Soldiers from Task Force Bayonet prepare for the Expert Infantryman Badge

DJIBOUTI

01.26.2018

Courtesy of Tech. Sgt. Michael McGhee

Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa

 

Task Force Bayonet has nearly 200 U.S. Army​ Soldiers from 3rd Battalion 144th Infantry Regiment "Fourth Texas" and 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division onboard Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti​, Africa, are going through a rigorous training course to obtain the Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB). The EIB is a coveted special skills badge that requires infantry Soldiers to pass a five-day evaluation that consists of an Army Physical Fitness Test, day and night land navigation, a 12-mile forced march, and 30 individual tasks covering weapons, medical, and security patrol skills.

(Video Imagery provided by U.S. Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Michael McGhee)

Organizational Diversity

TagTalks

Team three speaks about the organizational diversity of the Texas Military Department and their solutions.

Texas ChalleNGe Academy takes care of soldiers on the road to Hurricane Harvey

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Members of the 1st Armored Division’s 127th Aviation Support Battalion en route to Joint Base San Antonio stand together at the Texas ChalleNGe Academy, where they were provided with food and lodging when last minute challenges required them to find a place to stay in West Texas, Aug. 30, 2017. The task force, heading to San Antonio to refuel aircraft engaged in hurricane rescue efforts, intended to make the trip in one day, but unexpected challenges lengthened the journey and led them to the ChalleNGe Academy, which was able to put them up for the night. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Aaron Oliver, 176 Engineer Brigade)

Story by Staff Sgt. Michael Giles, Texas Military Department

AUSTIN, Texas – Eleven military vehicles, including 5,000-gallon fuel tankers and trailers carrying 2,500-gallon tankers, merged onto I-10 for the 550-mile trek to Joint Base San Antonio, where they would refuel aircraft dedicated to rescuing Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Enthusiasm was not at an all-time high as these 29 active-duty soldiers from the 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade took to the roads the morning of Aug. 30, 2017.

“Morale was mixed when leaving on the convoy from Fort Bliss,” said Sgt. Michael McGrady, a squad leader with the Combat Aviation Brigade's 127th Aviation Support Battalion. “Obviously there was the unknown of where we were going to stay, and we didn’t know where we were going. But we are soldiers and keep ourselves resilient to accomplish the mission.”

The hope was to complete the trip in one day, but this proved unfeasible. Had they been able to maintain their maximum speed of 45 mph, they would have arrived in San Antonio that evening. Instead, as the sun started to descend, they found themselves still pushing through the high plains of West Texas.

Choices for how and where to spend the night were limited, and the urgency with which they departed on this mission prevented them from thoroughly planning for such a contingency, explained Capt. Jess Baca, with the 127th’s support operations section.

“Letting them drive through the night to San Antonio was not an option,” Baca said. “It would take far too long in tactical vehicles. We can’t do that to our soldiers.”

Hotels weren’t an option either, Baca explained. There weren’t many around. So she began researching nearby churches and schools for a sheltered floor where the team could sleep in their cots and eat their preserved field rations.

Fortunately, her search led her to the Texas ChalleNGe Academy, a National Guard-run educational facility able to provide beds, showers, hot food, and space to park the 11 wheeled behemoths.

Any other week, the Texas ChalleNGe Academy would have been full of teenagers working to develop into strong adults. With program oversight provided by the Texas Military Department’s Joint Counterdrug Task Force, the ChalleNGe Academy houses, trains and mentors students for 5 1/2-month cycles. Fortunately for soldiers en route to San Antonio, the Academy’s west campus in Sheffield was on a cycle break, leaving the beds, showers and dining facility available for unexpected guests.

Aaron Oliver, program director for the west campus, said that when he received Baca’s call, he didn’t hesitate to accommodate her soldiers.

“We made that happen,” said Oliver, who is also a captain in the Army National Guard’s 176th Engineer Brigade. “In a span of just a few hours, my staff made sure that the bays were clean, the DFAC manager was able to verify that we had enough chow for this company-sized element, and we got it done.”

Most of the soldiers arrived after 9 p.m. and then local community members surprised them with a generous gift. 

“Somebody in the community got wind of it somehow and a couple community members showed up with 30 pizzas and several platters of cookies,” Oliver said. 

Sgt. Maj. Michael J. Resmondo, the 127th’s support operations section sergeant major, said thanks to the hospitality they received, the soldiers were safer, more rested, and more ready to perform their functions in the hurricane relief efforts. 

“It beats going on a 24-hour mission to try to get down to San Antonio, eating MREs and getting rest on the side of the road,” Resmondo said. “It really helped. It probably made things a lot more safe than trying to push through.”

McGrady said the hospitality they received was the answer to the stymied morale.

“Having some hot food along with baked goods, and cold water after a long drive was a great relief and helped everyone relax.”

The warmth and professionalism the ChalleNGe Academy staff showed the members of the 127th reflected the high quality of service they provide to their students, explained William Pettit, a retired Air Force colonel and the TCA state youth programs director.

“It does not surprise me that TCA employees extended hospitality to these active duty soldiers in the same way that they routinely take care of and develop their cadets,” Pettit said. 

Pettit also asserted that the interest in supporting fellow military personnel reflected the spirit of camaraderie and collaboration that the Texas Military Department promotes in its programs.

“As a Department of Defense-funded program, we were pleased to have the opportunity to support these soldiers who were deploying to help Texans deal with and recovery from Hurricane Harvey.”

Joint, Total-Force Team Soars to New Heights

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Photo By Senior Airman Stormy Archer | Airmen from the 26th Aerial Port Squadron attach an A-22 cargo bag with 2,000 pounds of “relief supplies” to the cargo hook of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flown by Soldiers from Texas Army National Guard Company C, 2-149 Aviation during Operation Alamo Evacuation Nov. 18, 2017, at Martindale Army Airfield, Texas. 36,000 pounds of cargo and 27 passengers were transported as part of the sling load and medical evacuation exercise.

Story by: Col. Kjäll Gopaul,

Deputy Director, Air Force Personnel Operations Activity

 

The deceptively cool morning skies over Martindale Army Airfield had started their climb to 90 degrees Fahrenheit as a joint, Total Force team of Texas Army National Guard Soldiers, Air Force Reserve Airmen, and an Active Duty pathfinder team prepared for their own climb into the heavens on wings of titanium.

Their mission, dubbed OPERATION ALAMO EVACUATION, was simple in its definition, but far-reaching in its demonstration for how components of the armed services can flawlessly converge on an objective and excel in its execution.

The exercise scenario took place November 18 at Martindale Army Airfield and simulated Airmen from the 26th Aerial Port Squadron receiving airdropped relief supplies from the 136th Airlift Wing in a remote part of Southwest Asia.  The Airmen then re-rigged the loads for sling load evacuation and pinpoint delivery by the Soldiers of Company C, 2-149 Aviation, to the relief supply recipients in the impassable mountains overlooking the drop zone.  The Soldiers subsequently conducted no-notice “alert” 9-line medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) responses in support of the scenario’s follow-on operations that afternoon, and flew the Airmen as MEDEVAC actors from Martindale Army Airfield to Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis and back.

 “We started the morning with an aircraft safety brief and rehearsals for our hookups,” Senior Airman Justin King, 26th APS ramp operator, said as he described the morning’s activities. “Once things got going, the UH-60 Black Hawks came in two at-a-time, picking up the sling loads for a simulated relief supply drop-off.  It was exciting to do something that is part of the aerial porter job, yet not part of our everyday norm. This was a great experience! Now we’ve all conducted live sling loads, and understand how they can benefit our future operations wherever we go.”

During the exercise each two-person hook-up team on the ground stood beneath a helicopter while it hovered overhead, then attached the load to the aircraft’s cargo hook.

“It was neat watching the Soldiers bring their aircraft in over us,” Air Force Second Lieutenant Matthew Gonzales, 26th APS officer in charge of the passenger terminal, added. “It’s also intimidating as a huge helicopter approaches the load with the blades spinning, the rotor wash was incredible.  I didn’t think that it would be that powerful, or that someone would really be needed to stand behind and brace the hook-up person, but I’m glad they were there.  This was an awesome opportunity. I just received my commission last week, and I haven’t done anything like this in my 10 years in the Air Force.  This is my first drill weekend at the 26 Aerial Port Squadron, and this type of training instills military pride, develops a joint mindset by working with other services, and aligns with the chief of staff of the Air Force’s vision on joint operations.”

Chief Master Sergeant Joe Gonzalez, 26th APS operations superintendent, served as the pick-up zone NCO in charge (PZ NCOIC) and remarked on the opportunity this mission afforded his Airmen. 

“As the PZ NCOIC, I participated in the mission planning and supervised the safe execution of hook-ups at the touchdown points,” he said. “It was great see our Traditional Reservists get outside the normal garrison training environment and onto a flight line with the Army National Guard Soldiers. As aerial porters, we deploy downrange, and don’t always know what we’ll be asked to do; so we have to work with what’s there.  Likewise, this mission gave us valuable experience with less familiar tasks. We rigged A-22 cargo bags and conducted sling load training with live helicopters, something that that most aerial porters rarely do before deploying.  This was especially valuable as our unit approaches its deployment window.”

Offering an aviator’s perspective of the sling load hook-ups, Army First Lieutenant Christian Lubbe, Texas ARNG Company C, 2-149 Aviation, aeromedical evacuation officer and platoon leader for the Sustainment Platoon, commented, “The ground crews were very proficient and clearly had been trained to be familiar with the task at hand. I was impressed at the rate which we were accomplishing the iterations.  The aircraft would leave and the ground teams were ready to hook the next load.”

He particularly noted the joint benefit, “From an inter-service standpoint, it’s amazing to have a team of Airmen here with us. This is my first type of training like this, and I hope to do more in the future.”

Army Sergeant Tiffani Smith, Texas ARNG Company C, 2-149 Aviation, flight medic, echoed that the morning sling loads were well coordinated from beginning to end.

“It was well-thought out process, executed well, and served as a good refresher for me,” she said. “I thought that the visual cues with the ground marking panels and hook-up teams’ colored safety vests were helpful.  It allowed me to see when the hook-up team was ready, and where to aim the aircraft as we approached the load.” 

She noted the inter-service camaraderie demonstrated during her safety brief to the Airmen that morning carried over to their MEDEVAC flights as passengers that afternoon.

“They were all eager and professional,” she said. “During the safety brief, they were focused and paid attention.  I think it’s because we’re all familiar with American military operations.  We just came back from Kosovo, and working with other nations presents different challenges.  Today’s team was calm, cool, and collected.  They were prepared, and followed directions very well so we could focus on the mission.”

In keeping with its exercise name, OPERATION ALAMO EVACUATION witnessed the sling load evacuation of more than 36,000 pounds of cargo and the medical evacuation of 27 MEDEVAC actors.  Both of the leaders of the participating Texas Army National Guard and Air Force Reserve units emphasized that the day’s mission had value far beyond these tactical measures of accomplishment.

Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Moore, 26th APS commander, underscored that the mission of the exercise aligned with his unit’s warfighting mission.

“Our primary mission at the 26th APS is to train and provide combat ready aerial porters,” he said. “This joint opportunity let us exercise some of our more unique support requirements that we normally wouldn't see outside of a deployed location.   More importantly, it provided our younger Airmen the opportunity to build and understand inter-service relationships with a key mission partner, the Army. It was exciting to see this come together, and to reinforce our ability to provide Rapid Global Mobility.”

Offering his key leader perspective, Lieutenant Colonel José Reyes, Texas ARNG Company C, 2-149 Aviation commander, remarked how beneficial the training was for both developing technical proficiency and inter-service relationships. 

“This was a tremendous opportunity for our units to work together,” he said. “I challenged my staff to plan the most efficient training with aircrew and aircraft sequencing.  Integrating the Air Force hook-up teams and pre-rigged loads improved the process, allowing faster iterations.  We trained 12 pilots, six crew chiefs, and four medics. To put that many crews through training with only two aircraft in such a short amount of time speaks volumes for the value of inter-service cooperation.”

Reyes remarked that the success of the day’s exercise shows a promising future for joint operations.

“We’re building a relationship,” he said. “We’ve established an association, successfully executed this mission, and now we can plan on future opportunities to reinforce our Joint, Total-Force partnership.”

TOYS FOR YOUNG TEXAS HEROES

Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard

Texas State Guard "Young Heroes of the Guard" AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas State Guard kicked off its ninth annual “Young Heroes of the Guard” Christmas Toy Drive on November, 20, 2017.  The toy drive delivers toys to thousands of children at pediatric hospitals, women’s shelters and foster homes across Texas.  

 “Just a few months ago, the Texas State Guard was fully engaged in helping our fellow Texans recover and rebuild during Hurricane Harvey.  Now, we are working to bring joy and happiness to children in need this holiday season, many of whom have a long road toward rebuilding their lives,” state Sgt. 1st Class John Gately, Texas State Guard toy drive coordinator.

Since the toy drive began in 2009, State Guardsmen have distributed more than 100,000 toys, donated by individuals and organizations alike.  Last year alone, the Texas State Guard distributed more than 33,000 toys and expects to distribute even more toys this year.  Over the past nine years the toy drive has grown from serving pediatric hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to serving children in need across the state.  

 “The Texas State Guard wants every child who cannot be at home this year to have a joyous holiday season. The toy drive brings comfort to thousands of Texas children, and our State Guardsmen have as much fun giving out the toys as the children do receiving them,” said Sgt. Lynda Briggs, 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard. “When we deliver the toys, kids see us in our Santa hats and greet us with pure joy, even though many face unthinkable circumstances no child should endure.  The toy drive is the most rewarding and heartwarming activity of the Texas State Guard, and it is just another example of how we serve the people of Texas,” stated Sgt. Derrick Williams, 19th Regiment, Texas State Guard.

For more information on the Texas State Guard “Young Heroes of the Guard” Toy Drive, visit the toy drive website at http://www.txsgtoydrive.com.  

 

 

 

Bvt. Lt. Gen. Gerald R. Betty Retires as Texas State Guard Commander

Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard Public Affairs

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Bvt. Lt. Gen. Gerald R. “Jake” Betty retired as the commander of the Texas State Guard during a ceremony held at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, October 29, 2017.  Betty received the Texas Superior Service Medal and was brevetted to lieutenant general.  Betty served both Texas and the United States Army for forty-one years.  (Texas State Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Malana Nall)

AUSTIN, Texas – “I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by heroes all my life, starting with my family, my education at Texas A&M University and my military career.  And the Texas State Guard is full of patriots and heroes,” Bvt. Lt. Gen. Gerald R. “Jake” Betty told the gathering of family, friends and fellow State Guardsmen at his retirement ceremony at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, October 29, 2017.  Betty’s retirement was the culmination of forty-one years of military service to Texas and the United States and three years as the commanding general of the Texas State Guard. Betty was brevetted to lieutenant general on October 31, 2017.

Betty began his military career upon graduating from Texas A&M University and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U. S. Army in 1973, branching infantry.  He was assigned to the 1st /501st Infantry Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  He served as an infantry platoon leader, infantry company executive officer, recon platoon leader and battalion operations officer.  

 After leaving active duty in 1977, he served as the company commander of C Company, 1st /143 Infantry, 36th Airborne Brigade, Texas Army National Guard.  In 1979 he transferred to the U. S. Army Reserves and served a nine-month deployment for Operation Joint Guard in Bosnia from 1997 to 1998.  He served as the commander of the 3419th Military Intelligence Detachment, Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, Texas, until he was deployed with the Defense Intelligence Agency as chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Fusion Center-CONUS as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in February 2003.  That same year he retired with the rank of colonel from the U. S. Army Reserve after 30 years of military service.

 In 2006 Betty joined the Texas State Guard.  He served as commander of the 8th Regiment, as a joint staff personnel and administration officer and as the commanding general of the Army Component Command.  He deployed for state active duty missions for hurricanes Dean, Gustav, Dolly, Edouard and Ike.     

 On September 1, 2014, he was promoted to major general and named as the commanding general of the Texas State Guard.  During his tenure, Betty focused on strengthening the military doctrine, policies and procedures, training doctrine implementation and the readiness management system within the Texas State Guard.  He also increased joint training between components and cooperation between the Texas State Guard and the Texas Military Department through joint training events and joint mission deployments.  

“Lt. Gen. Betty embodies all the great leadership qualities expected from a senior leader,” said Maj. Gen. Robert J. Bodisch, Interim Commander, Texas State Guard.  “His integrity and his military professionalism are unmatched. His sense of duty, responsibility and accountability, as well as his genuine care for his troops, will serve as a cornerstone of his legacy of military service.”

Betty led the Texas State Guard during Operation Lone Star, Operation Border Star, Operation Strong Safety and Operation Secure Texas. He also led the Texas State Guard during Hurricane Harvey.  

“General Betty, because of your leadership, Texas had the Texas State Guard when Texas needed the State Guard.  When we called, you answered.  When citizens called, you came.  When they asked for help, you did,” stated Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, Adjutant General for the State of Texas. 

Betty was instrumental in the renovation of the headquarters building of the Texas State Guard at Camp Mabry and in maintaining the continuity and functionality of the Texas State Guard to provide services and support to members during the renovation.      

“Lt. Gen. Betty’s guiding principle was ‘Do your duty, take care of your people and go home with your honor.’ He never passed up an opportunity to reinforce it in the minds of our guardsmen and commanders,” said Col. Thomas Hamilton, Chief of Staff, Texas State Guard.

Betty’s military education includes U. S. Army Airborne School, U. S. Army Ranger School, Infantry Officer Basic Course, U. S. Army Air Assault School, Jungle Operations Training Course, Civil Affairs Officer Advanced Course, Command and General Staff College (non-resident), Nuclear Biological Chemical Operations Course, Reserve Components Support Command Course, Combat Service Support Multifunctional Course and Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course.

During the retirement ceremony, Betty received the Texas Superior Service Medal for his honorable state and federal service and superior performance in key leadership positions.  His other military awards and honors include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Commendation Medal (with four Oak Leaf Clusters), Joint Meritorious Unit Award (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (with four Oak Leaf Clusters), National Defense Service Medal (with two Bronze Service Stars), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal (with Silver Hourglass, “M” Device and Numeral 2), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon (with Numeral 7), Lone Star Distinguished Service Medal, Texas Outstanding Service Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Texas Humanitarian Service Ribbon, Commanding General’s Individual Award, Texas State Guard Service Medal, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, Ranger Tab and Air Assault Badge.

Betty has been married to Julianne for 43 years, and they have two children. Son Josh is a major in the U. S. Army and assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas, where he lives with his wife Jen. Daughter Alison is married to Sgt. 1st Class James Perdue and lives in Mansfield, Texas.

Betty holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics and Master of Science in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University.

 

    

 

The little armory atop a hill

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Nike Hercules missiles at bee caves Austin, TX

Story by: Mark Otte

 

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

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

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

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

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

So, where were they?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soldiers from Texas and Maryland helping manage busy skies over Kuwait

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

By Capt. Stephen James

29th Combat Aviation Brigade

November 03, 2017

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEALING AFTER HARVEY: One soldiers Journey through the great storm of 2017

SWEENY, TX, UNITED STATES

11.01.2017

Story by: Staff Sgt. Bethany Anderson

100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 

SWEENEY, Texas - As a mother and Texas Army National Guardsman, I have had first-hand experience with wildfires, tornadoes, ice storms, snow storms and earthquakes, but Harvey was my first hurricane.

What could have been an ugly and terrible life changing event for my little girls was turned into a beautiful adventure.

As Texas Guardsmen from across the state geared up to serve Texas citizens, I was preparing to evacuate my family from our home. Not knowing where we’d go, how long we’d be gone, weighed me down like a ton of bricks. But I was not about to unnecessarily put my three little girls in harm’s way.

While we loaded food and clothes into the cars, I asked my 3-year-old daughter, Kayden, and my 5-year-old daughter, Alex, to make sure they picked up everything off the floor in case water got inside while we were away.

“Is the house going to sink, Mommy?” Kayden asked, peering up at me with her beautiful big blue eyes.

“Sort of,” I replied. “Now, please go pick up your things off the floor.” Alex and Kayden darted off to their rooms and I continued to pack.

I was gathering up the last of our belongings when I heard Alex and Kayden talking in the hallway. “I love you, one would say. “Be safe,” the other would say. “I’ll miss you… we’ll be back soon.”

I peered out of the doorway to see my two babies hugging door frames and kissing the walls of our house. When they reached me, I could barely hold back my tears.

I evacuated my family around six o’clock on the evening of Monday, August 28, 2017. With my mother’s help, we loaded up my three daughters and three dogs into the car. My mother, whose flight back to California out of Houston was canceled, drove my husband’s truck containing our food, water, some valuables, and clothes. My husband, JD, who was working in Brownsville, looked for someone who could house our dogs.

The drive from Sweeny to San Antonio took us almost seven hours; a drive which normally takes three.

My 13-year-old daughter, Emily, argued with Alex while Kayden made animal noises and sang at the top of her lungs and one of the dogs whined and howled. The madness inside our car seemed to mimic the madness outside the car while I gripped the steering wheel and strained to hear the GPS.

I took a deep breath, focusing on the road as another violent gust of wind rocked the car. What used to be open fields of green were now angry oceans of flood water stretching out as far as I could see. It seemed as if our Toyota 4Runner was precariously skimming over the thin ribbon of road that cut through the massive expanse of water. I have driven through a lot of intense situations as a mom and as a Soldier, but this was, by far, my most stressful drive ever.

We arrived at the hotel in San Antonio around one o’clock in the morning, August 29, 2017.

Despite being mentally and emotionally drained, sleep did not come easy. Kayden’s little fingers were gripped around my index finger and Alex’s head rested gently on my shoulder while I listened to Emily sleep on the couch. My family was safe; but instead of feeling relieved, the uncertainty of our situation gnawed at me. With a heavy heart and my stomach in knots, I finally drifted to sleep.

Warm sunshine poured through the windows of our hotel room the next morning. Alex and Kayden hopped up in bed and exclaimed, “It’s not raining! Can we go home now?” I was both amused and disheartened. “No, girls. It’s still raining at our house. It’s not safe to go back.”

I spent the next two weeks answering the same question, and each time my answer never failed to produce a look of disappointment on my children’s faces.

We relocated three times and had to relocate the dogs twice. Each time we left the dogs with someone else, Alex’s heart would break and she’d sulk into my arms desperately fighting back tears.

I spent every day checking the weather, skimming through Facebook for information and watching Brazoria County press conferences for updates. I hated not being able to tell my children when we would go home. I didn’t even know if we’d have a home to go back to.

Anxiety, guilt and frustration came to me in waves, but I held it all; my girls needed to feel safe. They couldn’t see Mom disappear into her emotions.

Disappointing my children wasn’t the only thing on my mind. I had a couple part-time jobs and had recently started my own business to help pay the bills. Even though my husband was still working, Harvey’s relentlessness put every stream of income I had in limbo. Our family was already struggling to keep our finances afloat, and this certainly wasn’t going to help.

When I first received a message from my unit asking if our family was financially affected by the storm, I didn’t respond. Thousands of other people were much worse off than we were; it didn’t feel right asking for help. But my mom reminded me of all the times that we were able to help other people.

“You and JD have helped financially support others when they needed it,” my mom said. “You need to give others the opportunity to bless you.”

I replied to the text and let my unit know our family’s situation.

While our story is filled with tears and frustration, it is also filled with kindness, hope and gratitude. I have never been on the receiving end of so much generosity, support and encouragement.

When I first heard the phrase ‘Texans serving Texas,’ I only thought of myself as a Texas Guardsman, serving the citizens of Texas and the United States. I never thought it would mean Texas Army National Guard Soldiers serving my family.

Peers and leaders in the 71st Troop Command reached into wallets, without hesitation, and gave money, gift cards, toiletries and toys to my family, many of whom had never seen my face or heard my name before. Letters, gift cards and care packages also arrived from friends of Soldiers.

“This is like Christmas!” Alex shouted in excitement as she reached into a box of toys.

My children were filled with joy and laughter as they played with their new treasures. I was, and still am, both overwhelmed and humbled by the support my family and I received from my fellow service members.

One of my responsibilities as a Public Affairs NCO is to help tell the Army story. My unit, the 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, even found a way for me to support the Texas Military Department’s mission in response to Hurricane Harvey, despite my situation. I had Soldiers from my team spread out all over the state of Texas working long, hard hours to make sure people knew who the Texas Army National Guard was and what we were doing to help. It is difficult to be a leader and stand on the sidelines, but my unit empowered me to dig in and help my Soldiers be successful.

While my unit was doing everything they could to ensure the safety and well-being of my family, my business partners from all over the country flew into action. They took up donations and sent our family care packages with activities for the girls, home made cookies and gift cards. Another business partner sent a care package of supplements to help with my daughter’s digestive health problems.

We were even able to explore some fun places, as many businesses (like the aquarium) were opening their doors to Harvey evacuees free of charge. I didn’t have to stress over where dinner was coming from, and I didn’t have to confine my children to a hotel room for two weeks because we didn’t have money for gas. Every penny we received was used on gas, groceries and bills. The monetary and physical gifts my family received were in exact proportion to what we needed, exactly when we needed it. No more, no less.

On Saturday, September 9, the roads cleared and the sun broke through the clouds, so we headed home.

JD had driven up from Brownsville to help me get our family back to the house. We hadn’t seen our home in almost two weeks and didn’t know what to expect, but we were hopeful.

The closer we got to home, the more destruction and devastation we saw. Sheet rock, furniture and appliances were already sitting outside of houses. Trees, bushes and buildings were coated with thick brown mud. Some of the trees and bushes were tangled up with mattresses, chairs and trash. My 13-year-old daughter, Emily, noticed her best friend’s house had fallen prey to the flooding.

Our home was spared, for the most part. The menacing waters of the flooded San Bernard River came within just a few short feet of touching our home. Our master bedroom, bathroom and closet will need repairs from water damage caused by a leak from the first few days of the storm.

We are truly blessed to have so little to repair when so much of our neighborhood and community lost everything.

Whether in uniform, or out of uniform, I am a Texan serving Texas. I’m working to raise money to buy new playground equipment for Kayden’s daycare that lost everything in the flood.

Alex and Kayden sorted through all their belongings so they could share their clothes and toys with children who have none. Emily spent her free time with our church youth group helping people clean up wherever they could. So many people helped us after we evacuated and we’re going to do everything we can to help too. Only good things can come from helping others.

The road ahead for our family is going to be a difficult one. But we know that we won’t have to travel that road alone, or more than one day at a time. The recent events of the last three weeks have shown me that I have the strongest support networks a person could hope for.

I am a better person because of this experience and I will be able to bless others because of it. There are too many people who helped to list them all, but I will never forget and will always cherish their generosity.

There is a lot of uncertainty in our near future, but I am certain that everything’s going to be just fine.

I AM HERE TO HELP YOU

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Lampasas County Sheriff Jesus “Jess” Ramos thanks Sgt. Moody for his good-Samaritan action

Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard

 

Lampasas, Texas- Texas State Guard Sgt. 1st Class Howard Moody has driven between Austin and Granbury, Texas, so many times that it has become routine.

But in a split second, his routine drive turned into the scene of a life-threating emergency.

During that drive along U.S. Highway 281 on Jun. 3, 2017, a terrible two-vehicle crash had just occurred as Moody was making his commute.  One mangled vehicle was on its side leaking fuel. The other, upright but badly damaged, was smoking from the engine.

Texas Department of Public Safety State Troopers Nestor Reyes and Tyler Ross were already on the scene.  Moody, who works full-time on the Texas Military Department’s Domestic Operations Task Force and is trained in combat life-saving and emergency response, followed to see if he could assist.

“Working as a team with emergency responders and law enforcement agencies, such as the Department of Public Safety and the Lampasas County Sheriff’s Office, to assist fellow Texans during an emergency or disaster is what the Texas State Guard is all about,” Moody said.

Moody, along with Reyes, ran to the car lying on its side and looked inside.

A little girl in a car seat was trapped in the wreckage.  Her legs were pinned between seats so she couldn’t move.  

“We instinctively knew something had to be done quickly to extract the occupants of the vehicle who were obviously injured and trapped,” Moody said. “Waiting for the fire department didn’t seem like the best option.  We didn’t discuss it.  We just glanced at one another and went to work.” 

Moody tried to open the rear hatch, but it wouldn’t budge. Reyes and Ross broke the rear window to get to the little girl pinned inside.

Moody crawled in.  

“It’s going to be okay.  You are okay.  We are going to get you out.  I am here to help you.” Moody says he told the girl trying to reassure her as he climbed inside.

A trooper handed Moody a coat to cover the trapped girl, while he broke the side window. Another trooper and a passing motorist, who had stopped to help, reached in and pried the seats apart, giving Moody just enough room to gently extract the pinned girl’s legs.

Once the little girl was free, Moody lifted her up to the side window and handed her to first responders, who took her to an ambulance and eventually a medical helicopter.

Within minutes, other emergency personnel, Lampasas County sheriff’s deputies and more DPS troopers arrived.  Everyone was working together with a common purpose to care for the injured.

But Moody was still in the car, and it was still leaking fuel.

He moved forward to the front to help the woman buckled in the driver’s seat.  He covered her with a coat while firefighters cut the vehicle open to help the injured woman.  When emergency responders got to the woman, Moody backed out of the vehicle.  

It wasn’t until the Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter lifted off with the little girl and an ambulance had transported the other injured people to local hospitals that Moody had a moment to gather his thoughts. He hadn’t realized his leg was bleeding.

“I was so focused on the task at hand, I didn’t realize I was bleeding.  The emergency responders bandaged my wound, and later that evening a shard of glass was removed from my leg.”  Moody said.

Since the accident, the first responders have expressed their gratitude for Moody’s actions that day.

“I am very grateful that Sgt. 1st Class Howard Moody, stopped to assist DPS Troopers Nester Reyes and Tyler Ross. Moody was responsible for climbing into the wreckage to rescue a little girl,” said Lampasas County Sheriff Jesus “Jess” Ramos. “Thank you, Sgt. Moody.  We appreciate your good-Samaritan action and your service to our country.”