Posts in Category: Texas Army National Guard

Texas Guard member and his daughter personally supported Flint relief mission

Texas Guard member and his daughter personally supported Flint relief mission

Story by:  Master Sgt. Daniel Griego

Posted: March 18, 2016

Maj. George Hurd, left, Staff Sgt. Erdoo Thompson, center, and 1st Lt. Matthew Verdugo, right, all of the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, load bottled water in preparation for Hurd's convoy to Flint, Michigan, March 10, 2016, in Round Rock, Texas. (Photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Griego)
Maj. George Hurd, left, Staff Sgt. Erdoo Thompson, center, and 1st Lt. Matthew Verdugo, right, all of the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, load bottled water in preparation for Hurd's convoy to Flint, Michigan, March 10, 2016, in Round Rock, Texas. (Photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Griego)

ROUND ROCK, Texas - As the Flint Water Crisis enters its third month, one Texas Army National Guard member decided to step up and directly help the people most affected. So he took a road trip to Michigan.

More than two months ago, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency for Flint, Michigan, in response to the ongoing water crisis that has exposed up to 12,000 children to contaminated drinking water. Since then, private donations have poured in to support the community suffering from long-term lead poisoning. For Maj. George Hurd, a Texas Army National Guard member and combat veteran, sitting idly was not an option.

"Part of it comes from my experience overseas in Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan, where we gave out bottled water to children all across that region," said Hurd. "When I sat back and became more aware of what was going on in Flint and seeing the disaster that's going on up there, I just thought there wasn't enough attention. It affected me to the core and instead of just complaining about it, I decided to do something about it."

Hurd, who serves as the deputy operations officer for the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Round Rock, Texas, organized a support effort wherein he and his daughter loaded up the family truck and drove more than 1,200 miles from their Mansfield home to Flint to deliver water and other supplies to the children in need.

"We're going to go door to door," said Hurd. "We're going to link up with local churches and the police department, and hit the areas that are most afflicted and haven't received as much water as they've hoped or have been asking for."

The trip for the father-daughter team started the morning of Saturday, March 12, and lasted until their return home March 16. In Flint, they delivered water, toiletry supplies, and other necessities directly to families affected by the crisis.

"We wanted to do that human interaction thing and actually just meet with people and give them some water and find out what else they need," Hurd said. "We're hoping to create some awareness. We're calling our mission the Flint Water Brigade, a spinoff from the old days when firemen and the community would come together with buckets of water to help put out fire."

Hurd's daughter Olivia, a high school sophomore, chose to spend her spring break on this trip with her father in support of the Flint Water Brigade.

"I'm so blessed to have this opportunity to help people," Olivia said. "I just want to make a difference one person at a time."

In total, the team delivered two truckloads of water, a truckload of baby wipes, and helped a local single mother purchase a vehicle.

"We're hoping it inspires other people to help out," said Hurd.

Candidates learn to take charge of their future

Candidates learn to take charge of their future

Story by: Pvt. Kourtney Grimes

Posted On: March 8, 2016

Members of Warrant Officer Candidate School Course 16-01 host a car wash at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, March 5, 2016, to raise funds for their graduation ceremony. The candidates are in Phase II of the three-part course that will turn them into technical experts in their fields within the United States Army. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Pvt. Kourtney Grimes/Released)
Members of Warrant Officer Candidate School Course 16-01 host a car wash at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, March 5, 2016, to raise funds for their graduation ceremony. The candidates are in Phase II of the three-part course that will turn them into technical experts in their fields within the United States Army. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Pvt. Kourtney Grimes/Released)

Candidates of the Texas Army National Guard’s Warrant Officer Candidate School organized a car wash to raise funds for their graduation ceremony at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, March 5, 2016. This event is one of several tasks that the candidates will execute without guidance or direction throughout their course.

“This project is entirely led by candidates,” said Warrant Officer Candidate Travis Chappell, a unit supply specialist in the Army Reserves. “We write the operational order, figure out what supplies we need, figure out the route, locate the facility we are going to use, and we do all of it to bring this big project together with a group of individuals that were strangers four or five months ago.”

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Patricia Crawson, a WOCS instructor, provides the candidates with the mission goal and they tackle the objective as a team.

“We provide [candidates] with the training schedule,” said Crawson, “but they get themselves up in the morning, clean the barracks, and conduct physical readiness training. They are ultimately responsible for being in the right place at the right time. That’s how we evaluate the various leadership positions.”

The WOCS program is broken up into three phases: online training courses, the classroom warrant officer candidate course, and a two-week resident phase in Alabama.

“In the first phase, candidates complete two online classes,” said Candidate Erikia Dunn. “In the second phase, they attend five multiple unit training weekend assemblies and get a feel for what the school is actually like. Phase three is a two-week course at Fort McClellan that includes an academic exam, land navigation, and a week in the field doing situational training exercise lanes.”

With only mission requirements provided, the candidates must reevaluate their accustomed leadership roles as they improvise solutions and demonstrate their creativity.

“You have to transition from an NCO mindset to an officer mindset,” said Dunn. “As an NCO we are the ‘do-ers’ of the task, but as an officer we are the planner of the task.”

In addition to the physical and logistical training, candidates must reconcile the crucial differences between the mentality of a non-commissioned officer and a warrant officer.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ernest Metcalf, Command Chief Warrant Officer for the Texas Army National Guard, maintains regular contact with both his instructors and the students, ensuring their development is in keeping with the standards of the Warrant Officer Corps.

“It takes some perseverance to complete any officer candidate school,” said Metcalf. “On a monthly basis I meet with all of the candidates to motivate them to persevere through all of the mental and physical challenges they may face within the warrant officer candidate school.”

After months of intensive training, physical rigors, and intellectual challenges, successful candidates graduate and become the technical and tactical experts of the United States Army.

“You have to be serious about being a warrant officer because this class is not a walk in the park,” said Dunn. “It will challenge you as a person, it will challenge you as a leader and it will challenge you in every aspect of your life.”

Texas Guard veteran continues service in hometown

Texas Guard veteran continues service in hometown

Story by: Staff Sgt. Melisa Washington

Posted: February 21, 2016

Staff Sgt. Melisa Washington Dignitaries from Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas gathered on the Lincoln-Juarez International Bridge for the International Bridge Ceremony Feb. 20, 2016. The ceremony celebrates the bond between the United States and Mexico. The staple of the ceremony, the "abrazo" or embrace, is led by two children representing Mexico and two children representing the United States, affectionately know as the "abrazo children". Dignitaries including religious, political, and military officials follow suit by embracing and exchanging flags. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Melisa Washington, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/Released)
Staff Sgt. Melisa Washington
Dignitaries from Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas gathered on the Lincoln-Juarez International Bridge for the International Bridge Ceremony Feb. 20, 2016. The ceremony celebrates the bond between the United States and Mexico. The staple of the ceremony, the "abrazo" or embrace, is led by two children representing Mexico and two children representing the United States, affectionately know as the "abrazo children". Dignitaries including religious, political, and military officials follow suit by embracing and exchanging flags. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Melisa Washington, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/Released)

LAREDO, Texas – Former Texas National Guardsman, Mario Alvarado, Sr., has a long history of service for not only his country and the state of Texas, but also for his hometown of Laredo as a sound technician. 

Alvarado served in the Texas Army National Guard for 13 years. He jokes that he has the hearing to prove it, leaning in when someone speaks to him. His service started when he was a teenager.

"I joined the Army when I was 16-years-old. My mom had to sign off so I could get into the Army," he said.

His family has continued this tradition of service. He proudly shows off the pins on his hat that depict the seals from each branch of service as he lists off all the family's connections with the military.

"I used to be with the 36th Infantry Division and the 49th Armored Division. My son was in the Navy for 6 years," Alvarado says "Most of my family has been in the military. I have a grandson with the Marine Corps."

Alvarado's family now serves their community as sound technicians for some of the city's most important events.The family business, Sounds International, provides sound support for key events during Laredo's annual George Washington Birthday Celebration. This year marks the 119th year the city has hosted the world's largest birthday celebration for the nation's first president. For the last 70 years, the now monthlong event has included the International Bridge Ceremony between representatives of the sister cities Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. 

"The ceremony that occurs on this spot every year is the symbolic and real nature of our relationship, our friendship, and our respect for each other," said Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security and keynote speaker for the event.

The bridge ceremony takes place on the Lincoln-Juarez International Bridge, connecting the countries in friendship and commerce. Dignitaries including political, military, and religious officials from both communities gathered on the bridge Feb. 20, 2016, to exchange "Abrazos," or embraces. Participants included actors and children dressed in colonial-era garb representing the two countries. The embraces symbolize the solidarity and camaraderie between the Unites States and Mexico.

Alvarado has provided the sound for the bridge ceremony for over 30 years. Not only has he had the opportunity to witness the abrazos for several decades, he also experiences the shared culture and friendship between the two cities everyday. 

"We make a lot of business with Mexico. We have a good relationship with Nuevo Laredo," said Alvarado. "We are like a family here."

After all the embraces are exchanged, Alvarado and his daughter-in-law scurry to get all their equipment packed up for the next festivity. They also provide the sound for the Anheuser-Busch Washington's Birthday Parade, the last event of the celebration. He looks forward to supporting the commemoration every year and witnessing the relationship between the two communities strengthen with each abrazo. 

"It's nice to be here, nice to work with the people here," Alvarado says. "It's not only to have the celebration, but to keep us together, one side to another."

Texas Guardsmen support Washington birthday celebration

Texas Guardsmen support Washington birthday celebration

Story by: Staff Sgt. Amanda Torres, 436th Chemical Company

Posted on: February 14, 2016

Soldiers from the 436th Chemical Company, Texas Army National Guard, support the 119th George Washington Birthday Celebration in Laredo, Texas, Feb. 14, 2016. Guard support included static displays and participation in the Stars and Stripes Airshow Spectacular. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Amanda Torres/Released)
Soldiers from the 436th Chemical Company, Texas Army National Guard, support the 119th George Washington Birthday Celebration in Laredo, Texas, Feb. 14, 2016. Guard support included static displays and participation in the Stars and Stripes Airshow Spectacular. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Amanda Torres/Released)

 

LAREDO, Texas- For the past 20 years in mid-February, the sounds of modern and WWII-era airplanes in the skies over Laredo have heralded one of the most popular celebrations in south Texas.

Held during the first weekend of a two-week long celebration, the George Washington Birthday Celebration Stars and Stripes Air Show Spectacular brings in pilots from all over the U.S. to perform both fly-bys and aerobatic stunts.

“This impressive event showcases paratroopers and precision pilot teams,” said the 119th Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association.

“Thousands are thrilled and chilled with an up close and personal look at aviation that’s simply without parallel.”

During the performance of the national anthem, two Texas Military Department members delivered the National and Texas flags, gliding to the ground after a jump from a Department of Public Safety helicopter.

To celebrate the community’s close ties with the Texas Military Department, senior Guard officers are invited to serve as air marshal, opening the celebration and officiating as an ambassador for the George Washington Birthday Celebration.

This year, Laredo tapped Brigadier General Patrick Hamilton, commander for the Domestic Operations Task Force, for air marshal duties. Former air marshals have included current Texas Adjutant General Maj. Gen.

John F. Nichols and Brig. Gen. Orland Salinas, the former deputy assistant adjutant general for the Texas Army National Guard.

“We have a strong presence here. This weekend, during the airshow, we provide a lot of soldiers and airmen who come down and participate,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to be part of the community.”

Texas Military Department members participated in static displays, including a C-130 belonging to 136th Airlift Wing, an F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 149th Fighter Wing, and a UH-60 Blackhawk based out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin.

“It also serves as a training event for our F-16s, since this is an alternate landing site for our F-16 wing in San Antonio,” said Hamiton.

Military aircraft weren’t the only planes on display. The “Yellow Rose,” a B-25 bomber from the Commemorative Air Force, shared space with a T-28 Trojan flown by the Trojan Phlyers, an all-veteran aerial demonstration team. The Jelly Belly Interstate Cadet stunt plane lightened the mood with a high-flying comedy routine, followed by the distinctive roar of the twin engines of the F7F Tigercat.

A rock-climbing wall, hosted by Texas Army National Guard recruiters and protective equipment from the 436th Chemical Company from Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade) kept the attendees busy on the ground with their forays into the National Guard world.

“I think it’s just the patriotism of the members of tis community to celebrate George Washington’s birthday,” said Hamilton.  “What a great thing to do as a community, and they’ve been doing it so long it’s really quite an event.”

Museum volunteer learns lessons in guard history

Museum volunteer learns lessons in guard history

Story by: Staff Sgt. Luke Allen

Posted on: February 8, 2016

Staff Sgt. Luke Allen Volunteer Alexis Corona greets a guest at the front desk in the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas ,on Feb. 6, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Luke Allen/Released)
Staff Sgt. Luke Allen
Volunteer Alexis Corona greets a guest at the front desk in the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas ,on Feb. 6, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Luke Allen/Released)

CAMP MABRY, AUSTIN, Texas - When the Texas Military Forces Museum's newest intern showed up for work on her first day at Austin's Camp Mabry, she had no idea what she would be in for. Alexis Corona, 21, is a student at nearby St. Edward's University majoring in History. This was her first day manning the museum's front desk, the nerve center of information and direction for casual visitors and Texas military history enthusiasts alike. 

"I'm excited but a little nervous because I've never worked at the front desk before, but I'm looking forward to talking to people as they come in, making sure that they know about all of the exhibits in the museum," said Corona. 

As guests filed in and signed their name on the museum registry, Corona explained how she's aspiring to be a professor or work in a museum after college. 

"[This internship] is good for my major and possible career opportunities," Corona said. "I just volunteer. I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn between classes."

Corona says that history runs in her family, noting that her mother and grandfather were both history majors.

"History will help us in preparing for the future," says Corona.
Volunteering at the museum doesn't always apply to just administrative work or greeting incoming guests.

"I really like using the saw blades and power tools because I've never done that sort of thing before," Corona said. "I really like helping to get the exhibits ready by painting and making everything look good."

"She's been doing really well here and putting in a lot of work even though she's still in her first few weeks here," said Andrew Druart, a two-year volunteer at the museum. 

Corona, a native of Athens, Texas, has been working at the museum for a little more than two weeks and says that the internship gives her a chance to brush up on Texas history. After hearing about the position from a friend at school, Corona contacted the Texas Military Forces Museum. The museum offers students, veterans, and local patrons a chance to volunteer their time and learn a little history along the way. 

"I've catalogued training manuals and field manuals from World War II," Corona said. "I get to put them into our system, and that was interesting because they were so old. We have to wear gloves if they're in poor condition or if they are paperback." 

She says that she enjoys interacting with our veterans on a daily basis. 

"We get a lot of veterans that visit, many Korean and Vietnam era veterans," said Corona.

Corona's next major project at the museum is preparing for next week's Sweetheart Dance, a World-War-II-themed fundraiser held annually at the museum on Valentine's Day weekend. The museum also holds battle re-enactments and demonstrations throughout the year. 

"We get to do so much, from gift shop work to helping make the exhibits, to archiving things," said Corona. "It's just a total museum experience. I'm happy to be here." 

For more information about the Texas Military Forces Museum, visit the website at http://www.texasmilitaryforcesmuseum.org.

Camp Mabry hosts Texas Boy Scouts

Camp Mabry hosts Texas Boy Scouts

Story by: Spc. Samuel Bennett-Hurta

Posted On: February 8, 2016

Spc. Samuel Bennett-Hurta Chief Master Sgt. Brandt Spenrath explains the patches and insignias on the back of a camp kitchen box at Camp Mabry, Texas, Feb. 6, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Spc. Samuel Bennett/Released)
Spc. Samuel Bennett-Hurta
Chief Master Sgt. Brandt Spenrath explains the patches and insignias on the back of a camp kitchen box at Camp Mabry, Texas, Feb. 6, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Spc. Samuel Bennett/Released)

CAMP MABRY, Texas – Boy Scouts with Troop 615 from League City, Texas, participated in the 67th annual Boy Scout Parade and Report to the State of Texas ceremony at the State Capitol today. Troop 615 members joined Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, Sea Scouts and Explorers from all over Texas in the parade up Congress Avenue to the State Capitol.

“Report to the State is about much more than walking in a parade,” said Brandt Spenrath, Assistant Scout Master of Troop 615. “Delegates from each troop council in Texas will be seated in the House of Representatives and will report to the Texas state Governor about the significant accomplishments in their council from the last year. For the Scouts, this is an opportunity to not only work on their Citizenship in the Community Merit Badge, but a chance to see their state government and how things work. On this merit badge, they learn what it means to be a good citizen in the community and what their responsibilities are in their community,” Spenrath said.

Troop 615 of the Coastal District, Bay Area Council, brought 18 Scouts and 10 adult leaders to participate in the state event. 

“This is the sixth year that we have participated in this event”, said Spenrath. “We are trying to build leadership qualities in young men to be the leaders of tomorrow.”

Spenrath, who is also a Chief Master Sgt. with the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air Guard, has dedicated his life to service, both in and out of uniform.

“The Guard has always supported our scouts with mentorship and letting us use their facilities.”

The troop arrived at Camp Mabry at 10 p.m. Friday night and finished setting up camp at 12:30 a.m. The setup involved scouts pitching tents and establishing cooking areas.

“We really appreciate Camp Mabry allowing us to camp here, not only is it free, it is only a 15 minute drive to the Capitol from here.”

Camp Mabry is home to the Texas Military Department, which includes the Texas Air Guard, Texas Army National Guard, and Texas State Guard.

“This outing is a fun event where our troop members get to meet scouts from all over the state and learn valuable lessons about state government,” said Spenrath.

Texas Medical Command strives for speedy health assessments

Texas Medical Command strives for speedy health assessments

Story by: Sgt. Josiah Pugh

Posted On: February 8, 2016

Sgt. Josiah Pugh A medic processes recently drawn blood as part of a required periodic health assessment at the Texas Medical Command clinic at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, Feb. 6, 2016. This assessment measures a number of aspects of a Soldier’s health including laboratory work, hearing, vision and dental. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Josiah Pugh/Released)
Sgt. Josiah Pugh
A medic processes recently drawn blood as part of a required periodic health assessment at the Texas Medical Command clinic at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, Feb. 6, 2016. This assessment measures a number of aspects of a Soldier’s health including laboratory work, hearing, vision and dental. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Josiah Pugh/Released)

AUSTIN, Texas - Keeping Texas Guardsmen healthy and mission-ready is a full-time job. The troops at Camp Mabry's Texas Medical Command understand the importance of efficiency and cooperation, especially when it comes time to process whole units through their clinic.

On drill weekends, the Soldiers at the Texas Medical Command can be found at the medical clinic at Camp Mabry helping troops from other units complete their required annual periodic health assessments. This assessment measures a number of aspects of a Soldier’s health including laboratory work, hearing, vision and dental.

The staff at the clinic can be stretched thin at times, with many of them frequently offsite supporting the medical needs of various unit missions around Texas. The staff can dwindle to as few as ten in number and the patients in need of processing can reach as many as 100 - all of whom will complete the health assessment in a single day.

“We can be here pretty late,” says clinic Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge Sgt. 1st Class Evangelina Garcia.

Despite all the preparation these medical staff undergo, often it’s the patients they see who hold up the line. The entire process can be as quick as a couple of hours or stretch out to last an entire day. Garcia says the number one reason why lines get backed up is when patients drop in without first going through their command. 

“They have to schedule through their medical readiness NCO, get them on our schedule and do their online portion and things will go a lot smoother,” she explains.

The clinic sees its fair share of patients over 40 years of age who must fast overnight to accurately test their blood glucose levels. Sometimes patients will not follow the rules closely and drink caffeinated energy drinks or coffee the morning before their blood drawl. This skews the results and can negatively reflect on the individual’s medical record or require blood to be drawn again on another day.

“Even a healthy person can be flagged, which can go on your record,” said Sgt. Jennifer Hess, a medic with the TMC.

Another common issue the clinic sees is often patients will not bring proof of getting an influenza vaccination through their civilian doctors. When they come to the clinic and MEDPROS lists them as not having the vaccination, they will be required to get a second shot.

Frequently, patients who wear contacts will fail to bring their prescribed eyeglasses. The clinic needs to test eyesight with and without glasses. If a patient does not bring their glasses, the physical health assessment cannot be properly completed. 

Aside from having all your paperwork ready when you come in, Garcia says, “be flexible. The biggest thing is you have to be flexible.” 

When asked how they get all of their patients’ assessments finished as quickly as possible, Hess said, “We work really well as a team – as an entire unit. We try our best to get people in and out. We’re a great team. Everyone pitches in and does their part.” 

Properly scheduling periodic health assessments and preparing for a visit to the clinic can help the entire process flow smoothly and keep troops deployment ready.

Chilean forces compete in Texas Guard Best Warrior Competition

Chilean forces compete in Texas Guard Best Warrior Competition

Story by: Sgt. Adrian Shelton

Posted On: February 8, 2016

Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert Pfc. Marcial Ortiz, Chilean navy, competes in the obstacle course portion of the Texas Military Department's 2016 Best Warrior Competition at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 6, 2016. Traditionally a joint competition with competitors from the Texas Army and Air National Guards, this year's event invited service members from the U.S. Army Reserves component and the Chilean military to compete in the three-day grueling competition, testing the aptitude of each competitor in several mentally and physically challenging events relevant in today's operational environment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/Released)
Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert
Pfc. Marcial Ortiz, Chilean navy, competes in the obstacle course portion of the Texas Military Department's 2016 Best Warrior Competition at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 6, 2016. Traditionally a joint competition with competitors from the Texas Army and Air National Guards, this year's event invited service members from the U.S. Army Reserves component and the Chilean military to compete in the three-day grueling competition, testing the aptitude of each competitor in several mentally and physically challenging events relevant in today's operational environment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/Released)

BASTROP, Texas – Troops from the Chilean Marine Corps and Chilean Army reinforced their continuing partnership with the Texas Army and Air National Guard during the state's Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 4-7, 2016.

Although Texas has highlighted a joint Best Warrior Competition for several years, combining warriors from both the Texas Army and Texas Air National Guards, this was the first year the competition went international.

Chilean service members were selected to represent their country in the competition based on top performances in areas such as marksmanship and physical fitness. 

"As soon as I got the notification that I was selected for the competition, I started looking at the tasks required in the competition on YouTube," said 2nd Cpl. Jesus Vasquez, Special Operations Brigade, Chilean Marine Corps. "I thought it was an awesome competition.”

"This event was like a wedding and we planned it," said Texas Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Alfonso Garcia, the State Partnership Program noncommissioned officer in charge of the Texas-Chile program. "We set up the logistics and the agendas and had everything all laid out, so when the Chileans came here everything flowed seamlessly."

The Chilean troops only had two days to learn the things that were different for them, such as certain weapons and communications equipment said Garcia. 

"Our National Guard sponsors had a big part in helping us to prepare," Vasquez said. "The security measures in place for events like weapons qualification were very efficient and very safe. We learned alongside the National Guard troops and built a good relationship."

Garcia and other Guardsmen helped translate for the Chileans throughout the long weekend. 

The Chileans found the week's events provided not only an opportunity to compete, but also presented them with unique challenges. 

"It wasn’t always easy for us to communicate because of cultural and phonetic differences," said Chilean army Sgt. Maj. Juan Gonzalez, who sponsored the Chilean soldiers in the competition. "But the Guard had good translators and a lot of the Guardsmen spoke Spanish and made it easier for us to learn the scenarios during the competition."

The Chilean troops experienced some physical challenges as well and noted the geographic differences between Chile and Texas.

"In Chile, with its very high and low temperatures and differing elevations, we train differently on our land navigation courses," Chilean Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Guillermo Zepeda, the sponsor for the Chilean Marine competitors. "The points on the land navigation course are not consistent and change with the terrain, and our terrain and woodlands are more dense and not as flat."

"The height of some of the obstacles on the obstacle course was challenging because we are typically short people," Vasquez said. "The obstacle course looks more well-rounded for taller soldiers. "

Despite this extra challenge, Staff Sgt. Cristobal Inostroza, Chilean Marine Corps, finished first in the obstacle course with one of the fastest times ever seen in the history of this competition. He also placed first in the road march.

During the road march, Vasquez and Gonzalez ran the entire march with their troops because they wanted their troops to know he and Gonzalez were there to support them said Vasquez. 

Vasquez and Gonzalez are planning to take their experience from the Texas Military Department’s Best Warrior Competition home with them and do something similar in Chile.

"We looked at all of this as a model for our own best warrior competition we're planning to have next year," Gonzalez said. 

Texas Guardsmen might even have the chance to compete against their Chilean partners again.

"I would like for more Texas National Guard service members to participate in our best warrior competition next time," Vasquez said. "It would only be the right thing to do in return for them inviting us here."

At the end of the competition, who placed first didn’t appear to be nearly as important as new relationships forged and the camaraderie between the partner forces strengthened.

"What we realized as we work together to do competitions like this, is we all do the same thing and train the same, we're just in different color uniforms," said Command Sgt. Maj. Mark A. Weedon, senior enlisted advisor of the Texas Military Department. "Chile is our South American partner, through our State Partnership Program, and we train together throughout the year. So this is the culmination of that relationship going to the next level."