpt. Esperanza Meza, Texas State Guard 

 

FORT WORTH, Texas – On April 22, 2017, the 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard welcomed its new commander, Col. Robert Hastings, during a change of command ceremony at the Texas National Guard Shoreview Armory in Fort Worth, Texas.


“I am both honored and humbled to have been selected to lead the 4th Regiment,” Hastings said.  “The citizens of Texas rely on great units like the 4th Regiment to respond when they are called upon. Our job ahead is to make sure we are, in fact, trained and ready." 


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.  
After graduating from Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant.  He served as an attack helicopter platoon leader and forward support platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division. He also served as a reserve component aviation advisor at the 5th 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 and the public affairs detachment commander with V Corps and was a 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.


Hastings joined the George W. Bush Administration as the 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 the 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.
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 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 from the Armor/Cavalry Association and the Order of St. Michael Medallion from the Army Aviation Association of America. In 2016, Hastings was inducted into the US Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia. 


In 2010 Hastings joined the Texas State Guard and has served as the chief public affairs officer, commander of the 19th Regiment and Army Component chief of staff.


“Col. Hastings is a leader who takes care of his soldiers and provides the kind of leadership that results in a well-trained force,” said Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr., Army Component commander, Texas State Guard. “He was selected to be the commander of the 4th Regiment for his proven capabilities to motivate and envision unique solutions to problems.  He was chosen for his ability to communicate a vision and supporting goals, and to build consensus toward achieving them,” 


Hastings will command 4th Regiment headquarters in Fort Worth and battalions in Weatherford, Decatur and Arlington, Texas.
Hastings resides in Keller, Texas.

State Guardsman Appointed to TABC Commission

Serving Texas in several ways, Kevin Lilly is sworn in as the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Chairman by State Senator Kelly Hancock, Senate District 9, at the State Capitol, Austin, Texas, May 15, 2017.  Lilly is also a lieutenant colonel in the Texas State Guard and commands the 8th Regiment.  (Courtesy Photo/The Texas Senate)
Serving Texas in several ways, Kevin Lilly is sworn in as the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Chairman by State Senator Kelly Hancock, Senate District 9, at the State Capitol, Austin, Texas, May 15, 2017.  Lilly is also a lieutenant colonel in the Texas State Guard and commands the 8th Regiment.  (Courtesy Photo/The Texas Senate)

Story by: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Malana Nall

 

AUSTIN, Texas - Texas State Guard Lt. Col. Kevin Lilly has been appointed as the presiding officer of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission by Texas Governor Gregg Abbott.

Lilly, who is also the Commanding Officer of the Houston-based 8th Regiment, will serve an appointment to the TABC from May 2017 until Nov. 15th, 2021. 

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission regulates all phases of the alcoholic beverage indus-try in Texas.  The duties of the commission include regulating sales, taxation, importation, manu-facturing, transporting and advertising of alcoholic beverages. It also has the third largest police force in the state behind the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Parks and Wildlife. 

Lilly said he looks forward to the challenge and using the skills he’s learned in both federal and state military service. 

“The TABC has two major functions: the enforcement of the state’s laws and regulation of the alcohol industry,” Lilly said. “The Governor wanted a chairman who understood building a cul-ture of excellence among men and women. Exacting and demanding the highest standard of ac-countability, transparency and duty in the TABC are similar to the responsibilities required of a military leader. Specifically, my service in the State Guard has exposed me to a number of law enforcement officers, from state troopers to deputy sheriffs and local police. It has also given me an understanding of state agencies.” 

Lilly also said while his mission at the two organizations is different, how he executes will look very much the same.

“My goals are similar: to continue my public service to the citizens of Texas, to contribute to the perpetuation of two great organizations and to help lead and motivate its soldiers, agents, admin-istrators and staff,” Lilly said. “Most importantly, to do so with gratitude and humility.”

This is the second gubernatorial appointment for Lilly. Gov. Rick Perry named him to the Board of Regents of the Texas State University System. He has also served as a trustee of the National World War II Museum, the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Houston Symphony Orchestra, and he currently serves as a trustee of Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston. 

Texas State Guard Serves Fellow Texans Following Hurricane Harvey

Texas State Guard member entertains the kids at an evacuee shelter in San Antonio
Texas State Guard member entertains the kids at an evacuee shelter in San Antonio

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

Hurricane Harvey was a mammoth Category 4 hurricane and the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 2005. When it hit the Texas Gulf Coast, August 25, 2017, wind speeds reached 130 mph.  

Harvey spawned historic levels of rainfall, with some areas of Texas receiving as much as 50-60 inches. Winds and flooding devastated entire neighborhoods, leaving thousands of Texans homeless and causing once-in-a-generation levels of destruction.  The situation was dire and required a significant emergency response.

More than 1,000 Texas State Guardsmen from the Army, Air, Medical and Maritime components, as well as chaplains, judge advocates and engineers, responded quickly to assist storm victims.

State Guardsmen receive extensive training in emergency and natural disaster response and brought this training to bear during Hurricane Harvey response efforts, by conducting search and rescue missions, coordinating shelter operations and delivering critical supplies to impacted residents.

“Helping fellow Texans at shelters means thousands of displaced families and individuals will find some comfort in the aftermath of this traumatic event.  I am humbled by their resiliency and courage,” said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Adamowicz, 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard.

Emergency evacuation teams deployed to assist with the statewide Emergency Tracking Network, a process which helps to maintain accountability of evacuees who travel to shelters in designated mass transit vehicles.  Using the ETN system, State Guardsmen processed thousands of evacuees, allowing families to travel together to the same shelters, locate relatives and eventually return to their city or town on busses.  State Guardsmen also registered family pets, giving many pet owners the peace of mind they would not have to leave their pets behind.  

Texas State Guard search and rescue teams, working jointly with local emergency management officials, the Texas National Guard and local fire, rescue and law enforcement agencies, went into flooded neighborhoods to evacuate residents trapped by rising water.  Using rescue boats, or in many cases just wading through the floodwaters, State Guardsmen rescued more than 1,300 stranded people and pets, saving countless lives.

As thousands of evacuees went to American Red Cross designated shelters, Texas State Guard members were there to help evacuees find comfort and keep their families together.  Guardsmen set up shelters with cots and blankets, dining areas, medical rooms play areas for children and pet kennels. 

The Texas State Guard “made me feel relieved about being here amongst the other 3,000 people in this convention center],” wrote an evacuee.  “Just because of the Soldiers’ presence, we could sleep and eat so well.”

With the loss of power and water systems, many Texas residents in the hurricane strike zone also needed basic essentials.  

The Texas State Guard Engineer Direct Report Unit received a list of water and sewer systems that required daily inspections to determine the quality of the water and the operational status of the sewers.  

“The need for clean water in flooded areas, such as Houston, was a dire emergency,” said Capt. Ian Taylor, Engineer Direct Report Unit, Texas State Guard.  “

To ease the plight of residents caused by these conditions, State Guardsmen moved pallets of water and packed cleaning kits in American Red Cross warehouses.  Manning multiple points of distribution, they handed out food, cases of clean drinking water and bags of ice to hundreds of local residents.

“The Texas State Guard trains extensively for these types of emergencies, which often require a wide array of services, said Capt. Esperanza Meza, 19th Regiment, Texas State Guard. “From search and rescue, to helping our fellow Texans rebuild their lives, the services we provided during Hurricane Harvey meant the communities impacted by this disaster could count on us to be there when they needed us the most.” 

Texas State Guard Troops Hone Search and Recovery Skills

SFC Thomas Adamowicz and SGT Mark Lydahl conduct a leader’s reconnaissance prior to deployment of the GSAR team into the search area.
SFC Thomas Adamowicz and SGT Mark Lydahl conduct a leader’s reconnaissance prior to deployment of the GSAR team into the search area.

By 4th Civil Affairs Regiment Public Affairs

Texas State Guard

 

MINERAL WELLS, Texas- “Team leader, look what the terrain is doing to your formation,” said Staff Sgt. Joe Ringnald, platoon sergeant and certified Ground Search and Recovery (GSAR) trainer as he coached a team leader maneuvering a 12-member team through heavy terrain. “Look how that thick foliage to your right is driving your entire team to the left.” 

The GSAR drill was an element of a 4th Civil Affairs Regiment, Texas State Guard field training exercise at Fort Wolters Training Center, in Mineral Wells, in July. The TXSG contains a total of six GSAR Mission Ready Packages (MRP) for deployment across the state.  

To kick off the exercise, Regimental Operations alerted the GSAR team to assemble and move to a nearby remote community where recent storms and flooding had resulted in several missing persons.  

“In this scenario, we knew based on the operations briefing we were looking for remains.  The Soldiers conducted a deliberate search pattern focused on terrain where experience has taught us remains were likely to be found,” said Warrant Officer Jack Snow, GSAR operations officer.   

In the Fort Wolters mission, the GSAR team conducted two training iterations.  In a daylight scenario, the team conducted a wide-area search resulting in the location of simulated human remains.  The team then reset and conducted a night operation, successfully locating a simulated lost child.  The night search was the most advanced and challenging mission the unit has undertaken to date. 

“Guardsmen from this team have deployed on a number of real-world GSAR missions,” said Snow.  “Our goal here is to share their knowledge and experience and to make the training more challenging and under more difficult conditions to ensure we can successfully execute out in those real-world scenarios.” 

“Demanding training like this is all about confidence.  When lives are on the line we don’t want soldiers doubting themselves, their leaders or their teams,” he added.

To maximize the training value, the team rotated several Soldiers through the planning and leading roles.  

“The mission of the 4th Regiment is to provide task-organized mission ready teams to support civil emergency management authorities principally in the disaster response domain,” said Col. Robert Hastings, 4th Regiment commander, Texas State Guard. “We train to conduct mass shelter operations, emergency tracking network operations, search and recovery and to augment civil emergency operations centers. The mission ready MRP is the end-state. There are a number of enabling skills that are important – such as land navigation, first aid and radio operations, but the ‘magic sauce’ that brings it all together is teamwork and leadership, and that’s really the focus of our annual training plan and field exercises like this one.”   

Texas State Guard GSAR teams are validated and certified by other state agencies.