Posts in Category: Texas Air National Guard

Texas ANG member, Rockport police officer looks back on lessons learned from Harvey

Photo By Tech. Sgt. Mindy Bloem | Staff Sgt. Nathan Ward (far right) poses for a group photo with his fellow 149th Fighter Wing members during a regularly scheduled drill weekend at his shop, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. when Ward is not working as a Guardsman during his drill weekends, he serves full time as police officer in Rockport, Texas. (courtesy photo)
Photo By Tech. Sgt. Mindy Bloem | Staff Sgt. Nathan Ward (far right) poses for a group photo with his fellow 149th Fighter Wing members during a regularly scheduled drill weekend at his shop, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. when Ward is not working as a Guardsman during his drill weekends, he serves full time as police officer in Rockport, Texas. (courtesy photo)

San Antonio, TX, United States

02.08.2018

Story by Tech. Sgt. Mindy Bloem

149th Fighter Wing (Texas Air National Guard)

It’s been several months since Hurricane Harvey devastated Texans residing in the Rockport region. A local police officer there, Nathan Ward, is now reflecting on the days leading up to the hurricane and how his training in the National Guard made a noticeable impact on his first responder duties. 

“My wife will tell you I always stock up on food and water and am ready to go,” said Ward. That’s just the military part of me, I guess.”

Ward, now a staff sergeant assigned to the Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Wing, located in San Antonio, said that mentality traces back to his 2003 enlistment in the Army National Guard.

“I had gone into the hurricane initially with the mindset of ‘hey, as long as we come out of this, we’ll be alright,’” Ward said. “I’d gone on hurricane missions with the Army Guard several years ago so I knew what this was going to look like.”

Ward tried to pass the benefits of those experiences to his co-workers.

“I said, ‘hey, heads up, just in case this happens, this is what you need to be prepared for,’ and everyone is just brushing me off,” he said. “A lot of them were making fun of me as I was bringing in food and water into the police station before it hit. They were like, ‘you’re taking this way too seriously and you’re packing too much.’ I was like ‘OK, whatever, at least I’ll be prepared.’”

When Ward thinks back on it now, he can’t help feeling vindicated.

“That first night about midnight – a lot of them realized they were hungry and wanted to eat, but no one had brought food and there was very little water,” he said with a laugh and with the benefit of hind sight. “They started realizing pretty quickly that my theory wasn’t so far-fetched. I mean relief came in – water came about a day and a half later, so they were OK.”

After the storm first struck and the eye was passing over their building, Ward and his fellow officers stepped out in pitch blackness in groups of four within a two-block radius to assess the damage. He described familiar smells he compared from deployments he’d rather forget and mist and smoke-filled air akin to what happens after a building is demolished.

“There is this junk that’s in the air – this dust and smoke and all kinds of stuff like that,” Ward said. “Stuff you don’t want to breathe. The air was filled with that. It was like it was hovering. It wasn’t even blowing around. It was just there.”

As the eye wall passed over them and the hurricane resumed, Ward and his team retreated back inside to ride out the second half. All through the night, calls poured into the station of people who had misjudged the situation, tried to leave in their vehicles and had gotten stuck.

“That’s why we tell people take the evacuation seriously,” Ward said. “You never know how bad it’s going to be.”

The next morning and many weeks thereafter, Ward worked extended and exhausting shifts responding to calls and assisting in the long game that is hurricane recovery.

It was during these numerous calls for help that Ward realized just how important all his core military training was in helping him respond to various situations.

“Something that’s echoed here for me is how all the military training has paid off, specifically with Air Force – the core training that’s due annually, like SABC [self-aid buddy care], CPR, PT [physical training], family care plan – everything has played into our situation here,” he said.

Ward elaborated on how physical conditioning especially helped him during intense shifts.

“Just the resiliency, staying in shape – it’s a big deal,” he said. “I can tell you when you’re doing 12 on and 12 off, and especially when you’re doing 14-hour shifts or during initial recovery efforts where we had no days off for several weeks, and all the other stresses that are involved – PT is a big deal.

Ward also praised SABC and CPR training as being “hugely helpful” during the response, and was even pleasantly surprised to see his flightline driver’s training play a part.

“We have an airport here, and there’s no airport police, so the city police actually have to cover the airport,” Ward said. “Other officers can be afraid to drive out on the airfield because they don’t know what they’re doing, so having flightline driver’s training has actually paid off in my job here. I can use that and help the airport respond in whatever they need out here including – and I hope it doesn’t happen – aircraft accidents or hazardous spills.

While some in the Air Force may dislike the idea of computer-based training, Ward’s most recent experience with Harvey has given him fresh insight on the matter.

“Anything that you can think of that we view as CBTs for the Air Force has paid off in this job, including cyber awareness because we all have computers, and we have to deal with everyone’s personal information,” he said. “The state of Texas is pushing a lot of that down now for law enforcement but the Air Force in a lot of ways is ahead of the power curve on that.”

Besides all his military core training, Ward said knowing his Guard family not only had his back but was looking out for his family members made a lasting impression on him.

“Family readiness was a huge deal getting my wife out here and getting her help,” he said. “The Guard has absolutely helped us and stepped in to help her.”

Ms. Shanita Lanier, the 149th Airman and Family Readiness Center coordinator, explained how getting her members the family support is a team effort.

“The key element that is helpful for us is having our key volunteers appointed that the commanders trust to pass on information to and working with the first sergeants – that’s how information comes back to us so we know how to further support and meet the intent of the program for our families,” she said.

Lanier, along with Master Sgt. Eryn Ulmer, Ward’s first sergeant, collected donations from local area stores and other good Samaritans so they could replace items from Ward’s house that were ruined during the storm.

“Each family is important,” Lanier said. “Even if we don’t have a face or a name, if they are connected to you, we can navigate and see what’s out there to get them what they need.”

Ward took comfort in the concern he received from his fellow Gunfighters – a nickname for 149th FW members.

“On the basic level, I appreciate that accountability because it’s an extra set of eyes looking out for you, asking, hey, are you ok? And if you don’t respond, they’re willing to send someone to go look for you,” he said. “That’s really awesome – that they’re willing to fill the gap that much. It’s extra support you wouldn’t get anywhere else.”

Following his experience in Rockport, Ward has developed a newfound respect for the mission.

“At the drop of a hat you might have a natural disaster and have to leave the shop,” he said. “We might have to go help people, so it’s very important to keep up with your deadlines and timelines and mission mandates so we can be ready to go.”

For Ward, his military training complemented his responsibilities not only to his local community but also to the state. These days, he is quick to remind people of this point during his weekends on duty here at the wing.

“What I’ve been telling people is you don’t understand how much everything you do played into what happened here as far as relief - the Houston mission, this mission, all over Texas – you know it’s a big deal,” he said. “It’s very fulfilling to see all that training and all that work paying off.”

The little armory atop a hill

Nike Hercules missiles at bee caves Austin, TX
Nike Hercules missiles at bee caves Austin, TX

Story by: Mark Otte

 

AUSTIN, Texas--The little armory atop a hill, in the now-upscale Austin Bee Caves neighborhood, is seldom talked about, and even often unknown to both military and civilians. While the aging facility’s story actually starts south of Austin, much of its roots are lost in a swirl of Cold-War mystery.

The 12.5-acre site just off Bee Caves road, often colloquially called the “hilltop,” now houses the 71st troop command, but started life providing the city, and more importantly at the time, Bergstrom Air Force Base with protection from aerial attacks.

When visitors arrive at the gate today, the giant Nike-Hercules missile pointing skyward pays homage to the armory’s beginnings as the site for the integrated fire control center for the 10,000-pound missiles capable of hitting targets up to 90 miles away.

In the 1960s, the suburban hilltop had all of the necessary equipment to track targets, fire the missiles and would even house the troops needed to run the air defense equipment.

Complete with radars and generators, Defense Site BG-80 was just missing one thing: Missiles.

So, where were they?

The exact location of the launch site isn’t known.   What is known is that the missiles were somewhere close.

Technical data on the launch capabilities suggest that the launch site and the integrated fire control needed to be separated by at least 0.56 miles but not more than 2.98 miles.

Pedro Garcia knows where they were, but he’s not saying.  Garcia was stationed at the armory in late 1962 and 1963.

“The launching area was surrounded by berms 20 feet high,” Garcia said.  “Every missile was inside what we called a globe tent, to hide it from the air and to protect them from the weather.”

To bring the missiles to “red status,” ready to launch, was as easy as pulling a rope.

“You just jerk the rope, the clips came off and the tent fell on both sides,” Garcia said. “Then the launcher started raising.”

Now at 74 years old, Garcia said that he thinks the surface to air missiles that were housed near the Bee Caves Armory were essential to the security of Bergstrom Air Force Base. What is now Austin Bergstrom International Airport, at the time was under Strategic Air Command and a prime target for Cold War foes.

“Back then, the Bee Caves Armory was instrumental, because of Bergstrom operating the way they did,” Garcia said.  “I think it could have been a target for Russian bombs.”

With the days of the cold war squarely in the rear-view mirror, the soldiers of 71st Troop Command spend their days at the hilltop armory looking forward and preparing to defend the United States in future conflicts, pausing only occasionally to ponder the Cold War secrets that still surround the little Armory.

Soldiers from Texas and Maryland helping manage busy skies over Kuwait

Sgt. Richard Bosquez, F Company, 2-149th General Support Aviation Battalion’s acting facility chief at Udairi Landing Zone, poses in front of the Radome, which houses the Air Traffic Navigation, Integration, Coordination System at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Oct. 19, 2017. F Co. Soldiers provide air traffic services and airfield management at multiple locations in both Kuwait and Iraq. (Photo by Capt. Stephen James)
Sgt. Richard Bosquez, F Company, 2-149th General Support Aviation Battalion’s acting facility chief at Udairi Landing Zone, poses in front of the Radome, which houses the Air Traffic Navigation, Integration, Coordination System at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Oct. 19, 2017. F Co. Soldiers provide air traffic services and airfield management at multiple locations in both Kuwait and Iraq. (Photo by Capt. Stephen James)

By Capt. Stephen James

29th Combat Aviation Brigade

November 03, 2017

 

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – The Soldiers from Company F, 2-149th General Support Aviation Battalion, 29th Combat Aviation Brigade, manage multiple airfields and provide the technical expertise to manage the crowded skies above Kuwait and Iraq.

Soldiers from F Co. out of Camp Buehring, Kuwait, conduct air traffic services at Udairi Landing Zone and have already performed 300 ground-controlled approaches.

In order to maximize safety in all conditions, the Soldiers at Udairi are trained on the precision approach radar, which requires air traffic controllers on the ground to use radar to triangulate an aircraft's position when guiding it to land, even in situations of poor visibility.

"If an aircraft were to hit bad weather, we can guide them in," said Sgt. Richard Bosquez, acting facility chief at Udairi Landing Zone.

This capability is unique, as the PAR at Udairi Airfield is the only recovery system of its kind for CENTCOM, said Warrant Officer 1 Elaine Santiago, F Co.'s air traffic/airspace manager.

In addition to the ATS provided by F Co. at Camp Buehring, 29th CAB Soldiers also act as airfield managers. Airfield managers are responsible for coordinating operations on the airfield to ensure a vast array of tasks are complete so the airfield runs as efficiently and safely as possible.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gino Spescia, the 29th CAB's command chief warrant officer, sees all different aspects of the job as he performs duties both as an airfield manager as part of the airfield management element cell and as the primary contracting officer representative at Udairi Landing Zone, the heliport at Camp Buehring.

"The airfield management element cell is responsible for the day-to-day operations at Udairi Landing Zone, which can be anything from fuel to repair requests to vehicle usage, so it is never boring and never the same," said Spescia.

F Co. Soldiers also contribute to a variety of operations at Patton Army Airfield, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, where they provide air traffic control services, passenger and aircrew transportation, airfield inspections, grounding point certifications and a central communications point for airfield security, the fire department and the refueling office, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Barry Bertram, Patton Army Airfield manager.

Outside of Kuwait, a separate contingent of Soldiers from F Co. perform ATS services at a remote site where they also have responsibilities as the senior airfield authority and airfield management.

According to Capt. Brian Burgi, F Co. commander, his Soldiers have been responsible for the safe execution of over 5,500 individual aircraft movements, including 300 cargo air drops and over 4,000 movements across the theater since they arrived in April.

"The airfield manager from F Company was personally responsible for ensuring all construction activities, lighting installation and associated maintenance was performed in accordance with all Army, Air Force and Combine Federal Regulations," said Burgi.

Compounding the complexity of managing an airfield at this site is the fact that the ATS Company was still required to run full-time control tower operations in which they safely manage the skies above them.

The airfield manager was responsible for coordinating with rescue and construction teams from the U.S. Air Force working on the airfield while simultaneously de-conflicting aircraft, said Burgi.

The 29th CAB is an Army National Guard brigade comprising Texas and Maryland Army National Guard Soldiers that provides aviation assets, operational and logistical support for operations across the region.

F Co. Soldiers will provide ATS and airfield management across their area of operation for the remainder of the year.

Heroes of Harvey

HOUSTON, TX, UNITED STATES

10.01.2017

Story by Staff Sgt. Bethany Anderson

100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 

HOUSTON -- Hurricane Harvey carved a path of destruction through countless communities in southeastern Texas for days, after making landfall with an estimated 130 mile per hour winds near Rockport, Texas, August 25, 2017. While storm winds, rain and flood waters brought chaos and tragedy to the area, Texas Guardsmen partnered with local, state and federal first responders, bringing life-saving support and supplies to Texans in need.

Months before Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast, the Texas Military Department worked with state and federal partners to plan a concept operation to rehearse inter-agency coordination and joint training. All of the training for Texas National Guard units would be put to the test before, during and after Harvey left its mark on Texas.

“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,” said Texas Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Patrick M. Hamilton, Dual Status Commander for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.

The Texas Military Department began strategically mobilizing Texas Army, Air and State Guardsmen as Harvey entered the Gulf of Mexico and approached the Texas coast. While the storm raged on, they worked with state and federal agencies through a phased approach to put the appropriate military resources in the right place at the right time.

“We are here to help our communities,” said Hamilton. “Working alongside our partner agencies and local first responders, we focused on deploying Guardsmen and resources where they were needed to save lives.”

Within three days of Harvey’s landfall, 12,000 Texas Guardsmen were working around the clock to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. It was the first time in since World War I that the entire force was mobilized at once.

The first priority was search and rescue. Zodiac boats, high-profile vehicles, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft from Texas and across the country were deployed in response to emergency conditions in affected areas.

Guardsmen from across the United States, partner first responders and service members from both active and reserve components waded through waters with boats and high profile vehicles. Overhead helicopter crews worked to airlift Texans stranded on rooftops, while Airmen in C-130s evacuated numerous people to safety.

Texas State Guardsmen were waiting with dry blankets and a smile, for displaced Texans at shelters across the state where evacuees would be identified and reunited with loved ones. Integrating seamlessly into Harvey relief operations, Texas Guardsmen helped with everything from search and rescue to critical life support, logistics support and safety operations.

Texas Guardsmen conducted hundreds of air and ground missions, performing more than 16,000 rescues and evacuating more than 18,000 people and 1,200 animals. As part of the complex inter-agency and joint operation, state and federal partners performed thousands of additional evacuations and rescue operations.

“This is what we train for,” said Hamilton. “And we’re proud to stand by our civilian partners, first responders and volunteers to serve the citizens of Texas.”

The Texas State Guard, an all-volunteer force, supported Harvey relief efforts with 17 boat teams for search and rescue operations and eight Electronic Tracking Network teams to help evacuees locate loved ones checked into shelters. In addition, the 41 Texas State Guard shelter teams sheltered more than 26,000 evacuees and more than 700 animals in 15 shelters across the state.

On Sept. 1, The sun broke through clouds, stopping what seemed like Harvey’s never-ending stream of rain a, causing flood waters to recede. As the threat from severe flooding began to dissipate, Texas Guardsmen switched their focus to supporting recovery and stability operations.

Texas Army and Air National Guardsmen immediately began constructing temporary hospitals and emergency clinics to aid medical first responders until hospitals regained power. Inside Texas Military Department medics worked side-by-side with civilian doctors to assess and treat those injured in the storm.

“There’s been some pretty serious injuries,” said Texas National Guard Spc. Sergio Villarreal, 1-143rd Infantry Regiment, “It’s great to see civilians and military working hand in hand.”

Thousands of families and individuals were stranded and without clean drinking water for days after Harvey passed over their cities. To provide Texas families in need of basic necessities, the Texas Military Department managed approximately 30 points of distribution in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. Guardsmen, working with volunteers from all over the country, distributed food, clean water, hygiene, baby and pet products to more than 100,000 Texan families in cities from Corpus Christi to Beaumont as part of the relief operations.

Texas Military Department chaplains provided emotional and spiritual support to service members and first responders, while simultaneously coordinating with local churches to get much needed supplies to affected Texans. Soldiers from Texas and Ohio worked together to deliver and feed hay to stranded livestock, helping to preserve the local agriculture and economy.

“This is the way I serve my country. I’m here helping people out,” said Texas National Guard Pfc. Jonathan Galindo, 3-133rd Field Artillery, who worked as a member of a POD team in Orange. “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.”

The mission of the Texas Military Department is to provide the Governor and the President with ready forces in support of state and federal authorities at home and abroad. When they were called upon, the men and women from the Texas Guard were ready and answered that call with a passion to help people.

“Hurricane Harvey left great destruction in its path, and the recovery process will take many years,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, The Adjutant General of Texas. “However, the Texas Military Department’s response to Hurricane Harvey, alongside our partners, saved lives and helped many Texans take the first step towards rebuilding.”

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

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)
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) 

ORANGE, TX, UNITED STATES

08.30.2017

Story by Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Texas Military Department

 

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 Air National Guardsmen enhance 136th communications capabilities

Photo By Senior Airman DeJon Williams | Members of the 272nd Engineering Installation Squadron, Ellington Field, Texas pose for a group photo May 24, 2017, at the 136th Medical Group, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. The EIS team travelled to Fort Worth, Texas from Houston to assist the 136th Communications Flight with category-five cable installations throughout the wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman De’Jon Williams)
Photo By Senior Airman DeJon Williams | Members of the 272nd Engineering Installation Squadron, Ellington Field, Texas pose for a group photo May 24, 2017, at the 136th Medical Group, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. The EIS team travelled to Fort Worth, Texas from Houston to assist the 136th Communications Flight with category-five cable installations throughout the wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman De’Jon Williams)

NAVAL AIR STATION FORT WORTH JOINT RESERVE BASE, TEXAS , TX, UNITED STATES

07.22.2017

Story by Senior Airman DeJon Williams

136th Airlift Wing/Public Affairs (Texas Air National Guard)

 

Members from the 272nd Engineering Installation Squadron, 147th Attack Wing, Ellington Field, Texas Air National Guard worked with 136th Communications Flight to assist in upgrading the communications facilities for the 136th Airlift Wing and the 136th Medical Group. 

The project began April 27 and is scheduled to be completed July 12.

“The medical building and the wing multipurpose room are being completely rewired from category five to category six network cabling,” said Master Sgt. Patrick O’Connor, the 136th Communications Flight infrastructure non-commissioned officer in charge. “This switch will give better bandwidth, more port availability and putting us [136th Airlift Wing] ahead for future services.”

The 272nd provides installation and engineering for communication systems. This includes replacing outdated systems and network cabling. Another aspect of their work includes moving cabling from one location to another, which is what is being updated for the two facilities. 

“We were able to move the cabling to the network control center in the communications room,” said Master Sgt. William Taylor, a cable and antenna system craftsman with the 272nd Engineering Installation Squadron. “The benefit for us is that we get to learn from them [the 136th Communications Flight] as well. They’ve been very supportive since we’ve been here. Anything we’ve needed, they’ve provided.”

The two units worked together to provide the 136th Airlift Wing and Medical Group with better communication technology to support the unit’s missions. 

“There is only so much our communications flight can do here on our own,” O’Connor said. “Outsourcing gives us the opportunity to train together; it allows us to present project plans that we need implemented to better our facilities, and it gives the 272nd the opportunity to execute communications plans.”

The projection execution and training provides the resources and man hours to upgrade the facilities as necessary. This training included position knowledge, how to approach and manage projects, and supervision of Airmen, and leadership expectations.

“It’s all about building good relationships, feeding off of each other’s knowledge bases and using our expertise along with theirs to complete a common goal,” O’Connor said. “The experience has been positive, and it’s good to have other units you can rely on to accomplish the mission."

Texas Guard welcomes first female Sapper commander

Courtesy Photo | Texas Army National guardsmen Capt. Amanda Windle (left), the incoming commander of the 936th Engineer Company, receives the company guidon from Lt. Col. Matthew Calton (center), 111th Engineer Battalion Commander, 176th Engineer Brigade while outgoing commander Capt. Eric Burnett (right) and 1st. Sgt. Denton Humphery look on. Windle became the first female commander of a Sapper unit in the Texas Army National Guard the unit is based in San Angelo, Texas, June 11, 2017. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Courtesy Photo)
Courtesy Photo | Texas Army National guardsmen Capt. Amanda Windle (left), the incoming commander of the 936th Engineer Company, receives the company guidon from Lt. Col. Matthew Calton (center), 111th Engineer Battalion Commander, 176th Engineer Brigade while outgoing commander Capt. Eric Burnett (right) and 1st. Sgt. Denton Humphery look on. Windle became the first female commander of a Sapper unit in the Texas Army National Guard the unit is based in San Angelo, Texas, June 11, 2017. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Courtesy Photo)

SAN ANGELO, TX, UNITED STATES

07.11.2017

Story by Capt. Maria Mengrone 

176th Engineer Brigade (TXARNG)  

 

SAN ANGELO, Texas – The Texas Army National Guard welcomed Capt. Amanda Windle as its first female Sapper commander during a change of command ceremony for the 936th Engineer Company based in San Angelo, Texas, June 11, 2017.

The role of females serving in combat engineer positions opened on January 2016, that change allowed women, such as Windle, to serve in positions once available only to men.

“I am excited to see our Soldiers take pride in what they achieve, to ask questions, and challenge them to do their best,” said newly-appointed 936th Engineer Company Commander Capt. Amanda Windle. “It is an honor to both lead and serve alongside my Soldiers and leaders.”

A Sapper unit is a group of highly-skilled 12B combat engineers prepared to lay or clear minefields, field defenses, bridge-build, employ demolitions and perform other engineer tasks expertly. 

"Engineer leaders within Texas selected the best candidate to fulfill the 936th command slot, I am confident CPT Windle will exercise her duties and responsibilities in a proficient manner and professionally lead the unit towards achieving its mission and purpose," said Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Matthew Calton of the 111th Engineer Battalion headquarted in Abilene, Texas.

Windle commissioned through the Texas Tech University ROTC program in 2011. In her civilian employment, she is a project engineer for a real estate development firm. 

“We have quite a few new Soldiers coming into the unit and we look forward to safely training them to standard,” said Windle. 

Soldiers of the unit are moving forward and are prepared for any changes implemented by the new command team. 

“I hope that the leaders of the 936th understand their role to ensure the Soldiers now and in the future are taken care of,” said Sgt. 1st Class Stormy Barnum, Readiness Non-Commissioned Officer for the 936th Engineer Company. “If they train their Soldiers properly, through promotions and moves then Soldiers will infect the Texas Army National Guard and make it a better organization.”

There are several Soldiers that hold the coveted Sapper Tab within the unit. Windle looks forward to supporting her Soldiers attending this course in the near future. 

The Sapper Leader Course is a grueling 28-day course designed to train joint-service leaders in small unit tactics, leadership skills, and tactics required to perform as part of a combined arms team. Upon successfully completion the Soldier will earn the right to wear a left-shoulder Sapper Tab.

While looking ahead at her own professional growth Windle is also focused on her Soldiers and family. 

“I first want to get to know my Soldiers and their backgrounds. I also look forward to meeting their families as well,” said Windle. “My next steps are getting though my command successfully and representing the 111th Engineer Battalion and 176th Engineer Brigade with honor,” said Windle. “I also want to specially thank my family for their continued support.”

Air National Guard Band brings chords of the cosmos to Southwest

Photo By Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton | Master Sgt. Matt Wittman, Band of the Southwest instrumentalist, plays the tuba during an outdoor performance at Posse Ground Park June 29 in Sedona, AZ. The band performed at ten venues during its 14-day summer tour through Arizona and New Mexico. (Texas Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton)
Photo By Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton | Master Sgt. Matt Wittman, Band of the Southwest instrumentalist, plays the tuba during an outdoor performance at Posse Ground Park June 29 in Sedona, AZ. The band performed at ten venues during its 14-day summer tour through Arizona and New Mexico. (Texas Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton) 

RUIDOSO, NM, UNITED STATES

07.01.2017

Story by: Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton

136th Airlift Wing/Public Affairs (Texas Air National Guard)

 

The Air National Guard Band of the Southwest contributes its musical talents to maintaining the morale and esprit de corps of the military, fostering community relations, and supporting the recruiting effort.

To accomplish its mission, the Band of the Southwest, also known as the 531st Air Force Band, embarked on a 14-day summer tour to Arizona and New Mexico June 22. The tour will conclude in Las Cruces, NM, July 4, before returning to its home station at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base. 

“With Independence Day around the corner, we wanted to feature the music of some American composers and Hollywood legends,” said Lt. Col. Eric Patterson, Band of the Southwest commander. “Our sponsors in Roswell, NM also asked us to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the closing of Walker Air Force Base and the 70th anniversary of the “alien landing” at Roswell, so we are performing music associated with space movies.”

The tour consists of ten performances and thus far, venues have included Northern Arizona University, playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field, Sedona’s Posse Ground Park, and the New Mexico Military Institute. Highlighting a wide variety of music, the band incorporated selections from Star Trek, Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Beauty and the Beast, as well as pieces from famous composers William Grant Still and John Phillip Sousa. The concerts end with a patriotic tribute to service members and their families from all branches of the Armed Forces. 

“The Band also features nationally-known stars whenever possible,” Patterson said. “For instance, in Flagstaff Mr. David Cripps, artistic director of Orchestra Northern Arizona, guest conducted. Cripps is world-famous as one of the principal French horn soloist of the London Symphony and performed the recordings of the original Star Wars and Superman movies. We were privileged to have Judith Anne Still, president of William Grant Still Music, attend a concert at the Northern Arizona University and the mayor and vice-mayor of Sedona, AZ serving as honorary conductors as well.”

The Band of the Southwest is one of five Air National Guard bands that perform within the continental United States. Through music, the group shares the Air National Guard story with civilian audiences, reminding them of the citizen airmen serving from Fort Worth, Texas to Afghanistan. 

The Band of the Southwest features 36 guardsmen consisting of part-time musicians with full-time civilian careers. They come with a variety of experience and expertise, including active duty service in the Air Force and other branches of the military. Among the performers are music educators, university administrators, business professionals, and public servants, all committed to serving their fellow citizens as fully-trained, always ready members of the Air National Guard.

“In my civilian career, I work as the director of information technology for a strategic marketing firm,” said Master Sgt. Matt Wittman, Band of the Southwest Public Affairs manager. “I served for 20 years in the Ohio Air National Guard, and almost four years in the Texas Air National Guard. I remain in the guard not only to continue serving our country, but also because I passionately believe in the importance of the overarching public outreach mission of military bands across the country and around the world. It provides the chance to interact with communities throughout the nation, inspire patriotism and support for the military and country.” 

The rest of the bands tour schedule will include:

July 1: Spencer Theater - Alto, NM
July 2: Ruidoso Downs - Ruidoso Downs, NM
Capitan Fairgrounds - Capitan, NM
July 3: Downtown Mall - Las Cruces, NM
July 4: New Mexico State University - Las Cruces, NM
Field of Dreams - Las Cruces, NM

To learn more about opportunities with the Air National Guard Band of the Southwest, or to view the upcoming tour schedule, visit their Facebook website or www.bandofthesouthwest.ang.af.mil.

Taking weather to new heights

Photo By Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton | Members of the 181st Weather Flight parachute into Lake Worth after jumping out of a C-130 Hercules during a deliberate water drop in Forth Worth, Texas, May 20, 2017. The training mission was scheduled for members to practice airborne covert water parachute infiltration and included a joint effort between the Texas Air National Guard, Army, Coast Guard Auxiliary, and local fire department. (Texas Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton)
Photo By Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton | Members of the 181st Weather Flight parachute into Lake Worth after jumping out of a C-130 Hercules during a deliberate water drop in Forth Worth, Texas, May 20, 2017. The training mission was scheduled for members to practice airborne covert water parachute infiltration and included a joint effort between the Texas Air National Guard, Army, Coast Guard Auxiliary, and local fire department. (Texas Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton)

FORT WORTH, TX, UNITED STATES

05.23.2017

Story by Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton

136th Airlift Wing (Texas Air National Guard)  

 

Among the most highly trained fleet of Airmen in the Texas Air National Guard are those from the Air Force Special Operations Weather Team. Far from the typical expectation of meteorologists, Air Force Special Operations Weather Team (SOWT) airmen undergo unique training to operate in hostile and denied territories to provide on-the-ground weather reporting to Air Force and joint service special operations units. SOWT members maintain weather and weapon system qualifications in addition to advanced special tactics skills which provide them with expertise needed to gather, assess, and interpret environmental data and forecast operational impacts in deployed locations.

To stay current in their capabilities, SOWT airmen from the 181st Weather Flight, 136th Airlift Wing, Texas Air National Guard, stationed at the Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base executed a deliberate water jump into Lake Worth in Fort Worth, Texas, May 20, 2017. The training mission was scheduled for members to practice airborne covert water parachute infiltration and included a joint effort between the Texas Air National Guard, Army, Coast Guard Auxiliary, and local fire department.

“This was a big tactical training day for us and the first time any unit has parachuted into Lake Worth,” said Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Hobbs, 181st Weather Flight superintendent. “An intentional water drop is done to put us offshore where we can quietly swim in to reach an objective and remain uncompromised. Typically due to logistics it is easier for us to go and train with a larger unit that has more support capability. So, for us to pull this off and be able to coordinate with internal and external state and federal agencies improved our relations and strengthened our overall capabilities as a force and unit."

The mission allowed 12 service members to parachute out of a C-130 Hercules from an altitude of 1000 feet into Lake Worth using MC-6 parachutes. Members of the local fire department and Coast Guard Auxiliary provided boat support to aid in parachute and jumper recovery, and provide medevac capabilities if necessary.

“This was the first time we were able to do something like this as far as recovery,” said Ralph Diamond, Fort Worth Fire Department battalion chief. “There are more than 900 firefighters in the city with a lot of diverse backgrounds and skills sets, and several of those guys also serve in the military. We were able to utilize those internal relationships to train on things that we don’t have the opportunity to do as often. We also get to improve our methods on-the- ground, as far as communication and working through these missions to make sure they run smoothly in the
future. It truly benefits both sides and it was very exciting to see some of our own jumping out of that aircraft.”

Master Sgt. James Henderson, 181st Weather Flight special operations weatherman, one of the six guardsmen who also serves as a fireman with the Fort Worth Fire Department said the jump was successful and enjoyed working with both agencies.

“It really went great,” Henderson said. “Everyone came together and worked really well to make the mission happen. Working with other branches of special operations and being able to integrate the local department was helpful because it connects different agencies and allows us to work side-by- side to provide response and recovery that could be used in the future. It helps to rehearse and go over any potential malfunctions or mishaps, that way we are always ready.”

Teamwork is an essential element for SOWT members, as they regularly work with different services and organizations. Sergeant Hobbs concluded that without the assistance of everyone involved, there could be no mission success.

“It’s really all thanks to the people who helped out," Hobbs said. "Without them -- the aircrew, operations group, Carswell Field senior leadership and the city of Fort Worth, it wouldn’t have happened. We are a small unit so we rely heavily on other people to help us out. Having the special operations detachment, the 294th Quartermaster unit from Austin, the Fort Worth Fire Department and Lake Rangers, and Coast Guard Auxiliary assist and be a part of this coordination and mission made all the difference.”