TAG Talks: LTC David Burger

LT. Col. David Burger, Director International Affairs, Texas Military Forces, talks about the Leadership Development Program in his TAG Talk at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, April 2, 2015
 

TEXAS STATE GUARD 2nd REGIMENT AND BUGLER ASSISTS VFW ON MEMORIAL DAY

Story by:  1st Lt. Ernesto C. Garcia

Posted:   June 3, 2015

TXSG at VFW ceremony
Texas State Guard soldiers from the 2nd Regiment served as the Honor Guard along with the Capital City VFW Post 8787, Austin, Texas, at the VFW Memorial Day ceremony the Cook-Walden/ Capital Parks Cemetery in Pflugerville, Texas, May 25, 2015.  Sgt. Maj. Morris Hickman, 2nd Regiment, had the honor to play taps.  The  Texas State Guard serves the people of Texas during natural or man-made disasters and assists communities during local events. (Texas State Guard photo by 1st Lt. Ernesto C. Garcia/Released)

AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas State Guard paid tribute to the fallen soldiers on Memorial Day at  the Cook-Walden/Capital Parks Cemetery in Pflugerville, Texas, May 25, 2015.  At the request of the Capital City VFW Post 8787, located in Austin, Texas, soldiers of the 2nd Regiment, Texas State Guard, participated in the VFW Memorial Day ceremony. One soldier from the 2nd Regiment, Sgt. Maj. Morris Hickman, had the honor to play taps.

When members of VFW Post 8787 needed assistance with their 2015 Memorial Day Celebration, they turned to their own VFW bugler, Hickman, to see if the Texas State Guard was available. Hickman has been playing the bugle since 1966 since his service with the U.S. Navy from 1962 to 1968 where he worked in communications and as a diver.

The 2nd Regiment was honored to help with the ceremony. The soldiers presented the colors, served as an honor guard, assisted various military organizations that placed wreaths around the cemetery, and the fired three volley salute. The last part of the ceremony was when Sgt.Maj. Hickman played taps.
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The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of the United States is a nonprofit veterans service organization comprised of about 1.9 million members.  The VFW advocates for U.S. veterans, by working to ensure that veterans and their loved ones are recognized for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our great nation.

Since 1868, Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day) is the federal holiday that honors soldiers who have died in military service to the United States.

A Texas twang by any other name

Courtesy story: 211th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Story by:  Sgt. Jeff Daniel

Posted: June 2, 2015

 
Sgt. Jeff Daniel Sgt. Omar Anwar, a crew chief with Charlie Company, 1-108th Air Assault out of Austin, Texas, climbs into his seat on the UH-60 Black Hawk that he is assigned to for a flight May 26. The Texas National Guard is supporting Beyond the Horizon 2015. BTH15 is a joint humanitarian and civic engineering exercise sponsored by U.S. Southern Command and the government of El Salvador to show support for the country of El Salvador. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jeff Daniel)
Sgt. Jeff Daniel
Sgt. Omar Anwar, a crew chief with Charlie Company, 1-108th Air Assault out of Austin, Texas, climbs into his seat on the UH-60 Black Hawk that he is assigned to for a flight May 26. The Texas National Guard is supporting Beyond the Horizon 2015. BTH15 is a joint humanitarian and civic engineering exercise sponsored by U.S. Southern Command and the government of El Salvador to show support for the country of El Salvador. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jeff Daniel)

COMANDO DE INGENIEROS DE LA FUERZ ARMADA, El Salvador - A strange voice comes from ship 191 not often heard on this Salvadoran field covered in green grass. The ship is a UH-60 Black Hawk that belongs to the Texas National Guard and the voice has an unusual accent, sort of a different twang -- a British twang. 

Sgt. Omar Anwar, a crew chief with Charlie Company, 1-108th Air Assault out of Austin, Texas, is originally from London, England, and has lived in the U.S. for eight years. His story, he claims, is full of romance and scandal.

He, along with is unit, are here to support Beyond the Horizon 2015 in El Salvador by providing casualty evacuation support and site surveys. CASEVAC support is the means of picking up an injured person and transporting them to a medical facility for care. 

But how did a British citizen find his way to Texas and then El Salvador in the first place. Let’s go back almost a decade, to the beginning.

He was originally part of a military cadet exchange program between the U.S. and Great Britain. As the story goes, he met a female soldier from the Texas National Guard. He later returned to Texas, enlisted in the National Guard and by the end of his basic training was a citizen.

“Initially it worked out great. There was a point when I asked myself why did I do this, because that little romance ended in divorce,” said Anwar. “I am lucky enough to have a fiancé now. But at the time it was a little rough.”

“I only got interested in being a pilot when I came to the United States,” said Anwar. “The original reason I wanted to join the U.S. military was to become a pilot.”

“I wanted to fly Black Hawks more than any other airframe,” said Anwar. “I figured the best way to get a foot in the door was to actually work on the aircraft and then go to flight school.”

He is currently past the age to go to flight school.

As his story continues, when he enlisted he chose to be a Black Hawk maintainer. 

“I was actually working in a maintenance company. I got to do a couple of flights and I was picked to move into a flight company from there, I progressed to become a crew chief.”

I love the versatility of the Black Hawk, Anwar said proudly, referring to the fact they can perform different types of missions from medevac to combat to insertion and extraction.

“I love doing hoist missions,” said Anwar. “I really enjoy sitting on the edge of the aircraft with the doors open sending a medic down to be able to actually help someone, and rescue them and bring them up to the aircraft.”

His responsibilities as a crew chief include maintenance and readiness of the Black Hawk, and to make sure that any occupants are safely protected.

Anwar is expressingly proud of his job and his unit.

“In a million years I never thought I would I be working one of these things, let alone get to fly around in one,” said Anwar.

“The best part my job is the flying,” said Anwar. “Also I just love knowing that I can tell people that I am a crew chief.”

Texas Military Forces Museum Honors Vietnam Veterans with Annual Program

Story: Courtesy of the Texas Military Forces Museum Staff

Posted: June 1, 2015

Volunteers from the Texas Military Forces Museum's Living History Detachment conduct a Vietnam War-era reenactment portraying U.S. service members engaged in battle with elements of the Viet Cong, May 3, 2015, during the Central Texas Air Show in Temple, Texas. The Living History Detachment conducts living history programs across the state and nation, in an effort to educate the public on the service and sacrifices made by veterans from the Civil War to present day. (Photo courtesy of Chris Hunt, Texas Military Forces Museum)
Volunteers from the Texas Military Forces Museum's Living History Detachment conduct a Vietnam War-era reenactment portraying U.S. service members engaged in battle with elements of the Viet Cong, May 3, 2015, during the Central Texas Air Show in Temple, Texas. The Living History Detachment conducts living history programs across the state and nation, in an effort to educate the public on the service and sacrifices made by veterans from the War of 1812 to present day. (Photo courtesy of Chris Hunt, Texas Military Forces Museum)

TEMPLE, Texas - The Texas Military Forces Museum’s Living History Detachment deployed 21 of its members to Temple to take part in the annual Central Texas Air Show, May 2-3, 2015.  

Although the museum’s reenactors usually focus on the history of Texas Volunteer Regiments in the Civil War or the 36th Infantry Division in World War II, every year at the air show they turn their focus to the war in Vietnam.  

For the Detachment, this was an opportunity to honor the men and women who served in Vietnam.

“We want to give ourselves and the public the chance to say thank you to all of those who answered their nation’s call and did their duty in Southeast Asia fifty years ago,” said Jeff Hunt, director of the Texas Military Forces Museum and commander of its living history detachment.  

After setting up an authentic Vietnam-era military encampment, the museum’s volunteers helped the thousands of people, attending the air show, better understand the service American troops had in Southeast Asia during the 1960s.  

Displays of weapons, equipment, period magazines, manuals, radios and even tape recorders are big attractions. Among the most popular items on exhibit are the M60 Machine Gun and M79 Grenade Launcher.  

“Veterans love to see the weaponry they carried during that war,” said Hunt. “You can see the excitement on their faces and the thrill when we let them hold one of the firearms. Certainly, the sights, sounds and feel of these historic objects bring back a flood of memories.”

Some of these memories are good and some are painful.  

“It isn’t uncommon to see a vet tear up as he interacts with us,” Hunt said.  “A few become so emotional they can only shake their head and smile at us before they walk away.  Many more take the time to tell stories of their time ‘in country’ or combat. As historians, we love hearing those stories.  We take what the veterans tell us and incorporate it into what we tell the general public.  Those stories make us better and more accurate interpreters of this important piece of our past.”

John Eli is the resident expert on the Vietnam War for the museum’s living history detachment. He served as an infantryman in the 25th Infantry Division in 1968 – at the height of the Tet Offensive.  Wounded in action and awarded the Purple Heart, Eli saw a lot of combat and often acted as a “tunnel rat” for his unit.  

A part of the museum’s living history team for more than 5 years, Mr. Eli shared his personnel history – including photos and mementoes he brought home from his service – with those who stop by the museum’s living history encampment.  Very often he finds himself speaking to a fellow Vietnam veteran. 

“You can certainly see the bond all the men who served in Vietnam have,” said Hunt.  “It doesn’t matter if they weren’t in the same unit or even if they weren’t in the country at the same time, they are brothers.” 

Having an authentic Vietnam veteran in their ranks is a special thing for the museum’s volunteers. 

“John is a great guy and a great historian,” said Hunt. “We are so incredibly lucky and honored to have him as part of our unit.  He has taught all of us more about the war than we could learn from reading 1,000 books.”

The most popular event of the detachment’s events at the air show was the Vietnam War-era air assault reenactment.  

Wearing the correct uniforms and equipment from the era and carrying actual weapons modified to fire blanks, the volunteers boarded a Huey helicopter and flew into “battle.” The scenario is the rescue of a downed helicopter crew being pursued by a group of Viet Cong guerrillas. 

With air show caliber pyrotechnics going off in the background, a Cobra gunship and an observation aircraft zooming overhead, the reenactors raced out of the helicopter as it touched the ground. A second “lift” brought in reinforcements as the rival forces exchanged fire.  At the end of the scenario a “wounded” crewman is carried on a stretcher to the Huey as it lands to conduct a medical aerial evacuation. 

The action only lasted for a handful of minutes.  It is all very dramatic, but the reenactors know that it is a mere shadow of the real thing. 

“There are no real bullets zipping through the air, little real danger,” said Hunt. “We know that we are all coming out of the scenario in one piece and that at the end of the weekend we are going home to the comforts of our daily lives and families.  That is certainly something the real combat veterans could not say or even count on.”  

That reality didn’t make the demonstration any less interesting or educational for the public. But reflecting on how truly dangerous what they just reenacted was in real life gives the museum’s living historians a deeper understanding and affinity for the men who did it on the actual battlegrounds of fifty years ago.  

“It truly dives home the risks they faced,” said Hunt. “The courage, skill and professionalism they embodied - it makes it unquestionably certain that all of the men and women who fought in that war are real heroes.”

As the nation moves through the coming years of the fiftieth anniversary of the Vietnam War, the Texas Military Forces Museum plans on doing more programs focused on that time period.  

“We want to help our fellow citizens learn the true history – not the mythology – of the Vietnam War,” Hunt said. “We want to help the veterans reflect and perhaps heal some of their lingering, painful, memories.  We want them to understand that their war was just one battle in the much bigger Cold War and that what they did helped us win that bigger war.  We want to let the veterans of Indo China know that they are our heroes every bit as much as the veterans of World War II or Korea of the War on Terror are our heroes.”  

The Texas Military Forces Museum is the official museum of the Texas Army and Air National Guard.  The museum’s Living History Detachment routinely puts on programs for visitors highlighting the role of The United States Armed Forces in American history from the War of 1812 through the Vietnam War.  

 

Memorial Day Reflections: COL Charles Quist

Commentary by retired Col . Terry QuistCommentary by retired Col . Terry Quist

Remembering Dad – A son’s memoirs of his father, a World War II and Texas Air National Guard veteran

My Dad passed away peacefully on the evening of April 20, 2015.

Dad was 93 years old and almost within three months of reaching his 94th birthday.  He was born in 1921 in Austin, Texas, to the son of a Swedish immigrant and his Scottish-Irish wife.  Dad fibbed about his age to join the Texas National Guard at the age of 15 in 1937 and was mobilized for World War II.  In 1942, he went to pilot training and flew a wide range of aircraft in the Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa theaters of operations.  His adoring younger sister, Mary, gained a college degree from the University of Texas in two and a half years and followed him into flight training, serving as one of 1200 Women Air force Service Pilots flying military aircraft during World War II.

After the War, Dad continued in the Texas National Guard.  He and his sister Mary operated an airport and flight school for a few years in south Austin near the present site of St. Edwards University.  Aunt Mary married one of her students, Dad and his other partner eventually closed the business, and Dad became a full-time officer in the new Texas Air National Guard.  He met my mother, while she was working as a secretary at Camp Mabry, in Austin and married her. He moved his new family to San Antonio; this family included my older half-brother, Rick Dillard, whom he raised as his own son.  I was born to Mother and Dad in 1955.

Dad rose through the ranks, earning increasing levels of responsibility, until he became the Commander of the 149th “Lone Star Gunfighter” Tactical Fighter Group of the Texas Air National Guard (now the 149th Fighter Wing). He served as Commander for over eleven years from 1965 until his retirement in 1976.  During his command, his unit achieved a stellar record that included the distinction of being the first Air Force unit to earn an “Outstanding” rating four years in a row.  At the end of his career, he had documented flying 68 different military aircraft during his 6000 flight hours, which might have been an Air Force record in his final years for a living veteran pilot (a general called him several months ago saying Dad was the only pilot he could find who flew more aircraft).

Everyone always said Dad could have been a general officer, but that was not the most important thing for him, and he wasn’t groomed in the fashion of most post-War “modern major generals.”  He never went to civilian college, I know that he was uncomfortable undertaking the “book learning” of correspondence Air War College, and my Mother did not want to move the family to Austin. 

Having said this, during his eleven years of command he built the 149th to such a level of excellence and renown that it became a cradle for generals, growing and attracting future leaders of the Air Force.  Dad personally recruited a young lieutenant, Daniel James, the son of Tuskegee Airman Gen. Chappie James, into the 149th; retired Lt. Gen. Daniel James later became Gov. Bush’s Adjutant General and President Bush’s Director of the Air National Guard.  Maj. Gen. Hank Morrow became commander of First Air Force, responsible for homeland defense and support to civil authorities in disasters.  The current Vice Chief National Guard Bureau, and former U.S. Military Attaché to Egypt, Lt. Gen. Joseph Lengyel, is a former commander of what is now the 149th Fighter Wing.  The current Adjutant General of the Texas National Guard, Maj. Gen. John Nichols, commanded the 149th Fighter Wing, 2002-2009.

Dad spent a quiet retirement in the home to which he had moved the family in 1961 in a new development on old Maverick Sunshine Ranch territory in the Jefferson High School district. He tried real estate for a while, but his heart wasn’t in it, and his mortgage was paid, so he mostly played golf and enjoyed relaxing at his home.  He went to numerous unit reunions over the years.  Over the later years, the old colleagues became fewer and fewer, as well as the regular golf buddies.  He lost my mother due to her ill health and a precipitating fall and rib fracture in 1995.  He was driving himself around avidly until about six years ago.  As his health became frailer he insisted on continuing to live in his home with the support of my brother Rick, who lived close enough to manage his affairs, and a succession of loving and devoted caregivers.

My mother, Rick and I were all talkers.  You couldn’t shut us up.  Dad was quiet.  He almost never expressed extreme emotion, and the worst curse I remember him making when he was really frustrated was “Aww, nuts!”  It was harder to get to know Dad because he wouldn’t talk about himself, but he was always there for us, supporting us unstintingly in everything we wanted to do without judging us or attempting to micromanage or steer our lives.  If my mother complained, he just did what she wanted to keep the family peace.  On occasion we did get glimpses into his thought and his emotion and his personal history when he would unexpectedly pop out a war story, or a tale about his learning golf as a caddy in Austin, or (in his later years) a humorous exchange with one of his doctors.

Dad was not “literary,” but he read news and journals voraciously.  For some reason, perhaps due to his service in the Arctic during World War II, he became attached to the work of a Canadian poet named Robert Service, a sort of Jack London character who wrote grim and romantic ballads about the harsh life of the Far North.  On his last day, I began reading poems by Robert Service to Dad, and I believe by his expression and movement to the sound that he was listening.  Monday evening, I read one last poem and said, “That’s your last poem for the night, Dad!  I’m going to go eat, and I will be back in the morning.”  As I was going to my car, the caregiver called me back.  He had ceased breathing.

Dad was sadly predeceased by his younger sister and women’s aviation pioneer, Mary (Quist) Edwards.  My brother Rick is President of American Classic Music Tours and Festivals in San Antonio.  Besides Rick and me, Dad is survived by:  Rick’s wife, Jo Scurlock-Dillard, a former Reagan High School Choir Director and former President of the Texas Music Educators Association; my wife, Maria Meylikhova, a systems developer at Partners HealthCare in Boston; Rick’s son Kris, a personal counselor in Los Angeles; my son Mark, a University of Texas at Austin Plan two graduate and George Mason Law School graduate who has begun practicing law in Fairfax, Virginia; and my daughter Rachel, a University of Texas at Austin Plan two and Fine Arts graduating senior who will undertake graduate study in Art History next year at the University of Kansas.

I choose to believe that Dad’s spirit hovers over us and blesses our family and his Texas Air National Guard family. My Dad certainly lives on in the hundreds of lives he has touched through his many decades of love, devotion and service.

Col. Terry Quist retired from uniformed service in March 2015 after 30 years in the Massachusetts and Pennsylvania National Guards.  He is currently a civilian intelligence officer in the Joint Intelligence Directorate of the National Guard Bureau and lives in Arlington, Virginia, and Brookline, Massachusetts.

Texas guardsmen pay tribute to soldier killed saving drowning son

Story by: Capt. Maria Mengrone, 176th Engineer Brigade

Posted: May 28, 2015

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Ros, 386th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, with his children. Ros, while saving his son from drowning, lost his life on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. (Photo Courtesy of the Ros family)
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Ros, 386th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, with his children. Ros, while saving his son from drowning, lost his life on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. (Photo Courtesy of the Ros family)

A Memorial Day celebration turned tragic for a Texas Army National Guard family at Matagorda Beach, May 25, 2015. 

Van Vleck resident, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph T. Ros’ son was pulled under water by a strong riptide. Ros immediately went in to the water to pull his son out, and was able to get his son to safety, but was then pulled under by the same riptide, losing his life.
 
News of his passing quickly spread and invoked a wave of grief and disbelief among guardsmen who served alongside Ros, known to most as simply “Joe,” throughout Ros’ more than 20 years of military service.
  
“All his former soldiers were saying ‘not sergeant Ros, it can’t be him’,” said long-time friend of Ros, Texas Army National Guard Warrant Officer Joey Rodriguez, 237th Engineer Co., 386th Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade. “For many of us, he was more than a mentor. He was more like a brother to me.  He pushed me to do better for myself - he is the main reason I became a warrant officer.”

Ros entered service on April 17, 1989 as a combat engineer and served in various engineer units across Texas.  He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in late 2004 to 2005.

In his first year of service Ros met retired Sgt. Guadalupe Martinez Jr. of Brenham, Texas.

“We met in 1990 and ever since we have remained close friends,” said Martinez. “I remember sitting in the middle of Iraq and Joe asked me, ‘Why are you here in Iraq? Before I could answer, Joe said he was here because it was historical and it was something he wanted to be able to share with his children when they asked about this war.”

“We shared a common goal,” said Martinez. “To serve our country.”  

According to many of the guardsmen who served alongside him, being in the National Guard, for Ros, was about service – to his country and to his fellow Texans.

Just days before he passed, Ros was helping the Guard coordinate the engineer response to severe flooding across the state.

“I had just spoken to him a few days prior because he had volunteered for state active duty to assist in the flood missions,” said Staff Sgt. Nelson M. Zepeda, construction operations sergeant, 272nd Engineer Co. “That’s just the way he was, always wanted to help people.”

His love and dedication to his country and his state was big, but his devotion to his family was even bigger.

 “He loved his wife, three boys and little girl so much; nothing was going to come between his love for them,” said Zepeda. “I’m going to miss his calls and texts so much.”
 
Senior leaders also recognize the lasting impact of losing an important non-commissioned officer like Ros, particularly within the engineer community.

“I count him as one of my friends; I’ve known him for 20 years.  He was an outstanding individual both personally and professionally,“ said Maj. Mikel T. Sledge, battalion executive officer, 386th Engineer Bn.  “It will be a substantial loss to the unit, his friends and his family.”  
Leaders and peers saw him as both a friend and a good soldier.
“When I first met Joe I knew I had a high-speed soldier.  I told him my expectations and showed him the rules and regulations, he took off and excelled,” said retired Sgt. 1st Class McCord, former section sergeant to Ros.  “He was a good man, a good person.”

Ros, a traditional guardsman, also worked in education. He started out as a special education teacher in the Bay City school district. After several years in Bay City, he moved to the Van Vleck school district to work as a high school assistant principal and then the middle school principal. After his tenure as principal, Ros continued his service to the school district, and the children in Van Vleck, as Director of Maintenance and Transportation. 

Van Vleck ISD scheduled an early release day for faculty, staff and students so that they could have an opportunity to attend funeral services for Ros.

“I’m going to miss him greatly,” said McCord.  “I’m praying for his family, he loved them dearly.  Joe Ros is irreplaceable, one of a kind.  He is now an angel in heaven.” 

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Ros, 386th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, and his wife, after returning home from deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2004-2005. Ros, while saving his son from drowning, lost his life on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. (Photo courtesy of the Ros family)
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Ros, 386th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, and his wife, after returning home from deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2004-2005. Ros, while saving his son from drowning, lost his life on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. (Photo courtesy of the Ros family)

 

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Ros, 386th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, pictured here on a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2004-2005. Ros, while saving his son from drowning, lost his life on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. (Photo courtesy of the Ros family)
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Ros, 386th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, pictured here on a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2004-2005. Ros, while saving his son from drowning, lost his life on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. (Photo courtesy of the Ros family)

 

 

Texas State Guard 39th Composite Regiment Assists in Flood Emergency

Story by: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Janet Schmelzer

Posted: May 28, 2015

Staff Sgt. William Wiley, Staff Sgt. Brenda Newton, and Spc. Desmon Dunn from the 39th Composite Regiment, Texas State Guard provide administrative support to the Disaster District Coordinators from the Texas Department of Emergency Management during the flood emergency operations in Wichita Falls, Texas, May 23, 2015.  The assistance of the soldiers to the emergency contributed to the ability first responders to rescue, evacuate, and provide emergency services to local residents.  (Texas State Guard photo by 39th Regiment/ Released)
Staff Sgt. William Wiley, Staff Sgt. Brenda Newton, and Spc. Desmon Dunn from the 39th Composite Regiment, Texas State Guard provide administrative support to the Disaster District Coordinators from the Texas Department of Emergency Management during the flood emergency operations in Wichita Falls, Texas, May 23, 2015.  The assistance of the soldiers to the emergency contributed to the ability first responders to rescue, evacuate, and provide emergency services to local residents.  (Texas State Guard photo by 39th Regiment/ Released)

WICHITA FALLS, Texas - Five soldiers from the 39th Composite Regiment, Texas State Guard, provided support to the Texas Disaster District Coordinators (DDC), the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Air National Guard during the recent flooding emergency in Wichita Falls, Texas, May 23-28, 2015.  

State Guard participation in Wichita Falls helped local residents affected by flood waters remain safe and receive necessary emergency assistance. 

Capt. Michael Garcia, Staff Sgt. Brenda Newton, Staff Sgt. William Willey, Spc. Desmon Dunn, and Spc. Zach Williams from the 39th Composite Regiment performed numerous tasks to support disaster coordination efforts, including administrative duties, answering phones, monitoring social media, and updating information on the Texas Web Emergency Operations Center. 

As the emergency unfolded, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott visited Wichita Falls, to thank the guardsmen, and other emergency responders and volunteers, for their service, May 25, 2015. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott shakes hands with Staff Sgt. William Willey, and thanks Capt. Michael Garcia, Staff Sgt. Brenda Newton, Spc. Zach Willams, and Spc. Desmon Dunn from the 39th Composite Regiment for their service during flood emergency in Wichita Falls, Texas, May 25, 2015.  (Texas State Guard photo by 39th Regiment/Released)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, shakes hands with Staff Sgt. William Willey, 39th Composite Regiment, Texas State Guard, left, thanking guardsmen from the 39th Composite Regiment for their service during the flood response operations in Wichita Falls, Texas, May 25, 2015.  More than 300 Guardsmen from the Texas Army, Air and State Guards mobilized to support Texans in need during historic flooding, May 2015. (Texas State Guard photo courtesy of the 39th Composite Regiment/Released)

The 39th Composite Regiment is well-equipped to provide emergency assistance. Since 2009, the regiment has worked closely with David Solis, State Coordinator Region 5, Texas Division Emergency Management, who integrated the 39th Composite Regiment into the Region 5 emergency coordination and training efforts.  This enabled the regiment to increase their emergency preparedness by working with other emergency response teams, even cross-training with the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency team in an effort to provide increased logistic support during crisis management.

This relationship has also increased the regiment’s support to disaster situations. During the winter storm of January, 2010, regiment guardsmen assisted Amarillo civil authorities and set up shelters in the Panhandle.  In May 2014, guardsmen were again mobilized, to support operations during the Double Diamond wildfires in Fritch, where they assisted with WEBEOC and radio communications and helped monitor social media.

"I am proud of the performance and dedication of the men and women of the 39th “Roughnecks” and the excellent working relationship we enjoy with our TDEM partners,” said Col. Barney Welch, commander of the 39th Composite Regiment. “Through that valuable partnership, this unique concept continues to evolve as a viable mission set for the State of Texas."

The 39th Composite Regiment was also mobilized for hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Dean, Operation Lone Star and Operation Border Star.  In 2012 the regiment became the only composite regiment in the Texas State Guard, because it’s unique internal medical staff.  The regiment covers a large part of West Texas and the Panhandle. It is headquartered in Midland, and has subordinate units located in Midland, Lubbock, El Paso, and Amarillo.

Flag Ceremony Draws Spectators and Recruits​

Story by:  Sfc. Charlie Patak

Posted: May 27, 2015

Folding flag
Staff Sgt. Edward Thomas, Sgt. Joe Gahm, and Sfc. Ed Lack perform a flag folding ceremony at the National Polka Festival, Ennis, Texas, May 23, 2015.  They invited Boy Scout Troop 210 of Ennis, Texas, along with Scoutmasters Trent Clinton, Kelly McManus and Alan Linson to join in the ceremony.  (Texas State Guard photo by Sfc. Charlie Patak/Released)

ENNIS, Texas - The National Polka Festival attracts large crowds in Ennis, Texas.  This year the 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment, took advantage of the opportunity to recruit for the Texas State Guard in Ennis, May 23, 2015. Recruiters Sfc. Ed Lack, Staff Sgt. Edward Thomas, Sgt. Joe Gahm,  Pfc. John McClellon decided that they needed something unique that would most certainly attract a crowd.  

The recruiters had a prime location, among 165 other vendors, so that thousands of spectators would see them.  Led by Pfc. McClellon, the recruiters set up the tent and placed numerous recruiting items for people to see.  Although the rain kept many from attending the festival, visitors talked with the recruiters and requested information about the Texas State Guard and the 4th and 19th regiments and a dozen filled out applications.

Then Staff Sgt. Thomas had a great idea.  The recruiters decided to conduct a flag folding ceremony for the audience.   They invited Boy Scout Troop 210 of Ennis, Texas, along with Scoutmasters Trent Clinton, Kelly McManus and Alan Linson to join in the ceremony.  

Hundreds of spectators watched as the 2nd Battalion Color Guard soldiers Thomas and Gahm along with the Boy Scouts demonstrated how to fold the United States Flag properly as the ceremony is conducted in events honoring veterans, KIA personnel, and their families.  

"It is an honor to let others see how important it is to treat the flag with respect and dignity.  And to have the Boy Scouts assist was especially a great experience for all," commented Staff Sgt. Thomas.

 

 

Texas Guardsmen rescue family from flooding waters

Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Posted: May 27, 2015

Texas Guardsmen rescue family from flooding watersGRANBURY, Texas - A team of Texas National Guard engineers rescued three people from flooding waters, May 26, 2015 in Granbury, Texas.

Working with local and state first responders, Texas Guardsmen spent the Memorial Day weekend responding to many such calls for help all over Texas.

“We got a call around midnight from the local sheriff’s department,” said 1st Lt. Max Perez, 236th Engineer Company, 111th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard. “They asked us to check a neighborhood near the Brazos River for flooded homes and anyone in need.”

Perez took his team of engineers and split into two groups to better search the neighborhood for citizens in need.

“The soldiers responded very quickly; they only took 10 or 15 minutes to get ready to go,” said Perez. “They were pretty motivated about the mission – eager to save lives.”

With the help of a local police officer and a local firefighter, the engineers combed through the neighborhood checking on residents.

“We found a stranded car that couldn’t move,” said Perez. “There was water up to the window of the car.”

The engineers immediately stopped and got out to help; each soldier securing themselves to a safety line attached to their military vehicle or another stationary object first. 

“We saw a family – a woman, her daughter, about three or four, and a man, stuck in the car,” said Perez.

Staff Sgt. Thomas Kennington, 111th Forward Support Company, 111th Engineer Battalion, along with several other soldiers, pulled the little girl and her mother from the car and brought them to safety, then returned for the man. Once all three people were safe, the team pulled the vehicle to dry land, to ensure that it wouldn’t wash away, said Perez.

“This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this,” said Kennington. “When you’re in that moment with lights flashing, water rushing and soldiers around you whose safety you are concerned for – it’s an adrenaline flow.”

The engineers were grateful to have been able to help their fellow citizens in need that day.

“The little girl thanked me over and over for saving her and her Mama,” said Kennington. “That’s what this is all about.”

Perez said he was just thankful to have been asked to help and that he was proud of his soldiers.

“They showed me the reason why they put on the uniform that night,” said Perez. “Their bravery and dedication was amazing.”

Texas Guardsmen rescued more than 100 Texans in need during flooding across the state, mid-late May 2015.

Multi Agency Task Force stands by for possible swift water rescues

Story by:  Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon

Posted: May 21, 2015

Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon National Guardsmen and members from Task Force 1 practice water rescues in preparation for possible floods in the Houston area, May 15-18, 2015. Guardsmen work side by side with local and state partners to help Texans in need during disaster situations. (Photo Courtesy of the Texas Military Forces)
Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon
National Guardsmen and members from Task Force 1 practice water rescues in preparation for possible floods in the Houston area, May 15-18, 2015. Guardsmen work side by side with local and state partners to help Texans in need during disaster situations. (Photo Courtesy of the Texas Military Forces)

HOUSTON – Rescue crews from three organizations geared up, flew into Ellington Field in Houston, and have been awaiting orders to launch over the weekend, May 15 – 18, 2015.

Due to the recent rainstorms, Texas has been on alert for floods and has put several rescue organizations on call, to include the Texas National Guard, Texas Task Force 1 and even the Louisiana National Guard for additional resources.

While most of the recent flooding and rescues took place in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, crews here are taking advantage of the down time to train with and build relationships with their counterparts. 

Joshua Powell, Helicopter Search and Rescue Technician with Task Force 1, likes the face time this provides with long time rescue partners from the Texas National Guard, as well as, new ones from the Louisiana National Guard.

“We try to train with the Texas National Guard about once a month, and it’s nice to have that connection, especially in the aircraft,” Powell said. “This weekend when we met the Louisiana guys we were a little nervous, but as soon as we did a little training here, it went really great. They showed us some of their techniques and we showed them ours.”

The Texas UH-60 Black Hawks the team flies in are scheduled to change hoist systems in the near future; a hoist system that the Louisiana aircraft already have, said Powell. 

“This weekend we have not only trained on and had a firsthand look at these new hoist systems we are getting, but doors have been opened for possible future rescue missions,” Powell said. “One day if Louisiana asks Texas to assist with a disaster, we already know their systems and their guys, so it’ll be a quicker and more effective response.”

UH-60 Black Hawk flight medic, Staff Sgt. Michael Hamilton, an experienced rescuer with the Louisiana National Guard, also believes this time meeting and training with new partners is valuable, but added that he is continually impressed by how state officials are able to come together and utilize each others’ assets in times like these. 

“It’s great that governors, adjutant generals and state aviation officers are able to coordinate and call upon each other to provide available resources to assist one another,” Hamilton said. “We’re here to help Texas out this time, and in turn, one day, they will come to help us out when we’re in need.”

Luckily, this time in southeast Texas, there was no need for any of the rescuers to be called out. They will be called home to rest for a day or two, then will reset and get ready for the next round of storms reported to come later in the week. 

Texas National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk pilot Maj. Edward Greber, has been on many missions like these before and stands ready with his crew,

“Wherever and whenever there is a need we will be prepared to provide assistance to rescue operations.”