Cody Damron

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Cody Damron Speaking on the importance of values to the Texas Military Department organization.

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Wesley West

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Wesley West speaks about. Should Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) be a strategic focus?

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Christopher Winnek

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Christopher Winnek Speaking on the importance of A Joint Cyber Strategy Proposal. How do we align our cyber forces to unify efforts, build relationships and leverage resources to become leaders in cyber defense for our state and nation?

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Texas National Guard Chief Master Sergeant to be inducted to Hall of Honor

Texas Air National Guard retired Chief Master Sgt. Johnny D. JonesAUSTIN, Texas – Texas Air National Guard retired Chief Master Sgt. Johnny D. Jones will be inducted into the Texas Military Department’s Hall of Honor for his extraordinary impact on the Texas Military, during a ceremony at Camp Mabry in Austin, May 14, 2016.

Jones served in the U.S. Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard for more than 38 years. He enlisted into the Air Force as an aircraft loadmaster in November of 1969. Early in his career, he crewed C-141 and C-130 missions in Vietnam for 18 months, compiling over 300 combat missions with 575 combat flying hours, and earning the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor as a young Airman 1st Class. He returned from Vietnam to serve as an instructor and evaluator loadmaster where his efforts resulted in superior combat readiness and an outstanding safety record.

Jones transferred to the Texas Air National Guard’s 136th Airlift Wing in 1978. Throughout his tenure at the wing, he served in the 136th Aerial Port Squadron, 136th Airlift Control Flight and the 181st Airlift Squadron. While the Aerial Port Squadron was activated during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, he and his crew shattered all previous Air Force records for tonnage moved in a 24-hour period.

As a testament to his “service before self” attitude, Jones served on the National Aerial Port Advisory Council, and as Vice Chairman of the 136th Airlift Wing Chief’s Council. As Chairman of the Enlisted Performance Feedback Working Group, he led the implementation of a feedback program in the 136th Airlift Wing two years ahead of the Air National Guard. He also co-authored ANGI 24-101, Air National Guard Aerial Port Program Instruction, as well as the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Aerial Port Self-Evaluation and Quality Control Program.

As well as striving to improve the Air Guard, Jones served his state and nation both at home and abroad, improving the lives of thousands in need.

In 1988, Jones supported the aeromedical evacuation of the Corpus Christi State School during Hurricane Gilbert and assisted in the emergency airlift of a 30-ton air conditioning cooling tower, a type of load that had never been airlifted on a C-130 before. The following year, he led a team to support Hurricane Hugo airlift operations to the U.S. Virgin Islands. His efforts resulted in the rapid airlift and deployment of a Hospital Unit, medical supplies, food, water and equipment.

In 2005, Jones deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom as the superintendent of transportation for the logistics directorate of the combined Air headquarters. There, he directed the airlift of over 105 tons of equipment increasing Air capabilities by 40 percent for Enduring Freedom's MQ-1 Predator strike mission.

Back home again, he served as the Deployed Aerial Port Superintendent for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita relief efforts at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (Belle Chase), New Orleans and Ellington Field in Houston, where his team set up a fully functioning aerial port to handle the massive influx of aircraft delivering troops and supplies.

As the 136th Airlift Wing Command Chief, Jones was the "pulse" of the enlisted force, where his insight, experience and renowned respect were invaluable in his role as a mentor for the wing commander, over 1,200 wing enlisted personnel, and the entire Texas Air National Guard enlisted force. He was an active member of the National Guard Association of Texas, co-chairing the Enlisted Breakfast programs, as well as ensuring enlisted issues were well represented during break-out sessions and business meetings. He was also an active member of the Silver Eagles, an organization of 136th Airlift Wing tenured and retired members who dedicate themselves to improving the quality of life for airman currently serving.
Chief Master Sgt. Jones’ tireless efforts and devotion to the Texas Air National Guard and the state of Texas for more than 38 years had a significant impact on the force that will undoubtedly continue far into the future.  His competence and outstanding contributions to the Texas National Guard reflect great credit on the Texas Military Department and the state of Texas.

Ms. Denise Taylor

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Denise Taylor speaks about external communication with in the TMD public affairs genre.

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Ms. Kristy Leasman

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Kristy Leasman Speaking on the importance of cyber security and how to combat the problems relating to cyber security.

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Texas National Guard Sergeant Major to be inducted to Hall of Honor

exas Army National Guard retired Sgt. Maj. Elwood H ImkenAUSTIN, Texas - Texas Army National Guard retired Sgt. Maj. Elwood H Imken will be inducted into the Texas Military Department’s Hall of Honor for his extraordinary impact on the Texas Military, during a ceremony at Camp Mabry in Austin, May 14, 2016.

Imken’s military service spanned more than thirty-eight years from March 1967 through 2005. His career reached every echelon from Platoon through Division and every level of leadership, culminating as the Division Operations Sergeant Major for the 49th Armored Division and the 36th Infantry Division. In each capacity he demonstrated the highest degree of professionalism and dedication to improving unit readiness and taking care of the Soldier.
   
As Operations Sergeant Major for the 49th Armored Division and 36th Infantry Division, a position he held for over fourteen years, he has left a lasting mark.  He served as the Operations Sergeant Major for all four division warfighter exercises and approximately 30 other major exercises conducted by the Division.

He also served as the State Active Duty coordinator for the Division, directing the mobilization of Texas soldiers in over 100 state active duty missions, ranging from hurricane relief to the Space Shuttle Columbia recovery mission.

As the lead trainer for the Division, he helped thousands of Texas soldiers get the required schooling for their grade and specialty. During the 49th Armored Division's historic deployment to Bosnia he served as the Operations Sergeant Major for the Multi-National Division.

Following his retirement, he immediately began working for the Texas Military Department as the Chief Training Specialist. In addition to supporting the soldiers of Texas, Imken worked hard to improve the quality of communication and planning efforts with law enforcement agencies, political leaders and citizens throughout the state of Texas

As the Texas Army National Guard Chief Training Specialist for the Texas Military Department, he was integral in designing the All Hazard's Plan and statewide rehearsal of concept drills where services across the state met to rehearse the plan for a state response to natural disasters. It was his plans and integration of many key organizations that led to successful responses for Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Ike and dozens of other droughts, fires and floods that affected Texas in the last 15 years.

In addition to his immense impact in domestic operations, Imken played a huge role in establishing and sustaining community outreach programs such as Food For Families, a program that provides food to stock pantries across the state of Texas. His planning efforts directly contributed to the success of the one-day food drive collection of 1,552,714 pounds of food in 2014 alone. Similarly, he is very involved in the planning and execution efforts of Blue Santa, another outreach program where he worked hand in hand with the Austin Police Department to provide thousands of toys annually to underprivileged children across the state of Texas. 

On top of this, each year he coordinates Texas Guard support for the annual dual weekend George Washington Birthday Celebration in Laredo, Texas, a huge community event with international impact. 

He was integral in creating the annual American Heroes Open House on Camp Mabry, which showcases the Texas Military Department's mission through static displays and dynamic demonstrations of past and present capabilities to the public, military members, governmental and non-governmental agency members.   His unremitting planning and coordination efforts enabled the Texas Military Department the ability to educate 20,000 guests each year.

He worked alongside the Texas Department of State Health Services to create an annual medical emergency preparedness exercise, Operation Lone Star.  Operation Lone Star provides hands-on training for the Texas Military Department medical personnel as well as providing valuable community health services to Texas inhabitants that may otherwise not receive medical care. Imken facilitated the planning and coordination necessary to execute the establishment of Medical Points of Dispensing along the Texas border.  The magnitude of this operation is so big that 12,000 border area residents attend annually, and over 100,000 have been cared for during the program's 12-year history.

Sgt. Maj. Imken’s tireless efforts and devotion to the Texas Army National Guard and the state of Texas for the last 49 years made a significant impact on the force that will undoubtedly continue far into the future.  His competence and outstanding contributions to the Texas National Guard reflect great credit on the Texas Military Department and the state of Texas.

Lone Star Gunfighters navigate challenges to produce F-16 pilots

Lone Star Gunfighters navigate challenges to produce F-16 pilots

Story by: 2nd Lt. Phil Fountain

Posted: May 5, 2016

2nd Lt. Phil Fountain  Lt. Col. Bryan Carlson (right), an F-16 Fighting Falcon instructor pilot and commander of the 149th Maintenance Group, visits with Chief Master Sgt. John D. Mead (left), the group’s maintenance operations flight superintendent, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, April 15, 2016. Carlson and Mead are members of the Texas Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Wing, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, which is currently operating at Luke while San Antonio’s Kelly Field undergoes runway repairs. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Phil Fountain) 160415-Z-DJ352-001
2nd Lt. Phil Fountain 
Lt. Col. Bryan Carlson (right), an F-16 Fighting Falcon instructor pilot and commander of the 149th Maintenance Group, visits with Chief Master Sgt. John D. Mead (left), the group’s maintenance operations flight superintendent, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, April 15, 2016. Carlson and Mead are members of the Texas Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Wing, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, which is currently operating at Luke while San Antonio’s Kelly Field undergoes runway repairs. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Phil Fountain) 160415-Z-DJ352-001

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Arizona (April 15, 2016) – Each year, the 149th Fighter Wing, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, trains F-16 Fighting Falcon student pilots for the Total Force – U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force Reserve. Their courses include: initial qualification training, instructor pilot upgrade training and senior leader re-qualification training.

This year, the Texas Air National Guard unit, whose members are known as the Lone Star Gunfighters, is overcoming unusual adversity to achieve their Air Force objectives.

The current challenges include a temporary relocation of operations from San Antonio’s Kelly Field to Luke Air Force Base, near Phoenix, to numerous maintenance issues affecting their aircraft fleet.

“Each year, in April, we come to Arizona to allow the students to be able to participate in a large force employment exercises,” said Lt. Col. Bryan Carlson, an instructor pilot and commander of the 149th Maintenance Group.

“It allows them to fly with other airplanes from other services and to fly beyond just a four-ship, to employ as an eight-ship and beyond, and to fly against multiple targets,” Carlson said. “And it allows them to drop heavy weights and live bombs.”

The trip to Arizona is not new, but the length of the stay is, Carlson said. Typically, the trip is a two-week temporary duty that incorporates the ANG unit’s annual training requirements, but now they have been in-place for nearly two months.

The annual trip is normally dubbed Coronet Cactus, and serves as a capstone, training event for the student pilots before they graduate and head off to their active or reserve component units. This year, the Gunfighters are calling the trip Super Cactus, due to their extended visit to the Grand Canyon State.

The temporary relocation is a result of ongoing repairs to Kelly Field, which are expected to be complete in May.

As a result of the relocation, the unit has had to adjust its training syllabus and integrate themselves into a new environment.

“We’ve had to figure out the nuances of operating at a location like Luke,” said Lt. Col. Kristian Thiele, an instructor pilot and the assistant director of operations for the wing’s 182nd Fighter Squadron. “We are competing with not only six other flying squadrons for airspace and range time, but also the Marine customers at Yuma, as well as Davis-Monthan and Tucson (units).”

“At home, we are the only user, typically, of our airspace, so we can drive our own schedule,” Thiele said. “Here, we’ve been at the mercy of their range airspace scheduling, so we’ve had some pretty wild shifts in takeoff times and where our days are from week to week. That’s been a challenge.”

But the mission goes on and the pilot training remains underway. However, a more serious threat to the unit’s training mission involves the structural integrity of some of their F-16s.

“We’re at a unique time, because our home station planes are going through a repair process that we haven’t had to do before,” Carlson said. “We’re operating with significantly less airplanes right now and still trying to be able to keep the student timeline relatively close.”

This is an issue for the Total Force, but mostly impacts Air National Guard units, which operate aging Block-30 F-16s, Carlson said. All of the Gunfighters’ two-seat training model aircraft were grounded last fall.

“It’s mainly a Guard problem,” Carlson said. “Right now, it’s only a D-Model, or two-seat, problem. But it affects the longeron, which is a main frame of the plane. Last November, we found a crack in a position of that longeron at the aft end of the canopy. The repair process takes about 21 days.”

Gunfighter maintainers are working with an aircraft depot team from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to work on the jets at Luke, Carlson said. After completing these repairs, the aircraft should be able to fly another 1,000 hours before further repair; afterward, they will have to undergo a yearlong repair process.

“We’re in historic times right now, we’ve never had to fly the airplanes that are still flyable at the rate that we’ve had to fly them,” Carlson said. “What ends up happening when you do that is: you compress the required maintenance that has to happen on those airplanes.”

To keep their training on pace, the unit reached out to other units to borrow available F-16s.

“We borrowed some jets from other Air National Guard units – from Vermont, Atlantic City and Alabama,” Thiele said. “We’ve just accepted some (active duty jets) from Hill (Air Force Base, Utah).” 

Unlike an agreement between active duty units, lending aircraft from the active component to the Air National Guard requires coordination between the Air Force major commands, the federal National Guard Bureau and the Texas Air National Guard’s leadership.

These borrowed aircraft are expected to allow the Gunfighters to get caught up on student production and get ahead going forward, Carlson said.

However, accepting the new aircraft is not as simple as it might seem.

“The front-end of accepting airplanes is a lot of work,” Carlson said.

“One, we have to gain it on the paperwork side, into the maintenance software system,” Carlson said, “and that takes several days to do that per airplane. Then, we physically go out and do inspections to make sure that it’s up to the standards.”

Further, the F-16s from Hill are a more advanced block than the Texas jets, Carlson said. This has required the aircraft maintainers, the avionics specialists in particular, to receive additional training to work on the Block 40 F-16s.

Even before receiving the aircraft, the Gunfighters have to send pilots and maintainers to the lending unit to pick up the aircraft for transport back to Luke.

This – in conjunction with the temporary relocation from Kelly Field to Luke – has created complexity for the Air National Guardsmen’s pay and benefits.

“I think anybody in this unit would say this is the most complex TDY that anybody has ever seen,” said Staff Sgt. John B. Solano, a military pay technician with the 149th Comptroller Flight. 

“Usually our mass TDYs are just two weeks,” Solano said. “Its two weeks there, two weeks back. There’s really not that extensive time for issues to happen, and if it did happen, it would get settled back home.”

Unlike their active duty counterparts, the Gunfighters have to manage through the complexity of a blended workforce of Active Guard Reservists, who are most similar to active duty airmen, dual-status, civilian technicians and traditional drill status Guardsmen.

“There’s a lot of ‘what ifs’ that we couldn’t answer until it happened,” Solano said. “We have individuals flying in and out of Luke to do other TDYs, which are also effecting their current TDY. We’re having to make multiple (travel) amendments to accommodate, to book plane tickets, rental cars, lodging at those duty locations, and in return, to get them back here.”

“Depending on where they’re lodging – whether they’re on or off-base – depends on how much per diem they get. So there’s also adjustments based on their status while they’re here,” Solano said.

Even with these challenges, Carlson said his maintainers are excited to accept the new aircraft.

“We pride ourselves on the cleanliness of our airplanes and the maintenance practices that we do,” Carlson said. “We are very fortunate in the Guard, we have continuity on airplanes. You have guys that have crewed the same airplane for 20 years. They know these airplanes, in-and-out.”

“There’s just a level of pride there that’s difficult to replicate,” Carlson said. “They’ll adopt these aircraft as if they were their own.”

Being away from home longer than expected can be a challenge, but the Gunfighter airmen have embraced the opportunities the trip presents.

“I think morale is really high,” Carlson said. “We’re able to focus on the mission. Another byproduct of that is, we’ve been able to get closer as a unit.”

“We spend a lot more time together, doing things together in the evenings and on the weekends, those are things we’re not able to do at home,” Carlson said. “Even though they miss being home for these months, I think that they cherish the time to build those bonds and to focus on the mission.”

In addition to the personal connections that are enhanced, there are professional benefits for the Gunfighters’ operation at Luke.

“We’re out of our comfort-zone,” Thiele said. “But I think that helps us, as pilots, not flying in our backyard all of the time. Not only for the student perspective, but also the instructors.”

Carlson said much the same from the maintenance standpoint.

“This gives us a great chance to get out of the comfort in our normal environment at home and act like we’re deployed,” Carlson said. “It also allows the maintenance personnel to pack up and operate out of a different location.”

The current student pilots are on track to graduate from their initial qualification course in June. Afterward, they are slated to go to units within the stateside Air Combat Command, U.S. Air Forces in Europe or Pacific Air Forces major commands.

“We continue to accomplish the 149th Fighter Wing’s federal mission,” Thiele said. “We’ve been able to – even with the aircraft issues we’ve had – continue the training role and get product out to the combat Air Force.” 

Van Native breveted to Army Brigadier General

Brig. Gen. Flynn received his new badges of rank from both Governor Greg Abbott and his familyAUSTIN, Texas (April 20, 2016) – The Commanding General of the Texas State Guard, Maj. Gen. Gerald “Jake” Betty, is pleased to announce the brevet of Army Col. Dan Flynn, interagency partnering officer, to the rank of Brigadier General.

In a ceremony at the Texas Capitol, in Austin, April 11, 2016, Brig. Gen. Flynn received his new badges of rank from both Governor Greg Abbott and his family. During his speech, Flynn thanked his friends and family for their continued support, as well as expressed his appreciation, to the leadership, for allowing him to join an exemplary group and give back to others.

“To get to serve the great state of Texas is an honor,” Flynn said. “It’s an honor I truly hope I am worthy of.”

Flynn joined the Texas State Guard in 2005. Since then, he has deployed on State Active Duty to in support of numerous state disaster responses. Additionally, Flynn has had a positive impact on the State of Texas and the Texas State Guard and has been instrumental in helping to develop policies and programs that have had a lasting impact on the training and readiness of the entire Texas State Guard. Other military service also includes several years with the Texas Army National Guard’s 36th Infantry Division.

On the civilian side, Flynn currently serves in the Texas House of Representatives where he represents House District 2 in East Texas, to include Hunt, Hopkins and Van Zandt counties. While in this role he has sponsored bills passed into law that accept military training for Texas occupational and professional licensing, as well as to issue those licenses in an expedited manner. The U.S. Department of Defense has recognized him with their Distinguished Service Medal for his service and strong legislative support of the department’s efforts.

Flynn lives with his wife Susan, in Van, and is the father of three, grandfather of five and recently a very proud great grandfather.

Texas Military honors fallen veteran

Texas Military honors fallen veteran

Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Posted: April 26, 2016

Capt. Martha Nigrelle Soldiers from the Texas National Guard’s Honor Guard recognize the service of Airman 1st Class James Beatty with full military honors, during a Missing in American Project ceremony held at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, April 17, 2016. The ceremony was a part of the Texas Military Department's annual Open House, an event that serves to honor veterans, service members and partner first responders. The Missing in American Project locates, identifies and inters the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans through the joint efforts of private, state and federal organizations. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle/ Released)
Capt. Martha Nigrelle
Soldiers from the Texas National Guard’s Honor Guard recognize the service of Airman 1st Class James Beatty with full military honors, during a Missing in American Project ceremony held at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, April 17, 2016. The ceremony was a part of the Texas Military Department's annual Open House, an event that serves to honor veterans, service members and partner first responders. The Missing in American Project locates, identifies and inters the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans through the joint efforts of private, state and federal organizations. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle/ Released)

AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Military Department, along with Missing in America Project volunteers, American Heroes Air Show, first responders and American Legion representatives, honored a fallen Airmen during a ceremony held at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, April 17, 2016.

Airman 1st Class James Beatty served honorably in the U.S. Air Force from 1975 to 1978. Shortly after being honorably discharged from the service, Beatty passed away. The events of his death are unknown and his body was never claimed. 

“There have been thousands of brothers and sisters in arms whose lives ended in a similar manner and were lost to any family or friends,” said retired Texas Military Department Chaplain, Col. John Price. “Not missing in action, but missing in America.”

According to their website, the Missing in America Project works with private, state and federal organizations to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans and provide honor and respect to those who served their country by securing them a final resting place.

The Texas Army National Guard’s Honor Guard rendered full military honors to Beatty, including a 21 gun salute. They presented a flag, on behalf of a grateful nation, to Javier Gonzalez, Post 83, American Legion Riders. Gonzalez received the flag on behalf of all veterans, since Beatty had no known next of kin.

“It’s so important for Camp Mabry to be hosting this and to share it with the public,” said Hunter Ellis. “It gives people a chance to honor those that have served and recognize the importance of serving. Hopefully we are fueling a new generation of freedom fighters for people who want to uphold those American values.”

Ellis understands firsthand the significance of honoring the missing. His father fought in Vietnam and never made it home, being listed as missing in action for more than 40 years. Ellis, a Navy veteran, said he recognizes the importance of ceremonies that return service members to families or provide a permanent resting place for American heroes.

“It’s important to be given full honors and return home,” said Ellis. “My Dad’s ID card is in a north Vietnamese museum. So I hope one day that it will be returned to American soil and at least I will have some part of him.

The Missing in America Project has interred 2,736 veterans’ remains in the last 10 years, said Price. 

“This was a memorable way for the community to finally identify and honor a long-lost hero that served our country,” said Wut Tantaksinanukij, Co-Event Director of Austin’s American Heroes Air Show. “It’s never too late to honor our American Heroes for their military service.”

Beatty’s remains were interred at the Central Texas State Veteran’s Cemetery in Killeen, April 18, 2016.