Posts in Category: Texas Army National Guard

Texas National Guard Fiscal Accountability Efforts Benefit Texans

Texas National Guardsmen conduct night operations training.
Texas National Guardsmen conduct night operations training. The Soldiers are part of the Site Security Team, Task Force Raptor, 3rd Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, whose mission is to promote regional stability, dissuade conflict, and protect U.S. and coalition interests

 

 Story by Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain and Laura Lopez

 
 CAMP MABRY, Texas – During the past decade, the Texas Army National Guard has evolved from a Cold War-era  strategic reserve force to a high-tempo operational reserve force, and deployed more than 50,000 soldiers to locations  abroad and here at home. These missions have included combat operations in the Middle East as well as hurricane and  wildfire support missions here in the Lone Star State.

 Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General of Texas, and Maj. Gen. Joyce L. Stevens, the Assistant Adjutant General  for Army, have made fiscal responsibility and accountability a focal point for the Texas Army National Guard. 

 “Fiscal responsibility is a top priority,” Nichols said, the state’s senior military official appointed by the governor. “Our goal is  to always be mission-ready, and that includes accounting for our property.”

 Nichols said that the increased number of financial liability investigations in recent years reflects this leadership emphasis.

 “The Texas Army National Guard is the largest Army National Guard force in the nation,” Stevens said. Ninety percent of  our force is part-time, with only a little over ten percent working full-time to ensure deployment readiness.

 “We have more than 19,500 traditional Guard Soldiers that drill one weekend a month,” she said. “Since 9/11, Texas has  deployed Army Guard soldiers throughout the United States and to 40 countries around the world in response to federal  and state requirements,” Stevens said.

 Because of its size, the Texas Army National Guard is responsible for about $2.53 billion in property, which includes  installation property, such as office furniture and buildings, and equipment issued to individual Soldiers, including tents,  canteens and protective armor, said Lt. Col. Stanley E. Golaboff, Director of Logistics for the Texas Army National Guard.

This can be a daunting task in a state that spans 268,000 square miles and includes 96 armories and 17 joint reserve centers.

“We need to know where our property and equipment are so it’s ready when the time comes to respond to a call from our civilian leadership,” Nichols said.

Since 2008, the Texas Army National Guard has documented about $3.5 million in property losses.

“Of the $3.5 million, nearly $2 million occurred during the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade’s recent deployment to Iraq,” Golaboff said. “This includes damaged equipment that has to be documented as a loss, as well as gear that was reabsorbed by the active duty Army logistics system.”

For the last five years, the Texas Army National Guard has had to investigate annually the loss of less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the property entrusted to the organization by the U.S. Army to prepare units for deployment, Golaboff said.

While property can be lost as a result of damage or destruction during a dangerous mission, soldiers can be held liable if they lose or abuse their equipment.

“Our increased investigations have led to the recovery of $500,000 from soldiers,” Golaboff said. “We are determined to ensure that any loss of equipment is properly documented – immediately – and if a service member is found to be the cause, then he or she is held financially liable.”

The state’s military leaders want to ensure the military organization is responsive to Texas taxpayers.

“The Texas Army National Guard remains committed to transparency and accountability to the citizens of Texas while providing the governor and president with ready-trained forces,” Stevens said.

Turning it in- TXARNG increases equipment accountability

 

Courtesy Story

AUSTIN, Texas - As the Texas Army National Guard transitions from the high deployment operational tempo of the Global War on Terrorism, it continues to implement the Campaign on Property Accountability (COPA) with intensity usually reserved for mobilization operations.

ALARACT 210-2010 and EXORD 259-10 outline the Army’s Campaign on Property Accountability. The campaign intends to account for all Army property. Excess equipment or equipment not on record is reintegrated back into the Army supply system to make better use of materiel resources assigned to both units and individuals. Lost equipment is also accounted for, meaning both missing gear, and equipment lost due to damage or destruction during deployment or mobilization.

In the Army National Guard, this effort relies on synchronization between the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (DCSLOG), G4 supply and the United States Property and Fiscal Office (USPFO).
A prime example of this synchronization has been the ongoing effort to bring the Central Issue Facility- Installation Support Module (CIF-ISM) records of the TXARNG in line with current policy. This effort has included not only the DCSLOG office and USPFO but also the commanders and logistics personnel assigned to TXARNG MTOE and TDA units. The Texas CIF-ISM warehouse contains the clothing records of just over 19,000 current TXARNG Soldiers and is valued at a little over $54 million.

When Soldiers are discharged and still show clothing signed for from the CIF-ISM warehouse, a report, known as the CIF-ISM Discharge Report, is generated, showing a mismatch in the system. Currently, Texas exceeds the COPA goal of less than 5% of mismatched records. 

However, great strides have been and are continuing to be made on the CIF-ISM front of the Campaign on Property Accountability. Over the last six months Texas has seen an 18 percent decrease in the number of records and the overall dollar value of Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE) on the monthly CIF Discharge Report.

Texas conducted four regional CIF turns this past year in Midland, Corpus Christi, Houston and Fort Worth. During these week-long turn-ins unit supply sergeants were able to work directly with CIF warehouse personnel to turn in on-hand OCIE from discharged Soldiers and correct errors to numerous individual clothing records. These efforts lead directly to the recovery and reintegration of just under $700,000 of previously report unaccounted gear. 

In addition, unit commanders have spent the last year contacting previous TXARNG soldiers whose records do not show them as clearing the CIF warehouse properly; either by not turning in gear or failing to post turn-in documents if the soldier cleared supply prior to their discharge. These efforts have enabled unit supply sergeants to gather an additional $800,000 worth of gear scheduled for turn-in this fiscal year.

Commanders are also using the Financial Liability Investigation (FLI) process to resolve the accountability of many of these records. There are 700 open FLIs with a value of $1.3 million in OCIE being investigated at this time to determine what if any liability exists for this property being unaccounted for. 

Of course the real aim is to avoid having to resort to these reactive-type measures to ensure property accountability and as such the TXARNG has instituted several proactive steps. Among them is a change in turn-in policy, a more proactive monitoring methodology and a revised storage policy.

IAW with TXARNG policy 12-22 ETS management, soldiers are now informed during their 90-day exit interview with their company commander that if they are still undecided about re-enlisting or have decided to ETS, that they are required to clear supply and turn in all OCIE on their clothing by the end of the following drill weekend. The intent is to ensure all gear is recovered 60 days prior to the soldier’s exiting the service.

A new monthly metric tracked at all levels is the number of unconfirmed OCIE records. An unconfirmed report is generated every time a change is made to an individual’s clothing record. All changes to a soldier’s clothing record are required to be confirmed by the soldier. The soldier can either confirm his clothing record in person or online via the My Clothing tab on AKO. All confirmations are done using the Soldier’s Common Access Card (CAC).

Finally, all commanders are highly encouraged to allow Soldiers to store their OCIE in a secure portion of the armory. Many of the newer facilities come equipped with either individual storage lockers or rooms where soldiers can store locked duffle bags containing their OCIE.

These steps are no by no means an all-inclusive listing of the numerous efforts that commanders and supply personnel are using to maintain property accountability but are just a few highlights of the multiple actions on numerous fronts that occur on a daily basis in the Army’s efforts to implement the Campaign on Property Accountability.

The Texas Army National Guard remains committed to working with soldiers at all levels to increase transparency and property accountability to the citizen of Texas while proving the Governor and President with ready and trained forces.

Texas State Guard Changes Command, Rodriguez assumes command from Peters 2-2

On Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, Maj. Gen. Manuel "Tony" Rodriguez assumes command of the Texas State Guard from Maj. Gen. Raymond Peters at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas.
On Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, Maj. Gen. Manuel "Tony" Rodriguez assumes command of the Texas State Guard from Maj. Gen. Raymond Peters at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. More than 2,200 men and women actively serve in the Texas State Guard, which is comprised of the Army, Air, Maritime and Medical components. (National Guard photo by CW2 Janet Schmelzer/Texas State Guard)

 

 Courtesy Story

 By Maj. Michael Sullivan, CW2 Janet Schmelzer and WO2 Cary Wintz
 Texas State Guard

 CAMP MABRY, Texas - In a change of command ceremony at Camp Mabry on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, Maj. Gen.  Manuel "Tony" Rodriguez assumed command of the Texas State Guard (TXSG) from Maj. Gen. Raymond Peters. 

 The ceremony is a landmark event in the history of the Texas Military Forces and the Texas State Guard to bid farewell to  one commander and welcome another. The Texas State Guard, along with the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air  Guard, is a major component of Texas Military Forces under the command of the governor.

 The Texas Military Forces are commanded by the state's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols. 

 Peters was commissioned in July 1965, as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. In July 2009, he was promoted to Major  General and appointed commander of the Texas State Guard.

 Reflecting on his 49 years of uniformed service, Peters said he was honored to see the organization grow and evolve into  its present role as a major component of the Texas Military Forces.

 "I'm fortunate that I got to serve in the Texas State Guard. I never dreamed I'd go this far," he said. "To the men and  women of the state guard I say, 'thank you.'" 

He is succeeded by Rodriguez, who was commissioned in 1983, as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. During his career, Rodriguez served in Honduras, Germany, Desert Storm, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan and Iraq. 

As part of the change of command ceremony, Rodriguez was promoted to major general. 

Rodriguez said he was honored by the appointment and looked forward to serving the people of Texas in this new role.

Paraphrasing WWII era Gen. Haywood Hansell, Rodriguez concluded his brief remarks by saying, "When I've done some more work, I'll do some more talking."

Nichols said the state guard has become a key component of the Texas Military Forces over the last two decades, with the defining moment occurring during the activations in response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

"I've asked Gen. Rodriguez to take the baton from Gen. Peters and make the organization even better," said Nichols. "I told him, get ready. Now he's going to get to work helping Texas."

Partnering together to serve others

On Thursday, July 26, 2012, a volunteer with Remote Medical Access prepares a set of lenses to be cut into glasses.
On Thursday, July 26, 2012, a volunteer with Remote Medical Access prepares a set of lenses to be cut into glasses. One of the largest humanitarian missions of its kind, Operation Lone Star is an annual joint exercise involving the Texas Military Forces, several other military and civilian agencies that partner together to provide medical, dental and vision services to the under-served communities of south Texas, while taking part in a disaster preparedness exercise.

 

 Story by Laura Lopez

 
 BROWNSVILLE, Texas - As hundreds of volunteers from various local, state and federal agencies provide free medical  services to the under-served communities in south Texas, members of the Texas Military Forces spent Thursday, July 26,  2012, in Brownsville, Texas, receiving a first-hand look at everything from blood pressure checks and diabetes screenings  to dental care and prescription glasses, as part of Operation Lone Star VIP Day.

 A partnership that started 14 years ago is now the largest public health humanitarian mission of its kind in the United States  and includes the Texas Department of State Health Services, United States Public Health Services, international  representatives, as well as countless of volunteers from other local, state and federal agencies. For the man behind  Operation Lone Star, it is the memories of constantly being sick in the second grade that has made Dr. Brian Smith, Texas  Department of State Health Services Region 11 medical director come to appreciate medical care and those who continue  to help others.

 “Everyone involved in Operation Lone Star has been selfless over the years and been extremely dedicated to the mission,”  said Smith. “It has been an honor and privilege to work with all of you over the years.”

 A full-scale operation providing disaster recovery training and emergency preparedness, Operation Lone Star 2011 saw  nearly 10,000 people for more than 53,000 services that included immunizations, hearing and vision exams, sports  physicals for students, medical evaluations and exams, dental services and social services. 

 Also joining forces at this year’s exercise, members of the Remote Area Medical Foundation stated that while they have  completed over 674 missions across the United States in the last 20 years, this was their first time, and hopefully not their  last time, in Texas. Able to bring various medical, dental and vision services to the shorter one-week long Operation Lone Star, the message was clear.

“Some people may as well be on the moon in terms of the access they have to necessary medical care, that’s how essential this program is,” said Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical Foundation.

Honored and thankful for the Texas Military Forces to be a part of Operation Lone Star for the last 14 years, Texas Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols referenced Hurricane Dolly from 2008 as a situation where this very mission not only enabled our service members to deploy quickly, but also get much needed assistance to the citizens of Texas.

“When we go overseas to support our country we sometimes forget about what is going on back here at home and Operation Lone Star is just one example of how we can demonstrate ‘Texans serving Texas,’” said Nichols.

Despite Operation Lone Star being able to provide free medical care to more than 100,000 south Texas residents over the last 14 years and its ability to continue growing and strengthening to include international partners, many feel the mission is still a critical part in an on-going battle.

“It will never be enough, but it’s a great start,” said Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos.

April is sexual assault awareness month

Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, Texas' adjutant general, signing a proclamation recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month for the Texas Military Forces, at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, April 3, 2012.
Photograph from event featuring Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, Texas' adjutant general, signing a proclamation recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month for the Texas Military Forces, at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, April 3, 2012.

 

Story by Maj. Paula Rodriguez and Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain
 

 CAMP MABRY, Texas – On April 3, Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general of Texas, and Command Sgt. Maj.  Bradley C. Brandt, the state’s senior enlisted advisor, signed a proclamation designating this month as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Throughout the month, the Texas Military Forces will hold numerous activities highlighting the  importance of preventing and responding to sexual violence and assault.

 These efforts will continue to promote education and training to create an environment where sexual assault is rejected,  and a culture of prevention, response and accountability flourishes.

 Not only does sexual assault irrevocably hurt, denigrate and violate the victim’s life, it can directly impact every member of our unit, and our mission. As a force, the National Guard must be ready to quickly and efficiently deploy, whether overseas for contingency operations or in response to state disasters, such as wildfires and hurricanes. Our readiness depends on our ability to act as a team and for each of us to be able to depend on one another.

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program is a Department of Defense initiative to “ensure the safety, dignity and well being of all members of the Armed Forces.”

“Denim Day” will be our most comprehensive SAAM initiative, and will take place on April 25, 2012. A rape prevention education program, “Denim Day” is held in honor of a woman who was forcibly raped by her driving instructor. The perpetrator’s conviction was overturned, according to the chief judge, “…because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape, but consensual sex.”

On Wednesday, April 25, TXMF personnel can wear jeans to work after they learn about the history of “Denim Day” and receive a “Jean Pocket” sticker from the SAPR office. The purpose of wearing the jeans is to make a public statement to combat misconceptions surrounding sexual violence.

Other state and unit level SAAM activities will include the distribution of posters and handouts, mobile training activities, a Fun Run and 5K, as well as candlelight vigil.

Additionally, a joint event with SafePlace, a local crisis center, will take place during the Texas Military Forces Open House & American Heroes Air Show at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, April 21-22, 2012.

All sexual assault victims that contact a SAPR office are treated with dignity, fairness and respect. The office works to help restore victim's health and well-being, and ensure senior leaders understand that allegations of sexual assault must be thoroughly investigated and that appropriate administrative and disciplinary action be taken against perpetrators.

To learn more about the SAPR program, please visit www.sapr.mil or contact the state office at SARC@TX.NGB.Army.Mil. Additionally, you can get our latest updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TexasMilForceSARC.

Victims of sexual assault can call the 24/7 Safe Helpline at (877) 995-5547.

Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain contributed to this story.

Guard is cost-efficient way to defend America

 

Story by Sgt. Todd Boyles
 

AUSTIN, Texas - Members of the Texas Military Forces take part in the annual National Guard Association of Texas conference in Austin during March 23 through 25.

At the NGAT conference, service members share ideas and concerns about combat readiness and family issues.

"We get together to speak as to where we have been in the past year and where we are going in the future," said U.S. Army Maj. Justin Perryman, the president of the National Guard Association of Texas. 

The association assists in communicating the Texas Military Forces interests to the state and federal lawmakers. The NGAT's mission is to illustrate the value of the service members and the Texas Military Forces to Texans and the American people. 

As of Sept. 30, 2010, the National Guard has mobilized more than 650,000 service members in support of Department of Defense overseas contingency operations. 

According to the National Guard Bureau 2012 Posture Statement report, the Guard contributes 35 to 40 percent of all active Army and Air Force manpower at only 7 percent of the budget. 

"The Guard is the most effective way to defend America and the most cost-efficient," said Ray Linder, executive director of the National Guard Association of Texas. "You can keep four Guardsmen for what it will cost you to maintain one regular Army soldier."

In addition to supporting the "Big Army," the Guardsmen also respond to all domestic emergencies. 

Texas is one of few states that have a Homeland Response Force certified unit. The HRF units add capabilities that allow the Guard to rapidly respond to situations such as natural disasters, biomedical emergencies or riots, said Perryman.

To be an effective fighting force, the Guard needs to have stability on the home front. One place this stability comes from is the Texas State Family Programs.

"Family readiness is a crucial element to mission readiness," said Tara Gaspar, a Senior Family Readiness support assistant with the State Family Programs. "We are a force multiplier. If you do not have a ready family at home, that service member is not ready."

 

Agricultural development team trains for deployment

 Story by: Sgt. Josiah Pugh
 
 Posted: March 28, 2012
 

Sgt. Josiah Pugh Agribusiness Development Team Six soldiers work in groups on practice agricultural projects in College Station, Texas. The team is scheduled to deploy to the Ghazni province in Afghanistan this summer to help train Afghans in lost agricultural techniques.
Sgt. Josiah Pugh
Agribusiness Development Team Six soldiers work in groups on practice agricultural projects in College Station, Texas. The team is scheduled to deploy to the Ghazni province in Afghanistan this summer to help train Afghans in lost agricultural techniques.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Instructors from the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture of Texas A&M University trained 12 soldiers from the Texas National Guard Agribusiness Development Team Six to better prepare them for their upcoming deployment to the Ghazni province of Afghanistan later this year.

The team is comprised of troops specializing in agricultural fields such as animal, soil, irrigation and crop sciences. During the weeklong training, the Borlaug Institute instructors taught the soldiers how to manage future agricultural projects that will benefit the Afghan people. 

“You have an agricultural society that lives off of subsistence agriculture,” said Lt. Col. Jet Hays, commander of the Agribusiness Development Team Six.

Hays explained that at one time, the Afghan people had very complicated irrigation systems that were well engineered and had existed for thousands of years. They also had a very sophisticated way to move agricultural goods around. But with the Russian invasion in 1979, many of the farmers ended up in refugee camps in Pakistan. By the time the war was over, much of the knowledge about advanced agricultural practices was lost. 

“Basically you had a generation that forgot their techniques for storing food and farming methods,” said Hays. “We’ll be trying to help them regain some of that knowledge.”

“One of our projects we will be teaching them is how to preserve their food,” said Staff Sgt. Melissa Bright, an agriculture specialist with the team. “They currently sell 90 percent of their production to Pakistan and then rebuy it a couple of months later because they don’t remember how to can their goods.” 

With the help of the Borlaug Institute instructors, the team will be able to successfully accomplish their mission of improving the agricultural prosperity of the Ghazni province. But, the benefit of working together extends in both directions.

“They have be so wonderful and they are so diligent,” said Piya Abeygunawardena, Associate Director at the Borlaug Institute. “It has been one of the most pleasant and exciting experiences for me.”

“We have several individuals flown here just to talk with us,” said Bright. “The experience is amazing.”

Agribusiness Development Team Six is scheduled to depart this summer.

Texas State Guard Participates in 2012 Oral Rabies Vaccination Program 2-2

Brig. Gen. William L. Smith, director Joint Staff and commander, Domestic Operations for Joint Force Headquarters of Texas (second from left) met with members of the Texas State Guard and received an overview of the annual Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program in Zapata, Texas.
On Jan. 6, 2012, Brig. Gen. William L. Smith, director Joint Staff and commander, Domestic Operations for Joint Force Headquarters of Texas (second from left) met with members of the Texas State Guard and received an overview of the annual Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program in Zapata, Texas. Since the program's inception in 1995, more than 39 million doses of the oral rabies vaccine, Raboral V RG, have been distributed over approximately 540,000 square miles of Texas.

 

 Story by Laura Lopez
 
 ZAPATA, Texas – Members of the Texas State Guard joined forces with the Texas Department of State Health Services,  the United States Department of Agriculture, as well as other local, state and federal agencies, Jan. 3-18, to participate in  the 2012 Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program.
 
 With 1.8 million doses of the oral rabies vaccine expected to be dropped over portions of South and West Texas, Texas  State Guard soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment provided both ground and air crew support that included navigational assistance, the operating and management of the bait drop and the loading of the baits onto the aircraft. A  program the Texas State Guard has actively taken part in since 2007, this is one of the many humanitarian missions they  are proud to be a part of.
 
 “The 2012 ORVP mission will be an experience I will not soon forget,” said Incident Commander 2nd Lt. Stephen Walker,  3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment. “I was honored to work alongside fellow members of the TXSG, members of federal and state  agencies and to serve the citizens of Texas. Such a mission truly gives the TXSG members a feeling of giving back to his  or her community for such a worthwhile cause.”
 
 Originally initiated in 1995, with the goal of creating zones of vaccinated coyotes and gray foxes along the leading edges  of the epizootics, statistics from the Texas Department of State Health Services show animal cases of the canine strain  of rabies in southern Texas fell from 122 in 1994 to zero in 2000 with single cases in 2001 and 2004. In addition the fox  strain, prevalent in western Texas, dropped from 244 animal cases in 1995 to zero in 2010 and 2011.
 A mission Brig. Gen. William L. Smith, Director Joint Staff and Commander, Domestic Operations for Joint Force Headquarters of Texas describes as important to the state of Texas, its citizens and to the Texas economy he and other representatives from the Texas Military Forces and Department of State Health Services visited the command post in Zapata, Texas, Jan. 6, for a first-hand look.
 
“This is another example of how we can effectively work together with our partnering agencies and benefit our citizens at a time when no disaster is present,” said Smith.
While the vaccine dose dropped is enclosed in a small packet dipped in fish oil and coated with fish meal crumbles, health services representatives say the baits do not pose any risk to humans and will not become established in the environment making the Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program an exceptionally safe method of controlling rabies.

Texas Military Forces perform during World Series in Arlington, Texas

Two CH-47 Chinooks, belonging to the Texas Army National Guard, perform a two ship flyover during Game 4 of the Major League Baseball World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers, Oct. 23, in Arlington, Texas.
Two CH-47 Chinooks, belonging to the Texas Army National Guard, perform a two ship flyover during Game 4 of the Major League Baseball World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers, Oct. 23, in Arlington, Texas. Other Game 4 participation from the Texas Military Forces included the singing of the national anthem during the seventh-inning stretch by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Darby Ledbetter.

 Texas Military Forces perform during World Series in Arlington, Texas

 Story by Laura Lopez
 
 ARLINGTON, Texas - With more than 50,000 people in attendance at Ballpark Stadium in Arlington, Texas and millions  more watching at home, members of the Texas Military Forces joined the Texas Rangers in their battle for the Major League Baseball World Series title, Saturday, Oct. 22 and Sunday, Oct. 23.
 
 Over the course of two games, soldiers and airmen performed on the field and two CH-47 Chinooks flew high above the  ballpark displaying both the American and Texas flags. In game three, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Darby Ledbetter, of the  Recruiting and Retention Battalion Headquarters, performed “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch. Texas Air National Guard member Master Sgt. Erika Stevens, of the 531st Band of the Gulf Coast, performed the same song,  Sunday, Oct. 23, while the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade conducted a two ship CH-47 helicopter flyover following the  conclusion of the national anthem.
 
 “It was a huge honor to be given the opportunity to do this for the Texas Rangers organization and to get the opportunity to  represent all of our fellow brothers and sisters in the Texas Army National Guard,” said Lt. Col. James Hardy, Dallas Army  Aviation facility commander. 
 
 With a short lead time to execute the flyover mission for millions to see, it took nine crew members on the aircraft, two  soldiers coordinating from inside the stadium and five additional mechanics to prepare the aircraft back at the aviation  facility, eight miles away in Grand Prairie. Forced to sharpen their focus and create a plan for execution, this is one mission some Soldiers will soon not forget.
 
“To be chosen to conduct this mission was a once in a lifetime experience for myself and my crew members,” said Standardization Instructor Pilot with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2-149th General Support Aviation Battalion, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Doug Phillips. “It was an honor to represent the Dallas Army Aviation Support Facility, 2-149th GSAB (Rough Riders) and the Texas Army National Guard in front of the world!!!”
 
After months of firefighting support throughout the state of Texas, one soldier on board the trail aircraft was honored to take part in this terrific and rare experience that allowed her to hear the fans down below.
 
“When we are usually called for domestic support, it is helping our neighbors in their time of need. This was a great morale-building event for a GSAB that has been deployed, to which we were able to add our mark to a great World Series game,” said Capt. Carisa Kimbro, HHC 2-149th GSAB. 
 
While well below the height of the Chinooks’ mission, both Ledbetter and Stevens’ experience performing “God Bless America” near home plate was one that changed their lives. A member of the Texas Army National since 2000, Ledbetter jokingly feels he can now check one item off of his bucket list. 
 
“I was humbled to receive the opportunity to sing at the World Series knowing there are so many great performers out there,” said Ledbetter. “Being on that field was so surreal and an honor to stand in the uniform representing the soldiers, the National Guard and the United States.”
 
For Stevens, an elementary school teacher in Dallas, receiving the call 48 hours before the game and given the opportunity to perform for millions of people was not only an honor and a privilege, but allowed her to demonstrate how practice and perseverance can pay off. 
 
“It was a nervous and exciting experience all at the same time, but it helped that I did a sound check around noon on Sunday,” said Stevens. “It was an honor to represent the military, my family and all those rooting for me and I really wanted to conquer my nerves because this is the one performance you prepare years and years for.”
 
Other members of the Texas Military Forces assisted in the unfurling of the American flag on Saturday alongside members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Guard helps local community reclaim neighborhoods

 

Story by Sgt. Lamine Zarrad 

HARLINGEN, Texas -- Members of the Texas Military Forces participate in the Operation Crackdown, a joint effort of the Harlingen community and the military to reclaim neighborhoods from the influences of violence and illegal drugs.

A flotilla of construction machinery, illuminated by the strobe lights of several police cruisers, resembled a Mardi Gras parade rather than a military convoy. However, the adults and children of the Harlingen communities, greet the soldiers and airmen of the motorcade like wartime heroes.

The service members and their equipment are part of Operation Crackdown, the Texas Military Force's effort to reclaim neighborhoods from the influences of violence and illegal drugs.

Operation Crackdown, employs seized drug funds to rent machinery and equipment for the demolition of houses utilized in drug-affiliated activities, said Army Staff Sgt. Michael Leslie, the NCOIC of the operation. 

"The National Guard is a community organization," said Army Col. Randal E. Davis, the commander of the Texas Military Forces Joint Counterdrug Task Force. "We live in this community. We are here to help." 

"It's a joint operation," said Air Force Capt. Samantha A. Martinez, the OIC of Operation Crackdown. 

During Operation Crackdown missions, the Army and Air Force personnel operate jointly with the local authorities and federal agencies in demolishing houses with nexus to illicit activities.

"This project is fantastic," said Tom Whitten, Harlingen's police chief.

Successful community policing relies on continuous cooperation between various local, state and federal agencies, said Whitten. 

“The joint effort will especially benefit the children in the communities, as some of the decrepit houses are in near proximity to schools,” said Carlos Yerena, Harlingen city manager. 

"We are very happy that we came together to help clean up the city," said Lt. Miryam Anderson, an officer with the Harlingen police department. "A lot of entities came together and joined forces to demolish houses that had been somehow linked to the drug and crime activity."

The fifth graders of the James Bowie Elementary, situated directly across the street from a house riddled with gang-affiliated graffiti, indicated plenty of enthusiasm about the project.

The children are expecting newly planted trees in place of the decrepit building, said Kiara Trevino, a fifth grader at James Bowie Elementary who formerly resided next-door to the targeted structure.

Prior to demolishing the house, service members with the Drug Demand Reduction program provided anti-drug education to children attending JBE. 

Law enforcement agencies consistently reported reduced crime rates in the communities participating in Operation Crackdown, said Martinez. 

Counterdrug leadership anticipates maintaining the current annual tempo of approximately four to five, two week long missions every year in addition to expanding the area of the operation to north Texas. 

Since inception in 1993, Operation Crackdown has demolished nearly 1200 dilapidated houses in over 40 Texas communities, said Davis.

“We are working side by side with our law enforcement partners and local communities,” Davis said, “to interdict the flow of drugs, remove safe havens for their use, and reduce demand within the State to make our communities safer."