Posts in Category: Blog

The long, proud history of the Texas State Guard: Balloon Bombs in WWII

Photo Courtesy of The Texas Guardsman, June 1943 issue
Photo Courtesy of The Texas Guardsman, June 1943 issue

Story by: Chief Warrant Officer 4 Thomas W. Dodd

In November of 1944, Japanese forces launched a series of incendiary balloon bombs targeted for the west coast of the U.S.  Of the 9,300 balloons launched from Japan, only about 300 reached the U. S. – with two of them finding their way to Texas. 

One of these bombs was sighted by schoolboys in Desdemona (Eastland County), who made quick work of the balloon with their pocket knives.  Fortunately for them, the balloon had lost its payload before making landfall.  The next day Army personnel from Abilene confiscated all the pieces the boys had collected.

 The other device found its way to Comyn in Comanche County, which was located by members of Company  D  of the Texas State Guard.

 “The balloon was about 30-feet high when extended and carried five metal canisters,” said Wade Cowan, a member of the squad that located it. “Four were incendiaries and one was a fragmentary, or anti-personnel bomb.”

 Cowan remembered that people who knew about the bombs at Desdemona and Comyn were very excited, thinking that the Japanese were about to invade the country.  When they realized that people could not survive at the altitudes where the balloons drifted, they relaxed a little.

 “Government censorship of the press kept panic down,” said Cowan. “Still it was a time to be watchful and alert.”

 Cowan and his squad members secured the area until Army ordnance personnel arrived on the scene.

World War II brought on many challenges for the U. S. and its allies.  The Texas State Guard played a part in providing the state and the citizens of Texas security when called on.
 

To learn more about World War II and the history that the Texas Military played in it, visit Campy Mabry in Austin, Texas and explore the Texas Military Forces Museum.

 

The long, proud history of the Texas State Guard

 we are “Texans serving Texas.”
Photo provided by Beaumont Enterprise

Commentary by: Staff Sgt. John Gately

From the volunteer units who fought for Texas Independence and the Travis Guards who provided home protection and campaigns against the Indians for the citizens of Texas in the newly formed Texas Republic, to the civil affairs work that we do today, the Texas State Guard has a long and proud history of serving the citizens of Texas; we are “Texans serving Texas.”

The Texas State Guard was founded in 1871. However, federal authorization for state guards did not come until World War II.  In October 1950, as the National Guard was mobilized to assist in the war effort, states were authorized to organize forces to work in the state while the National Guard was active with federal service.  In accordance with the “State Guard Amendment” of the National Defense Act authorized by Congress, Oct. 21,  1940, the Texas Legislature signed into law the Texas Defense Guard Act (H.B. #45),Feb. 10, 1941. The Texas Defense Guard was formed and had 17,497 members sign up, in contrast to the 11,633 who joined the National Guard around the same time period.

Like today, the volunteers had to provide their own uniforms. They were given rifles by the War Department, but those were returned less than a year later due to army shortages. They were also given a small amount of money for munitions and supplies and looked to civic clubs and sponsorships to provide financial support for other necessary items.

The Texas Defense Guard became the Texas State Guard, May 12, 1943, and the current shoulder patch was approved the following July..

The State Guard was activated only one month later, during the Beaumont Riot, June 1943. Following the rioting, assaults and property destruction, Beaumont Mayor George Gary mobilized the Texas State Guard’s 18th Battalion and acting Texas Governor A. M. Aiken, Jr, instituted martial law. State Police, Texas Rangers and 1,800 State guardsmen arrived in Beaumont to handle the situation.

Although interest decreased after the end of World War II, a disaster on April 16, 1947 created another tour of duty for the State Guard. Guardsman were called into action when martial law was declared due to a fire aboard a French freighter, Grandcamp, at port in Texas City.  Carrying ammonium nitrate and other explosive materials, the fire caused an explosion that destroyed much of the city, and as nearby chemical plants exploded, fire spread  throughout the area. The next day another freighter, High Flyer, also carrying nitrates, exploded causing new explosions and fires. In total more than 600 people were killed and another 3,000 were wounded. The State Guard stepped in and provided much needed support to local law enforcement and triage to the wounded

On Aug. 28, 1947, the Texas State Guard disbanded, colors cased, and its members were placed on an inactive list.  Even though the federal legislation authorizing the Texas State Guard had expired, the Texas State Legislature authorized the activation of the Texas State Guard Reserve Corps in January 1948. In 1955, federal legislators also reauthorized state guards, and in 1965, the Texas State Guard took the place of the Texas State Guard Reserve Corp. 

At one time, the State Guard included the First Naval Battalion with Sterling Hogan and his 60-foot yacht, the Sumoria, being the first vessel. That yacht and the retired U.S.S. Texas were used for training purposes.

In the early 1970s, the Texas State Guard were used as infantry and security units.  The State Guard had six Military Police Groups that followed closely with the boundaries of the Texas Department of Public Safety command districts, being located in Fort Worth, Houston, Rio Grande Valley, Midland, Lubbock and Austin.  In 1979, a 7th military police group was formed for east Texas, and in 1980, groups were formed in San Antonio and Dallas.

In 1993, the groups were changed into regiments located in San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, Dallas and Lubbock. These regiments had new colors and distinctive unit insignia.  In 1995, a 7th regiment was formed in El Paso from the 39th Unit in Lubbock. However, this unit was returned to the 39th in 1999.

On July 1, 1993, the Texas State Guard was designated into six regiments:

The 1st Regiment, the Alamo Guards, began their formation in 1885 as part of the Texas Volunteer Guard, and has the motto “Fidelis et constans” which means faithful and constant. 

The 2nd Regiment, the Austin Greys, started in 1860 as Co A of the 2nd Regiment, Infantry, Texas Volunteer Guard. Their motto is “Opus Perficere,” which means work to achieve.

The 4th Regiment, the Panther City Fencibles, began in 1883 as descendants of the Loyd Rifles and the Fort Worth Fencibles. Their motto is “Sempre Caveo,” or always be aware.

The 8th Cavalry Regiment, Terry’s Texas Rangers, began in 1861 as part of the Confederate States of America Army. Their motto is “In Ardius Fidelis,” meaning faithful in hardship.

The 19th Cavalry Regiment, Parson’s Brigade, also began as part of the Confederate States of America, in 1862, and was formed by Col. Nathanial M. Burford from Dallas. During the reorganization in 1993, parts of the 7th & 9th Military Police Groups formed the 19th Regiment. Their motto is “Parson’s Brigade” in memory of former units

The 39Th Regiment, the Roughnecks, was composed of members of the former 9th regiment (the Buffalo Soldiers which began in 1871) and the 5th Military Police group, Texas State Guard. Their motto is “Semper Defenders” meaning always to defend

The State Guard started to grow and it became clear there should be other types of services.  As a result, in 1996, the 4th Air Wing was created, and in November 2003, the Medical Brigade formed.  The Air Division and 5th Air Wings were established in October 2006, along with the Maritime Regiment in November of that same year.

The Texas State Guard continues to provide Texas with support in state missions, from hurricanes to border security. No matter what the needs of Texas are, the Texas State Guard continues to stand ready to serve; they are “Texans Serving Texas.”

Texas Chief reaches the top

Commentary by Capt. Martha Nigrelle

It takes a lot to reach the top in any career field, and that was no different for Texas Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer William Langford.

After 37 years of service, Langford was promoted to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 5, the highest rank in the Warrant Officer Corps, in a ceremony at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, Dec. 5, 2015.

After 37 years of service, Langford was promoted to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 5, the highest rank in the Warrant Officer Corps, in a ceremony at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, Dec. 5, 2015“There are only 300 CW5’s in the Army National Guard and most of them are in Aviation,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Earnest Metcalf, Command Chief Warrant Officer, noting the significance of the achievement.

“A non aviation warrant officer making CW5 is kind of monumental,” said Maj. Robert Cederstrom, Joint Forces Headquarters Detachment commander

There are 350,000 soldiers currently serving in the Army National Guard making chief warrant officer 5’s, .08% of the force, and the majority of those slots are reserved for pilots.

“Warrant Officers are technical advisors to all of the commands,” said Metcalf. “We’re systems folks, we operate Army systems.”

Langford, a personnel warrant officer, is no stranger to the Army administrative systems.

As the chief warrant officer and executive officer for the Joint Force Headquarters, Langford’s main focus is on the readiness of the more than 400 soldiers assigned to the unit said Metcalf. Ensuring the readiness of the force is necessary

A job many in the unit know Langford is persistent on.

“Everyone knows Mr. Langford,” said Cederstrom. “The majority of the force has felt the presence of Mr. Langford or his emails.”

For the newly pinned Chief Warrant Officer 5, the promotion was significant.

“This is very humbling,” said Langford. “I’m very honored.”

As much as he was honored, Langford said it wasn’t about him – everything he did was about the soldiers.

“All I’m trying to do is help you.”

State Public Affairs 2nd Annual Media Competition

 Texas Military Forces State Public Affairs Office held its 2nd annual media competition highlighting Public Affairs work done by guardsmen throughout Texas at Camp Mabry, Jan. 10, 2016Commentary by Michelle McBride
Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon

The Texas Military Forces State Public Affairs Office held its 2nd annual media competition highlighting Public Affairs work done by guardsmen throughout Texas at Camp Mabry, Jan. 10, 2016.

“I have been in Public Affairs with the Texas Military Department for 24 years,” said Col. Steven Metze, State Public Affairs Officer, “and this is only the second year that we’ve come together to recognize the outstanding work that our Public Affairs service members are doing. This is really great.”

This year’s award recipients are as follows:

Motivational Video: 1st Place - 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Feature Broadcast Journalism: 1st Place - 1st Sgt. Daniel Griego, JTF 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment; 2nd Place - Spc. Zachary Polka, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

News Broadcast: 1st Place - Staff Sgt. Jennifer Atkinson, JTF 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; 2nd Place - Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem, 149th Fighter Wing

Video Information Program: 1st Place - Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon, Joint Force Headquarters

Commentary: 1st Place - Cpt. Martha Nigrelle, Joint Force Headquarters; 2nd Place - Ms. Michelle McBride, Joint Force Headquarters

Feature Story – Journalism: 1st Place - Sgt 1st Class Malcolm McClendon, Joint Force Headquarters ; 2nd Place - 2nd Lt. Phil Fountain, 149th Fighter Wing; 3rd Place - Sgt. Michael Giles, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

News Story – Journalism:  1st Place - 1st Sgt. Daniel Griego, JTF 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment; 2nd Place - Spc. Christina Clardy, 36th Infantry Division

Rising Star Journalist of the Year: Sgt. Elizabeth Pena, JTF 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

Journalist of the Year: Staff Sgt. Jennifer Atkinson, JTF 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

Photojournalism:  1st Place - 1st Sgt. Daniel Griego, JTF 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Sports Photo: 1st Place - Sgt. Praxedis Pineda, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Portrait Photo: 1st Place - 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy, 147th Reconnaissance Wing; 2nd Place - Tech Sgt. Eric Wilson, 149th Fighter Wing

News Photo: 1st Place Tie - Sgt 1st Class Malcolm McClendon, Joint Force Headquarters and 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy, 147th Reconnaissance Wing

Feature Photo: 1st Place - Tech Sgt. Eric Wilson, 149th Fighter Wing ; 2nd Place - Staff Sgt. Mark Scovell, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment ; 3rd Place - Sgt. Praxedis Pineda, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Outstanding Communications Campaign: 1st Place - Joint Task Force 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs Office

Digital Presence:  1st Place - Joint Task Force 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs Office

Special Contribution to the Public Affairs Field by a Non Public Affairs member: Sgt. Jacob Gately, Texas State Guard Joint Force Headquarters

Public Affairs Leader of the Year: Cpt. Maria Mengrone, 176th Engineer Brigade

Lifetime Achievement: Master Sgt. Kenneth Walker, Joint Force Headquarters

Congratulations to all of the winners, we look forward to next year’s entries. To view more photos of the award ceremony, please visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/texasmilitaryforces/albums/72157661133899084

 

Deployment Opportunity!

TXARNG volunteers in grades O5, O4, O3, E8 or E7 to serve as subject matter experts in the operations, intelligence, protection, and sustainment warfighting functions with the following branches/MOS: INF/11, EN/12, FA/13, MP/31, INT/35, LG/90/92 and O1A/O2A (Branch Immaterial)

WHO:  TXARNG volunteers in grades O5, O4, O3, E8 or E7 to serve as subject matter experts in the operations, intelligence, protection, and sustainment warfighting functions with the following branches/MOS: INF/11, EN/12, FA/13, MP/31, INT/35, LG/90/92 and O1A/O2A (Branch Immaterial)

WHEN:  Mobilize February 2016 to CONUS Replacement Center (CRC), deploy NLT March 2016 for a 9-12 month deployment.

WHY:   Support immediate additional request for forces (RFF) from CENTCOM to provide subject matter expertise (SME) in specific warfighting function (WFF)

Site for Volunteers - https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/663076

NATO Resolute Support Mission - http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_113694.htm

POC:  TXARNG Mobilization Team Email - ng.tx.txarng.list.txarng-mobilization@mail.mil

Happy Birthday, National Guard

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country. But he that stands it now, deserves the thanks of man and women; for tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered. Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. For that which we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightlyCommentary by Jeff Hunt, Director, Texas Military Department Museum

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country. But he that stands it now, deserves the thanks of man and women; for tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered. Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. For that which we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”

Thomas Paine wrote those words in December of 1776, as the Continental Army – beaten, bleeding, cold, hungry and despairing – retreated before victorious British legions.  Within the month, that army would turn and deliver devastating defeats to the English at Trenton and Princeton, and in so doing save the American Revolution and the nation it had created. 

What Paine wrote in 1776 was a profound revelation.  What he put into words is a truth that has endured since 1636, when what would become today’s National Guard was born at the first militia muster in the colony of Massachusetts: that America’s citizen soldiers have always been the bulwark of our freedom and our liberty.

In time of peace and in time of war, the men and women of the National Guard have stood watch over America and its freedom. They have allowed us to sleep secure in the knowledge that our homes and loved ones are protected from the ravages of nature or threats of evil men.  Their vigil knows no weekends or holidays. It has been kept in raging storms, bitter cold and searing heat by those far away from home and the comforts they defend.

This is a truth often taken for granted. Yet those marching a lonely post or standing a midnight watch, do not complain or dissent. They serve because they see it as their privilege and duty. Because they recognize that the freedom America has won for herself and given to so much of the world, comes at the cost of their sacrifice. They willing put their bodies and their lives between America and its enemies, between our liberty and those who would steal it away.

And thus shall it ever be. The men and woman of the National Guard are the latest in a long and never-ending line of those willing to risk all for the things that make life worth living. To those who have gone before, who have fought and bled and died, for those who stand guard around the world today, and for those who will take their place in the decades to come, we owe a debt that can be repaid only in the appreciation and homage of a grateful people.  Indeed, as Thomas Paine said in 1776: “He that stands it now, deserves the thanks of man and woman.” America will always remember and she shall never forget the sacrifice they make.

Texas Military Department Announces New Air Guard Commander

Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General of TexasAUSTIN, Texas (November 18, 2015) – Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General of Texas, is pleased to announce Brig. Gen. David McMinn has been named the Commander of the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG), following the retirement of Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian.

McMinn received his commission upon graduation from Clemson University in 1985, completed Undergraduate Pilot Training and was assigned to Pope AFB, North Carolina as a C-130E pilot in 1986. While there, McMinn specialized in Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System Tactical Air Delivery and Adverse Weather Aerial Delivery System formation flying.

After serving during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, McMinn transferred to the TXANG and joined the 136th Airlift Wing as an instructor pilot and later served as the 321st Expeditionary Operations Group Commander during operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. He has also served as the Operations Group, Vice Wing, and Wing Commander in the 136th Airlift Wing. As a traditional Guardsman, McMinn has gained over 5,000 flying hours both in his role as a command pilot in the T-37, T-38, C-130E and C-130H2 aircraft and as a captain for a major commercial airline. He most recently served as the Chief of Staff for the TXANG.

As Commander of the TXANG, McMinn commands more than 3,000 service members and oversees TXANG operations, training, readiness and resource allocation for both state and federal missions.

The appointment follows the recent announcement regarding the retirement of Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian, Deputy Adjutant General-Air and Commander of the TXANG. Wisian is retiring with more than 32 years of service to the state and nation, including tours of duty in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. He now serves as director of the Coastal Protection division of the office of the Texas General Land Office.

Details regarding a change of command and/or retirement ceremonies for the above individuals are forthcoming.

Texas Military Department Announces Deputy Adjutant General-Air Appointee

Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General of TexasAUSTIN, Texas (November 18, 2015) Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General of Texas, is pleased to announce Col. Dawn Ferrell, of Wichita Falls, has been named the Deputy Adjutant General-Air for the Texas Military Department, effective immediately, following the retirement of Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian.

Gov. Greg Abbott made the appointment Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Ferrell earned a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Midwestern State University and a doctorate degree from the University of North Texas. She joined the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) in 1983, commissioning through the Air National Guard's Academy of Military Science in 1994.

Since 2009, Ferrell has served as the Commander for the Mission Support Group of the 136th Airlift Wing for the TXANG based at the Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base. In 2013, she deployed to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, serving in a joint North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) billet as Director of Plans and Logistics Operations, where she was responsible for strategic level oversight for logistics planning, sustainment and redeployment of United States and NATO forces for the ISAF mission.

As the Deputy Adjutant General, Ferrell is the state’s senior Air Guard official appointed by the governor and serves as the principal advisor to the Adjutant General on all matters concerning the TXANG. 

The appointment follows the recent announcement regarding the retirement of Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian, Deputy Adjutant General-Air and Commander of the TXANG. Wisian is retiring with more than 32 years of service to the state and nation, including tours of duty in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. He now serves as director of the Coastal Protection division of the office of the Texas General Land Office.

Details regarding a change of responsibility and/or retirement ceremonies for the above individuals are forthcoming.

 

Air Day held in San Antonio

149th Fighter Wing, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Oct. 15, 2015Commentary and photo by Michelle McBride
Texas Military Department Public Affairs Office

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Members of the Texas Air National Guard welcomed distinguished visitors and community leaders to the 149th Fighter Wing, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Oct. 15, 2015.

The event was part of the Texas ANG’s annual “Air Day” to showcase and educate their civilian leaders on the organization’s state and federal capabilities.

“We are an integral part of all of the operations the U.S. military does all over the world,” said Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian, Deputy Adjutant General for Air and Commander of the Texas Air National Guard. “Texans are flying combat missions day in and day out.” 

During the event, the attendees were able to interact with Texas ANG’s leadership as well as Citizen-Airmen assigned to their three air wings, which are located in Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.

The mission of the Fort Worth-based 136th Airlift Wing is to provide tactical air support, via the C-130 Hercules aircraft, at home and abroad. The unit currently has personnel and aircraft deployed overseas.

The 147th Reconnaissance Wing, based in Houston, operates the MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft to provide critical support for overseas contingency operations.

Additionally, the 149th Fighter Wing’s primary federal mission is to train combat-ready pilots – active duty, Guard and Reserve – to employ the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Attendees had the opportunity to view the F-16 up-close and view them take off for a training mission.

When activated by the Governor of Texas, the Air Wings have the ability to assist state and local officials respond to disaster relief and humanitarian aid missions with medical and other logistical support.

Another mission of the Texas Air National Guard includes protecting cyberspace. Texas Airmen from the 273rd Information Operations Squadron, based in San Antonio, were on-hand to highlight their unique partnership with the U.S. Air Force and the National Security Agency to protect the nation’s digital infrastructure.

The Texas Air National Guard leaders also pointed out the unique value they bring to the nation’s defense.

“Why do we need the National Guard? Because of our combat force and our tremendous value to the tax payer,” Wisian said. “We do everything the (Air Force) Reserve does, but also accomplish state missions.”