Posts in Category: Texas Army National Guard

Texas National Guard Soldiers distribute food and supplies to stranded residents in Orange

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Photo By Staff Sgt. Melisa Washington | Soldiers ground guide a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle around an abandoned car. Texas Army National Guard Soldiers from the 36th Infantry Division transported and distributed food, water, and supplies from Orange County Airport to residents in low-income areas of Orange, Texas on September 6th, 2017. US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Melisa Washington/ RELEASED

ORANGE, TX, UNITED STATES

09.06.2017

Story by Staff Sgt. Melisa Washington

100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 

ORANGE, Texas — Texas National Guard Soldiers from the 36th Infantry Division distributed goods ranging from food and clean water to diapers and baby shoes to stranded residents in low-income neighborhoods of Orange, Sept. 6, 2017. 

Orange County established a point of distribution, or POD, at the Orange County Airport following the devastating flood from Hurricane Harvey. The POD receives donated food, water, and hygiene, baby and pet products from private organizations, individuals and the military to distribute to the community. Most PODs are stationary; residents drive through to receive supplies.

Glynis Gothia, a local school teacher and the county commissioner’s wife, serves as the supply coordinator at the airport’s POD. She saw there was a need to transport food and water to residents in some affected areas with help from the Texas National Guard. 

"They’re still under water, the military is going to them and bringing them supplies. Because they haven’t been able to get out and get any supplies” Gothia said.

Soldiers encountered families with children and several elderly residents that lived alone. At most houses, the water had receded to the driveway, but the water was still too deep in the street to leave safely.

“Most of these residents are low income. They don’t have anywhere to go or a means to leave. Some people are afraid to leave their homes and their belongings,” said Texas National Guard Cpt. Patrick Lane, 1-133rd Field Artillery, explaining why so many people did not leave.

The Soldiers drove high water vehicles to get through neighborhoods where water levels were still waist-deep in some areas. Soldiers dismounted and trekked through the water on foot to guide the vehicles through the streets and run supplies from the vehicles to driveways and doorsteps. 

Texas National Guard Pfc. Jonathan Galindo, 3-133rd Field Artillery, stood on the back of the vehicle, sorting through food and hygiene products to find what the flood victims needed. This was his first experience assisting in a natural disaster.

"This is the way I serve my country. I’m here helping people out, it’s a great feeling. You know, the water is high, they’re not able to get out of their homes. It’s great we’re able to provide for them here” Galindo said. 

Soldiers also provided assistance to a Marine veteran and volunteer. His truck went into a ditch full of water while he distributed supplies to affected residents. Equipped with a rope, they pulled the truck out of the ditch. 

Teamwork was key for Soldiers on the mobile distribution mission as well as between the military and civilian crew at the POD. 

"The coordination effort has been working fairly well. We’ve been real impressed with our military” Gothia expressed, "As long as there’s a need, they’re going to take care of it.” 

The Texas Military Department is managing approximately 30 points of distribution in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.

OPERATION HAY DROP

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Photo By Sgt. Steve Johnson | Soldiers and Airmen from the Texas Military Department loading hay bales onto Chinook helicopters are joined by civilians in Hamshire, Texas, September 5, 2017. Texas Military Forces are using air assets to support local cattle ranchers protect their herds from starving, by air dropping hay bales to flooded areas.(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Steve Johnson/Released)

HAMSHIRE, TX, UNITED STATES

09.05.2017

Story by Sgt. Steve Johnson

100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 

HAMSHIRE, Texas -- Soldiers and airmen from the Texas Military Department joined forces with civilians from the city of Hamshire, for “Operation Hay Drop,” Sept. 05, 2017. The goal of the operation was to feed the region's cattle that had been stranded by Hurricane Harvey related flooding.


The soldiers and airmen, along with CH-47 Chinook helicopters from Texas and Ohio National Guard units, local law enforcement, ranchers and farmers organized the operation as a way to ensure livestock across a five county area were fed. High floodwaters have made reaching the animals by land impossible for over a week. The operation targeted an estimated 10,000 animals across an area of over 50,000 acres.


This mission was a key part of ensuring that once the rescue missions wound down, the long term needs of Texas communities would be addressed. 
“It’s important for the Texas Military Department to use the assets we have on hand to help protect the livelihoods of people who have been impacted by the floods,” said Texas National Guard Maj. Alicia Schweitzer, 71st Troop Command. “This affects people’s lives from today to months down the road, if we don’t protect their livestock; their communities aren’t going to survive in the long run.”


Cattle ranches make up a significant part of the local economy in Hamshire. The benefits of the hay drop by Texas Military Department personnel were greatly appreciated by the residents of the small town that depend on it. 


“The cattle industry in this area is a $25 million dollar a year industry. Losing that type of dollar amount would be a tremendous hardship on the community,” said Tony Viator, a lieutenant with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, who was helping with the operation. 


With much of his jurisdiction still reeling from Hurricane Harvey, Viator was glad to have access to the resources Texas Military Department could bring to the region.


“We have a five-county area that due to the flood waters has approximately 10,000 head of cattle that are trapped on islands, unable to be fed and taken care of by their owners. We asked the Texas Army National Guard for help, and they have done an outstanding job, giving us everything we needed, from pilots, to logistics, ground support, and help loading the aircraft,” said Viator.

Before the operation ended for the day, Texas soldiers and airmen had loaded and air dropped approximately 1000 bales, and residents of Hamshire, like rancher Danny Drawhorn were thankful for the help in the wake of Harvey. 


“I have about 50 head of cattle in my pasture, probably about $100,000 worth of cattle, plus they’ve all got calves with them, “ said Drawhorn. “This part of the country is America's table-top and when we get 42 inches of rain like we did, it’s virtually impossible to get hay back there. This air-drop has just been tremendous for us. “

Singapore Air Force supports hurricane relief in Texas

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Photo By Sgt. Michael Giles | Members of the 372nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion conduct external sling load resupply operations with our international partners from the Republic of Singapore Air Force in support of Task Force Harvey, Aug. 30, 2017. This unique capability provided much needed forward distribution of food and water to Logistics Support Area (LSA) Brenham. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jerod Zuniga)

TX, UNITED STATES

09.04.2017

Story by Sgt. Michael Giles

100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 

CAMP MABRY, Texas—Airmen with Singapore’s Peace Prairie Detachment supported hurricane relief efforts by delivering supplies to Brenham, Texas, on Aug. 30, 2017, in support of Joint Task Force Harvey.

Thirty-four members of the Republic of Singapore Air Force in CH-47 Chinook helicopters coordinated with the Texas National Guard’s 372nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion to resupply Joint Task Force Harvey personnel with food and water. 

The contribution toward Harvey relief efforts reflects an ongoing partnership between Singapore and Texas, according to an Aug. 30 Singapore Ministry of Defence statement.

“This was a small gesture to express our appreciation and gratitude to the U.S., and in particular the State of Texas, which have been good hosts for our Peace Prairie Detachment,” said Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s prime
minister.

Texas has hosted Singapore’s Peace Prairie Detachment at the Grand Prairie Army Aviation Support Facility in Dallas since the detachment’s inauguration in May, 1996. In that time, they received training at the Joint Readiness Training Center and in Exercise Red Flag, and trained alongside Texas Guardsmen in large-scale emergency response exercises. They put this training to use as they coordinated with the Texas Guard in response to Hurricanes Katrina in 2005, fire and flood operations in Texas in 2000, and Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

The Singaporean detachment has been fulfilling a crucial role in helping resupplying food and water to service members on the ground, said Lt. Col. John Crawson, commander of the Texas Army National Guard’s 36th Sustainment Brigade. 

“We have soldiers down in the joint operations area that are relying on our resupply,” Crawson said. “They’re relying on our MREs and bottled water. And when they begin to get very low on supplies, it’s very crucial that I get them there.”

Crawson said that sling load operations are necessary when flooding prevents effective ground travel. The Singaporean detachment is an ideal partner in these situations, because they frequently rehearse these capabilities with Texas Guardsmen during their annual training.

“We are extremely grateful for their support and we will continue to ask them to help us out,” Crawson said.

Citizen Soldiers support and supply in Hurricane Harvey effort

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Photo By Sgt. Jazmin Jenkins | Soldiers from the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade unload pallets of water from a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) semi-truck at Houston Exective Airport in Katy, Texas to be distributed to Hurricane Harvey victims Sept. 3, 2017. The Department of Defense is conducting Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations in response to the effects of Hurricane Harvey. DSCA operations are part of the DOD's response capability to assist civilian responders in saving lives, relieving human suffering and mitigating property damage in response to a catastrophic disaster. (U.S. Army photo by: Sgt. Jazmin Jenkins / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

KATY, TX, UNITED STATES

09.03.2017

Story by Sgt. Jazmin Jenkins

22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 

KATY, Texas - Six forklifts manned by Texas Army National Guardsmen line up outside of a hangar at a small airport just outside of Houston awaiting the next semi-truck filled with supplies to offload. Although most of the forklift operators are not logisticians by trade, they are combining skills earned working for the military and in the civilian sector to accomplish the mission. 

First Lieutenant Tim Dubose, an intelligence officer with 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, volunteered to manage a shipping and receiving site for distributing supplies based on his 10-years of civilian experience as a project manager. 

The mission of Dubose’s Austin-based unit is to support Texas Army National Guard disaster recovery operations by getting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supplies to distribution points using helicopters.

Dubose said that no mission within the specialty for which the military trained him existed for hurricane relief operations. However, the leadership skills taught to all Army officers, paired with his civilian credentials, made his selection for a leadership position at a logistics hub in the recovery efforts a natural one.

"I was selected to be in an (officer in charge) position,” said Dubose. “When I arrived at Houston Executive Airport, there was a need for logistical problem set." 

He used the project management skills required in his civilian job experience to synergize a team of Soldiers sent from around the United States to efficiently deliver supplies at the FEMA distribution site established at the airport. 

One of the people working for Dubose is Pfc. Matthew Riffe, a generator mechanic with 36th CAB, based out of Austin, Texas. Like Dubose, the 22-year old is using a combination of skills learned in the military and in his civilian job to ensure mission success. Riffe works in logistics shipping and receiving coordinator in his civilian occupation and has six years of forklift experience. 

"I volunteered to man the forklift because they were short-handed and I have the experience and skillset to contribute to the mission," said Riffe.

FEMA brings life sustaining supplies to be distributed by the military to the Houston Executive Airport for Hurricane Harvey victims. Soldiers with 36th CAB off-load and inventory those supplies. Afterwards the supplies are palletized and organized to fit inside the dimensions of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. 

Dubose said one of the most important skills he’s using from his civilian job is proper communication between teammates and managing resources effectively. Additionally, his experience in acquisitions aligns with the mission at the distribution site. 

"Flight operations identifies specific supplies to go on the necessary aircraft by customer demand," said Dubose. "We fill that order by loading the supplies in the aircraft, then make sure we track and inventory afterwards." 

The FEMA distribution site at Houston Executive Airport is one of the major hubs re-supplying areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. The site has delivered an average of 25 tons of supplies per day since operations began on Aug. 31. 

Thousands of people along the U.S. Gulf Coast were affected by Hurricane Harvey. The efforts to relieve those in need involves Soldiers and necessary skills to accomplish the mission.

“This is an important mission to be a part of,” said Dubose. “We have all come together and used all of our skills to get the job done."

Clean water for Texas

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Photo By Capt. Martha Nigrelle | Texas Army National Guard, Capt. Amber Luecke, 71st enhanced Military Intelligence Brigade, mans the ice point at a the Point of Distribution (POD) where locals received clean water, ice and food in Victoria, Texas, Sept. 2, 2017. Texas Guardsmen set up numerous PODs in areas like Victoria, to ensure residents maintained access to clean water, as they worked to recover from the effects of the hurricane. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

VICTORIA, TX, UNITED STATES

09.02.2017

Story by Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Texas Military Department

 

VICTORIA, Texas – Soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas State Guard handed out cases of bottled water, bags of ice and bags of food to locals still suffering the effects of Hurricane Harvey, in Victoria, Texas, Sept. 2, 2017.

One week after Harvey passed directly over Victoria, the town was still without clean drinking water.

As the rain finally subsided, and the Texas sun returned, temperatures raised into the 90’s. Thankfully, in Victoria, workers were able to restore the electricity, but potable water still wasn’t there.

“I came here to help people,” said a seven-year old volunteer who said she traveled with her parents from out of town to lend a hand to neighbors in need.

A large team of volunteers helped Guardsmen pass out the water, ice and food as Victoria residents drove through their Point of Distribution, located at the town’s community center. 

Despite the high temperature, and the glaring Texas sun, both Guardsmen and volunteers appeared to remain in high spirits, smiling at every person coming through their POD and making sure each family had the water, ice and food they needed.

Many of the families coming through the POD appeared to also be in high spirits, as bright smiles were passed to volunteers and soldiers with messages of gratitude.

“Thank you, thank you for what you are doing,” said one man. “God Bless you for being here.”

The POD had a simple and efficient set up. Soldiers were stationed at the community center’s parking lot entrance and exit to direct vehicles to the line. 

Upon approaching the POD, the line split in two. On either side, residents were greeted with a smile, by a soldier who explained to them how the operation worked.

Next step, the food stop. Here, residents may be greeted with not only a smile, but the adorable face of one of the younger volunteers as they received however many rations needed.

Moving onto the ice station, a Guardsman would inquire as to how many bags of ice, before signaling the ice team. As the car approached the ice station, soldiers and volunteers would be ready with the amount needed and load them into their vehicle.

Same process for the water.

Last, upon leaving, another smile and a goodbye. 

The operation had both military efficiency and a true Texas spirit.

“We’ve served more than 1,000 families in just three hours today,” said Texas National Guard Capt. Amber Luecke, 71st Enhanced Military Intelligence Brigade.

This group of Guardsmen and volunteers appeared to make every effort possible to make a difficult situation easier for their customers. While they worked on the black pavement in the heat of a late Texas summer, they ensured their customers stayed inside air-conditioned vehicles, with soldiers and volunteers doing any picking up, delivering and loading needed.

“We are here to help our communities,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick M. Hamilton, Commander of the Dual Status Command for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. “Helping our neighbors when they need us most is the heart of the Guard, and why we choose to become citizen-soldiers and airmen.”

This same sentiment appeared to be with the soldiers at the Victoria Community Center POD.

“Texas needed help, so we came out here,” said Luecke.

Texas Guardsmen are conducting stability operations throughout south Texas in many of the areas affected by the hurricane, running numerous PODs, shelters and supporting the rebuilding process.

Hybrid team rescues handicapped man from Hurricane Harvey flooding with water, ground and air assets

 

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Photo By Capt. Martha Nigrelle | Texas National Guard soldiers, service members from the U.S. Coast Guard and Texas Task Force 1 and Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service swift water rescue technicians work together to rescue a man with special medical needs from high-rising waters and medically evacuate him to a safe location, in Orange, Texas, August 30, 2017. Thousands of first responders from the military and local, state and federal agencies joined together to render aid to all those endangered by the high-rising floodwaters in south Texas following Hurricane Harvey. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

Story by Capt. Martha Nigrelle

09.02.17

ORANGE, Texas – A team of National Guardsmen, Coast Guardsmen, swift-water rescue technicians and volunteers worked together to rescue and air-lift a patient needing special medical attention, from severe flooding to a safe, medical facility, in Orange, Texas, August 30, 2017.

Service members from the Texas National Guard and a swift-water rescue team from Texas Task Force 1 and the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service arrived in a severely flooded neighborhood looking to help anyone in need, when due to special circumstances they ended up flagging down a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and medically evacuating a patient, rescuing him from danger and potentially saving his life.

“When we first got the call the information we were given was that there was a request to evacuate two elderly individuals, one of whom was paralyzed,” said Roger Patterson, Texas Task Force 1 squad leader. “Our Texas National Guard team assisted us with their high-profile vehicles to get us as close to the house as possible.”

Texas Guardsmen staged their vehicles, while Patterson and his team maneuvered through deep waters, diverse terrain and numerous obstacles to get to the family in need.

“The water was pretty bad,” said Texas National Guard Pfc. Martin Davila, 386th Engineer Battalion. “It was everywhere - both sides of the roads. Whole houses were under water.”

Patterson’s team arrived at the house and determined they would need a litter to safely transport the handicapped gentleman to dry land. 

“When we first got there we noticed an inflatable kayak tied to a street sign,” said Matt Paul, swift-water rescue technician and boat operator for Patterson’s Texas Task Force 1 squad. “We decided to use the kayak as a litter and floatation device, which enabled us to transport him in the safest and fastest way we could think of.”

While Paul and the rest of the members of his team worked to safely evacuate their patient, Patterson split off to coordinate for medical transport to ensure that the patient’s medical needs could be taken care of during his evacuation.

Back at the trucks, Guardsmen waited for the swift-water rescue team to return, while volunteers showed up, seemingly out of nowhere, looking to assist in any way possible.

“One of the really cool things was that when we evacuated the patient, a volunteer came over with his boat and evacuated his wife,” said Paul. “Which enabled us to focus on the well-being of the patient and his evacuation.”

Patterson coordinated for ambulance transport after determining that this patient’s medical needs required more attention than might be possible in the military vehicle.

“Because of his medical conditions we couldn’t bring him to any of the shelters open at the time,” said Patterson. “Ambulance transportation was requested but was significantly delayed due to limited resources and an inundation of patients.”

While Patterson worked on coordinating transport, the Guardsmen and Task Force 1 team worked to protect the man as best possible.

“I was keeping a look out for any emergency vehicles so I could help get him out of danger as quick as possible so he could get the medical attention he needed,” said Davila.

Another man, there looking for a family member, had two umbrellas in his vehicle and used them to provide shelter from the rain, for the patient. 

The man needed medical attention for several reasons, one of which was the inability to regulate his own body temperature.

“We had covered him up with as many blankets as we had available, but it continued to rain and the temperature was dropping,” said Paul. “I was concerned with the rain and the temperature; I was worried he would become hypothermic.” 

Then a U.S. Coast Guard rescue helicopter flew by in what appeared to be a regular search pattern. 

Seeing an opportunity for a quicker medical evacuation, Paul placed his hands and arms out in a ‘Y’ signaling to the helicopter crew that he was asking them to land.

“They flew around showing us they would land,” said Paul. “So our Texas Guard partners helped us stop traffic and secure a landing zone for them, and they were able to land – right in the middle of I-10.”

Of course on that day I-10 traffic was a little sparse. 

“It was kind of exciting,” said Davilla. “It was the first time I have ever been a part of an evacuation by air, but it was also nerve-wracking because once we rescued him from the floods we weren’t sure how we would be able to safely evacuate him.”

The team that started out with just Texas soldiers and Task Force 1 swift-water rescue technicians had now doubled in size, adding volunteers and the U.S. Coast Guard, all with one mission, to get a patient in need to safety. 

“The rescue swimmers approached me and I told them the situation,” said Paul. “They agreed that it was a necessary transport given his medical conditions. Then the pilot confirmed that they would be able to evacuate the patient to a safe medical facility.”

As the hybrid team transported the patient from his inflatable kayak-litter to the Coast Guard litter, Patterson told the patient’s wife the plan.

“The wife was very thankful,” said Patterson. “She was extremely surprised with the helicopter, but very thankful.”

Once loaded on board the helicopter, Coast Guardsmen transported the patient and his wife to a medical facility where his condition could be attended to in safety.

“I’m glad we had all of the support we had,” said Davila. “It made me really proud to be a Texan to see how everyone came together to make sure everyone was okay and going somewhere safe.”

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, first responders say that this type of joint-teamwork is what is helping save lives.

“This type of teamwork is very unique,” said Paul. “It’s the first time I have worked with so many different entities to include the vast number of volunteers. To me, a lot of those folks are out there with their own equipment and on their own time. They are heroes, out there making sacrifices to help their neighbors out.”

First responders may come from different organizations, but they seem to agree on one thing, working together to help someone in need has also changed them. 

“After the hurricane response is over, this situation will stick out, we all worked together and were able to do something really good for this man,” said Paul.

“I’m really proud to have been a part of this mission and help someone in need,” said Davilla. “I will continue to volunteer for any rescue missions or volunteer work needed in the future.”

Texas National Guard partners and neighbors rescue 1000 from floods

Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

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Texas Guardsmen from the 386th Engineer Battalion and a local volunteer help residents down from a military vehicle in Cypress Creek, Texas, August 29, 2017. The Texas National Guard partnered with first responders from Texas Task Force One and the Cypress Creek Fire Department to move residents from severely flooded neighborhoods to safety days after Hurricane Harvey hit south Texas. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

CYPRESS CREEK, Texas – Texas National Guardsmen from the 386th Engineer Battalion teamed up with Texas Task Force 1 and the Cypress Creek Fire Department, bringing 1,000 Cypress Creek residents from high-rising waters to safety, just days after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas shores, August 28, 2016.

As heavy rains fell over the city, water levels continued to rise to dangerous and historic levels – some areas seeing more than five feet of flooding.

The flooding appeared to be the worst in a handful of sub-divisions. 

“Today was a day no one ever thought they’d see,” said Pfc. Adelisa Fuentes, 386th Engineer Battalion. “There was water rising up to your hips and the further the road went, the deeper the flood was.”

Texas Guardsmen equipped with swift-water vehicles and their partners, equipped with boats set out to help the many people in danger.

Swift water vehicles can safely move through approximately 30 inches of water. Texas Guardsmen took their trucks as far as they could before dismounting Task Force boats.

First responders used boats to go through entire neighborhoods, bringing all those in danger to safety.

“This is what we train for,” said Texas Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Patrick M. Hamilton, Dual Status Commander for Hurricane Harvey Recovery Efforts. “And we’re proud to stand beside our civilian partners, first responders and volunteers to serve the citizens of Texas.” 

It isn’t uncommon to find National Guardsmen working or training alongside emergency first responders – it’s a part of their mission. 

Texas Guardsmen train year-round with partner first responders like Texas Task Force One, so that when a disaster occurs in Texas, they are prepared.

“This is Texans helping Texans – neighbors helping neighbors,” Hamilton said. “While we don’t want to have to put our training to the test during a tragedy, our citizen-guardsmen remain prepared to help save lives and property, when called.” 


The team of Soldiers and first responders took on a new dynamic in the wake of Hurricane Harvey as local residents stopped to help. 

Those owning boats or jet skis, used them to assist in transporting victims to safety. Others brought water and helped transfer people and equipment onto the National Guard vehicles. 

“Watching others bring victims to safety into our LMTVs showed how much heart people really have and that they don’t just depend on us to do the work alone,” said Fuentes. “All help is worth a hand in a time of need.”

One man even cooked a platter of chicken, wading into water three feet deep in order to feed both Soldiers and volunteers – a much welcomed surprise as most appeared to work through lunch without stopping.

Dogs, cats and even a lucky stuffed iguana were passed from boats to Soldiers, followed by their owners and the residents of the neighborhoods suffering from severe flooding. 

Emotions were varied, some were in high spirits while others seemed overwhelmed by their new reality.

One woman had spent the previous day as an EMT rescuing people all over the city from flooding. 

“You never think you’re going to be the victim,” she said. “Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

After six hours of wading through deep waters, Soldiers and partner first responders, ensuring everyone who needed help was safe, began to pack up.

Despite the long hours and poor weather conditions, the Soldiers all appeared to be energized, focused and in good spirits.

“Nothing is more important to our Guardsmen than the chance to serve their local community.” Hamilton said. “Helping our neighbors when they need us most is the heart of The Guard, and why we choose to become Citizen Soldiers and Airmen.”

One Texas Guardsman on scene, felt the same way.

“I am so glad I was able to be there to help my fellow Texans get to safety from their flooded homes,” said Fuentes. “It’s heartbreaking, but everyone is safe.”

Texas National Guard, partners and neighbors rescue 1,000 from floods

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Photo By Capt. Martha Nigrelle | Texas Guardsmen from the 386th Engineer Battalion partnered with first responders from Texas Task Force One and the Cypress Creek Fire Department move residents from severely flooded neighborhoods to safety days after Hurricane Harvey hit south Texas, August 28, 2017, Cypress Creek, Texas. The team of Soldiers, Firefighters and rescue swimmers, paired with local volunteers and rescued more than 1,000 people and hundreds of dogs and cats, bringing them to dry ground. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle) 

CYPRESS CREEK, TX, UNITED STATES

08.28.2017

Story by Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Texas Military Department

 

CYPRESS CREEK, Texas – Texas National Guardsmen from the 386th Engineer Battalion teamed up with Texas Task Force 1 and the Cypress Creek Fire Department, bringing 1,000 Cypress Creek residents from high-rising waters to safety, just days after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas shores, August 28, 2016.

As heavy rains fell over the city, water levels continued to rise to dangerous and historic levels – some areas seeing more than five feet of flooding.

The flooding appeared to be the worst in a handful of sub-divisions. 

“Today was a day no one ever thought they’d see,” said Pfc. Adelisa Fuentes, 386th Engineer Battalion. “There was water rising up to your hips and the further the road went, the deeper the flood was.”

Texas Guardsmen equipped with swift-water vehicles and their partners, equipped with boats set out to help the many people in danger.

Swift water vehicles can safely move through approximately 30 inches of water. Texas Guardsmen took their trucks as far as they could before dismounting Task Force boats.

First responders used boats to go through entire neighborhoods, bringing all those in danger to safety.

“This is what we train for,” said Texas Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Patrick M. Hamilton, Dual Status Commander for Hurricane Harvey Recovery Efforts. “And we’re proud to stand beside our civilian partners, first responders and volunteers to serve the citizens of Texas.” 

It isn’t uncommon to find National Guardsmen working or training alongside emergency first responders – it’s a part of their mission. 

Texas Guardsmen train year-round with partner first responders like Texas Task Force One, so that when a disaster occurs in Texas, they are prepared.

“This is Texans helping Texans – neighbors helping neighbors,” Hamilton said. “While we don’t want to have to put our training to the test during a tragedy, our citizen-guardsmen remain prepared to help save lives and property, when called.” 


The team of Soldiers and first responders took on a new dynamic in the wake of Hurricane Harvey as local residents stopped to help. 

Those owning boats or jet skis, used them to assist in transporting victims to safety. Others brought water and helped transfer people and equipment onto the National Guard vehicles. 

“Watching others bring victims to safety into our LMTVs showed how much heart people really have and that they don’t just depend on us to do the work alone,” said Fuentes. “All help is worth a hand in a time of need.”

One man even cooked a platter of chicken, wading into water three feet deep in order to feed both Soldiers and volunteers – a much welcomed surprise as most appeared to work through lunch without stopping.

Dogs, cats and even a lucky stuffed iguana were passed from boats to Soldiers, followed by their owners and the residents of the neighborhoods suffering from severe flooding. 

Emotions were varied, some were in high spirits while others seemed overwhelmed by their new reality.

One woman had spent the previous day as an EMT rescuing people all over the city from flooding. 

“You never think you’re going to be the victim,” she said. “Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

After six hours of wading through deep waters, Soldiers and partner first responders, ensuring everyone who needed help was safe, began to pack up.

Despite the long hours and poor weather conditions, the Soldiers all appeared to be energized, focused and in good spirits.

“Nothing is more important to our Guardsmen than the chance to serve their local community.” Hamilton said. “Helping our neighbors when they need us most is the heart of The Guard, and why we choose to become Citizen Soldiers and Airmen.”

One Texas Guardsman on scene, felt the same way.

“I am so glad I was able to be there to help my fellow Texans get to safety from their flooded homes,” said Fuentes. “It’s heartbreaking, but everyone is safe.”

Joint military and civilian team rescues more than 170 people from Hurricane Harvey using ground and air assets

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Texas national Guard Soldiers respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey 

Houston, TX United States

08.28.2017

Story by Staff Sgt. Timothy Pruitt, Texas State Guard

 

HOUSTON – A team of Texas Guardsmen, swift-water rescue technicians and Harris County Sheriff deputies worked together as a hybrid rescue team to rescue and air-lift multiple people from severe flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, to safe locations, in northeast Houston, August, 28, 2017.

Soldiers from the Texas National Guard’s 272nd Engineer Battalion and a swift-water rescue team from Texas Task Force 1 arrived in a severely flooded neighborhood after being dispatched to an area cut off by flood waters with approximately 50 victims that needed evacuating.  Upon arriving at the designated location, a small church, they found more than 80 people at the church and another 60 at the gas station next door. 

“When we first got the call the information we were given was that there was a request of 50 people that needed to be evacuated, when we arrived that number more than doubled,” said David Holly, Texas Task Force 1 swift-water rescue technician.

The pastor of the church said he had several people needing medical attention.

There were 18 patients, some on oxygen, some dialysis patients, others with deficits from past or chronic conditions and even some with mental handicaps, all needing medical attention.

With the severity of the medical needs of those patients, the Task Force 1 paramedics decided it would be safer to evacuate the patients by air, due to the rising water in the area.

The team setup a landing zone for the aerial pickup and radioed in for an air evacuation. While waiting for the helicopters the task force heard there were people trapped in the adjacent neighborhood. 

Using a Texas National Guard high-profile vehicle, they launched their zodiac boats and searched the neighborhood for victims.

“I thought it was pretty cool that we are able to provide transportation to the task force,” said Texas National Guard Sgt. Janna Bergeron, 272nd Engineer Battalion.  “We give them the ability to be able to perform these types of missions.”

The team rescued 30 people from that neighborhood, bringing the total number of victims to 170 needing evacuation.

Within an hour, three U.S. Navy MH-60S Seahawk helicopters from the Dusty Dogs Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron, arrived and took turns landing to pick up and evacuated the flood victims with special medical needs.

During this process, the flood waters continued to rise, making vehicle extraction more dangerous.

To ensure the safety of each flood victim, the joint team continued to evacuate all of their victims by air.

 While the Task Force team prepared the victims for evacuation, Texas Guardsmen helped secure the area for the arriving helicopters.

First responders say that this type of joint-teamwork is what is helping save lives.

“It is hard being in a situation knowing we could help everyone but not knowing if we would have time to get them all due to the rising flood waters,” Texas National Guard 2nd Lt. Joseph Fiasco, 272nd Engineer Battalion. “It was amazing that we had the aerial support to come in and get the victims.”

These types of missions show the effectiveness of teamwork to be able to rescue high numbers of people in need. 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, more than 12,000 Texas Guardsmen joined first responders from partner local, state and federal agencies, as well as, other military components, to rescue thousands of Texans in need.

Texas Guard engineer battalion leans forward in training MDMP to new lieutenants

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Photo By Capt. Aaron Moshier | 1st Lt. Tiffany Finch, logistics officer, 386th Engineer Battalion presents her brief after receiving military decision making process training during annual training, 9-14 July 2017, Camp Swift, Texas. The MDMP training is offered through experienced trainers of the Army National Guard’s Mission Command Training Group based in Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Courtesy photo)

TX, UNITED STATES

07.20.2017

Story by Capt. Maria Mengrone

176th Engineer Brigade (TXARNG)

 

CAMP SWIFT, Texas – Newly assigned lieutenants and staff of the 386th Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade received critical training in the military decision making process during annual training, 9-14 July, 2017, Camp Swift, Texas. 

The military decision making process (MDMP) is an Army seven-step method used to guide decision-making on and off the battlefield. 

“Since we have so many new lieutenants added to the staff it seemed like a fantastic training opportunity,” said Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Tony Miles of the 386th Engineer Battalion and resident of Lincoln, Neb. “I want to introduce them to the mindset and the mechanism that they’re going to utilize throughout their careers.”

The group of approximately 12 staff officers worked in their respective sections with close oversight from experienced trainers of the Army National Guard’s Mission Command Training Support Program (MCTSP) based in Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.

“We make sure they understand not only the "how" of mission command and the military decision making process but the "why" of each step, input and output,” said Doctrinal Training Team Leader John C. White resident of Austin, Texas. 

The six-day training consists of hypothetical scenarios designed to challenge and promote communication across staff sections. 

“It’s a complex process that requires us to work with each other regardless of section; you have to work with others to get help,” said 1st Lt. Cory Ferguson, administrative officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 386th Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade resident of Corpus Christi, Texas.

The staff exercise training is structured to enable commanders to train their staff to perform essential battle command planning, coordination, integration, synchronization, and control function.

“The more they see and apply MDMP the better officers they’re going to be,” said Miles.

The MDMP training is designed to meet the needs of the units requesting the training. 

“Even many captain’s that haven't served on a staff long may not be familiar or proficient in the operations process,” said White. “We simply tailor our instruction to the staff's experience level. We may have to take some steps slower, explain more or reduce the complexity of the mission or problem they are facing.”

The end goal is to ensure new lieutenants and staff can convert vast amounts of data into meaningful information allowing commanders to make well-informed decisions. 

“I’m excited to be able to get feedback during this training so as a staff we can give a better presentation and product to the commander,” said Ferguson.

Although this training was primarily geared toward new lieutenants of the 386th Engineer Battalion the MDMP training offered through MCTSP is open and available to other units.

“It’s a really good program for units to use and improve their staffs. It’s a one stop shop where we bring all the products and training material that’s designed with the commander's intent for training in mind. It doesn't cost the unit any money and they just need to commit the right personnel and time to make it effective,” said White.