Posts in Category: Texas State Guard

Texas State Guardsmen promote happiness, healing for holidays

By Warrant Officer David Brown, Texas State Guard

Texas State Guard service members all across the state of Texas collected toys to bring joy to children in need. 

AUSTIN, Texas – A doll. An electronic keyboard. A monster truck. A surprise under the tree. 

It would appear Santa’s helpers are at it again. Rumor has it some of those helpers have been spotted wearing camouflage with Texas flags on their right shoulders.  

But it’s no rumor.

For the past 12 years, members of the Texas State Guard have taken to collecting toys to support children during the holidays. The annual “Young Heroes of the Guard” Toy Drive started as an initiative of the 1st Brigade Chaplain Corps but has grown to be a force-wide community service event.

For the past several years, the drive has been coordinated by Master Sgt. John Gately of Round Rock. He has enhanced partnerships with businesses across the state, growing annual donations from about 6,000 toys to more than 100,000.

“I got lassoed in by a sneaky chaplain,” Gately said with a laugh. “He patted me on my right knee – I’ll never forget it – and said, ‘I want you to run the toy drive. If you don’t do it, no one else will. Think of the children.’”  

There was no pressure, of course. But Gately quickly took up the challenge. He has kept the effort focused on young Texans in hospitals and from families facing financial challenges, which has been at the heart of the campaign from the outset.

Among other things, Gately manages lists and organizes drop-offs of donated toys to medical facilities, Title I elementary schools, churches, orphanages, and other locations across the state focused on child advocacy.

But he’s not alone in the effort.

“Our mission is to make sure no child goes without a toy, whether it’s a natural disaster or during the holiday season,” said Capt. Sean Payton, a Texas State Guard chaplain who helped coordinate a delivery event in Copperas Cove, in central Texas.

“This is perfect, it gives back to the children, and teaches the children to give to other children in need.”

The two have set their sights high for next year’s drive and set an ambitious goal of distributing 200,000 items. There is growing interest from businesses statewide with a renewed effort to involve Texas-based sponsors.

The toy drive is truly a volunteer effort and is affiliated with the State Guard Association of Texas, a non-profit organization that supports the toy drive and other Texas State Guard initiatives. Those interested in getting involved can visit the toy drive’s website at: www.txsgtoydrive.com.

“We collect toys throughout the year,” Payton said. “It’s a great opportunity for other businesses, doctor’s offices, other schools, and other entities to get involved.”

This year’s sponsors included: Five Below; i7 Media; 1000 Bulbs; The Laird Team real estate; Supplemental Warehouse; Texoma Strength (sports gym); Melly Vent’z (photography); and the Iron Saber Motorcycle Club.

Gately also credits the program’s success to the dedication and commitment of State Guard personnel who volunteer their off-duty time and talents to support Texas children.

They pointed out the efforts of Sgt. First Class James (Damon) Williams of Buda and Warrant Officer 1 Gregory Illich of Houston, members of the 6th and 2nd brigades, respectively.

While everyone involved with the toy drive talks about the immense joy of seeing the smiles on the faces of young Texans, the drive has a special significance for Illich. When he was six years old, Hurricane Camille destroyed his family’s home in Mississippi.

“We lost everything; no clothes, nothing (remained),” Illich said. “My toys were everything for me, they were gone.”

But through the devastation, there was a spark of inspiration.

“The Mississippi State Guard was staffing the shelter,” Illich said. “Before then, I’d only seen soldiers on TV in news reports from Vietnam. When those people in uniforms at the shelter gave toys to me and my brothers and sister…well, it meant more than I can possibly say.”

Years later, as an adult attending a “Wings Over Houston” event, Illich saw Guardsmen on duty wearing the Texas flag patch and said the memories came rushing back.

“That’s when I knew. I knew I could be ‘that Guardsman,’” Illich said, “and be there for those kids. Because I am that kid.”

But for Illich, like all who work with the “Young Heroes of the Guard” Toy Drive, at the end of the day, this is a mission of healing and hope.

“I wish others could have my experience seeing those children,” Illich said. “The folks at Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital (in Houston) told us when we visit and bring toys, it visibly improves a kid's health. They do better and heal faster. The kids who know we’re coming – that’s all they talk about for weeks!”

But the impact may last a lifetime.

“Who knows?” Illich said. “One of those kids getting a toy may remember that uniform and become a future member of the Texas State Guard!”

The mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide mission-ready forces to assist state and local authorities in times of state emergencies; to conduct homeland security and community service activities under the umbrella of Defense Support to Civil Authorities, and to augment the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard as required.

The Texas Military Department is commanded by the Adjutant General of Texas, the state's senior military official appointed by the governor, and is comprised of the Office of State Administration (formerly the Office of the Executive Director), the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) and the Texas State Guard (TXSG).

 

 

 

Ho, Ho, Hope: Texas State Guardsman trades camo for Santa suit

By Capt. Phoebe Sisk, Texas State Guard

DALLAS (Dec. 21, 2021) – ‘Tis the season for spreading holiday hope and joy. Each year, members of the Texas State Guard (TXSG) find ways to go above and beyond the call of duty.

One such Guardsman is Cpl. Derek Martinez of Mesquite, near Dallas.

In addition to serving as the main coordinator in the 1st Brigade, 3rd Battalion for the annual TXSG Toy Drive, Martinez spends personal time supporting youth in need of extra cheer in his annual role as Santa. Specifically, he hosts visits with children undergoing difficult life circumstances, many who are so young and innocent - they delight in the magic of Old St. Nick.

"The greatest gift I am spreading is forgetfulness," Martinez said. "I know it seems odd, but for the 20 minutes these children are visiting with Santa, they are forgetting that mom is mobilized to the border, or that dad is working graves (night shifts) as a police officer. They forget that there is a Child Protective Services court hearing coming up or they forget that dad is working in healthcare on the COVID front lines.”

Since 2020, Martinez has brought additional comfort and joy to the hearts of young Texans in need, including children in foster care or adoption proceedings, and active military, law enforcement, and fire/EMT families.

The act of giving is almost second nature to Martinez, a three-year veteran of the TXSG. In addition to his military duties, Martinez works as a regional manager for Imaging IoT and security at Konica Minolta Business Solutions in north Texas. These positions have given him a greater understanding of working with people as individuals.

Local foster agencies have coordinated visits directly with “Santa” Martinez. 

"Who knew that Santa knows exactly how to interact with children in foster situations and has such a jolly sense of humor for all ages," said Jade McCoy Alsina of Dallas Foster Closet. "Everyone loved him and we are already looking forward to next year!"

Martinez’s gift for having sensitive interactions with foster children may well come from being a foster parent himself. 

“Santa came by our home and surprised our children with a visit. I have to admit, I cried,” said parent Lindsay Harrell after a recent visit by the ‘Jolly Old Man’. “Santa came in with his big jolly smile, naughty and nice book (my kiddos were on the nice list!), sang, read a book, and talked to each child one on one. It was wonderful to see their faces glow with surprise and joyful hearts. I hope to make it a yearly tradition as it was definitely an unforgettable moment that my family and I will cherish.”

Due to the realities of the current pandemic, Martinez has found innovative ways to connect with young Texans. He’s has taken to social media, where parents and guardians can set up virtual visits with Santa.

“Children are dealing with a lot but for 20 minutes they get to sing, they get to smile, and they get to laugh so hard their ribs hurt; that's the joy I'm trying to spread," said Martinez.
Martinez’s selflessness and generosity of spirit exemplify the best traditions of the Texas State Guard, whose motto is “Texans Serving Texas.”

The mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide mission-ready forces to assist state and local authorities in times of state emergencies; to conduct homeland security and community service activities under the umbrella of Defense Support to Civil Authorities, and to augment the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard as required.

The Texas Military Department is commanded by the Adjutant General of Texas, the state's senior military official appointed by the governor, and is comprised of the Office of State Administration (formerly the Office of the Executive Director), the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) and the Texas State Guard (TXSG).

 

Texas State Guard Hosts Dallas City Councilman

By John Duesing, PV2, Texas State Guard, 1st Brigade

DALLAS (October 23, 2021) - The Texas State Guard 1st Brigade hosted Dallas City Councilman Omar Narvaez at its headquarters in Dallas on October 23.  Commanding Officer of the 1BDE, Brigadier General Robert Hastings greeted Mr. Narvaez before moving into the Drill Hall. Councilman Narvaez delivered remarks about the Texas State Guard’s involvement in disaster relief and presented a certificate of special recognition signed by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.

“We couldn’t have accomplished the emergency water distribution following Winter Storm Uri without the Texas State Guard,” said Narvaez. “Your willingness to serve others out of the goodness of your heart in times of needs represents the best of Texas.”

The certificate recognized the work of the Texas State Guard over the past year, including COVID-19 response, Hurricane Laura evacuations, and Winter Storm Uri relief. Activities the Texas State Guard undertook during these crises included civil support and emergency management missions, surveying decommissioned medical facilities to expand COVID-19 treatment capacity, and establishing water points-of-distribution.

“Building and maintaining our relationships with city leadership is a key part of our mission with the Texas State Guard,” said General Hastings. “This helps us to serve our local Texas communities better.”

Following the presentation of the certificate, the Texas State Guard presented awards and promotions as well as swore in new Texas State Guardsmen. The Texas State Guard 1st Brigade supports 113 counties in North Texas and the panhandle. 

The mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide mission-ready forces to assist state and local authorities in times of state emergencies; to conduct homeland security and community service activities under the umbrella of Defense Support to Civil Authorities, and to augment the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard as required.

The Texas Military Department is commanded by the Adjutant General of Texas, the state's senior military official appointed by the governor, and is comprised of the Office of State Administration (formerly the Office of the Executive Director), the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) and the Texas State Guard (TXSG).

 

Search and Rescue Finds New Focus, Mission Readiness in Texas State Guard

By David Brown, WO1, Texas State Guard

Camp Swift, TX – “A child is missing...”

“My father is lost...”

“We think our grandparents may be trapped by the floodwaters…”

Such events can set off an intense sense of desperation.  Time is of the essence.  Every minute of delay may be a matter of life or death.  

Soon, the Texas State Guard will play a much bigger role in responding to such emergencies in coordination with state and local authorities. 

The Texas State Guard Search and Rescue program has launched a major new transition to standardize training, to create an official Mission Ready Package, and to make the State Guard’s search and rescue capability a go-to resource for officials statewide. 

“Our goal is to have hundreds of Texas State Guardsmen earn national-level certifications so we can partner with local jurisdictions across the state in search and rescue operations,” said Brig. Gen. Talentino Angelosante, Asst. Dep. Commanding General of the Texas State Guard. 

A longtime veteran of the U.S. Army with decades of experience in search and rescue is redesigning the program and overseeing new instruction and certification standards for State Guard search and rescue personnel.  

Capt. Terry Benjamin joined the Texas State Guard in 2015 with 18 years of prior federal service, and experience as a trained Cavalry Scout and Blackhawk pilot. 

“I’ve been doing search and rescue all my life, deployed hundreds and hundreds of times,” Benjamin said. 

In addition to using his tracking skills throughout the Middle East and South America, Benjamin performed search and rescue operations as an Army medical evacuation pilot. Benjamin also taught Urban and Wilderness tracking techniques with the U.S. Border Patrol, while working as a law enforcement officer in Southern California. Benjamin is currently director of Lone Star Search and Rescue, a North Texas K-9 search and rescue team, and serves as a SARTECH II Senior Evaluator for the National Association of Search and Rescue. Additionally, he is one of the founding members of the Texas Task Force 2 (TX-TF2) urban search and rescue unit, an elite team of search and rescue dog handlers. 

In the coming months, Benjamin anticipates assessing the existing search and rescue skills of all State Guard personnel, to support agency plans to certify qualifying service members under a new partnership between the Texas State Guard and the National Association of Search and Rescue. This new arrangement will make it possible for State Guardsmen to get intensified field and classroom training culminating in the association’s nationally accredited Search and Rescue Technician Level 1 certification. The new program, developed in collaboration with the National Association of Search and Rescue, includes training tailored to the State Guard service with participants able to obtain certification within 4 to 6 months. 

The Texas State Guard has a rich history in search and rescue operations, notably during major disasters such as Hurricane Harvey.  The State Guard was also among the first on the scene in the wake of the Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy and has a long record of assisting Texas Parks and Wildlife in performing search and rescue operations. 

Having search and rescue technicians in the Guard isn’t new, said Benjamin. This is the first time, however, that the Texas State Guard will have a standardized way to assess service members in this field, empowering the State Guard to stand up mission-ready packages in support of partner agencies statewide.

“We want to get as many service members qualified as we can so that we can be a force multiplier,” said Maj. H. Lee Burton, Dep. Commander of the Texas State Guard Special Teams Training Group. 

Burton said he anticipates developing close relationships with local fire departments, sheriffs, and other agencies statewide so that they know they can call on highly trained State Guard forces to support their search and rescue efforts.

“This will help local communities in a big way,” said Burton. “And help us enhance our role as ‘Texans Serving Texas.’”

“I think about how we helped during the floods in Wimberley (in 2015),” Benjamin said.  “We can build on that. The local sheriff calls, they don’t have the manpower, they don’t have a dog team, they need areas cleared. And the Texas State Guard is ready to go in.  Texas has flooding like that all the time.  With Mission Ready Packages (MRP) in place, we can do more for more communities.  We want to be in front of everybody’s mind.”

Tracking skills are important, but land navigation, GPS, and technology skills are, too. Everyone in the Texas State Guard has a role to play and a strength to bring to search and rescue operations. 

“This isn’t some elitist program, we want everybody in,” said Benjamin. 

Some people may be proficient with boats, others drones, and drivers are needed as well. 

Although the goal of getting everyone to a Search and Rescue Technician Level II certification is a long-term objective, the ball is already rolling. So far, 16 Texas State Guardsmen have received their SARTECH II certification through this program.

“Our goal is to train everybody in the Texas State Guard in search and rescue,” said Benjamin. “So when ‘the emergency’ comes, we have people ready to serve in those MRPs.”

The Texas State Guard is looking for Texans with search and rescue experience, as well as people with backgrounds in engineering, law, medicine, construction, technology, and other fields willing to serve the people of the Lone Star State.  Prior military experience is not required to join the Texas State Guard, but those with prior federal service are especially encouraged to explore available opportunities.  More information can be found online at tmd.texas.gov/state-guard.

The mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide mission-ready forces to assist state and local authorities in times of state emergencies; to conduct homeland security and community service activities under the umbrella of Defense Support to Civil Authorities, and to augment the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard as required.

The Texas Military Department is commanded by the Adjutant General of Texas, the state's senior military official appointed by the governor, and is comprised of the Office of State Administration (formerly the Office of the Executive Director), the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) and the Texas State Guard (TXSG).
 

Love in the Texas State Guard

By Johnathan Winston, 1LT, Texas State Guard

BIG SPRING, Texas - If you ask the typical soldier to explain what the Texas State Guard means to them, you might hear them talk about duty, honor, and the opportunity to serve their fellow Texans. If you ask Pfc. Robert Parks and Pvt. Abigail Parks, of Big Spring, Texas those questions you are likely to hear a similar story, or you may learn about a romance born out of service that led these two members of the Texas State Guard 3rd Brigade to become more than fellow service members. They also became husband and wife.

Robert was raised in the East Texas town of Livingston and joined the Texas State Guard in 2017.  

“I decided to enlist to help Texans in need, to make a difference in peoples’ lives, and to see where it took me,” Robert said.

For Abigail, of Chihuahua, Mexico, her State Guard story began in 2018 after she completed the civilian education needed to enlist. 

Neither knew it at the time but her enlistment would lead both Guardsmen on a course to the alter. Robert remembers their first meeting which took place after Abigail’s swearing-in ceremony. 

“She was asked to stand and introduce herself to the squad, and to tell us about herself and what she wanted to do in the Guard. I listened and could relate to everything she was saying as far as service, family, and children,” said Robert. “All of our kids are the same age, she has a son and two daughters, and I have a son and two daughters.”

From there, destiny took over as Robert gave Abigail some uniform insignia items, a custom between longer serving soldiers and newly sworn-in troops. He also shared one more item that turned out to be a symbol of their future lives together.  Months earlier Robert shared how he had acquired two pocket bibles with camouflage covers months earlier. 

“I kept one Bible in the left pocket of my blouse, and the extra one in my ruck. I have no idea why I grabbed the other one, but I did,” said Robert.

On the day Robert and Abigail met, he gave her his extra Bible. Their relationship blossomed from there, and the pair eventually married in 2019.  All of these years later, they both carry those same military Bibles in their left blouse pockets when in uniform.   

“We owe our lives together to the Texas State Guard,” Robert said when asked about how serving continues to impact lives for himself and Abigail.  “The Texas State Guard enabled us to do this.  We love serving in the Guard because this is what brought us together.” 

Both Guardsmen say their relationship has grown right alongside their service to Texas. The Parks emphasize a love of physical challenges and helping others whenever possible, and they look forward to developing as leaders together. 

 

 

Soldier, Architect, Expert Engineer: Texas State Guardsman and Purple Heart recipient earns prestigious engineering award

By David Brown, WO1, Texas State Guard

LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas State Guard First Lieutenant Christopher Beck, a Purple Heart recipient, has been awarded the Engineer Specialty Qualification designation from the State Guard Association of the United States. The designation is awarded to the most experienced engineers upon completion of the SGAUS Engineer Specialty Qualification Identification program. 

The program was created by the SGAUS Engineering Academy in 2015 to help state guard forces quickly identify and deploy highly-trained engineers during state emergencies. 

“By earning the prestigious Engineer Specialty Qualification designation, Lt. Beck is leading the way among TXSG engineers,” says Lt. Col. Cecil Bell, Chief Engineer for the TXSG Command Group and General Staff.  

The demanding training program includes coursework developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Incident Management Structure and FEMA Independent Course Studies. Beck, a Midland native, undertook two years of intensive training to earn the honor.

“The most challenging aspect was time; it takes an immense amount of time to get through all requirements and training,” says Beck, a Texas Tech graduate with a Master’s Degree in Architecture.

In addition to SGAUS membership, successful applicants must earn the SGAUS Basic Military Emergency Management Specialist badge, pass a physical fitness requirement, and demonstrate qualifying knowledge and experience in the field of engineering or construction, with a professional degree or extensive work experience in engineering, construction management, architecture, surveying, technology or a related field.  

Beck is a Project Captain and Associate Architect at WCA Design Studios in Lubbock.  
He describes himself as a lifelong learner. “In the profession of architecture, you expand your knowledge daily, and I take that to all aspects of my life.”  

Public service has been a central part of Beck’s life. Beck served for a combined total of over 11 years in the U.S. Army and Texas Army National Guard, including service in the 56th Brigade Combat Team. Beck joined the ranks of the TXSG in December 2017. His twin brother, Pvt. 1st Class Robert Beck, also serves in the TXSG. 

While prior federal service is not a requirement for TXSG service, Beck cites a desire to assist fellow Texans and the opportunity of serving with his brother as two major factors in his decision to join the TXSG. 

The skill badge on Lt. Beck’s uniform speaks to his own personal accomplishment and highlights the emphasis the TXSG places on the continued professional training of its soldiers. 

“I’m sure others will be inspired by his success,” Bell adds, “and I heartily encourage qualified members of our Engineer Corps to explore the challenges and opportunities offered by the SGAUS Engineering Academy.”

Beck currently serves in the 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, TXSG as an Engineer Primary Skills Officer. Beck, his wife, Kerry, and their two children live in Lubbock. 

The Texas State Guard is actively looking for Texans interested in serving their fellow Texans, and it especially encourages applications from those with backgrounds in engineering, construction, law and law enforcement, information technology, medicine, communications, and other professions. More information about joining the TXSG can be found online at https://tmd.texas.gov/state-guard.

The mission of the Texas Military Department (TMD) is to provide the Governor and the President with ready and trained forces in support of the citizens of Texas and State and Federal civil/military authorities at home and abroad.

The Texas Military Department is commanded by the Adjutant General of Texas, the state's senior military official appointed by the governor, and is comprised of the Office of State Administration, the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) and the Texas State Guard (TXSG). 

 

Texas State Guard 1st Brigade marks Women's History Month

By Cpt. Phoebe Sisk, 1st Brigade, Texas State Guard

DALLAS, Texas -- Ten Texas State Guard females of varying ages, experience, rank, and duties came together on March 15, 2021, at the Texas Army National Guard Armory, in honor of Women’s History Month. The meeting was led by TXSG Brig. Gen. Robert Hastings, the 1st Brigade’s Commanding General, and focused on various topics to include, retention, recruiting, and employment, specifically for women in the Guard. 

Such considerations are every day, but the recent celebration of International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women offered the perfect catalyst to meet, celebrate, and brainstorm, bringing the best ideas to the table.

“Today, women comprise approximately 15 percent of our brigade,” said Hastings.  “We have three female company commanders and one first sergeant.  That is not what it could be, what it should be, or more importantly what we want it to be.”

Hastings explained his goal is to double the statistics by this time next year.

During the opening remarks, Hastings expressed one of his goals as a leader is to empower women in uniform and promote an equal force for the future. 

“My perspective is anchored in my experiences – those of a middle-aged white male,” Hastings explained.  “I can’t change that, but I can learn from your perspectives.” 

Through the open dialogue approach, servicemen and women were able to discuss tough topics such as sexual harassment, with mutual respect and understanding. 

The movement of conversation was fast and the key substance of real issues was discussed: Was sexual harassment an issue, and if so, did the women in the room feel comfortable and empowered to address it? Did they know how to report inappropriate behavior and seek assistance if necessary?

From the discussions, it was determined that sexual harassment was not an issue in the brigade, across the board, including those new to the TXSG and those with extensive experience.  “It’s just a non-event throughout all of the time that I’ve served,” offered TXSG 1st Sgt. Mary Wilson, who added that she makes it a point to keep her ears open to all happenings up and down the chain of command as the most senior enlisted female of the unit. 

Recruiting was a big first topic, with key insights offered by TXSG Staff Sgt. Angela Scarborough, a recruiter assigned to the 1st Brigade, who was recently recognized as TXSG Recruiter of the Year.

“Women want to speak to other women”, explained Scarborough.   Scarborough and others in the room recognized that recruiting and retaining women is important in order to reflect the nation’s population and ensure strong military leadership. 

The team discussed innovative ways to increase awareness of how women can serve, as well as educate local citizens on the Texas State Guard as a whole. 

Reaching the market of those who have never served is key, letting potential candidates know that age is not a prohibitor, that skills of being an informal community leader, and most of all, possessing a servant’s heart, are some of the best indicators of success in the TXSG.

Texas State Guard’s 2nd Lt. Kylie Green, who entered the TXSG to offer skills as a licensed RN, reflected on her moment of realizing that she could balance service with parenting and other life duties. “Understanding that we don’t deploy outside of Texas and that the training is part-time was important because it meant that I could be a mom and still be part of the TXSG.”

“It was wonderful to get to know General Hastings and meet some of the other ladies in the Texas State Guard,” said Pvt. Jerah Hutchins, a recent enlistee.  “They are all so selfless and accomplished!”

March is a time to celebrate the contributions and honor the sacrifices and accomplishments of women who not only shape our military but our nation as well. 

Through the use of the female-focused meeting, and by providing the opportunity to network with peers and participate in group discussions, the Texas State Guardsmen are able and empowered to stand ready to serve--they are “Texans Serving Texas.”

For more information about the Texas State Guard, please go to www.join.txsg.state.tx.us.

Guardsmen deliver water to communities throughout Texas following record-breaking winter storm

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By WO 1 Gregory Illich Texas State Guard and Robert Seyller

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – As a winter weather storm moved into Texas on February 13, 2021, Governor Greg Abbot activated the Texas National Guard in response to increasing precipitation and projections of record low temperatures throughout the state.

As snow and sleet continued to fall, water and power infrastructure were lost by more than 12 million Texans. In response, The Texas Department of Emergency Management in Coordination with the Texas Military Department began distributing bottled drinking water to those in need.

As Texas Guardsmen in San Antonio unloaded pallets of water from a C-17 Globemaster, Maj. Gen. Tracy R. Norris, the adjutant general of Texas, took a moment to highlight the importance of the mission.

"This is water, this is critical to life, you can only go two or three days without water so this is a life-sustaining mission you are taking on," said Norris.

Guardsmen from the Texas Army, Air, and State guard were joined by service members from multiple state National Guards including South Carolina and Illinois along with active duty Air Force members to fly pallet after pallet into distribution hubs in San Antonio and College Station, Texas.Loading water

The Texas Air National Guard’s 136th Airlift Wing out of Fort Worth, Texas is among the units bringing water to airports across the state. The 136 AW’s C-130 Hercules transport planes deliver thousands of pounds of water that are stacked into Texas Army National Guard helicopters and Medium Tactical vehicles for transport to county and city distribution centers.

Col. Keith Williams, wing commander, 136th Air Wing Texas Air National Guard, explained that the unit's personnel have been working to support water distribution efforts while still supporting overseas operations and homeland defense missions.

"It takes a monumental effort. A large portion of the 136 AW is deployed overseas. We overcome the challenges and provide services to the Texas Department of Emergency Management,” said Williams. "The 136 AW has a large team of guardsmen who are receiving and preparing water for air shipment, loading aircraft, and performing maintenance along with aircrews and operations support personnel, coming together as one big team to make the mission happen.  We are proud to support our fellow Texans in their time of need."

Williams explained that service members who were assisting were not immune from the impacts of the storm explaining that the responding guardsmen had families they had to leave behind to help entire communities return to normal. Norris also shared that without that sacrifice the organization could not succeed, thanking each guardsman for their service.

"You have a family at home, probably without power, without water and here you are helping your neighbors and Texas recover,” said Norris. “Our number one asset in the Guard is our people and every time Texans need help you guys show up. You’re truly heroes.

For Texas State Guard Member Pvt. Mary Boscarino the water distribution was her first mission since enlisting last year but she knew why she had to help the people of Texas.

Loading water“College Station is my home and I feel so honored to be here, helping my fellow Texans in a time of crisis. My passion is helping others, giving back to the community. What greater way for me to start than to help right at home."

That sense of service was in full display among the assembled Texas Guard members and volunteers, each working to support the mission by leveraging their unique military training to increase the speed and amount of water being delivered to communities. That training provided the state with a key method of distribution as members of the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade flew UH-60 Blackhawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters from the airports to the distribution centers.

“We have completed seven round trips, flying water out from the College Station hub to local municipalities including Leon County and Brenham,” said Capt. Sean Thomas, a Black Hawk pilot with the 36th CAB. “It is always a pleasure to work with the Air National Guard, Texas State Guard, Texas Department of Emergency Management and other civil authorities to bring relief as we have done in previous natural disasters."

Guardsmen will continue to transport water and additional resources to impacted communities until the state's infrastructure is repaired and the people until our Texas neighbors have fully recovered from back-to-back winter storms.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

TXSG Colonel retires after 45 years of service

By 1LT Johnathan Winston, Texas State Guard

AUSTIN, Texas –  Colonel John Adams has retired after 16 years of service to the Texas State Guard and 45 total years of uniformed service.  His retirement ceremony took place on October 24, 2020 at Camp Mabry. 

Adams most recently served as the Texas State Guard’s senior personnel officer from 2016 to 2020, and he is recognized as one of the most important figures in the Guard’s ongoing transformation and professionalization.

Maj. Gen. Robert Bodisch, Commanding General of the Texas State Guard, praised Adams’ service to Texas and the United States during his speech at the ceremony.  

Bodisch used the words “leadership, integrity, and dedication” to describe Adams, a man whom he said fits the definition of being a “real hero” after a lengthy and storied career.

Adams’ uniformed service began in 1966, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Adams served on a 19 month combat tour in Vietnam.   During his tour, he received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, among other awards.

Adams then returned to Texas, completed studies at Sam Houston State University, and resumed his Army service as a Second Lieutenant in 1973.  He went on to serve as an active duty helicopter pilot, followed by multiple senior level staff and leadership positions in the Army Reserve.  

In October 2000, Adams volunteered for service as the military assistant to the political advisor for the commander of Allied forces in Kosovo.

His dedication and thoroughness were evident throughout the assignment- culminating in successful negotiations to win the release of six Serbian hostages.

Adams brought his pedigree for excellence into the Texas State Guard, which he joined in 2004 after leaving the Army Reserve.  

Whether he was planning and coordinating deployments for hurricanes, or streamlining awards and promotions, Adams was known to members of the TXSG community as the consummate professional- and as an individual who inspired confidence and respect.

“You have served your state and your country well and we owe you a huge debt of gratitude,” Bodisch said in his closing remarks.  “You might retire, but you will always be part of the family.”

More information about joining the TXSG can be found at https://tmd.texas.gov/state-guard.

Unexpected Detour: Shelter-Deployed Texas State Guardsmen Step in After Accident

By WO1 David Brown

Members of the Texas State Guard (TXSG) are prepared to deploy on short notice when civilian officials request assistance.  Sometimes, the call to assist fellow Texans doesn’t come with a formal request, as a group of Texas State Guard soldiers from the 3rd Brigade discovered, en route to help Hurricane Laura evacuees. 
Members of the Texas State Guard (TXSG) are prepared to deploy on short notice when civilian officials request assistance.  Sometimes, the call to assist fellow Texans doesn’t come with a formal request, as a group of Texas State Guard soldiers from the 3rd Brigade discovered, en route to help Hurricane Laura evacuees.

Mesquite, TX - Members of the Texas State Guard (TXSG) are prepared to deploy on short notice when civilian officials request assistance.  Sometimes, the call to assist fellow Texans doesn’t come with a formal request, as a group of Texas State Guard soldiers from the 3rd Brigade discovered, en route to help Hurricane Laura evacuees. 

Before sunrise on the wet morning of September 2nd, five Guardsmen from the 3rd Brigade were traveling to an assignment at a hurricane shelter hub in Mesquite, east of Dallas.  As their van slipped through the light morning traffic of I-635 east of Dallas, CPT Lawrence Norotsky saw something ahead. Traffic was suddenly slowing and cars were veering across lanes to avoid a large obstacle. Norotsky directed the van’s driver, SFC Steven Lozano to pull over to a safe location.  

Scattered across the left three lanes of the highway was an SUV, parts of the bodywork mashed, one door ripped from its frame, bits of glass and plastic all around.  Not far behind it was a badly damaged four-door sedan, steam rising from its mangled front end, leaking fluids of some sort.  The car’s airbags had inflated around its driver.  The driver had managed to get out of his vehicle; his lower lip was bleeding, and he was complaining of chest pains.  

The young woman driving the SUV had managed to get out of her vehicle as well, but neither driver was safe. “On our arrival”, Norotsky says, “the witnesses and vehicle occupants were moving in and out of dangerous traffic. 

The Guard members’ training kicked in.  Texans who take the oath of the Texas State Guard, one of the three branches of the Texas Military Department, not only commit themselves to ongoing emergency and disaster management education, but often bring in years of real-world experience and specialized skills.  

Norotsky, who in civilian life is the Assistant Fire Chief of the Ingleside Volunteer Fire Department, unofficially assumed the role of Incident Commander.  Making a 360-degree assessment of the situation, he directed Lozano, PV2 Ruben Garza of Harlingen, and PFC Michael Ward of San Angelo to begin directing traffic away from the accident scene.  Norotsky approached the occupants of the apparent crash to perform triage, directing CPL Matthew Kotara to do a detailed examination of the 76-year-old driver of the sedan. 

Kotara, a trained Emergency Medical Technician, says he needed to ensure the driver of the sedan did not have life threatening injuries.  “The biggest concern for me, because the airbags deployed, and because of his age, was to make sure that he did not have a flail chest, collapsed lungs, any type of puncture wounds or signs of a concussion,” said the TXSG Medical Unit veteran.  “He was bruised and disoriented, but (there were) no signs of life-threatening problems or injuries.”  Kotara remained with the driver to comfort him and to ready a report for first responders who would eventually arrive at the scene.  

Norotsky had determined that there were no fuel leaks or apparent fire hazards, but the weather conditions and the traffic on the multi-lane highway still posed considerable risks to life. Lozano, Garza and Ward directed occupants of the vehicles involved and witnesses downstream from the wrecked cars to the median, creating an effective safety buffer and getting pedestrians out of the way of traffic. “Our uniforms gave us the perceived authority to take charge and bring order to the chaos,” Norotsky said, crediting the TXSG’s required Incident Command Training and the Guard’s military structure for effectively reducing further dangers and removing any sense of panic. 

Members of the Texas State Guard (TXSG) are prepared to deploy on short notice when civilian officials request assistance.  Sometimes, the call to assist fellow Texans doesn’t come with a formal request, as a group of Texas State Guard soldiers from the 3rd Brigade discovered, en route to help Hurricane Laura evacuees. Soon, an off-duty police officer pulled up on-scene and provided the TXSG team with flares.  Norotsky turned over Incident Command to the first arriving Fire Engine Company Officer, providing a full report. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured in the incident. 

Lozano, whose civilian job is with the Border Patrol, credits the diverse backgrounds of all involved as having made the unassigned mission-within-a-mission a success. “I truly believe all Guardsmen...bring with us a wealth of knowledge and experience from our lives outside the Guard.” This advantage is one reason TXSG recruiters are always on the lookout for Texans with a variety of skills and career specialties ranging from law enforcement to information technology, science, engineering, education, medicine, construction and more.

Although the TXSG may be best known for their decades of providing relief during major emergencies like Hurricane Harvey - and, more recently, Hurricane Laura, - troops never ‘let their guard down’. While routine traffic accidents seldom get much media attention, the incident along I-635 serves as an important reminder that the Guard’s mission as “Texans serving Texas” never sleeps. 

Several Texans in potential danger received quick, expert assistance on that rainy morning of September 2nd, 2020. Just another day of service for the members of the 3rd Brigade, Texas State Guard.