Posts in Category: Texas Air National Guard

149th FW Gunfighters participate in Coronet Cactus 2017

TMD Goes Green with Solar Energy

SAN ANTONIO, TX, UNITED STATES

05.16.2017

Video by Tech. Sgt. Mindy Bloem 

149th Fighter Wing (Texas Air National Guard)

Coronet Cactus is an annual training event that takes members of the 149th Fighter Wing, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, to Tucson, Arizona to participate in an simulated deployment exercise.

TMD Day at the Capitol

Texas legislators recognized the members of the Texas Military for their service to the state and nation, March 8, 2017 during a visit to the Capitol in Austin, Texas. The visit was to showcase capabilities of the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard, Texas State Guard, Domestic Operations Taskforce, Office of the Executive Director and the National Guard Association of Texas. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)
Texas legislators recognized the members of the Texas Military for their service to the state and nation, March 8, 2017 during a visit to the Capitol in Austin, Texas. The visit was to showcase capabilities of the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard, Texas State Guard, Domestic Operations Taskforce, Office of the Executive Director and the National Guard Association of Texas. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Lawmakers had the opportunity to see first hand the Texas Military Department’s capabilities as representatives of the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard, Texas State Guard, Domestic Operations Taskforce, Office of the Executive Director and the National Guard Association of Texas, set up informational displays and met with elected officials as the Texas Capitol hosted TMD Day on March 8, 2017,
 
“There are always questions about how our organization works, how our funding works and how we help Texas,” said Maj. Christopher R. Mckeag, Texas Army National Guard legislative liaison. “A lot of people know we show up to the scene during disasters, but there’s a lot of behind the scenes work.”
 
Among the visitors was Texas Senator Donna Campbell, chairwoman for the Veterans Affairs and Border Security Committee. 
 
“She is pretty spun up so there wasn’t any questions that were burning for us,” said McKeag. “But just her coming out here, her presence serves as visibility and it increases the awareness of the organization.” 
 
During the visit, legislators recognized the members of the Texas Military for their service to the state and nation. Service members received a standing applause by all representatives and members of the public present, for the service the Texas Military Department gives to both the state and nation.
 
“We are Texans first and foremost so we are here for everyone,” said McKeag.
 
As part of TMD day at the Capitol, the Texas Army National Guard 36th Infantry Division Band held a surprise performance playing several patriotic and military songs in the rotunda. 
 
According to Mckeag, the Government Affairs team said they achieved their goal of increasing awareness and understanding of the Texas Military Department’s dual state and federal mission to both state representatives and the general public.
 
While addressing the gathered soldiers, airmen and civilian employees Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general of Texas explained the importance of TMD Day at the Capitol. 
 
“I thought today went extremely well, they got to meet you all, they didn’t just see Nichols. They got to see the National Guard.”
 

Across the wild blue yonder to serve ARCTIC CARE 2017

Photo By Tech. Sgt. Wendy Day | Air Force Major Brett Ringger, 136th Medical Group, Texas Air National Guard, provide eye exams in a portable optometry clinic during ARCTIC CARE 2017, Port Lions, Alaska, March 28, 2017. ARCTIC CARE 2017 is part of the Innovative Readiness Training program, which is an Office of Secretary of Defense sponsored civil-military collaboration intended to build on mutually beneficial partnerships between U.S. communities and the Department of Defense. ARCTIC CARE 2017 provides training opportunities for U.S. military (Active, Guard, Reserve) and Canadian Health service members to prepare for worldwide deployment while supporting the needs of underserved communities on Kodiak Island, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Wendy Day)
Photo By Tech. Sgt. Wendy Day | Air Force Major Brett Ringger, 136th Medical Group, Texas Air National Guard, provide eye exams in a portable optometry clinic during ARCTIC CARE 2017, Port Lions, Alaska, March 28, 2017. ARCTIC CARE 2017 is part of the Innovative Readiness Training program, which is an Office of Secretary of Defense sponsored civil-military collaboration intended to build on mutually beneficial partnerships between U.S. communities and the Department of Defense. ARCTIC CARE 2017 provides training opportunities for U.S. military (Active, Guard, Reserve) and Canadian Health service members to prepare for worldwide deployment while supporting the needs of underserved communities on Kodiak Island, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Wendy Day) 

KODIAK ISLAND, AK, UNITED STATES

04.11.2017

Story by: Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton

136th Airlift Wing (Texas Air National Guard)

 

The mission of the Texas Air National Guard involves not only assisting individuals within the state, but also a nation-wide outreach effort to provide relief and care for citizens throughout the country. When called, guardsmen are equipped to travel coast-to-coast to offer services when needed. 

On March 28, the need was forged in Kodiak, Alaska, and Maj. Brett Ringger, 136th Medical Group optometry officer in charge, deployed in support of an Innovative Readiness Training mission on the island. 

“I took part in ARCTIC CARE 2017, a joint services mission to provide care to the underserved community of Kodiak, Alaska, and its surrounding villages of Old Harbor, Port Lions, Ouzinkie, Akhiok, Larsen Bay, and Karluk,” said Ringger. “I was in a village location, Port Lions. It is a community of about 120-125 people and is accessible only by airlift or water.”

The Alaska Air Force Reserve provided Blackhawk support and airlifted equipment and staff to the village airstrip. Despite the geographical challenges, Ringger and his team were able to set up their facilities to assist the community. 

“I was the optometrist for the team and performed 34 exams, approximately a quarter of the village population,” Ringger said. “I also served as officer in charge for the Port Lions location and was responsible for our team of 17 service members across the guard and reserve, Navy, Army, and Marine components. I was ultimately accountable for tracking patients and training hours, inventory, repacking equipment and supplies, and reporting to the Tactical Operations Center.”

ARCTIC CARE 2017 is an Air Force Reserve Command led event coordinated with Kodiak Area Native Association (KANA) and civil authorities to provide medical, dental, optometry, and veterinary care for communities in the area at no cost to the patient. The exercise included active-duty, guard and reserve units and allowed for service members to hone their abilities to set up and utilize medical equipment in deployed environments.

“It’s vital to have the opportunity to train with the actual equipment that we would work with in a deployed environment to an austere location,” Ringger said. “For example, in a static optometry clinic we have automated equipment that measures the prescription in members' glasses, eye pressure, and approximate refraction. We had the ability to do all of these things with the portable equipment we use on deployments, which is much different in operation and mostly uses analog as opposed to automated. I was able to train the optometry tech assigned to perform all of the necessary tests on equipment she had never seen before. She is now proficient in being a part of a deployable optometric team.”

With multiple services involved in making ARCTIC CARE 2017 a successful operation, teamwork was paramount in the overall mission. For Ringger, being able to work with different units was a major highlight of the experience. 

“I really enjoyed getting to know my team,” Ringger said. “They all had a unique perspective that added to the mission and I appreciated how well we all worked together to complete the mission, and most importantly, to care for the people we came to serve. I loved interacting with the local folks and feel like this experience has been very enriching to me both personally and in my military service.”

As Ringger traveled back to his unit, he had several takeaways from his participation in ARCTIC CARE 2017, but the ability to train and provide services to citizens like those on Kodiak Island was one he said he could never forget and an exercise he would recommend. 

“It is great training to be forced to problem-solve and remedy things when they go sideways before something similar happens downrange,” Ringger concluded. “Alaska is a beautiful place and in our village, the locals made us feel right at home, as if we were already family. They were so appreciative of why we were there and were willing to help us in any way. The icing on the cake was to be able to provide care for appreciative people who may not otherwise have access to the care that they need.”

The exercise ended on April 6, 2017. 

For more information about members of the 136th Airlift Wing, visit http://www.136aw.ang.af.mil.

Single Father Driven to Become Best Warrior

Photo By Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed | Staff Sgt. Juan Nunez a security forces specialist with the 136th Security Forces Squadron, Texas Air National Guard, and his son pose for a photo at the 136th Airlift Wing’s Annual Children’s Christmas party Nov. 20, 2016 at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed)
Photo By Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed | Staff Sgt. Juan Nunez a security forces specialist with the 136th Security Forces Squadron, Texas Air National Guard, and his son pose for a photo at the 136th Airlift Wing’s Annual Children’s Christmas party Nov. 20, 2016 at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed)
FORT WORTH, TX, UNITED STATES
Story by Senior Airman DeJon Williams 
136th Airlift Wing (Texas Air National Guard)  

 

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – Finding motivation for accomplishing goals and excelling is something that most people can relate to. From making decisions in one’s everyday life to career choices that may affect the outcome of the future. Some even decide at a moment's notice to take on a new challenge to become the best version of themselves.

A physically grueling task such as competing in a military competition can be just that.

Staff Sgt. Juan Nunez, a combat arms training manager with the 136th Security Forces Squadron, Texas Air National Guard, represented his unit as a competitor in the Texas Military Department’s Best Warrior Competition March 2-4, held at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas.

The competition brought together members of the Texas Army and Air National Guard, Chile and the Czech Republic. The three-day event included an essay, an oral and appearance board, night land navigation, an M4 carbine qualification course, an obstacle course, a 12-mile ruck march and a mystery event that challenged the competitors mentally and physically.

“My son was my primary motivation,” Nunez said. “He’s always been the biggest motivation in my life. I asked my son to do something to challenge himself more, in school or anything else. I told him I was going to do it too… that I was going to find a way to challenge myself. I knew I didn’t have to, but he thinks I’m something bigger than even I think I am. That’s why I chose to do Best Warrior.”

Nunez is a single father to his 10-year-old son Tristan, so managing home life and preparing for the competition was a challenge in itself.

“I had to find a way to train between work and picking up my son, taking him to his tutoring and getting him to his Jiu Jitsu classes,” said Nunez. “Aside from that, I still had to help him with his homework, make dinner, workout and find time to try and squeeze in six hours of sleep. It was the same thing every day. By the time Friday hit, all I wanted to do was sleep. So one of the things I did was incorporate him into my training. I would do these long ruck marches and ask him to go with me.”

With such a busy schedule, balancing work and being a full-time father, Nunez found consistent ways to stay on top of his goals. Though he faced several different obstacles, he realized that being fit was the priority.

“The most important thing I knew I needed to develop was my physical fitness,” Nunez said. “I was already in good shape, I thought, but I knew I needed to prepare more for the actual event. I started focusing on cardio, I ruck marched every day and I started doing CrossFit type exercises as opposed to my normal workout.”

Nunez wasn’t alone on his quest for the Best Warrior Competition. He had support Airmen in his squadron and leadership as well.

“We had the tryouts a month before, and he showed a lot of heart and passion,” said Chief Master Sgt. Del Atkinson, security forces manager with the 136th Security Forces Squadron. “It 
was evident how hard he was pushing himself. I’m proud of him, I didn’t hear him complain one time.”

Sergeant Nunez successfully completed the competition, and did exceptionally well on the essay portion. Though results won’t be released for another month, for him, the biggest reward was getting home after the competition to see his son once again.

“He kept giving me hugs, and telling me how proud he was of me,” Nunez said. “What surprised me was he came up to me out of nowhere and said, ‘Hey Dad. You don't have to do all of these crazy things, I’m already proud of you.’ I don't think I’d be anywhere close to where I am in life without him.”

For more information about the Airmen of the 136th Airlift Wing, visit www.136aw.ang.af.mil.

Traditional Airmen given opportunity to showcase abilities

Photo By Senior Airman DeJon Williams | Staff Sgt. Michael J. Davis, a loadmaster with the 136th Mission Support Group, Texas Air National Guard, completes a pre flight inspection on a C-130H2 Hercules aircraft, Feb. 26, 2017 at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. Davis, along with other traditional Guardsmen, flew a max-fly effort that utilized only traditional Airmen. (Air Force photo by Senior Airman De'Jon Williams)
Photo By Senior Airman DeJon Williams | Staff Sgt. Michael J. Davis, a loadmaster with the 136th Mission Support Group, Texas Air National Guard, completes a pre flight inspection on a C-130H2 Hercules aircraft, Feb. 26, 2017 at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. Davis, along with other traditional Guardsmen, flew a max-fly effort that utilized only traditional Airmen. (Air Force photo by Senior Airman De'Jon Williams)
FORT WORTH, TX, UNITED STATES
Story by Senior Airman DeJon Williams
136th Airlift Wing (Texas Air National Guard)

 

WORTH, TEXAS – Traditional members of the Air National Guard live two lives. While serving both the federal and state mission in their chosen military capacity, guardsmen are also avid members of the local community holding full-time jobs or attending school. Typically, active guardsmen maintain day-to-day operations for the base and flight line to ensure operational success. On Feb. 27, 2017, weekend warriors from the 136th Airlift Wing, Texas Air National Guard at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base Texas took the helm and demonstrated their capabilities during an aerial training mission. 

“Today was a max fly, max effort mission utilizing only our traditional force,” said Capt. Casey Vetter, 136th Maintenance Squadron officer in charge. “It’s significant because it really kind of proves that being a traditional Airmen, just like a full time guard or an active duty Airmen, really is a seamless transition. When we deploy you really shouldn’t even be able to tell the difference in the quality of training and execution.”

Members conducted two C-130H2 Hercules aircraft flights, one being a six-ship mission and the other being a four. All eight flights were fully manned by traditional guardsmen from the pilots down to the maintenance personnel. The full time Airmen were given the day off, giving the traditional members an opportunity to highlight their abilities. 

“We had guys out here a week prior, planning and getting everything prepared,” said Vetter. “There is a lot that goes into the process, and being here early allowed traditional folks an opportunity to see a part of the process that we don’t normally get to. Normally we show up on Saturday and are brought up to speed, whereas this time we really got to be a part of everything and executed the mission all on our own. We relied on the training and expertise of all of our subject matter experts here.”

The all traditional guardsmen flight was the second max-effort mission done by the 136th. The first took place in 2016. 

“This is the second largest fly they’ve done in the history of the unit,” said Capt. Adrian Burke, 136th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron officer in charge, “so this is big having the traditionals coming together to get them all off the ground. Outside of the normal coordination, there was a lot of effort from our traditional members coming in early and staying late to make sure that we had all six tails C-130H2 Hercules aircraft] locked and ready to go.”
The flights were a success, and leadership within the unit look forward to coordinating another all traditional guard flight to make sure that members are always at their best and able to fulfill the mission. 

“I think we’d all like to see this again,” said Burke. “It was a great deal last year when we did the max fly effort, and having it again gives us a greater purpose. Everyone that comes across the flight line when they get in in the morning wants to touch an aircraft and come to work to do what they wanted to do when they joined the Air Force. We got to do that together.”
For more information about the 136th Airlift Wing, visit www.136aw.ang.af.mil.

Texas Military Department Best Warrior Competition 2017

 

 

TX, UNITED STATES
Video by Staff Sgt. Luke Allen 
100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment  

 

The Best Warrior Competition brings together the best junior enlisted and noncommissioned officers from the Texas Air and Army National Guards to compete for the prestigious title.

The BWC is intended to reflect real-life combat situations, stress, endurance and convey how important both intelligence and dedication are to being a National Guardsman. At the end of the grueling three-day competition one junior enlisted and one noncommissioned officer with the highest overall ranking is recognized as the Texas Best Warrior.

During the event, competitors will test their Warrior aptitude by conquering urban warfare simulations, board interviews, physical fitness tests, written exams and other tasks and battle drills relevant to today’s military operational environment.

Traditionally an Army event, the Texas National Guard opened this competition to the Texas Air National Guard in 2013 in order improve camaraderie in a joint environment. Finalists from the Texas Army National Guard, will move on to the National Guard Bureau’s Region V Best Warrior Competition. The competition will also include Chilean and Czech competitors this year as part of TMD’s SPP program.

Three countries compete for the title of best warrior at Camp Swift

Photo By Senior Airman DeJon Williams | Air Force Staff Sgt. Juan Nunez, a security forces specialist with the 136th Security Forces Squadron, Texas Air National Guard, Fort Worth, Texas, plots points on his map during the land navigation event during the 2017 Texas Military Department Best Warrior Competition, March 2, 2017 at Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas. Land navigation tests the competitors ability to read maps, use a compass and other skills to traverse through unfamiliar terrain to different points throughout the course. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman De'Jon Williams)
Photo By Senior Airman DeJon Williams | Air Force Staff Sgt. Juan Nunez, a security forces specialist with the 136th Security Forces Squadron, Texas Air National Guard, Fort Worth, Texas, plots points on his map during the land navigation event during the 2017 Texas Military Department Best Warrior Competition, March 2, 2017 at Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas. Land navigation tests the competitors ability to read maps, use a compass and other skills to traverse through unfamiliar terrain to different points throughout the course. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman De'Jon Williams)
TX, UNITED STATES
Courtesy Story
100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 

BASTROP, Texas — Soldiers and Airmen from three nations gathered at Camp Swift, Texas last weekend for a three-day competition that tested each soldier's skill, strength and endurance, March 3, 2017. 
In the Texas Military Department's fifth annual Best Warrior Competition, members of the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard and invitees from the Chilean and the Czech Republic militaries, squared off against each other for the title of Best Warrior.
27 Best Warrior candidates competed in one of two categories: Best Junior Enlisted and Best Noncommissioned Officer. Service members were rated in nine events, including a 12-mile road march and an obstacle course, that closely imitate real combat situations. Two additional events gauged the soldiers' military writing and their professional appearance.
Integrating three countries into one competition presented challenges for event organizers, but command senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Weedon, said that every effort is made to offer a fair playing field for competitors from every contingent.
It took an almost year-long effort to bring the three nations together, but Weedon says the effort pays off because it offers more than just an opportunity for Soldiers to compete for the title; the real training value comes from learning to work with other nations in real-world operations.
"It gives them and us confidence that we've got partners around the world, so that if anything went bad in any of our countries, we've got some help we are accustomed to," Weedon said.
Both Texas components participating in the competition were comprised of citizen Soldiers and reflect the readiness of members of the Texas Military Department to don their uniforms and operate at the level necessary for high-tempo operations.
Sgt. Juan PonceDeleon with the Texas Army National Guard’s 112th Cavalry Regiment, 72 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, described his preparation for Best Warrior after winning his unit’s internal competition.
"The first thing I did was talk to people that have competed in the event before so that I could learn from them," PonceDeleon said. "After that, I had to make an honest assessment of where I was at with my warrior tasks and drills."
Competitors first participated in unit-level selections to earn their spot in the statewide competition. Chilean soldier Cpl. Camilo Leal says his unit’s competition helped prepare him for the weekend.
The Texas Military Department was the first state to open its Best Warrior Competition to all components—including the Texas Air National Guard and international partners — in 2013. Now, other states like Nebraska, hope to follow in Texas' footsteps by welcoming foreign militaries into their Best Warrior competitions. 
This year marked Chile's second appearance in Texas’ Best Warrior competition but was the Czech Republic’s first year to attend.
Although, the winner won't be officially announced until April 7, Leal said that no matter who wins, the friendships and comradery the competition fostered will endure.
"It's been a very wonderful experience. I have had a chance to talk to the other soldiers and hope to keep that communication going," Leal said. "If they come to Chile, I will welcome them with the same hospitality they have shown me."

TXANG Guardsman finds success despite challenges

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Orlando Duarte, an aerospace propulsion mechanic with the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, pulls a weighted sled during the 2017 Texas Military Department’s Best Warrior Competition, March 4, 2017, Camp Swift, Bastrop, Texas. The sled pull was an obstacle that was a part of the mystery event at the BWC. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman De’Jon Williams)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Orlando Duarte, an aerospace propulsion mechanic with the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, pulls a weighted sled during the 2017 Texas Military Department’s Best Warrior Competition, March 4, 2017, Camp Swift, Bastrop, Texas. The sled pull was an obstacle that was a part of the mystery event at the BWC. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman De’Jon Williams)

 

BASTROP, Texas -- BASTROP, Texas -- Members from the Texas Air and Army National Guard, Chile and the Czech Republic competed in a series of events March 2-4 to determine who would be among the year’s top contenders of the 2017 Texas Military Department Best Warrior Competition.

Prior to attending the three-day event, participants prepared themselves for the rigorous conditions, physical tests and mental challenges that awaited them during the competition.

For Senior Airman Orlando Duarte, Best Warrior wasn’t just a competition. It was also a testament to the obstacles he’d faced and overcame throughout his entire life and career.

Duarte, an aerospace propulsion mechanic with the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, was born and raised in Mexico before moving to the United States to finish high school.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Orlando Duarte, an aerospace propulsion mechanic with the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, inspects his M4 carbine shot grouping during the Texas Military Department’s Best Warrior Competition March 2, 2017 at Camp Swift, Bastrop, Texas. During the BWC competitors had the opportunity to zero their weapons before moving on to the M4 qualification course. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman De’Jon Williams)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Orlando Duarte, an aerospace propulsion mechanic with the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, inspects his M4 carbine shot grouping during the Texas Military Department’s Best Warrior Competition March 2, 2017 at Camp Swift, Bastrop, Texas. During the BWC competitors had the opportunity to zero their weapons before moving on to the M4 qualification course. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman De’Jon Williams)


Separated from his family, he had to conquer language and cultural barriers to reach his overall goals.

“I wanted to move here to become a pilot,” Duarte said. “My parents didn't think I was going to take it seriously, so they sent me to California by myself. When I got there, I was told by the school they were going to downgrade me to freshman because I wasn’t fluent in English. So I was required to do ninth, tenth and eleventh grade English before I could graduate.”

Despite the setback, Duarte excelled, finishing the classes and graduating in just one year.

“On my graduation day my dad came from Mexico to pick me up,” Durante said. “He and I then drove to San Antonio, looked for a house, and a week later my two sisters, my little brother and my mom came.”

After moving to Texas, Duarte joined the Air National Guard. The language barrier continued to be an obstacle but with the support of his family and leadership, he continued to achieve his goals. Now, having earned his private pilot’s license flying Cessna 150 and 172 model aircraft.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Orlando Duarte, an aerospace propulsion mechanic with the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, writes an essay for the Texas Military Department’s Best Warrior Competition, March 2, 2017 at Camp Swift, Bastrop, Texas. Duarte was graded on his essay question as well as an appearance board on the first day of the competition. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Marline Duncan)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Orlando Duarte, an aerospace propulsion mechanic with the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, writes an essay for the Texas Military Department’s Best Warrior Competition, March 2, 2017 at Camp Swift, Bastrop, Texas. Duarte was graded on his essay question as well as an appearance board on the first day of the competition. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Marline Duncan)


Training for the competition was not an easy feat for Durante. With only three weeks to prepare and a heavy work schedule, Duarte had to push himself to be performance ready. But for Duarte, opportunities like the Best Warrior Competition, keep him from getting complacent.

“I’m a full-time technician,” he said. “I would train from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and then had to work 2 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday. It’s been tough for me, but it’s something I wanted to do and I wanted to do my best. I’m representing my unit and my family. I feel like a lot of people are counting on me. Every time I was tired and wanted to give up, I just kept pushing.”

Duarte won first place for three of the nine junior enlisted categories.

The power of Motivation

Story by: Senior Airman DeJon Williams, 136th Airlift Wing, Texas Air National Guard

Posted On: Feb. 06, 2017

Senior Airman Benjamin Le, a services apprentice, 136th Force Support Squadron, Texas Air National Guard, poses for a photo at Metroflex Gym-Plano, Plano, Texas Jan. 4, 2017. Le trains at Metroflex-Plano where his powerlifting coach works. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman De'Jon Williams)
Senior Airman Benjamin Le, a services apprentice, 136th Force Support Squadron, Texas Air National Guard, poses for a photo at Metroflex Gym-Plano, Plano, Texas Jan. 4, 2017. Le trains at Metroflex-Plano where his powerlifting coach works. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman De'Jon Williams)

FORT WORTH, TX – For many Airmen, the New Year is about new beginnings. This can be an opportunity to start fresh and a chance to begin working toward new fitness goals.

For Senior Airman Benjamin Le, 136th Force Support Squadron services apprentice, Texas Air National Guard, Fort Worth, Texas, 2017 will be just another year and opportunity to continue to improve in what he loves. His love for the sport of power lifting gives him new goals to strive for every day.

“Lifting weights is not only my passion, but it shows who I am,” said Le. “It’s something I’ve been into since high school, but I was never serious about until I got to my first base.”

Le was introduced to powerlifting in 2012 at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. While there, he was convinced by his supervisor to continue pursuing his fitness goals. Under his mentor’s guidance, Le trained and prepared for his first bodybuilding competition just four months later.

“My first supervisor and powerlifting coach was First Sergeant Lorenzo Peterson, whom I met at my first base,” Le said. “He was like my Jedi master; he showed me the ways of powerlifting. We trained together and he saw my lifts were pretty good. He told me he wanted me to get into powerlifting more seriously, and through a lot of hard work I could see my numbers starting to rise up. I’ve been competing in it ever since.”

Le has continued training as a powerlifter for the last four years, and now represents the Air Force powerlifting team.

“Every year there are military powerlifting nationals, where all branches compete against each other,” Le said. “Since its Air Force related, my wing commanders have always really liked that. Depending on where you are, you may be able to represent your unit, your base, and also yourself in the competition.”

During his last meet, he competed at the 148 pound weight class. He squatted 452 pounds, benched 308 pounds and deadlifted 490 pounds, which was a personal goal for him.

Being able to represent the Air Force at a national event like this was an honor for Le, and the ability to exceed his own expectations has been a highlight in his career.

“When you get back from a meet, everyone compliments and recognizes you,” Le said. “It’s an amazing feeling, having my peers take interest in powerlifting and fitness. It’s helped my Air Force career too. The fact I can also compete with the team is another reason why I’m still in the Air Force.”

Outside of the Air Force, Le continues to exemplify fitness as a personal trainer. He uses his skills to better others in the Air Force and assists his peers in exceeding their own personal standards. He is very adamant about encouraging anyone he trains to be better than their best.

“I conduct fitness tests also,” Le said. “People ask me how to do more pushups or run faster, and I give them advice on routines to help them get stronger, or to run faster; squatting, getting on a treadmill, stuff like that.”

Looking back, Senior Airman Le uses his passion for powerlifting to stay fit to fight, as well as to help and inspire others around him.

“Whether someone is really into fitness or not, it’s important to go to the gym. Not a lot of people realize it’s one of the greatest stress relievers ever. It helps you be really productive, changes your lifestyle and helps with your nutrition. It’s a great way to better yourself, and to discipline yourself.”

ANG member represents as AF ambassador for third straight year

Story by: Tech. Sgt. Mindy Bloem, 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard

Posted On: Feb. 02, 2017

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - LACKLAND, Texas – A member of the Texas Air National Guard will once again represent the Air Force in an official capacity for Joint Base San Antonio's 2017 Military Ambassadors program.

Tech. Sgt. Marie Sarabia, a recruiter with the 149th Fighter Wing, cements her place in wing history as the latest member to be chosen for the special designation three years running.

"I was honestly humbled to be selected because you're going up against the best of the best," she said. "(The board) is not just looking at the Air National Guard, they're looking at the Air Force Reserves and active duty Air Force - really sharp folks that truly believe in what the Air Force is and what JBSA is, so when I got it, I was truly shocked. It's definitely a humbling moment."

The Military Ambassador program is an annual tradition for the JBSA military community. Official representatives from every branch of service are chosen from the three administratively-combined installations -- Fort Sam Houston, Randolph and Lackland -- to engage with their community at local events, the majority of which involve Fiesta San Antonio.

Master Sgt. Jacqueline Crow, an intelligence analyst with the 149th FW and last year's female Air Force ambassador, said she was happy to see the Texas Air National Guard once again represented in this way.

"It's a good deal for the Guard," Crow said. "The Guard can come out and represent -- Total Force once again. It also shows how valid the Guard is in today's war fight, today's military and today's Air Force. The Guard is an essential part of that, and I thought it was an amazing thing that (Sarabia) got selected for the program.

As someone who's been through the selection process herself, Crow understands how intense it can be for Air Force candidates.

She said Air Force applicants must first submit an extensive paper package that includes military history, special achievements, community involvement and job skills, among other qualifications.

The applicants who make it past the paper process must then meet before a board made up of active duty chief master sergeants and the previous year's Air Force ambassadors.

"It was pretty nerve wracking. I'm not going to lie," said Sarabia, remembering what it was like to meet before the selection board. And although Sarabia's said she's had experience with boards in the past, she confessed it was still a little intimidating.

"I went in there and had a lot of nerves, but I just had to calm myself down and take it one step at a time," Sarabia said on how she managed to quell her unease.

Crow was one of the people seated on this year's panel and remarked on how well Sarabia presented herself and said she impressed everyone on the board.

"She's going to do well. I'm really proud of her," said Crow about her successor.

Crow even decided to carry on a tradition that was started by the 2015 female Air Force ambassador, Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Hall, another fellow 149th FW member.

When Crow was first selected as ambassador in 2016, Hall gave Crow a service cap she had worn to keep the sun out of her eyes at various Fiesta events. The hat fit Crow perfectly and seemed to serve as a positive symbol for what lay ahead.

"To me, it symbolizes the passing on of the torch but also shows how we take care of one another in the wing, and really the Air National Guard," said Sarabia. "Some people say, 'well, what's the difference between you and anyone else?' and I would say we're very family oriented. We take care of one another and we're very proud of where we come from and what we represent."

As for Crow, she sees nothing but good things ahead for Sarabia.

"She is going to meet some amazing people along the way that really care about the San Antonio community, and she's going to meet some remarkable Air Force leaders," Crow said. "My advice to her would be to represent the Guard and the 149th well and to just be herself and have fun with it."

A fellow co-worker and another former ambassador from the wing, Master Sgt. Juan Flores, expressed the utmost confidence in Sarabia's abilities.

"I'm very proud of her," he said. "Not only is it a big accomplishment to compete and be selected among so many top performers, but I know she'll have a great experience and represent the Air National Guard in a great fashion."

Sarabia said she feels some pressure to keep the legacy going because of the strong representation the wing has had in the past but is simply going to focus on what she does best.

"Being an Air Guard recruiter, I know a lot of people don't know about the Air Guard," she said. "They just know about the Air Force Reserves, and of course active duty. I want to let them know we're here in the community and tell them about our state mission -- that we have unique missions that involve going out and actually defending our local communities. I really want to bring awareness into what we do."