Posts in Category: Texas Army National Guard

Texas National Guard Transportation Company partners with active duty unit

Texas National Guard Transportation Company partners with active duty unit

Story by: Sgt. James Strunk

Posted: Oct. 24, 2016

U.S. Army Capt. Lucas Hamilton, commander 249th Transportation Company, receives his cavalry Stetson from Lt. Col. Daryl Morse, commander Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade during a patch-over ceremony held on Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Strunk Released) Photo cropped to highlight subjects, 161016-Z-IX228-563PS
U.S. Army Capt. Lucas Hamilton, commander 249th Transportation Company, receives his cavalry Stetson from Lt. Col. Daryl Morse, commander Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade during a patch-over ceremony held on Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Strunk)

FORT HOOD, Texas – Soldiers of the 249th Transportation Company made a historical change for the Texas Army National Guard when they re-patched under 1st Cavalry Division, 1st Cavalry Sustainment Brigade during a ceremony at Fort Hood, Oct. 16, 2016. 

“I am anxious and excited just to see where that ultimately takes us – the opportunity that we have now because of this. What we can teach them as well as what they can teach us,” said Texas Army National Guard Capt. Lucas Hamilton, commander of the 249th Transportation Company.

The three-year program pairs an active-duty unit with those in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard so they can train together and deploy together, as well as includes an exchange of assigned personnel between the two partner units to promote better Total Force integration as a part of the Army’s Associated Units Pilot.

“Readiness continues to be my number one priority and in order to maintain that readiness we must leverage our partnerships,” said Maj. Gen. William L. Smith, Deputy Adjutant General-Army and Commander of the Texas Army National Guard, “This Associated Units Pilot Program will be a dramatic shift in what has been a decades old paradigm.”

The 249th Transportation Company joined 27 other Army units selected for the Associated Units Pilot Program, including four from the Texas Army National Guard.

“We are one army and we are not small,” said Lt. Col. Daryl Morse, commander of Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Sustainment Brigade. “We are big and we are capable; we are capable because of the National Guard.”

This association enables integration of formations from units of different components prior to mobilization through collective trailing. 

“I think this is a fantastic thing,” said Morse. “In a sense it’s just a validation of what we’ve been doing for years. Our sustainment brigade alone has had a connection with the Texas National Guard for years. But it’s something that’s never been formalized.”

During the patch-over ceremony, the 249th Transportation Company officially relinquished command and control of the unit to the 1st Cavalry, for the duration of the pilot program and will include changing of the unit patch on the guardsmen’s uniforms.

Participation in this pilot program, will not an have impact on the unit’s ability to respond or provide assistance during emergency response missions.

Texas Army National Guard Engineers partner with Active Duty in Pilot Program

Col. Mark Quander, commander of the 36th Engineer Brigade, based in Fort Hood, Texas, removes removed their unit patch and replaces with 36th patch during a patch-over ceremony at Cherry Park in Weatherford, Texas, Oct. 15, 2016. Texas Army National Guard’s 840th Mobility Augmentation Company, based in Grand Praire joined efforts with the 36th Engineer Brigade, out of Fort Hood. The partnering of forces is the result of the Associated Unit Pilot Program, which is designed to increase the readiness and responsiveness of the Army as a total force. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by: Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)
Col. Mark Quander, commander of the 36th Engineer Brigade, based in Fort Hood, Texas, conducts a patch-over during a ceremony at Cherry Park in Weatherford, Texas, Oct. 15, 2016. Texas Army National Guard’s 840th Mobility Augmentation Company "Maniacs", based in Grand Praire joined efforts with the 36th Engineer Brigade, out of Fort Hood. The partnering of forces is the result of the Associated Unit Pilot Program, which is designed to increase the readiness and responsiveness of the Army as a total force. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by: Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

Texas Army National Guard Engineers partner with Active Duty in Pilot Program

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Peña

Posted: Oct. 19, 2016

WEATHERFORD, Texas – Guardsmen from Texas Army National Guard’s 840th Mobility Augmentation Company, based in Grand Prairie joined efforts with the 36th Engineer Brigade, out of Fort Hood, during a patch-over ceremony at Cherry Park in Weatherford, Texas, Oct. 15, 2016.

“Today should be one of both quiet reflections but also great anticipation, looking back where our Army has been partnering the reserve and active component, but also where our Army is going as we try to find ways to improve and increase readiness in some different innovative ways,” said Col. Mark Quander, commander of the 36th Eng. Brig.

During the ceremony, service members of the 840th MAC removed their unit patch and put on the 36th Eng. Brig. patch.

“While it’s a simple action changing the patches in the Army is a symbol of who you are, what you are a part of and what your mission is,” said Texas Army National Guard Rear Detachment Lt. Col. Paul Cerniaskas, brigade commander (rear) of the 176th Eng. Brig. “Changing patches is significant and necessary to make the Associated Unit Pilot program a success and it is the right thing to do.”

The partnering of forces is the result of the Associated Unit Pilot Program, which is designed to increase the readiness and responsiveness of the Army as a total force. 

“It’s an honor and privilege to be here as we chart a new course toward the integrations of our total force,” said Quander. “After significant downsizing in our forces over the past five or six years, the demands for our forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the world continue to remain elevated.”

This multi-year pilot program pairs Active-Duty units with those in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard so they can train together as well as includes an exchange of assigned personnel. 

“For the engineer regiment, this close integration between the 36th and the 176th is nothing new,” said Quander. “The associated unit takes that partnership a little bit farther establishing a more formal relationship between the active component and the reserve component.”
 
A total of 27 units have been selected to undergo the pilot; four of those units come from the Texas Army National Guard. These units will train, build readiness and ultimately fight as one Army.

“What mobility augmentation company does is breach a bypass,” said National Guard Capt. Aaron McConnell, commander of the 840th MAC. “If we run across an infantry, maneuver company or a brigade ever comes across an obstacle - they call us.  I send my first or second platoon out there depending on what needs to happen and we either blow it up or put a bridge over it. Then our third platoon sets up obstacles to keep bad guys from coming in.”

Last year, the 840th MAC trained with an active duty unit at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California and a guardsman from the engineer unit was able to perform mechanical operations on a broken down vehicle during a mission.

“The sergeant major of the active duty unit was with us, and his Humvee deadlined,” said McConnell. “That’s four hours we have to waste for field maintenance team. Sgt. Keith, who is our mechanic, we call him our “MacGyver” we tell him run back there and fix it and he does, because that’s what he does on the day side.”

There are many benefits that come from training alongside the active components as well. 
 
“They’ve got real estate,” said McConnell. “Our highly motivated soldiers have the opportunity to train more. Which is what a lot of them want to do, it’s why they are here, they like training and blowing things up and reducing obstacles.”

Association enables integration of formations from units of different components prior to mobilization through collective training.

“From my personal experience while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, that’s how we as an organization normally operate. A unit’s component didn’t matter in a deployed environment, what mattered is how ready you were to do the mission and the team building that occurred,” said Cerniaskas. “That’s what the AUP program is all about; maximizing readiness, and building teams in advance of a mission. So we are making partnership the norm and it will make us stronger as an Army and better prepared when our nation calls.”

“Today should be one of both quiet reflections but also great anticipation, looking back where our Army has been partnering the reserve and active component, but also where our Army is going as we try to find ways to improve and increase readiness in some different innovative ways,” said Col. Mark Quander, commander of the 36th Eng. Brig.

During the ceremony, service members of the 840th MAC removed their unit patch and put on the 36th Eng. Brig. patch.

“While it’s a simple action changing the patches in the Army is a symbol of who you are, what you are a part of and what your mission is,” said Texas Army National Guard Lt. Col. Paul Cerniaskas, brigade commander (rear) of the 176th Eng. Brig. “Changing patches is significant and necessary to make the Associated Unit Pilot program a success and it is the right thing to do.”

The partnering of forces is the result of the AUP Program, which is designed to increase the readiness and responsiveness of the Army as a total force. 

“It’s an honor and privilege to be here as we chart a new course toward the integrations of our total force,” said Quander. “After significant downsizing in our forces over the past five or six years, the demands for our forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the world continue to remain elevated.”

This multi-year pilot program pairs Active-Duty units with those in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard so they can train together as well as includes an exchange of assigned personnel. 

“For the engineer regiment, this close integration between the 36th and the 176th is nothing new,” said Quander. “The associated unit takes that partnership a little bit farther establishing a more formal relationship between the active component and the reserve component.”
 
A total of 27 units have been selected to undergo the pilot; four of those units come from the Texas Army National Guard. These units will train, build readiness and ultimately fight as one Army.
“What mobility augmentation company does is breach a bypass,” said National Guard Capt. Aaron McConnell, commander of the 840th MAC. “If we run across an infantry, maneuver company or a brigade ever comes across an obstacle - they call us.  I send my first or second platoon out there depending on what needs to happen and we either blow it up or put a bridge over it. Then our third platoon sets up obstacles to keep bad guys from coming in.”

Last year, the 840th MAC trained with an active duty unit at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California and a guardsman from the engineer unit was able to perform mechanical operations on a broken down vehicle during a mission.

“The sergeant major of the active duty unit was with us, and his Humvee deadlined,” said McConnell. “That’s four hours we have to waste for field maintenance team. Sgt. Keith, who is our mechanic, we call him our “MacGyver” we tell him run back there and fix it and he does, because that’s what he does on the day side.”

There are many benefits that come from training alongside the active components as well. 
 
“They’ve got real estate,” said McConnell. “Our highly motivated soldiers have the opportunity to train more. Which is what a lot of them want to do, it’s why they are here, they like training and blowing things up and reducing obstacles.”

Association enables integration of formations from units of different components prior to mobilization through collective training.

“From my personal experience while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, that’s how we as an organization normally operate. A unit’s component didn’t matter in a deployed environment, what mattered is how ready you were to do the mission and the team building that occurred,” said Cerniaskas. “That’s what the AUP program is all about; maximizing readiness, and building teams in advance of a mission. So we are making partnership the norm and it will make us stronger as an Army and better prepared when our nation calls.”

Texas Guardsman, Border Patrol Agent rescues girl in drowning waters

Texas Guardsman, Border Patrol Agent rescues girl in drowning waters

Posted: Oct. 5, 2016

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Peña 

Sgt. Josue Gonzalez, border patrol agent and traditional guardsman with the 836th Engineer Company, Texas National Guard was awarded the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery for his actions during a ceremony on Oct. 5, 2016, in Laredo, Texas. Gonzalez recognized for their actions in saving an illegal immigrant from rapid currents during a 2014 Rio Grande River border crossing. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)
Sgt. Josue Gonzalez, border patrol agent and traditional guardsman with the 836th Engineer Company, Texas National Guard is awarded the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery for his actions during a ceremony on Oct. 5, 2016, in Laredo, Texas. Gonzalez was recognized for his actions in saving an illegal immigrant from rapid currents during a 2014 Rio Grande River border crossing. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

Laredo, Texas -- Rain was pouring heavily and swift waters were rising fast along the Rio Grande River near Eagle Pass. Del Rio border patrol agents working in that area received a report and had to act fast.

“The days before and the day of the incident, Eagle Pass had received a lot of rain so the levels of the Rio Grande had risen more than normal; it got pretty deep,” said Sgt. Josue Gonzalez, border patrol agent and traditional guardsman with the 836th Engineer Company, Texas National Guard.

Gonzalez and another border patrol agent received a report that a large group of adults and children were crossing the river near the port of entry and several of the people in the group were seen floating uncontrollably downriver.

“When we got on site we saw a young man and woman being swept by the currents,” said Gonzalez. “The young man was able to swim so he was able to get back to the other side, but the girl wasn’t that lucky.”

The young woman grabbed onto a rope that was tied to the port of entry pillar as Gonzalez and his partner unsuccessfully attempted to throw her a rescue rope.

“She was afraid to let go of her rope and grab onto ours,” said Gonzalez. “So Garcia and I realized that if anything else would not be done, the possibilities of her being swept away were really high.”

Gonzalez and his partner tied the rescue ropes on to their waists and entered the water, but the strong current quickly swept them away as well, his determination however, remained strong. 

“My adrenaline was pretty high,” he said. “It’s just something that you don’t think about and you do it on the spot as best as you can.”

With the assistance of agents on the riverbank, they were able to maneuver Gonzales and Garcia back to where the young woman was just as the rope she had been holding unto, tore.

After delivering her safely into the hands of local EMT’s, the two agents went back out to rescue other women and children stranded in the river.

“We were able to go back into the water chest deep and start pulling the people in,” said Gonzales. “The water was still rising but luckily we had each other’s back to bring those people in. We lost count at about 45 people.”

Gonzalez was awarded the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery for his action that day, during a ceremony on Oct. 5, 2016, in Laredo. 

“When someone puts on a uniform, whether it’s a military uniform or a law enforcement you’re doing it because you want to help your community and your country,” said Jesus A. Chan, Patrol Agent in Charge of Laredo Unit Intelligence Unit.

“I am honored to have been nominated, and humbled to have received it but this award goes beyond myself,” said Gonzalez. “It goes for every border patrol agent and federal law enforcement, state and local officers that put their uniform on, not knowing the dangers they may come across that day.”

Gonzalez attributes his fast response skills to his basic combat training with the Texas Army National Guard as well as the Army values that are instilled.

“The stress levels they put us through - allows us to keep composure and think,” said Gonzalez. 

Texas Army National Guard Maj. Thomas Diaz De Leon III, commander of the border patrol search training and rescue team and 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade plans officer in charge, deployed with Gonzalez in 2007. 

“He was an outstanding soldier then, and is an outstanding agent now, he is very professional and very humble,” said Diaz De Leon. “What he learned through being a soldier of the MEB, helping to mitigate human suffering and the understanding is that we are on call to help local citizens. He brought that understanding to his current job.”

The award was created to honor exceptional acts of bravery in the line of duty. In 2014, the U.S. Attorney General cited 16 recipients for the 2014 Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery. 

“This heroic act measures the true character and fortitude of Agents Garcia and Gonzalez in the face of danger,” said Mathew J. Hudak, acting Chief Patrol Agent, Del Rio Sector.

“He sacrificed himself, so that somebody else may live. I think that is a very huge selfless service act,” said Diaz De Leon.

Patriot Brigade Soldiers partner with 36th Infantry Division

Patriot Brigade Soldiers partner with 36th Infantry Division
Courtesy story by
: Staff Sgt. Nathan Akridge
3rd Brigade Combat Team PAO NCOIC
Posted: Sept. 22, 2016

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Akridge) Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Bly, senior enlisted adviser for 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), places the 36th Infantry Division patch on a battalion command sergeant major during a ceremony Friday at Fort Polk, La. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team is the first active-duty brigade to wear a National Guard unit's patch and is currently the only active Army unit wearing a National Guard patch.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Akridge)
Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Bly, senior enlisted adviser for 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), places the 36th Infantry Division patch on a battalion command sergeant major during a ceremony Friday at Fort Polk, La. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team is the first active-duty brigade to wear a National Guard unit's patch and is currently the only active Army unit wearing a National Guard patch.

FORT POLK, La. – The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) "Patriots" have taken on a new challenge in the effort to elevate U.S. Army readiness. The brigade is now partnered with 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, through the Associated Units program. 

"The Associated Units pilot allows us to leverage the capabilities and capacities of the active component, Army Reserve and the Army National Guard as One Army,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, Army chief of staff, said of the Total Force effort. 

The three-year pilot program pairs units from all U.S. Army components for training oversight. The goal is to build relationships, share knowledge and have a fully adaptable and ready force before mobilization. 

To solidify that partnership, Soldiers from the Patriot Brigade replaced their 10th Mountain Division (LI) patch with the 36th Infantry Division’s T patch during a ceremony Sept. 16 in front of Fort Polk’s headquarters building, 

Maj. Gen. Lester Simpson, 36th Infantry Division commanding general, said that although this is the Patriot Brigade’s first time wearing the 36th ID patch, this is not the first time the two units have worked together.

“I am excited about this next chapter in the Army’s Total Force policy that goes far beyond just wearing a patch,” Simpson said. “We will train together, we will fight together, and this will not be the first time. 

“More than 70 years ago, we fought Axis forces in Italy during World War II as part of 5th and 7th Army operations,” he continued. “More than 15 years ago, we exchanged commands during Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia, and over the last 10 years, we have served side by side fighting against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Col. Brian Sullivan, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), stressed to the Soldiers the positive changes this partnership brings. 

“Our Patriot Soldiers will gain the experience, insight and professionalism that a National Guard unit can bring to the fight,” Sullivan said. “By giving 3rd Brigade Soldiers access to National Guard facilities and giving the 36th Infantry Division Soldiers access to our facilities, this will be a mutually beneficial arrangement for all units involved. 

“In an era of reduced resources, we must train, deploy and fight as one team,” he added.

Sullivan also spoke about the storied history of the 36th Infantry Division, when Staff Sgt. Homer Wise, from Baton Rouge, La., was presented the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II. After speaking about how Wise saved his fellow Soldiers lives and suppressed and killed the enemy fire, Sullivan made a connection with the troops on the field before him. 

“Patriots, no matter how many divisions, brigades or battalions the Army might have, it is a lone staff sergeant from Louisiana, wearing the 36th Infantry Division’s patch, that can shake the world.”

Till the last drop; Texas Guardsmen deliver drinking water to state jail

Till the last drop; Texas Guardsmen deliver drinking water to state jail

Story by:
Capt. Jessica Jackson
Posted: Sept. 14, 2016
 

Guardsmen for 3rd battalion, 133 Field Artillery regiment use water buffalos to deliver drinking water to more than 1,400 correctional officers, staff and inmate at the Rogelio Sanchez State Jail in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 11, 2016.   After a main water break at the jail, administrators reached out to the unit to provide potable water to the site until water was restored to the facility.
Guardsmen for 3rd battalion, 133 Field Artillery regiment use water buffalos to deliver drinking water to more than 1,400 correctional officers, staff and inmate at the Rogelio Sanchez State Jail in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 11, 2016. 

After a main water break at the jail, administrators reached out to the unit to provide potable water to the site until water was restored to the facility. (Courtesy photo)

EL PASO, Texas—It’s the middle of summer, with temperatures in the triple digits and the water main breaks—leaving a jail full of inmates and staff without water. This was the situation at the Rogelio Sanchez State Jail in El Paso, Aug. 11, 2016. 

Jail administrators reached out to Texas Army National Guard 3rd Battalion, 133 Field Artillery Regiment based out of El Paso to see if the unit could assist in providing drinkable water for more than 1,400 correctional officers, staff and inmates onsite.

Understanding the severity of the problem, the unit quickly ramped up their water buffalos to provide assistance.

“The potable water was delivered the same day of the request,” said Capt. Charles Peters, 3rd Battalion, 133 Field Artillery Regiment S3 operations officer. “We were able to mount an initial response rapidly to provide the needed water within hours of notification.”

A quick response not lost on Garth Parker, Rogelio Sanchez State Jail warden.

“From the time they received the request it was only three hours until water was delivered,” said Parker. “This was a very impressive response time.  It shows the amount of commitment of the Guardsman and how very well-trained they are to be able to put together such a rapid response.”

The Guardsmen provided water to the jail for approximately 22 hours and delivered more than 30,000 gallons of potable water.

“It is awesome; the guard being able to provide this service to those in need,” Parker said. “It shows their high level of leadership, professionalism and organization to be able to gather the requested resources and deploy them in such a quick response.”  

The quick response not only helped those left without drinking water, but also gave Guardsmen a view into how their unique set of skills and equipment could help those locally in need.

“The soldiers were able to conduct a real-world DSCA mission, gaining valuable insight into supporting the community, and see how their actions can provide a positive impact within their own community,” said Peters.

Emergency situations are bound to occur, having these capabilities allow Texas National Guard units to provide much needed support throughout the state. 

“To me this displays superior readiness for any emergency or situation that arises, it’s great to know …we can make a call and receive assistance,” said Parker.

Yet another example of how Texas Guardsmen are always ready and always there.

Texas Military Department strengthens communication throughout the ranks

Texas Military Department strengthens communication throughout the ranks

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Peña

Posted: Sep. 10, 2016

Texas Guardsmen are broken into working groups to worke on separate mission sets. By combining the components, service members were able to discuss issues they saw simultaneously across the force. Eighteen handpicked service members from the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard and State Guard, representing each brigade, wing and major command in the Texas Military Department, came together for an inaugural Junior Enlisted Advisory Council at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, September 10-11, 2016 to discuss how to bridge gaps within the force. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)
Texas Guardsmen are broken into working groups to work on separate mission sets. By combining the components, service members were able to discuss issues they saw simultaneously across the force. Eighteen handpicked service members from the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard and State Guard, representing each brigade, wing and major command in the Texas Military Department, came together for an inaugural Junior Enlisted Advisory Council at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, September 10-11, 2016 to discuss how to bridge gaps within the force. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

AUSTIN, Texas -- Basic military values teach service members to always put the mission first. As those missions are being fulfilled and new policies put in place, leaders must ensure their junior future leaders are not left behind. 

Current technology has far surpassed the technology of 20 years ago and these factors present challenges in communicating across generations. 

“We are a generation removed from the junior enlisted, who are the bread and butter of our organization,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Mark A. Weedon, Command Senior Enlisted Leader for the Texas Military Department. “So we want to make sure that we have some circular communication from top to bottom.”

Eighteen handpicked service members from the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard and State Guard, representing each brigade, wing and major command in the Texas Military Department, came together for an inaugural Junior Enlisted Advisory Council at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, September 10-11, 2016 to discuss how to bridge gaps within the force.

“I was picked by my platoon sergeant because he thinks that I would be an asset to this council,” said Texas State Guard Petty Officer William Rogers, with the 3rd Battalion Maritime Regiment. “I feel like I’ve got experience in both federal and state and I can combine those experiences and give my input as someone that’s very senior in age as an E-4 that’s got my life experiences.”

During the council, service members were broken into sections.

“We split the council up into four groups and they each worked on separate mission sets,” said Weedon. “We will be presenting those problem set solutions to the Texas Adjutant General and to the executive council in a couple weeks.”

By combining the components, service members were able to discuss issues they saw simultaneously across the force.

“I saw tremendous similarities,” said Rogers. “Once we got in there and the boundaries came down, it wasn’t State Guard, it wasn’t National Guard, and it wasn’t Air National Guard we were just all soldiers and troops and airmen working together for a cause.” 


Through the use of meetings and by providing the opportunity to receive training, network with peers and participate in-group discussions, junior enlisted guardsmen can enhance and support the effective communication of the Texas Military Department strategic vision, mission, and goals. 

“I think it’s going to work great,” said Texas Army National Guard Spc. Robert Sanchez, combat engineer with the 836th Sapper Company of the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. “Command Sgt. Major Weedon has a strong opinion behind everything that we are saying. He is trying to understand what we are saying and put everything into his own words so when he presents it, its what we want but, it’s also at a good standpoint for Col. Chaney and the Texas Adjutant General.”

The guardsmen were directed to go back to their respective units and communicate with other junior service members to gather analysis for the next meeting.
 
“I got the ability to work with diversity and understand what we need to do to help new airmen or soldiers,” said Airman 1st Class LaChunda Gibbs, supply specialist with the 147th Reconnaissance Wing. “What I’m taking back is the info that we can use to resolve the issues within the military.” 

The council is scheduled to meet quarterly, with members rotating out approximately every two years. 

“Our Texas Adjutant General is a people person,” said Weedon. “He is probably the biggest advocate in this state for our junior enlisted so when they directly identify issues and make recommendations for solutions, he’s going to listen.”

Texas Guardsmen partner with Chilean military during humanitarian relief effort

Texas Guardsmen partner with Chilean military during humanitarian relief effort

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Peña

Posted: Sept. 3, 2016

Texas National Guard Lt. Col. Mark Davis, an optometrist with the 147th Medical Group in Houston, Texas, gave medical aid during the humanitarian mission. Thousands of local citizens receive medical treatment from Texas Guardsmen and Chilean Airmen during the five-day XXI Operative Medico-Dental Rapa Nui, Aug. 25 - Sept. 3, 2016, on Isla de Pascua, more commonly known as Easter Island. The joint Ministry of Health and Chilean Air Force event is designed to deliver medical specialty care to patients they may not otherwise have access to such as ophthalmology, optometry, minor surgery, ear nose and throat, dentistry, cardiology, and pulmonary medicine. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)
Texas National Guard Lt. Col. Mark Davis, an optometrist with the 147th Medical Group in Houston, Texas, gave medical aid during the humanitarian mission. Thousands of local citizens receive medical treatment from Texas Guardsmen and Chilean Airmen during the five-day XXI Operative Medico-Dental Rapa Nui, Aug. 25 - Sept. 3, 2016, on Isla de Pascua, more commonly known as Easter Island. The joint Ministry of Health and Chilean Air Force event is designed to deliver medical specialty care to patients they may not otherwise have access to such as ophthalmology, optometry, minor surgery, ear nose and throat, dentistry, cardiology, and pulmonary medicine. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

ISLA DE PASCUA, Chile – Thousands of local citizens lined the halls of the cramped hospital to receive medical treatment from Texas Guardsmen and Chilean Airmen during the five-day XXI Operative Medico-Dental Rapa Nui, Aug. 25 - Sept. 3, 2016, on Isla de Pascua, more commonly known as Easter Island.

“Our principle reason for being in Chile, and particularly Easter Island, was to validate and demonstrate in real time a seamless interoperability with our Chilean Air force medical counterparts,” said Texas Air National Guard George Ivanovski, commander of the 136th Medical Group, in Austin, Texas. “We actually worked side-by-side with them seeing patients.”

The joint Ministry of Health and Chilean Air Force event is designed to deliver medical specialty care to patients they may not otherwise have access to such as ophthalmology, optometry, minor surgery, ear nose and throat, dentistry, cardiology, and pulmonary medicine.

“Easter Island is quite isolated,” said Ivanovski. “The island is about 2500 miles from the mainland and is probably one of the most remote places on earth. It's 63 square miles of landmass with about 6,000 people living there. 

Ivanovski acted as the Texas Air National Guard Liaison to the Chilean Air Force during the operation, and Lt. Col. Mark Davis, an optometrist with the 147th Medical Group in Houston, Texas, participated in aid during the humanitarian mission.

“I was working with six other ophthalmologist from Chile,” said Texas Air National Guard Mark K. Davis, optometrist for the 147th medical group, based in Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, in Houston, Texas. “We were doing both routine eye care glasses and secondary care which would be medications, eye disease and also doing tertiary care which is some cataract surgery.”

Easter Island does have its own medical facility but at times it can be overwhelmed.

“Even though it’s a full service hospital most of the positions are one deep and these guys are working 24/7, 365,” said Ivanovski. “Beyond seeing the islanders, once the travel season starts and cruise ships start arriving, the small hospital tends to get overwhelmed with a lot of additional people that are sick.”

During the mission, medical officials saw double of their expected locals.

“The original estimated number of patients was about 2700, they saw about 5700,” said Ivanovski. “So you’re looking at about a 50 percent increase and when you think about it that’s pretty much the whole island. They all showed up.”

This year marked the 21st iteration for the Chilean Air Force and the sixth year for Texas to participate through the State Partnership Program.

“They are very appreciative of us being there, said Ivanovski. “Chile is our sister state and we have a lot of things in common not only recently with our military 
exchanges, but historically, so its important for us to keep up that relationship and continue to build on it.”

Davis has served in his career field for over 30 years but this mission gave him a new experience to take back home and share with his students.

“I teach at the University of Houston College of optometry,” said Davis. “You can teach your students about rudimentary eye care and taking care of people in areas of lower social economics but in the U.S. you still have equipment. This is an eye exam, I wouldn’t say in the jungle, but definitely in area with less equipment so it takes you back to the basics.”

The population on the Island is made up Chilean and Rapa Nui locals. 

“Ninety-five percent of the island is Roman Catholic so the priest came out and blessed us,” said Davis. “At the index, they had a party for us and the civilians came out and cooked for us and the mayor was grilling tuna. They were so gracious.”

The Texas National Guard and Chile have been working together for more than seven years through the national states’ partnership program. The program is managed by the National Guard Bureau, and is designed to link each state’s National Guard with a partner nations’ military forces and government agencies in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.

“The Chileans and the patients thought it was great,” said Ivanovski. “This was not just a meet and greet event – this was a full up humanitarian operation, planned and executed much like you were rolling up into a disaster zone. It was truly awe inspiring to be a part of that.”

Texas Army National Guard brigade assumes USARCENT engineer mission

Texas Army National Guard brigade assumes USARCENT engineer mission

Story by: Courtesy Story
Posted: Sept. 1, 2016
 

Courtesy Photo | Col. Charles Schoening, Commander of the 176th Engineer Brigade and Task Force Chaos and senior enlisted advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Simms, officially assumed authority for engineer construction missions for the entire U.S. Army Central area of responsibility. The occasion was marked with a formal ceremony attended by representatives from each subordinate command within the task force, as well as commanders of several adjacent units. (Photo by U.S. Army National Guard Courtesy of 176th Engineer Brigade)
Courtesy Photo | Col. Charles Schoening, Commander of the 176th Engineer Brigade and Task Force Chaos and senior enlisted advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Simms, officially assumed authority for engineer construction missions for the entire U.S. Army Central area of responsibility. The occasion was marked with a formal ceremony attended by representatives from each subordinate command within the task force, as well as commanders of several adjacent units. (Photo by U.S. Army National Guard Courtesy of 176th Engineer Brigade)

The 176th Engineer Brigade of Grand Prairie, Texas will oversee engineer construction projects throughout the Middle East.

On Sept. 1, 2016, Colonel Charles Schoening, Commander of the 176th Engineer Brigade and Task Force Chaos, officially assumed authority for engineer construction missions for the entire U.S. Army Central area of responsibility.  

The occasion was marked with a formal ceremony attended by representatives from each subordinate command within the task force, as well as commanders of several adjacent units.  

Major General William Hickman, USARCENT Deputy Commanding General for Operations, was the keynote speaker.  Maj. Gen. Hickman complimented the skill and professionalism of the brigade’s Soldiers and expressed confidence in their ability to excel in any assignment.  

Speaking from the podium, he praised the 176th.  “I know you will be successful in this mission because I can already see the impact you have made.” 

It was a particularly salient and affirming observation from an active component general referring to a task force comprised of Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers.  

Historically, each component has operated in virtual exclusion of the other, but the Global War on Terror has ushered in a new era of unprecedented integration and cooperation among the service branches and components.  

In speaking of the arrangement, Col. Schoening observed that the 176th was selected for the mission after Secretary of Defense consideration of active component, Army Guard brigades. 

“We were selected because we have the training and capability to successfully complete this mission,” said Schoening.  

The Georgetown resident will command an engineer force of nearly 1,700 Soldiers operating in several of the 20 countries throughout the USCENTCOM region. 

While in theater, the Task Force will be engaged in a wide variety of construction and infrastructure projects designed to improve living conditions for U.S. and coalition forces, assist partner nations in defeating ISIS, and build partner capacity through joint training. 

Col. Schoening noted, “This is a historic moment for the 176th Engineer Brigade.  We’re doing things no other engineer brigade headquarters has done before.  Our Soldiers are excited about this mission and the opportunity to serve their country."

Texas Guardsmen sling load Apache helicopter with Chinook

Texas Guardsmen sling load Apache helicopter with Chinook

Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Posted: September 1, 2016 

Texas Guardsmen conduct recovery operations of an AH-64D Apache helicopter using a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, September 1, 2016, following a precautionary landing in a rice paddy in Wallisville, Texas, near Houston, due to mechanical issues. Maintenance soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance) waded through six-inch deep mud and worked in a heat index of more than 100 degrees, to ensure a safe and successful sling load recovery mission. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)
Texas Guardsmen conduct recovery operations of an AH-64D Apache helicopter using a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, September 1, 2016, following a precautionary landing in a rice paddy in Wallisville, Texas, near Houston, due to mechanical issues. Maintenance soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance) waded through six-inch deep mud and worked in a heat index of more than 100 degrees, to ensure a safe and successful sling load recovery mission. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

HOUSTON - Texas Guardsmen conducted recovery operations of an AH-64D Apache helicopter using a CH-47 Chinook, Sept. 1, 2016, following a precautionary landing in a rice paddy in Wallisville, near Houston, due to mechanical issues.

Wading through six-inch deep mud, and working in 97 degree weather with 90 percent humidity, maintenance soldiers from the 1st Battalion 149th Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance) prepared the Apache for a sling-load recovery.

“This was fun,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Guillory, technical inspector and attack helicopter mechanic for the battalion. “For most of us, this is the first real-world sling load we’ve done. We have done it in training plenty, but you can’t beat this. This is the real thing.”

The pilots flying the aircraft initially made the precautionary landing after a warning light went off. 

“They did the right thing,” said Guillory. “You get a warning light, you land, wherever you’re at.”

The soldiers on board the aircraft were not injured and were conducting a routine training mission when the landing occurred. 

“I want to commend our pilots for their quick reaction and landing,” said Maj. Gen. William Smith, Deputy Adjutant-Army and commander of the Texas Army National Guard. “This was a potentially dangerous situation that demonstrates the caliber of our soldiers as they ensured the safety of the citizens in the local area.”

The unit’s leadership determined the safest way to move the helicopter would be by air, mitigating risk to nearby civilians and their property.
The only way to move a 12,000 pound aircraft via air is with something more than twice its size, something like a Chinook.

Using a universal maintenance aviation recovery kit, designed to move a downed aircraft from one location to another, Guillory and a dozen other maintenance soldiers worked to ensure that the Apache could be transported safely. 

As the soldiers worked, a large crowd of nearby Texans gathered to watch the operation, to include a local judge who handed out cold water to the soldiers working, as well as the civilians watching.

“Everyone worked really well together; I thought they interfaced very well with the public,” said Judge Blake Sylvia, Chambers County Justice of the Peace. “From start to finish it was a really good operation.”

It took two attempts to get the Apache in the air. After fixing a small issue with their hook, the Chinook crew was able to successfully sling load the Apache and fly it 16 miles to the Baytown Airfield.

The maintenance soldiers met the two helicopters in Baytown and immediately went to work preparing the Apache for safety inspections and any necessary maintenance. 

“That’s what we do,” said Guillory. “Make sure it’s safe to fly.”

Prayer Breakfast Salutes Armed Forces Day

PRAYER BREAKFAST SALUTES ARMED FORCES DAY

Story by: CW2 Janet Schmelzer, TXSG

Posted: Sep. 01, 2016

Texas State Guard chaplains and unit commanders join together to pay tribute to the men and women of the United States and Texas military forces on Armed Forces Day at Dallas Baptist University, Dallas, Texas, May 21, 2016.  Presenters at this seventh prayer breakfast include George Washington impersonator Mark Collins, Kim Pedersen of 1000bulbs.com, and Bagpiper Steve Pruitt.  (Photo by CW2 Janet Schmelzer, TXSG/Released)
Texas State Guard chaplains and unit commanders join together to pay tribute to the men and women of the United States and Texas military forces on Armed Forces Day at Dallas Baptist University, Dallas, Texas, May 21, 2016.  Presenters at this seventh prayer breakfast include George Washington impersonator Mark Collins, Kim Pedersen of 1000bulbs.com, and Bagpiper Steve Pruitt.  (Photo by CW2 Janet Schmelzer, TXSG/Released)

DALLAS – Texas State Guardsmen from North Texas gathered to honor the U.S. and Texas service members at the Seventh Annual Texas State Guard Military Prayer Breakfast at Dallas Baptist University, May 21, 2016. 
More than 200 State Guard chaplains and troops from North Texas, along with family members and friends, joined together to salute their fellow service members.  

“The Texas State Guard is proud to honor the men and women of the U.S Armed Forces on Armed Forces Day,” said State Guard chaplain, Maj. Dale Vick, 2nd Regiment. “Texas State Guard chaplains organize this event every year." 

The program included an inspirational presentation by Gen. George Washington impersonator, Mark Collins, who spoke about how his faith guided him during the difficult times during the American Revolution.  
To honor Texas State Guardsmen who had passed away during the previous year, Chaplains (Capt.) David Fish, 4th Regiment, and 1st Lt. Shane Tomlinson, 19th Regiment, conducted a roll call ceremony, identifying each troop, followed by the ringing of a bell and “Taps,” played by Eagle Scout Travis Wattigney.  

Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr., also presented the Sword of Solomon to Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jerald Garner for his dedicated service to the Texas State Guard.  Garner initiated the prayer breakfast in 2009 and created the statewide annual Texas State Guard "Heroes of the Guard" Christmas Toy Drive, where soldiers collect thousands of toys and deliver them to children who will spend the holidays at hospitals across Texas.

Other high points of the breakfast included the swearing in of Texas State Guard Chaplains (Col.) Douglas Sewell and (1st Lt. Steve Kavli, the playing of "Amazing Grace" by Bagpiper Steve Pruitt, the singing of "America the Beautiful" by Jeannie Miller, key note speaker remarks by Kim Pederson, former Hydraulic Aviation Technicians for the U.S. Navy and founder of 1000bulbs.com and the welcoming remarks of Dr. Dennis Linam of Dallas Baptist University.  The 4th Regiment Color Guard presented the colors.

The Texas State Guard is the state's volunteer military agency; trained, organized and ready to respond when a disaster strikes and Texans need help. It is comprised of more than 1,800 volunteers organized into four components – Army, Air, Medical and Maritime – with individual units assigned throughout the state.