389th Engineer Company Soldiers build new MEDEVAC facility

Courtesy Story by: Sgt. Courtney Champagne

Photo By Jet Fabara | Flight medics talk with their leadership following an awards ceremony held for the 389th Engineer Company, 368th Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade, for the construction of a new MEDVAC facility in Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. The facility will house members of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion) from Ft. Riley, Kan. (“Boomer Dust-off”). (DOD photo by Jet Fabara)
Photo By Jet Fabara | Flight medics talk with their leadership following an awards ceremony held for the 389th Engineer Company, 368th Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade, for the construction of a new MEDVAC facility in Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. The facility will house members of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion) from Ft. Riley, Kan. (“Boomer Dust-off”). (DOD photo by Jet Fabara)

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – The MEDEVAC facility at Bagram Air Field in northern Afghanistan has seen better days. Its shattered windows, leaning walls, and peeling paint serve as evidence of the building’s lengthy history. 

The old hangar was constructed in the 1950s for the Afghan people by the U.S. Government in an effort to impede the spread of communism in Asia. 

During the Invasion of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in 1979, it was inhabited by Russian forces until they withdrew in 1989, after which the Taliban maintained domination of the location that the old hangar was built on. 

In 2002, Bagram Air Field became home to American forces as part of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, and the hangar became the workspace for hundreds of medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) crews, providing them with administrative offices as well as break, maintenance, and storage spaces which are critical for successful MEDEVAC operations. 

The primary mission of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion) from Ft. Riley, Kansas (“Boomer Dust-off”) is to save lives by providing MEDEVAC from the frontlines of conflicts in Afghanistan to the medical facility at Bagram Air Field. 

The GSAB mission is vital to the overall success of operations in Afghanistan; ensuring Soldiers and Afghan Nationals are provided with swift medical attention after sustaining battlefield injuries.

In the spring of 2016, the 389th Engineer Company a U.S. Army Reserve unit from Middletown, Iowa teamed up with C. Co., 2-1 GSAB to coordinate the build-out of a new MEDEVAC facility. The aging hanger required replacement to address safety concerns and provide a new facility that met standard operating requirements. 

The Base Support Group Commander, Col. G. Shawn Wells Jr. ordered the hangar’s evacuation due to overall structural instability however it became an urgent necessity to figure out where MEDEVAC crews would now conduct operations. 

A large area maintenance (LAM) tent was placed nearby as a short-term solution. Although the LAM tent provided a covered space for the crew to operate in, it lacked space for administrative offices and break areas, as well as maintenance and equipment storage. It hardly met the crew’s needs as a sensible area of operation. 

The 389th Engineer Company rose to the occasion and immediately began the early design plans to create a work space worthy of Boomer Dust-off as well as future MEDEVAC crews and their missions.

The MEDEVAC crews must be prepared to respond to emergencies at any time, spending long hours in their work spaces on standby. Special considerations were taken into account when weighing the design options of the new structure within the LAM tent. 

The final design was a collective effort amongst Boomer Dust-off personnel, Joint Engineering (JENG) at Bagram Air Field, the Forward Engineer Support Team (FEST-A), the 368th Engineer Battalion’s Construction Management Section, and the 389th Engineer Company. 

A crew of 14 Soldiers were selected to complete the build-out based on their carpentry expertise. Their skills were immediately evident based on their productivity. Only three days into the job, they were an entire day ahead of schedule. 

“This is one project that is going to have a lasting impact here,” said Spc. Kevin R. Suzie, carpentry and masonry specialist with the 389th Engineer Company. 

The end result included crafted trimming, cut and placed balusters, and sections of spacious rooms. 

“Their attention to detail was remarkable”, said Lt. Col. Matthew J. Strub, Deputy Commander of Task Force Victory.

The completed project was executed in just under three weeks. It included creative design solutions to the customer’s specific conditions, including adequate space for storage of a UH-60 Blackhawk aircraft during maintenance and repair. 

“We got to test our skills. We got to make design changes and use creativity”, said Sgt. Kent A. Hortstman, carpentry and masonry specialist with the 389th Engineer Company.

The 1st Combat Aviation Brigade hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony on November 10, 2016 honoring both the critical service of the Soldiers of C Co., 2-1 GASB, and the key role of the 389th Engineer Company throughout the construction of the new facility. 

During the ceremony, 1st CAB Commander Col. John M. Cyrulik and Command Sgt. Maj. Roque R. Quichocho presented Soldiers of the 389th with impact awards for their indispensable contribution to current and future MEDEVAC missions. 

Afterwards, leaders conducted a field expedient ribbon cutting in the new facility, in true MEDEVAC style, using trauma shears to cut the ribbon. 

“No other force on the planet goes to the extent that we do to make sure no Soldier gets left behind. This collaboration provides the capability to save lives,” said Cyrulik. 

The highly-skilled and dedicated Soldiers of the 389th provided a site for hundreds of MEDEVAC crews to proudly call their own today, and for many years to come. 

“At the end of the day, nothing gets done without the nuclear fuel that is our Soldiers,” said Cyrulik.

The 389th is a U.S. Army Reserve unit on a nine-month deployment. The unit is assigned to the 368th Engineer Battalion, and the 176th Engineer Brigade, Task Force Chaos.

36th CAB Memorial Run for E-40

36th Combat Aviation Brigade, Col. Brian D. Allgood, 46, of Oklahoma; Col. Paul M. Kelly, 45, of Stafford, Virginia; Lt. Col. David C. Canegata III,

Courtesy Story by: Sgt. Michael Fitzpatrick

Posted On: Jan. 25, 2017

Members of the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade at the Armed Forces Reserve Center at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin Texas, gathered outside American Legion Post 79 for a memorial run around Austin’s Ladybird Lake to commemorate the loss of Capt. Sean E. Lyerly, 31, of Pflugerville, Texas, and nine other soldiers killed when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter Lyerly flew was shot down in the Diyala province northeast of Baghdad on Jan. 20, 2007.

The following information is a report from the Multinational Corps Iraq news release published By American Forces Press Service and reprinted online January 26, 2007 on the website: www.nationalguard.mil/News/Article/572881/established-procedures-followed-after-black-hawk-crash.

The military statement said two coalition aircraft were flying on a routine mission when one of the aircraft crashed in a rural area northeast of Baghdad. Reports indicate a distress call from the trail aircraft. About 20 seconds later, the lead aircraft crew saw the trail aircraft go down.

The lead aircraft immediately circled back to provide security and assistance to the crew and passengers, the statement said. After determining the area was clear, the lead helicopter landed and quickly surveyed the scene for any survivors of the downed aircraft.

The crew observed that the aircraft was on fire and determined there were no survivors, officials said. They remained on the ground and secured the site until additional security arrived.

An aerial coalition quick-reaction force arrived on the scene to provide additional security about three minutes after the Black Hawk was reported down. This air support arrived quickly, officials explained, because the crews were already conducting patrols in the area. The lead aircraft involved in the initial incident stayed on the scene for an additional seven minutes before leaving the secured site to fly to Forward Operating Base Balad.

The lead aircraft crew, made up of soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 131st Aviation Regiment, "performed heroically in protecting and safeguarding their comrades" in the downed Black Hawk under extremely adverse conditions, the Multinational Corps Iraq statement said. 

The soldiers, who belonged to a number of active Army and Army National Guard units, are: Col. Brian D. Allgood, 46, of Oklahoma; Col. Paul M. Kelly, 45, of Stafford, Virginia; Lt. Col. David C. Canegata III, 50, of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; Capt. Michael V. Taylor, 40, of North Little Rock, Arkansas; Capt. Sean E. Lyerly, 31, of Pflugerville, Texas; CSM Marilyn L. Gabbard, 46, of Polk City, Iowa; CSM Roger W. Haller, 49, of Davidsonville, Maryland; First Sergeant William T. Warren, 48, of North Little Rock, Arkansas; SFC Floyd E. Lake Sr., 43, of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; SFC John G. Brown, 43, of Little Rock, Arkansas; Staff Sgt. Darryl D. Booker, 37, of Midlothian, Virginia; Cpl. Victor M. Langarica, 29, of Decatur, Georgia.

Texas Guardsman saves life of blind man seconds after he was struck by vehicle

Texas Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Aaron Dias, recruiting and retention officer for the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Region II, Team VII, enjoys lunch with his six-year-old son Gavin, left, and 18-month-old Aeryn, right, at a local resturant Nov. 12, 2016, in Tyler, Texas. Dias is responsible for rendering aid and saving the life a blind pedestrian that was struck by a vehicle in East Texas. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)
Texas Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Aaron Dias, recruiting and retention officer for the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Region II, Team VII, enjoys lunch with his six-year-old son Gavin, left, and 18-month-old Aeryn, right, at a local resturant Nov. 12, 2016, in Tyler, Texas. Dias is responsible for rendering aid and saving the life a blind pedestrian that was struck by a vehicle in East Texas. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Pena

Posted: Monday, January 9, 2017

TYLER, Texas – Disaster can strike at anytime. Citizen-soldiers of the Texas Army National Guard are taught to always be prepared.

Texas Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Aaron Dias, recruiting and retention officer for the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Region II, Team VII in Tyler, was driving back from the Military Entrance Processing Station in Shreveport, Louisiana, to his armory in Tyler with his recruit when disaster struck.

“The sun was starting to set,” said Dias. “It was to that point where you run into the sun it kind of casts a glare on you.”
 
Hiwatha Hudson, a legally blind 55-year-old man had just stepped off to cross the street with his cane.

“My applicant in the passenger seat hollered at me ‘there’s someone on the road!’ said Dias. “Sure enough, as soon as we cast over the hill, I saw a silhouette of a man and I swerved to miss him.”

At that moment Dias was thankful he avoided the man, but as he was pulling over, he saw something horrid.

“Then I looked back in my rearview mirror, I saw someone hit him so I turned around, jumped in the suicide lane and jumped to assist him,” said Dias.

Without hesitation, Dias immediately called 911 and took the situation into his own hands. 

“I jumped out, got my applicant to start blocking traffic. When I came up to the man he was face down and the blood was running down pretty heavy,” said Dias. “So I rolled him over on his side to the recovery position to kind of balance his head so the blood 
would drain out and I held him there and checked his pulse until the EMT arrived.”

The recovery position, one of the many skills learned in the military, is designed to prevent suffocation through obstruction of the airway. 

“We are taught over and over, repetition so that way when it comes to a situation like this, you don’t think you just react. I don’t think if I had that training or that repetition of training I don’t know if I would have done anything successfully like I did,” said Dias. 

Service members in the Texas Army National Guard must go through combat life saving courses throughout their military career and are taught to always be ready to help.

Dias, father of two, has been a member of the guard for over ten years.

“Every other generation of my family has served,” said Dias. “It’s a duty, it’s an honor and opportunity to put on this uniform everyday.”

Hudson has since been transferred to the Ocean Behavior Hospital in East Texas. 

“I am so glad he was there to render aid because if he hadn’t, I would not have my son today,” said Jerleane Hudson, mother of Henry. “I’m praying that God will forever bless him.”

Although he has not made a full recovery, it is Dias’s fast response that saved his life.

“People will drive past people in wrecks all the time they won’t stop and ask if they’re OK. Heck it could've been you, or me and I would pray that someone would stop and do what they could, whether it was helpful or not, at least they were trying. You know, just help," said Dias.

Thousands of fatalities every year in casualties where the cause of the unconscious was not fatal, but the airway was blocked, causing the patient to suffocate. Dias accredits the military with giving him the knowledge and experience to respond to this situation.

“It’s a part of being in the military but it’s also a part of just being raised in a small town. You help anyone that needs help. That also goes hand in hand with being in the guard. We are citizen soldiers we are supposed to help out wherever we can,” said Dias.

T-Patch Division promotes new brigadier general

Story by: Spc. Christina Clardy

Posted: December 4, 2016

Maj. Gen. James K. "Red" Brown, U.S. Forces Command Deputy Commanding General - Reserve Component and former 36th Infantry Division Commanding General, and Amy Aris promote Charles "Chuck" Aris to Brig. Gen. on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas. He is joined by family, friends and colleagues to celebrate his promotion at a ceremony and following reception at the Texas Military Forces Museum. Aris has been selected to deploy to Afghanistan as the Commander of the Train, Advise, Assist Command -- South during the 36th Infantry Division's second command rotation in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel.
Maj. Gen. James K. "Red" Brown, U.S. Forces Command Deputy Commanding General - Reserve Component and former 36th Infantry Division Commanding General, and Amy Aris promote Charles "Chuck" Aris to Brig. Gen. on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas. He is joined by family, friends and colleagues to celebrate his promotion at a ceremony and following reception at the Texas Military Forces Museum. Aris has been selected to deploy to Afghanistan as the Commander of the Train, Advise, Assist Command -- South during the 36th Infantry Division's second command rotation in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michael Leslie)

AUSTIN, Texas — Colonel Charles "Chuck" Aris, the Assistant Division Commander of Support, was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in a ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 4, at Camp Mabry.

Maj. Gen. James K. "Red" Brown, the Deputy Commanding General — Reserve Component, United States Forces, promoted Aris to his one-star rank with his friends, family members and colleagues present.

During the ceremony, Brown, a former commanding general of the 36th Inf. Div., and Aris' wife of 26 years, Amy, pinned the new general's rank to the shoulders of his uniform. His son Matthew and daughter Kate presented him with a one-star general's flag, a traditional general officer's belt, and a desk placard. As per Texas tradition, Aris then gave bouquets of yellow roses to both his wife and his mother, Janice. 

"Aris is one of those officers that we always knew was going to rise to the top," said Brown. "He and his family are the ultimate traditional National Guard family. As a civilian, Chuck is a very distinguished and a very successful attorney, who doesn't have to do this; but he chooses to do so as a service to this great state and this great nation."  

Because of his dual military and civilian careers, several military dignitaries and civilian colleagues attended the ceremony, including Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General of the Texas Military Department, Maj. Gen. Lester Simpson, Commanding General of the 36th Infantry Division Commander, and fellow attorneys from his law firm. Aris, a resident of Waxahachie, Texas, is also a partner with the Dallas-based Byrne, Cardenas and Aris Law Firm, where he handles civil litigation.

"I want to say thank you to every senior leader, every mentor and every person in my life who has supported, trained, and guided me," said Aris. "But I need to say 'thank you' to my family, because without them, their love and their support, I would not be standing where I am today."

Aris will deploy to southern Afghanistan next year as the Commander of the Train, Advise and Assist Command -- South in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. 

"Its an honor to be selected for this [promotion and deployment]," said Aris. "I pledge to do my very best to make sure that we excel in this mission and continue the great heritage of the Texas Army National Guard."

His most recent assignments include serving as the acting Assistant Division Commander of Maneuver, division Chief of Staff, and Commander of both the 56th and 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Teams. He served as a task force commander during a 2005 rotation to Kosovo, and deployed to Iraq in 2009 as an assistant chief of staff in operations.

In 1998, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree and commission from the Texas A&M University and was awarded as a Distinguished Military Graduate in the ROTC program.  After serving on Active Duty in the Army, in 1993 he joined the Texas Army National Guard. Aris also holds a Master of Science from the Army War College and a Juris Doctorate from South Texas College of Law. 

Aris’ awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (with two Oak Leaf Clusters), Kosovo Campaign Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal  (with two service stars), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal.

The mission of the 36th Infantry Division is to provide ready and responsive forces that can deploy to conduct unified land operations in joint and coalition environments, in support of a geographical combatant commander. On order, the division provides defense support to civil authorities within the United States in support of state and federal agencies.

Texas airborne infantry unit conducts night airborne exercise

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Pena

Posted: Dec. 2, 2016

https://tmd.texas.gov/texas-airborne-infantry-unit-conducts-night-airborne-exercise
Texas Guardsmen from the 1st Battalion (Airborne) 143rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, conducted a simulated airfield seizure during Operation Aztec, Nov. 17-19, 2016, near San Antonio, Texas. Operation Aztec is one of the first major collective training events under the 173rd Airborne Brigade. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

HONDO, Texas – Texas Army National Guardsmen from the 1st Battalion (Airborne) 143rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, conducted a simulated airfield seizure during a major collective training from 17-19 November 2016, near San Antonio, TX.

The two units are partnered through the Associated Unit Pilots Program, which pairs Active-Duty units with those in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard for a multi-year period to meet increasing demands of the Total Army.  

“Our battalion is now a part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, which is forward based in Europe,” said Texas Army National Guardsman Lt. Col. Kurt J. Cyr, commander of the 143rd Airborne. “Our brigade has the responsibility to be the contingency response force for U.S. Army Europe. It’s important for us to do collective training exercises such as this to maintain our proficiency in joint forcible entry operations.”

The training exercise, known as Operation Aztec, highlights the programs’ intent to increase the readiness and responsiveness of the Army as a total force. This was one of the first major collective training events for the battalion as an Associated Unit of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. 
 
“This weekend took about two months of drill time and preparations,” said Texas Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Johnson. “We are bringing a lot of guys that have never deployed before to see what it will look like, or similar to, and the types of engagements we would see.”

During Operation Aztec, Texas Guardsmen jumped onto South Texas Regional Airfield in Hondo to secure and control the airfield, worked through the night against opposing forces to seize key terrain from the enemy. 

“Our battalion only jumps at night,” said Cyr. “We always try to maximize surprise, security and protection of the force by jumping at night. The airborne relies on the element of surprise, and the cover of darkness gives that surprise. Hours of limited visibility allow us to utilize security to gain a tactical advantage over the enemy by parachuting under the cover of darkness.”

The partnership enables integration of formations from units prior to mobilization through collective training exercises such as Operation Aztec.

“Our airborne infantry battalion is no different than any other you’d find in the Active Component,” said Cyr. “We train to the same standards, and are required to be compatible with our Active Duty counterparts across all warfighting functions.”

“I have full confidence in our Paratroopers, their training, our unit’s leadership and the leadership of our brigade in Europe. If there is ever a call for us to mobilize and fight alongside of the Active Component, we will be ready” said Cyr.

Under the new program, units will see an increase in training.

“The training days are getting longer,” said Texas Army National Guard Private 1st Class Jeremy May, a Paratrooper with the 143rd Airborne. “But this is something bigger than ourselves so we are willing to make that sacrifice. My main motivation is protecting the people that I love. That is the whole reason that I joined.”

A total of 27 units have been selected to undergo the pilot; four of those units come from the Texas Army National Guard. These units will train, build readiness and ultimately fight as one Army. 

“There are three different Army components, but when you deploy, everyone wears U.S. Army,” said Capt. Aaron M. Lee, a Ranger Training Assessment Company Commander at Fort Benning, Georgia. “We have to work together and be on the same level as far as individual collective tasks.”

The 143rd Airborne is scheduled train with the Active Component during a major joint forcible entry exercise in Europe during the summer of 2017.

Texas Army National Guard trains, graduates first female cavalry scout in U.S. Army

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Peña

Posted: Nov. 22, 2016

Texas Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion 136th Regional Training Institute graduated the U.S. Army’s first female cavalry scout Nov. 17, 2016, during a graduation ceremony held at Fort Hood. The 136th RTI recently moved the cavalry scout course to Fort Hood to provide more space and accessibility to various training facilities. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)
U.S. Army Sgt. Kayci Landes, with the 1st Cavalry Division, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, poses with her family following her graduation as the first female cavalry scout Nov. 17, 2016. Texas Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion 136th Regional Training Institute trained and graduated Landes during a rigorous 20-day course at Fort Hood. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

FORT HOOD, Texas – It was a proud moment for the Texas Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion 136th Regional Training Institute when Army Sgt. Kayci Landes, walked across the stage as the U.S. Army’s first female cavalry scout Nov. 17, 2016, during a graduation ceremony held at Fort Hood.

The Department of Defense announced that all military occupations and positions would be open to women, Jan. 2016. Landes, a wife and mother of four, had been waiting for this moment since she was seven-years-old.

“I’ve always wanted to be in the combat military occupational specialty; I just wasn’t allowed. As soon as it opened I was like ‘hey combat MOS’s are open, I’m going to have this baby real quick then I’m going to re-enlist for it,” said Landes.

During the 20-day course Landes, along with her peers conducted 200 academic hours to include the Army’s new high physical demands test that both men and women needed to pass at the same standards.

“We’ve got a streak of seven years of not sending anyone home and we’re not afraid to break that,” said Texas Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Michael C. Dixon, an instructor at the cavalry scout course. “She did the 12-mile, she did the hand grenade toss, dummy drag and pulled out the Bradley main gun that weighs collectively almost 300 pounds. She’s done it all.”

The Texas National Guard’s 136th RTI, headquartered at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, offers courses to any soldier in the U.S. Army, active, guard or reserve, including numerous MOS’s such as the cavalry scout.

Texas Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Kristopher E. Townsend, instructor and course manager, said his favorite part of being an instructor is educating his students.

“It’s training soldiers, bringing guys into an MOS that I love and being able to depart my experience, what I’ve learned in my career down to the joe’s and bring them into the fold of the cavalry,” said Townsend.

The Texas National Guard instructors led the course for six prior service members that had made the decision to re-class to 19D.

“They have a really good training set up; it’s better than most Army training. It’s been fun and interesting,” said Landes.

In 2014, the U.S. Army Training Command awarded the 136th RTI as an Institution of Excellence, the highest accreditation an RTI can receive.

“We always want to go beyond the program of instruction and make the course better than just the minimum,” Sgt. Steven L. Conwill, 136th RTI. “Being new here to Fort Hood we have access to a lot of newer things that might not have had access to at Camp Mabry or Camp Bowie.”

As the Army welcomes women into combat roles, Texas’ RTI will continue to train soldiers across the force to the best standard possible.

“The RTI is proud to be a part of training so many fine men and women,” said Texas Army National Guard Col. Kevin Countie, 136th RTI commander.  “Supporting the Army’s readiness and combat performance is our top priority.” 

Landes will be stationed with the 1st Cavalry Division, stationed at Fort Hood.

Texas Military Department Announces New Air Guard Commander

Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General of TexasAUSTIN, Texas (November 18, 2015) – Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General of Texas, is pleased to announce Brig. Gen. David McMinn has been named the Commander of the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG), following the retirement of Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian.

McMinn received his commission upon graduation from Clemson University in 1985, completed Undergraduate Pilot Training and was assigned to Pope AFB, North Carolina as a C-130E pilot in 1986. While there, McMinn specialized in Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System Tactical Air Delivery and Adverse Weather Aerial Delivery System formation flying.

After serving during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, McMinn transferred to the TXANG and joined the 136th Airlift Wing as an instructor pilot and later served as the 321st Expeditionary Operations Group Commander during operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. He has also served as the Operations Group, Vice Wing, and Wing Commander in the 136th Airlift Wing. As a traditional Guardsman, McMinn has gained over 5,000 flying hours both in his role as a command pilot in the T-37, T-38, C-130E and C-130H2 aircraft and as a captain for a major commercial airline. He most recently served as the Chief of Staff for the TXANG.

As Commander of the TXANG, McMinn commands more than 3,000 service members and oversees TXANG operations, training, readiness and resource allocation for both state and federal missions.

The appointment follows the recent announcement regarding the retirement of Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian, Deputy Adjutant General-Air and Commander of the TXANG. Wisian is retiring with more than 32 years of service to the state and nation, including tours of duty in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. He now serves as director of the Coastal Protection division of the office of the Texas General Land Office.

Details regarding a change of command and/or retirement ceremonies for the above individuals are forthcoming.

Texas National Guard Transportation Company partners with active duty unit

Texas National Guard Transportation Company partners with active duty unit

Story by: Sgt. James Strunk

Posted: Oct. 24, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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