Posts in Category: Texas Air National Guard

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.

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.”

Command Chief Master Sgt. Oscar Tey Retirement

Command Chief Master Sgt. Oscar Tey, Senior Enlisted Leader for the Texas Domestic Operations Task Force, hands Brig. Gen. Patrick Hamilton, commander of the Texas Domestic Operations Task Force, the NCO sword at a change of responsibility ceremony held at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, May 20, 2017. Tey hands over his duties to Command Sgt. Maj. Elizabeth Shockley. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon).
Command Chief Master Sgt. Oscar Tey, Senior Enlisted Leader for the Texas Domestic Operations Task Force, hands Brig. Gen. Patrick Hamilton, commander of the Texas Domestic Operations Task Force, the NCO sword at a change of responsibility ceremony held at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, May 20, 2017. Tey hands over his duties to Command Sgt. Maj. Elizabeth Shockley. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon).

AUSTIN, TX, UNITED STATES

05.22.2017

Story by SFC Malcolm McClendon 

Texas Military Department  

 

AUSTIN, Texas - “He is one of those individuals that is really, really good at absolutely everything that he does” said Brig. Gen. Patrick Hamilton, commander of the Texas Domestic Operations Task Force. “He truly excels in everything and it’s infectious.”

Hamilton was speaking about Command Chief Oscar Tey to friends, family and fellow Guardsmen at the senior enlisted leader’s retirement ceremony held at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, May 20, 2017.

“He has unique skills and is able to communicate with everyone across the force,” Hamilton continued. “He could walk in and talk to a group of soldiers just as easily as airmen.”

Hamilton recalled the obstacles the task force, which is made up of both Army and Air National Guardsmen, held and how Tey’s unique military career made him the right person to bridge that gap.

Tey began his military career when he enlisted in the United States Army in 1983 as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, Division. After three years he left active duty and transferred to the Texas Army National Guard, where he served as a communications team chief with the 49th Armored Division. 

“He came into the Army first and then he lost his mind somewhere along the way and joined the Air Force,” Hamilton joked. “But this is exactly what we needed.”

After a short break in service, Tey joined the Texas Air National Guard in 1991 and served in 149th Fighter Wing climbing the ranks to Chief, an accomplishment he owes to those around him.

“I never imagined I would stay in the military as long as I have and making it as high as I have,” Tey said. “It was those senior leaders that guided me when I was a young soldier and my family that convinced me to stay.”

The youngest of seven children, Tey recognized the positive, hard working traits his parents and brothers laid for him.

“There are many reasons I shouldn’t be here today,” Tey said. “I could have made many excuses, but I did not because of the strong foundation they laid out for me. And I stand here before you today as a chief master sergeant because of that.”

Tey said he recognizes the successful career he has had, but doesn’t do it to boast, rather to encourage and show junior service members that there are many opportunities out there and that one just needs to take advantage of them.

Tey served as the senior enlisted leader for DOMOPS since 2013 and passes on responsibility to Command Sgt. Maj. Elizabeth Shockley.

“He will be missed and it will be a tough time for us,” Hamilton said. “But the strong joint environment he has created within the unit will be a platform that command sergeant major Shockley can easily pick up and move forward with.”

One last honor

Austin, Texas

05.19.2017

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Pena

Texas Military Department

Service members on the Texas Military Department's Military Funeral honors team prepare to issue a three volley salute during the funeral of a U.S. veteran. (Photo courtesy of Texas Military Funeral Honors)
Service members on the Texas Military Department's Military Funeral honors team prepare to issue a three volley salute during the funeral of a U.S. veteran. (Photo courtesy of Texas Military Funeral Honors)

Memorial Day is a federal holiday to remember those that have died while serving. For most people this means a day off work and a good reason to fire up the grill and spend time with friends and family.

For the Texas National Guard’s Military Funeral Honors Team, Memorial Day comes every day — only barbecue is not included. 

“We are there at the moment when the family suffers the loss of their loved one who has passed away,” said Jim Levine Jr., Military Funeral Honors State Coordinator. “We are the last living representation of the military. It’s us honoring their service every day.”

This long-standing military custom dates back to World War I, and until recently, services were only provided when manpower was available. In 2001, the National Defense Authorization Act passed a law that mandated the United States Armed Forces provide the rendering of honors in a military funeral for any eligible veteran.

“All family members want military funeral honors, they want to see that flag being folded and the sound of the trumpet, that is closure for the family,” said Ricky Williams, memorial affairs coordinator, at Joint Base San Antonio - Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.

The family member or next-of-kin of the veteran must request honors through their funeral director. The funeral director then contacts the appropriate military service to arrange for the funeral honors detail.

Most Texas veteran memorial requests are processed through the casualty assistance office of Fort Sam.

“We cover everyone from Buda to Mexico and Beaumont to El Paso, active duty, reserves and National Guard,” said Williams. “We average 2,250 services a year.”

Williams assigns the services to Military Funeral Honor teams based on their component, area of responsibility and availability. In instances where active duty teams are over tasked, Texas guardsmen can honor any veteran in Texas.

“We depend on the Texas National Guard to help us make the family happy by coming out and performing funeral honors because we don’t have the manpower without them,” said Williams.

Recently, the team conducted a joint memorial service to honor a veteran from the Tuskegee Air Force.

“We did a joint service for a Tuskegee Airmen from WWII with the Air Force,” said Levine. “Since he was a pilot in the Tuskegee Air Force, we were able to do that with him. The Air Force did the flag folding we did the firing party, it was a great deal.”

The Texas Honor Guard has approximately 14 full-time Soldiers and 25 traditional Guardsmen. Regardless of the veteran’s military branch, Texas Guardsmen treat every service with honor and respect.

“It’s an honor for me to do this,” said Texas Army National Guard Sgt. Jonathan Strother, assistant team leader for Military Funeral Honors. “Whether they served in Vietnam, WWII or whatever era that they served, we want to leave a lasting impression of our sincerity and appreciation for their veterans services.”

Strother joined the team in 2011 as a bugler and worked his way up to an assistant team lead. He is the first Texas Guardsmen to perform nearly 1,900 services.

His leadership role allows him to instill his knowledge and expertise to incoming Soldiers.

“What I tell the young Soldiers coming in is be professional, this is not an easy job, we are on call seven days a week and we don’t usually get weekends off,” said Strother. “It is a very stressful job dealing with death and the families, but it is a very rewarding in the same sense.”

Through the military funeral honors program, Texas Guardsmen are able to share their passion of providing the family one last military honor.

“The family sometimes doesn’t see the honor behind their veterans’ service, they just know that he/she sacrifices; they are gone a lot and they deploy a lot,” said Levine. “But when they see our guys at the funeral, doing the flag folding, presenting the flag, playing the taps, we are honoring their service so therefore, for the family we are honoring their sacrifice.” 

As you celebrate your Memorial Day this year, please take a moment to remember those that have given their lives for our freedom, and their families still here.

Desert Defender Female Sniper

TMD Goes Green with Solar Energy

SAN ANTONIO, TX, UNITED STATES
05.19.2017
Video by James Buehler and Malcolm McClendon
Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center

In Ft Bliss El Paso, Texas, stands a course for Air Force Security Forces. Here you will find the only female instructor for the sniper course. Here is James Buehler with the story, that shows no favoritism.