Posts in Category: Texas Army National Guard

Texas, Nebraska ANG benefit from State Partnership Program

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Tyson Cannon, maintenance operations officer with the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, and Czech Air Force 1st Lt. Pavel Popspisil, chief of electric and special equipment group, examines the main gear box of the Mi-24 Hind Attack Helicopter March 22, 2017 at 22nd Air Base, Namest Nab Oslavou, Czech Republic. Popspisil explained how the gear box and engine were configured and removed. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman De’Jon Williams)



Story by: Senior Airman De'Jon Williams

136th Airlift Wing (Texas Air National Guard)

PRAGUE - Airmen from Texas and Nebraska Air National Guard units partnered with the Czech Air Force to participate in a subject matter expert exchange of maintenance information March 20-23, 2017, at air bases in the Czech Republic.

The maintenance exchange was part of a state partnership program between the Texas and Nebraska Air National Guards and the Czech Republic coordinated by Maj. Mark White, bilateral affairs officer, U.S. Embassy-Prague, Texas Army National Guard.

"Having the ability to have Airmen from across multiple airframes share their experiences and best practices is something that the Czech Air Force really appreciated and valued," said White. "You could see the dialog and discussion evolving with detailed questions. I was very happy with the level of information and the vast experience that the Airmen were able to share with their Czech partners."

The state partnership program has been in place since 1993 with a multitude of military exchanges and familiarization over the course of its existence. However, it had been many years since a dedicated Air Force maintenance exchange had taken place.

"I think it's very important to obtain a relationship with our sister units to exchange ideas and practices, said Tech. Sgt. Jarrett Patman, a crew chief with the 136th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "I feel this exchange can benefit our unit in that we can learn from the way that their cargo base runs and I hope to gain knowledge to take back to Fort Worth and implement within our squadron."

The Airmen traveled to the three Czech Air Force bases, each with different aircraft, to discuss maintenance topics such as front shop, back shop and all levels of maintenance planning.

"As a maintenance systems subject matter expert, my goal was to describe to the Czech Air Force how we do our maintenance practices back in Nebraska, help and promote some new ideas, as well as exchange ideas from them and their maintenance practices that we might be able to utilize back in the states," said Master Sgt. Corey Wacker, 155th Air Refueling Wing maintenance management analyst, Nebraska Air National Guard. "The overall goal was to gain knowledge and a better understanding of how maintenance and military operations go in their country."

There have been multiple pilot exchanges, but never ones including maintenance or munitions. Both of these units are integral elements for mission success and were necessary additions for the benefit of the program.

"My role specifically was just to show them how we do it in the fighter world," said 1st Lt. Tyson Cannon, 149th Fighter Wing maintenance operations officer, Texas Air National Guard. "I brought a few slides to show our daily maintenance production meetings. I gave them a little insight into how we separate different shop sections, prioritize work operations and how we do our daily maintenance procedures."

The state partnership has been in place for over 24 years between the Czech Republic, the Texas National Guard and the Nebraska Air National Guard. Many military engagements have been conducted during this partnership, and with nearly 30 more exchanges covering the numerous mission sets within the military, planned this year, the states continue to build an enduring relationship with their Czech counterparts.

Texas Army National Guard commander helps build DPS leaders and partners

Brig. Gen. Tracy Norris, addresses the Texas Department of Public Safety Command College, Cohort V Class to prepare them for their culminating CAPSTONE event at the DPS Headquarters in Austin, Texas, March 8, 2017. The TXARNG and Texas DPS train together and support each other in domestic operations in order to better serve the citizens of Texas.


Story By: 1st. Lt. Jolene Hinojosa, Texas Army National Guard Command Group, Unit Public Affairs Representative

AUSTIN, Texas – Brig. Gen. Tracy Norris, Deputy Adjutant General - Army and Texas Army National Guard Commander attended the Texas Department of Public Safety Command College, Cohort V Class as guest speaker to prepare them for their culminating CAPSTONE event, March 8, 2017, at their headquarters in Austin.

“The DPS Command College is our version of the Army's War College,” said Texas Army National Guard retired Brig. Gen. Orlando Salinas, Deputy Assistant Director, Education, Training and Research. “The leaders participating in this training are equivalent to lieutenant colonels and colonels in the military. The course is very selective to make sure that we are targeting the very best in our agency.”


Brig. Gen. Tracy Norris, Deputy Adjutant General - Army and Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG) Commander attended the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Command College, Cohort V Class as guest speaker to prepare them for their culminating CAPSTONE event at the DPS Headquarters in Austin, Texas, March 8, 2017. The TXARNG and Texas DPS train together and support each other in domestic operations in order to better serve the citizens of Texas.


The command college participants included 30 DPS employees and one member of the Texas Army National Guard.

Salinas, former Deputy Assistant Adjutant General for the Texas Army National Guard, understands exactly what the Texas Military Department has to offer. Creating a strong partnership to share knowledge and leadership experience is something that he and BG Norris hope to continue to build.

“I am excited about the partnership that we have with DPS and look forward to continuing to build our relationship with them,” said Norris. “By sharing our leadership experiences, we can all grow together in our craft as Texans serving Texas.”

Norris participated in the leadership development portion of the course’s curriculum. The main topics of discussion included discussion points and questions on topics such as leadership, ethics and communication.

“Throughout my 30-year career, I’ve had leaders who invested in me and took the time to make sure that I knew the way ahead for the organization,” said Norris. “This helped me understand what my role was and why I was doing the things I was doing. By seeing the bigger picture, even as a junior leader, I was able to exercise disciplined initiative and take action for the betterment of the organization.”

Leader development through mentorship and advocacy is one of Norris’ top priorities and supports the Adjutant General’s priorities of putting people first. The opportunity to communicate and partner with the Texas Department of Public Safety to share this message is one that she and Salinas hope to continue to foster.

“As always, Brig. Gen. Norris hit a home run,” said Salinas. “We appreciate the experience that she has as a military leader and are so honored to have her come and speak with us. We hope to continue to build the relationship between ourselves and the Texas Army National Guard.”

Patriots Partner with Arrowhead Division

Photo By Staff Sgt. Nathan Akridge | Col. Clarence Henderson Jr. (left) commander of the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division and Col. Brian Sullivan (right) commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division discuss lessons learned while conducting a joint training exercise. 
Story by: Staff Sgt. Nathan Akridge
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Public Affairs


POLK, La. – Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (LI) “Patriots” trained side by side with members of the 36th Infantry Division “Arrowhead” during the Mountain Peak exercise here at Fort Polk, writing history together as the first two units in the Associated Unit Pilot program, or AUP, to participate in a major training event together.

In September 2016, the Patriot Brigade became the only Active Duty brigade combat team to wear a National Guard Patch. By partnering an Active Duty brigade with a National Guard unit, the Army hoped to drastically cut the time needed for the National Guard to prepare for a deployment.

Col. Brian Sullivan, commander, 3BCT, said that this training exercise shows that the AUP program is more than just a patch change. 

“The pilot has specific benchmark events that assess the effectiveness of the particular associations increasing readiness. For 3/10 and 36 ID, our benchmark for this year is our JRTC rotation in May,” said Sulllivan. “Mountain Peak serves as a critical rehearsal to ensure we are successful at JRTC. Right now there are 80 Soldiers from the 72nd IBCT [Infantry Brigade Combat Team], 36th ID serving as the exercise control for Mountain Peak, which means a National Guard IBCT from 36th ID is training its sister Active Component BCT 3/10.”

Col. Sullivan also stresses that the AUP partnership has already paid dividends to the Soldiers of 3BCT.

“3/10 has already benefitted greatly from our association with 36th ID,” said Sullivan. “The knowledge of their Division Master Gunner exceeds any on active duty I've known. Without him, we would not have been able to train our cavalry squadron to standard.”

Col. Clarence Henderson, 72nd IBCT Commander, said that both the 72nd and 3BCT leadership have a specific goal in mind.

“We are aligning the activities we are conducting between our two units with Gen. Abram’s and Gen. Milley’s intent, which is readiness is our number one priority,” said Henderson. “This is our first opportunity to partner with 3/10 and develop and mature the AUP program, as well as share the challenges that our units face.”

Soldiers from the 36th Infantry Division participated in all facets of the training during Mountain Peak, including the preparation, planning, and execution phases of the exercise. Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Sublett, Command Sgt. Maj. of the 72nd IBCT, a Soldier with 34 years of service, 13 of which were on Active Duty, said the AUP program has helped both the Active Duty and National Guard units involved.

“It gives us a better insight on lessons learned from the Active Duty side to the National Guard side and vice versa,” said Sublett. “What do we each do better than the other? It’s more of a best practices, what we learn from you and what you learn from us.”

Both sides profited tremendously from the training. Maj. Philip Waggoner, the 3BCT Plans and Operations Officer in Charge, said the National Guard enhanced the effectiveness and training value of the Mountain Peak exercise.

“I think this exercise proves that the National Guard and active duty components are very capable of working together. 36th ID, 10th Mountain Division, and 3BCT have conducted integrated planning on this exercise since October to make it a worthwhile training event for the 3BCT Soldiers. 36th ID’s ability to send personnel to serve as the EXCON [exercise control] and OC/Ts [observer controller/trainer] is truly valuable not only to making the exercise run properly, but provide critical lessons learned to make the BCT better during JRTC and in combat.”

So as the Army goes rolling along, the AUP program charges full speed ahead, strengthening the bond between our Active Duty and National Guard forces.

Texas Soldiers and Airmen join Czech and Chilean service members at Best Warrior Competition

Air Force Staff Sgt. Juan Nunez, a security forces specialist with the 136th Security Forces Squadron, Texas Air National Guard, Fort Worth, Texas, completes the sit-up portion of the joint army physical fitness test during the Texas Military Department 2017 Best Warrior Competition March 3, 2017 at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas. Nunez was graded based on his overall score that included a three mile run, push ups and sit-ups. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman De’Jon Williams)
Photo by: Senior Airman DeJon Williams
136th Airlift Wing (Texas Air National Guard)


BASTROP, Texas —Soldiers and Airmen from the Texas Military Department competed alongside service members from partner nations in the Best Warrior Competition March 2 – 4, 2017, at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas. 

Twenty-seven members of the Texas Army National Guard and Air National Guard joined with service members from Chile and the Czech Republic to compete in a series of tactical exercises and soldiering tasks in a competition intended to foster joint-force and multinational comradery. 

“It’s a great opportunity to bring our Soldiers and Airmen together in competition,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general of the Texas . “While it’s a friendly competition, it’s also a very, very hard competition.”

This year, the Best Warrior Competition consisted of various scored and timed events including; the Army Physical Fitness Test, weapons qualification, a road march, night land navigation, writing an essay, and appearing before a board that reviewed competitor’s personal appearance, military bearing and knowledge. The competition concluded with a mystery event, the details of which were not revealed until the event began.

Nichols said he appreciated the effect that this joint competition will have on future collaboration.

“That allows young Soldiers and Airmen to build relationships and gain experience that they will carry with them through their whole careers,” Nichols said. 

The experience the Texas Military Department forces gain from this joint competition will also translate to real-world benefits in emergency response and warfighting capabilities, Nichols said.

“The reality is that if we as the Texas Military Department find ourselves responding to an emergency, we are able to work with other branches or our foreign allies and operate more effectively,” Nichols said.

“With us having a joint Best Warrior Competition, we have our Guardsmen honing their skills to ensure mission readiness,” said Command Sergeant Major John Sampa, command sergeant major of the 36th Infantry Division. “But they also get to do that in conjunction with other services and our international allies to see how they operate.”

This will be the second time personnel from the military of Chile have joined Texan Soldiers and Airmen at the Best Warrior Competition, and the first for soldiers from the Czech Republic. 

The intent of the joint competition is for the foreign partners to also gain experience working alongside members of the Texas Military Department, Sampa said. 

“It’s our hope that they will take the impression back to their countries and their units that Texas Soldiers are well-trained Soldiers, professional Soldiers and be willing to come back again to train with us and, if need be, fight alongside us.” Sampa said.

An enduring bond: NCO reinforces partnership with first-time Czech Republic competitors

Photo By Sgt. Michael Giles | Czech Army Staff Sgt. Jakub Domeny receives a briefing with service members from the Texas Air and National Guard, as well as soldiers from Chile and the Czech Republic at the M4 qualification event as part of the fifth annual Texas Military Department Best Warrior Competition, at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas, March 3, 2017. This year's Best Warrior Competition was the second time Chilean soldiers participated and the first time for soldiers from the Czech Republic as part of Texas Military Department's initiative to develop relations with foreign partners. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Sgt. Michael Giles) 
Story by: 1st Lt. Allegra Boutch
100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment


BASTROP, Texas — The Texas Military Department enjoys a valuable and enduring relationship with Chile and the Czech Republic. The State Partnership Program, or SPP, facilitates frequent, constructive engagement with foreign armies. 
The foreign soldiers who participate in SPP exchanges carry the responsibility of bringing lessons learned from these events with them back home. They also represent their respective countries, building a reputation wherever they go.
Staff Sgt. Jakub Domeny with the 41st Mechanized Battalion, 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade, understands this immense pressure. The Czech soldier, who decided to become a soldier after watching “Saving Private Ryan,” felt nervous as he prepared to compete alongside Texan and Chilean soldiers in the fifth annual TMD Best Warrior Competition at Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas. 
”I am here for the first time,” said Domeny. “I am here to compete, but my main goal is to get experience from here and then get it to Czech Republic so we can have our own competition and continue sending our soldiers here.” 
The TMD Best Warrior Competition brings together exemplary Soldiers across Texas to test their skills in board interviews, physical fitness tests, written exams and warfare simulations. 
Domeny trained during every spare moment before tests began. “This is people say the best Army in the world,” he said. “I thought that I was going to be average, but after being here for a week, I feel pretty relaxed.”
The greatest responsibility however may fall with the American service members assigned to each foreign soldier. Staff Sgt. Kevin Hannah,136th Maintenance Squadron, Airlift Wing, also sought to leave a good impression with his assigned soldiers.
“The main thing we are trying to do with the soldiers is take care of them,” said Hannah. “For any NCO, taking care of each other is the ultimate. So for the Czech soldiers, I can show how the American military takes care of our people by taking care of them. Hopefully they will go back to the Czech Republic and take those interactions with them.”
Hannah told his Czech counterparts jokes to help calm their nerves. Domeny then passed his board interview and went on to score a 29 of 40 on his marksmanship test. According to Domeny, Hannah’s efforts made him confident that he can return home and be a positive influence to his soldiers as well. 
“A good soldier is the results you have in the field, but it is also your behavior, your attitude and how you help,” Domeny said. “A good soldier will do the maximum they can do to serve.” 
After the competition, Domeny plans to return home and share the administrative and organizational techniques that made the Best Warrior run, in his words, flawlessly.

Texas Military Department Best Warrior competitors push through mystery event

Video by Spc. Zach Polka 
100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment  


Best Warrior competitors work through unknown challenges during final "mystery event" of the 2017 Best Warrior Competition, March 4, 2017.

The BWC brings together the best junior enlisted and noncommissioned officers from the Texas Air and Army National Guards to compete for the prestigious title.

The BWC is intended to reflect real-life combat situations, stress, endurance and convey how important both intelligence and dedication are to being a National Guardsman. At the end of the grueling three-day competition one junior enlisted and one noncommissioned officer with the highest overall ranking is recognized as the Texas Best Warrior.

Connect, understand, motivate: Command Sgt. Maj. Weedon's life as a student of leadership

Photo By Sgt. Mark Otte | Command Sgt. Maj. Mark A. Weedon speaks with Soldiers during the Texas Military Department's Best Warrior Competition at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas, March 3, 2017. The 2017 Best Warrior Competition is considered the final event that Command Sgt. Mark A. Weedon will spearhead before retiring March 25, 2017. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Sgt. Mark Otte/Released)
Story by: Sgt. Michael Giles
100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment


BASTROP, Texas (March 3, 2017)—Long before serving the Texas Army National Guard as its senior enlisted leader, Mark Weedon ran a homeless shelter. This job presented him with a troubling question: why couldn’t he do more for the people he was trying to help?

"I wanted to figure out why it is that there are people who come to this organization that I can't fix," Weedon said.

To better understand the problem, he took a leave of absence and spent two weeks hopping trains, deliberately living as a homeless person. His journey brought him closer to accepting and respecting people with a different mindset. 

"You can survive or thrive," Weedon said. His weeks on the trains helped him realize some people are not ready to let go of the survival mindset that inhibits them from thriving.

"Having spent that time out there living and surviving helped me to understand that you can't fix everything," Weedon said. "It's allowed me not to cast people aside as quickly who don't meet my expectations." 

Now, Weedon approaches the end of a 26-year National Guard career in which he made his mark by demonstrating the same commitment to serving and understanding people that he embraced when he served the homeless. He has gained a reputation as a selfless mentor, a leader who succeeds through building relationships, and an advisor who strives to understand what Soldiers need.

"He's definitely a people person," said Master Sgt. Ramon M. Ruiz with the 136th Regional Training Institute. "I felt comfortable knowing that I could seek guidance from him." 

Ruiz said that Weedon has the ability to see Soldiers' potential and give them good career direction. Weedon once called him into his office to advise against a transfer Ruiz was planning. "If you go to that unit, your skills will waste away," Weedon told him, encouraging him to instead pursue a more challenging position.

"He can just see people, inside and out," Ruiz said. "He can see what they’re capable of—their strengths, their weakness—and he puts the pieces in the right place." 

Weedon demonstrates selfless service to Soldiers and inspires others to take care of their Soldiers, said Sgt. Mitch R. Guile, a medic with the Texas Medical Command, remembering how Weedon came to the aid of a Soldier who had forgotten to bring some crucial gear to a training event. 

"Command Sgt. Maj. Weedon took off his gloves he had—since it was about 20 degrees outside—and gave them to him," Guile said. "When you see the top enlisted guy taking care of even the lowest ranking guy out there, you definitely have to take care of your guys, and make sure the guys below you are taking care of the guys below them."

While Weedon led junior-enlisted Soldiers through demonstrations of selflessness, he also led senior enlisted members by encouraging them to integrate their ideas, said Command Sgt. Maj. Murphy L. McCardell, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

"We all have a Type-A personality. He has the ability to get his agenda across while allowing other command sergeants major to have a say," McCardell said. “He has the ability to allow other leaders to bring their insights together to collectively come up with a way ahead." 

Improving collaboration was also Weedon's desired outcome for the Texas Military Department’s Best Warrior Competition, which he coordinated during the last month before his retirement. Weedon said the competition creates opportunities for members of both the Air National Guard and Army National Guard forces to adapt to joint force operations. 

"For me, this joint competition is about that," Weedon said. "It's about bringing us together."

Weedon said that one of primary goals of Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general of the Texas Military Department, is to overcome obstacles that the two forces experience when working together. As Airmen and Soldiers compete together over three days, they develop relationships that will improve their ability to function in joint force missions. 

"By the time we get to Saturday night and we've been sharpening the edge together, now you're going to see some lifelong friends made," Weedon said. "They'll have a relationship, and we will become better at protecting Texas because of that."

Weedon does not attribute his strengths in working with people to any unique talent, but rather to the basics. 

"Part of that is human nature—we tend to want to help our fellow man," Weedon said.

He also credits the basic ideals of the Noncommissioned Officer Corps, which he said he received repeatedly during Army leadership courses. The most basic of these ideals: placing the welfare of one's Soldiers before one's own. 

"Putting that in practice and watching the level of influence rise, when you put other people first, it's incredible, so it stuck with me," Weedon said.

Simply embracing the tenets of Army leadership is how Weedon succeeded in strengthening the 136th Regional Training Institute when he served as commandant, Ruiz said. 

"He went back to the basics and instilled leadership and discipline into the NCO Corps," Ruiz said. "He really got us back on our azimuth of making sure we were doing what's right."

"He sets the example," Ruiz continued. "He sets the standard. He's the mold of what right looks like and gives us the inspiration to be like that."

Camp Buehring breaks ground on $3.7 million Essayons Village

Courtesy Story By: Capt. Maria Mengrone

Posted On: Feb. 22, 2017

Photo By Capt. Maria Mengrone | On Feb. 14, 2017, Camp Buehring officials broke ground on the $3.7 million Essayons Village complex which will include a series of buildings for future engineer brigades and battalions supporting operations in the Middle East. Pictured (left to right) Mr. Raymond Soto, Program Operations Senior Director for Vectrus and resident of New York City, N.Y., Lt. Col. Carl W. Aufdenkampe, Director of DPW-North and hails from Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Lt. Col. Christopher M. Leung, Camp Commander of Camp Buehring and resident of Champaign, Ill., and Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Maurice D. Millican, representing Soldiers of the 176th Engineer Brigade (Task Force Chaos) and resident of Harker Heights, Texas. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Maria Mengrone/Released)

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – Camp Buehring officials broke ground on the construction of the $3.7 million Essayons Village complex which will include a series of buildings for future engineer brigades and battalions supporting operations in the Middle East, Feb. 14, 2017, Camp Buehring.

The village will consist of seven pre-engineered buildings which will include workspace for one engineer brigade, two engineer battalions, and four company headquarters.

“Right now the brigade headquarters and a lot of their battalion headquarters are in tents; the environmental control isn’t as good and they work out of temporary partitions and cubicles,” said Camp Commander of Camp Buehring Lt. Col. Christopher M. Leung and resident of Champaign, Ill. 

Planning for the project began as early as February 2016 and final approval was granted in September 2016.

“Each building has its own scope of work so each building required its own development plans,” said Project Manager Capt. Joshua J. Flury, 308th Engineer Facilities Detachment, Brigade Support Troops Battalion, Directorate of Public Works-North (DPW-N).

The work for the project is contracted with an expected completion date of Sep. 12, 2017. 

“The brigade headquarters building will be able to support about 50 personnel. But some of the other buildings are roughly 100 square meters, they will include space for a company commander, company first sergeant and a common area where administrative tasks can be completed. Each building will have its own male and female latrine directly connected to the building,” said Flury.

Onlookers at the ceremony included currently serving Soldiers of the 176th Engineer Brigade, Task Force Chaos, of the Texas Army National Guard. 

“I know we won’t be able to enjoy the Essayons Village but it was important that we were able to be part of this ceremony. It’s always great to know that the follow on engineer units will have a more suitable work environment,” said Senior Enlisted Advisor of the 176th Engineer Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Simms, a native of Copperas Cove,Texas. 

The ceremony for Essayons Village is the first of many projects expected for Camp Buehring.

“This is just another part of Camp Buehring’s continued progress. We are growing and continuing to look at new projects to improve things for the tenants who live and work here,” said Leung. 

“This investment in Essayons Village is evidence of the important role the Engineer Regiment is playing throughout the USCENTCOM Area of Responsibility,” said Task Force Chaos Commander, Col. Charles M. Schoening, a Georgetown, Texas resident. “Engineer operations in this theater will continue to be a primary focus and will require enduring facilities for headquarters elements to support mission command functions.”

“Essayons” is French for, “Let us try,” and the adopted motto of the U.S. Army Engineer Regiment.

Texas guard engineer mission making history

Story by: Capt. Maria Mengrone, 176th Engineer Brigade, Texas Army National Guard

Posted On: Feb. 09, 2017

Soldiers from the 310th Multi-Role Bridge Company work alongside engineers from the British Army to dismantle an Acrow bridge they built together. The Acrow bridge built helped hone the skills of U.S. and British engineers in preparation to train Iraqi Army bridge engineers at Camp Taji, Iraq, Jan. 31, 2017. The 310th MRBC is assigned to the 153rd Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade (Task Force Chaos). (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Maria Mengrone/Released)

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – Approximately 135 Soldiers of the 176th Engineer Brigade, Texas Army National Guard continue to provide command and control of more than 1,600 Active Duty, National Guard and Army Reserve engineer forces across the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility while deployed.

“This is a historic mission for the engineer brigade. This is the first time an engineer brigade headquarters has had this type of mission in a contingency environment,” said 176th Engineer Brigade Commander, Col. Charles Schoening, a resident of Georgetown, Texas.

Since arriving in theater, the brigade tackled many challenges in order to develop operational capability.

“The greatest challenge we initially faced was not having our network infrastructure and connectivity in place,” said Schoening. “We overcame these shortfalls and were able to become fully operationally capable within the first 30 days.”

The brigade is responsible for engineer forces spanning eight countries in 19 separate locations.

“Our primary focus is providing command and control for engineer missions in the CENTCOM area of responsibility. This includes providing support for our down trace battalions and companies. Since arriving in theater, we have made it possible for battalion and company commanders to conduct battlefield circulation, and we immediately started pushing our brigade resources, such as behavioral health, religious services support, and medical support to all the different locations,” said Schoening.

Many of the missions across the various countries are heavily focused on general engineer construction tasks.

“We are in charge of troop labor construction planning; we help the stakeholders plan the project all the way through execution,” said Lt. Col. Robert Crockem Jr., operations officer of the 176th Eng. Bde. and native of New Orleans, La.

To facilitate the execution of the engineer projects the brigade assigned portfolio managers to each area of operation.

“Our portfolio managers coordinate with stakeholders to understand their requirements and we help them build those requirements into construction projects. Once coordinated we push the project through the funding process to get materials and then start tasking our battalions against that,” said Crockem.

The brigade also touts a ready and equipped geospatial team that utilizes geographic data to compile maps which support military engineer operations.

“We provide geospatial products that enhance decision making,” said Warrant Officer 1 Steven Machado, geospatial technician and native of Hobbs, N.M.

“We have received positive feedback because we are able to provide perspective on the ground for the entire CENTCOM area of responsibility,” said Machado.

Allowing movements across the various regions is required to obtain critical data to assist in the planning process.

“We survey different base camps and use our instruments to map out what you see on the ground,” said Spc. Quincy Daniels, technical engineer, 176th En. Bde. and native of Dallas, Texas.

“We then get important to know information for things like drainage flow,” said Daniels.

The arrival of the engineer brigade also helped serve as a conduit to assist its two battalions in prioritizing its various missions.

Additionally, the brigade provides liaison officers to help support and build the various higher command relationships, and provide visibility of future construction requirements.

“There is a lot of pride in the work being done. Our Soldiers are motivated and there are a lot of eyes on the work that they are doing. They are doing everything they can to make Texas proud,” said Schoening.

The headquarters element of the 176th Engineer Brigade is a Texas Army National Guard unit based in Grand Prairie, Texas. The unit is serving a nine-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield, Operation Inherent Resolve, and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Texas National Guard conducts final roll call for 10-year-old Spc. Rowan Windham

Texas Military Department 

Posted: Jan. 24, 2016

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Pena

Carrie Windham, mother of deceased honorary Texas Army National Guard Spc. Rowan Jameson Windham, attends final roll call ceremony, Jan. 25, 2017, at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. Windham was enlisted back in March of 2015, after telling his nurse his dream of becoming a soldier. Texas Military Department The roll call serves as a memorial ceremony to represent the permanent loss of a soldier. Windham, 10, spent the majority of his 10 years battling a rare genetic disorder called Shwachman-Diamond syndrome. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

AUSTIN, Texas --There wasn't a dry eye in sight during the final Roll Call ceremony, for the honorary Texas Army National Guard Spc. Rowan Jameson Windham, Jan. 24, 2017, at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. 

A final roll call ceremony is a military ritual designed to serve as a tribute paid by soldiers to their deceased comrade.

Each soldier sounds off, Here, first sergeant!‚ when their name is called. But on this day, the auditorium fell silent as Rowan's name was echoed throughout the packed room. Spc. Rowan Windham.

Traditionally, the ceremony includes a visible reminder of the deceased soldier. The head gear and identification tags signify the fallen. In most cases, an inverted rifle with bayonet, but this case a wooden cross and gear stand, signals a time for prayer, a break in action to pay tribute to their comrade.

"He was an incredible kid," said Command Sgt. Maj. Mark A. Weedon, senior enlisted advisor for the Texas Military Department. "He did more in his small 10 years of life, than some of us do in a lifetime."

Rowan's ever lasting impact on the Texas Military Department was evident during the emotional roll call ceremony, as hundreds of service members came to pay their respects with Kleenex in hand.  

Also present at the roll call ceremony were Windhams parents. 

"He would be crying happy tears as Rowan would say, said Brian Windham, father of Rowan. He would be skipping out of here with joy," said Carrie Windham, mother of Rowan, through her own tears of happiness.

Rowan was born with a rare disease, and spent the majority of his 10 years in a hospital battling a genetic disorder called Shwachman-Diamond syndrome. 

The young trooper became a member of the Texas Military Department, just two years prior, at the age of eight, during an honorary enlistment ceremony at Camp Mabry, where he was awarded the military occupation specialties of Cavalry Scout and Apache Pilot.

Thank you and this is the best day ever of my whole entire life, Rowan said in front of hundreds of people, following his enlistment ceremony in March of 2015.

On Dec. 15, 2016, Rowan took his final breath at the Seattle Children's Hospital, following complications from two consecutive bone marrow transplants.

A native Texan, Rowan was an avid, thespian, video gamer, Lego builder, chef, Bigfoot fan and philanthropist who touched the lives of thousands around the world. 

He is survived by his father Brian, his mother Carrie, his sister Zoe, his brother Ian, family members, friends and Texas Guardsmen across the force. 

To read more about Windham's story please visit: