Houston Local Promoted to Brigadier General

 Col. Richard Noriega, Assistant Division Commander for Support of the 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, was promoted to the rank of brigadier general during a ceremonyCommentary and photo by MAJ Randy Stillinger

HOUSTON (Sept. 30, 2015) – Col. Richard Noriega, Assistant Division Commander for Support of the 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, was promoted to the rank of brigadier general during a ceremony on Sept. 26, 2015 in Houston.

Deputy Adjutant General and Commander of the Texas Army National Guard, Maj. Gen. William “Len” Smith, promoted Noriega to the one-star rank in the shadow of the San Jacinto Monument with many friends, family members and colleagues present.

After enlisting as a private in the Army Reserves, Noriega received his Army Commission in 1984 through the University of Houston ROTC.

Over the course of his military career, he has deployed to Afghanistan and along the Texas-Mexico border during Operation Jump Start. He has also commanded units at the platoon, company, battalion and brigade levels, most recently serving as the commander of the 71st Theater Information Operations Group. He is now responsible for all support activity within the 36th Infantry Division.

On the civilian side, Noriega is the President and Chief Executive Officer of AVANCE, Inc., a non-profit organization that offers early childhood education, parenting and comprehensive family services to families. Noriega also served five terms representing District 145 in the Texas State House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009.

During the ceremony, Noriega thanked the friends, family and his colleagues that were in attendance, and also recognized his 3rd grade teacher, who was also present for the promotion.  

Noriega, who was born and raised in Houston, said, “with this rank comes a responsibility to talk to young Soldiers and ensure they know that if they work really hard, they can have opportunity and achieve their dreams.”

“He’s achieved a lot of things that we knew he’d be able to do, and he has strived to provide the best opportunity for those coming up behind him,” said Maj. Gen. Les Simpson, commanding general of the 36th Infantry Division. “I appreciate your hard work in all you do, and look forward to serving with you over the years.”

The event was family-focused with his mother, Tommie placing the new shoulder boards upon his uniform and his sons presenting him with traditional gifts: Ricky Noriega gave him with the signature general officer belt with brass buckle and Alex Noriega unfurled a red flag with a white star, symbolizing the new rank.

I want to dedicate this day to the rock of our family, my mother, who celebrated her 84th birthday this week,” Noriega said. “My mother was the drill sergeant in the house, and she embraced it.  Mom, this day is for you.” 

Woodmansee Takes Command of 2nd Regiment

Woodmansee Takes Command of 2nd Regiment

Story by:  Chief Warrant Officer Two Janet Schmelzer

Posted:  September 25, 2015

Col Woodmansee
Col. Robert Woodmansee assumed command of the 2nd Regiment, Army Component Command, Texas State Guard, at Camp Swift, Bastrop, Texas, September 19, 2015.  Woodmansee accepted the 2nd Regiment colors from Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr., commander, Army Component Command.  The 2nd Regiment is trained to provide mission essential tasks, such as shelter operations and food and water distribution, during an emergency or disaster.  (Photo by Chief Warrant Officer Two Janet Schmelzer/Released).

CAMP SWIFT, Bastrop, Texas - The 2nd Regiment, Texas State Guard, welcomed a new commander, Col. Robert A. Woodmansee, during an assumption of command ceremony at Camp Swift, Bastrop, September 19, 2015. Woodmansee will lead the 2nd Regiment, with headquarters in Gatesville and three battalions in San Marcos, Gatesville, and Taylor.

"Leading soldiers is an incredible honor,” commented Woodmansee.  “But more important, I’m looking forward to both serving and learning from these men and women.  They are the ones who are known for their selfless contributions, in the Central Texas community, during times of need.  It’s up to me to show them that I’m worthy to be in their ranks.”

Woodmansee received his commission as an armor officer from the United States Military Academy, West Point, in 1984.  His military schooling includes the Armor Officer Basic and Advance courses, Combined Arms and Services Staff School and the Command and General Staff Officer Course.  He is also a graduate of Air Assault, Airborne and Ranger school.  

His career includes overseas service in Germany, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.  He has served both on active duty and as a member of the Texas Army National Guard.

His command assignments include commander, A Company, 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor, 2nd Armored Division; commander, Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 144 Infantry, 49th Armored Division; commander, 5th Battalion,  112th Armor, 49th Armored Division; commander, 36th Infantry Division Rear Operations Cell;  commander, 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; and commander, Camp Eggers in Kabul, Afghanistan.

His operational assignments include three combat tours overseas.   In 1990 he deployed for Operation Desert Shield while serving as the Battalion Motor Officer for 3-67 Armor.  He later took command of Alpha Company, 3-67 Armor prior to Operation Desert Storm, 1990-1991.  His unit culminated operations at what was known as the Highway of Death, the road that leads from Kuwait City to Basra, Iraq.  

He deployed to Iraq with the 1st Cavalry Division, 2009-2010, serving as the Deputy Team Leader for the Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team.  He helped deliver essential services to the Province of Baghdad, as well as supporting State Department mentoring efforts to the local and provincial leaders of Baghdad.  

He deployed to Afghanistan with the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 2012-2013, serving as the commander of Camp Eggers in Kabul.  He provided life support and security for over 2,500 personnel from over 20 coalition countries.  

Woodmansee joined the Texas State Guard as the Army Component Command chief of staff, February, 2015.

Colonel Woodmansee is married to his 5th grade sweetheart, Caree.  They have seven children.

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Air National Guard’s team effort achieves many firsts in Latvia

Story by: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy

Post: September 24, 2015

1st Lt. Alicia Lacy  Guests listen to speakers during a distinguished visitor and media day Sept. 8, 2015, at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia. Officials invited distinguished guests and media to the air base to learn more about the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, and the Michigan National Guard's mission to fly the reconnaissance aircraft in its first non-combat deployment and its first flight in European air space. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)
1st Lt. Alicia Lacy 
Guests listen to speakers during a distinguished visitor and media day Sept. 8, 2015, at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia. Officials invited distinguished guests and media to the air base to learn more about the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, and the Michigan National Guard's mission to fly the reconnaissance aircraft in its first non-combat deployment and its first flight in European air space. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)

LIELVARDE AIR BASE, Latvia - The combined efforts of Air National Guardsmen from several states helped execute the first noncombat deployment of the MQ-1 Predator and its first flight in Eastern European airspace.

From mid-August to mid-September, airmen traveled to Latvia for the short deployment. The objectives achieved during the mobilization made the nation the prime option for remotely piloted aircraft operations in the Baltic region, said Lt. Col. Chris Recker, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance access and interoperability officer for United States Air Forces Europe-Africa.

Planning, airlift and the successful execution of the historical mission included the contributions from the Texas ANG’s 147th Reconnaissance Wing, the Michigan National Guard, the Tennessee ANG’s 164th Airlift Wing, the Mississippi ANG’s Airlift Wing, the TXANG’s 136th Airlift Wing and the New York ANG’s 105th Airlift Wing.

The deployment was nearly a 100 percent Air National Guard-executed mission, said Col. Stanley Jones, commander of the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard. From the conception to fly the RPAs at Lielvarde to the coordination, airlift, equipment and personnel, the Air National Guard accomplished nearly all of the efforts to make the mission a success. 

The contributions of all the units and agencies involved culminated with the first launch, operation and recovery of the Predator RPA on Sept. 1, 2015, at the Latvian air base. 

“This is a really historic day for Latvia,” said Latvia’s defense minister, Raimonds Bergmanis. “It’s the first time this system has been deployed in Europe, and I’m really proud that Latvia is hosting this aircraft.”

In addition to meeting objectives from the Michigan National Guard, the 147th and USAFE, the deployment was in direct support of the European Reassurance Initiative.

The ERI is a president-directed, congressionally-approved funding effort to bolster the security and capacity of the United States’ NATO partners.

“We are doing a lot to strengthen security in the Baltic region,” said Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis. 

The Michigan National Guard first conceptualized the idea to use Lielvarde Air Base for RPAs in September 2011 with Latvia’s State Partnership Program partners at the Michigan National Guard. From there, partnerships with the Michigan National Guard and several Latvian agencies, to include the Latvian Civil Aviation Authority, the Latvian National Armed Forces, Air Navigation Service Provider and the Riga Area Control Center helped make the execution of the historic flight possible.

With the flight of the Predator, Latvia became the first nation in Europe to develop nationwide RPA flight procedures with countrywide corridors that tie into special use airspace to de-conflict civilian and military flights, as well as allowing for nationwide use of surveillance capabilities to support a range of government needs, from search and rescue to firefighting and border control, said Col. James Andrew Roberts, Combat Readiness Training Center commander, Michigan National Guard.

The mission not only included an exchange with Latvian armed forces on RPA operations, but troops from Lithuania and Estonia also participated in the training mission to familiarize with air traffic management with MQ-1 operations, supporting one of the ERI’s objectives.

“The ERI is an important piece in European security,” echoed Lt. Gen. Raimonds Graube, the Latvian chief of defense.

The ERI demonstrates the steadfast commitment of the U.S. its NATO and European partners through a persistent, rotational presence of U.S. forces and by increasing the responsiveness of U.S. forces to contingencies in Central Europe.

19th Regiment Texas State Guard Welcomes New Commander

Story by:  Capt. Esperanza Meza

Posted:  September 24, 2015

DALLAS - The 19th Regiment, Texas State Guard, welcomed Lt. Col. Lloyd W. Lietz, as the new regimental commander, during a change of command ceremony at the Army National Guard Armory, Dallas, September 12, 2015.  Lietz will lead the regimental headquarters and three battalions located in Dallas, Greenville, and Kilgore.

Maj. Gen. Gerald "Jake" Betty, commander, Texas State Guard, and Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr., commander, Army Component Command, led the ceremony as Col. Robert Hastings, former 19th Regiment commander, formally handed to Lietz the 19th Regiment guidon.  

"Having seen the 19th Regiment in action over the last two years, I know what a fine unit of soldiers they are,” said Lietz. “I am excited to be taking command and I look forward to meeting our training challenges in the future."  

Brig. Gen. Palmer, Army Component Command, Texas State Guard, passes the colors to incoming 19th Regiment commander, Lt. Col. Lietz
Brig. Gen. Palmer, Army Component Command, Texas State Guard, passes the colors to incoming 19th Regiment commander, Lt. Col. Lietz, at the change of command ceremony at Red Bird National Guard Armory, Dallas, Texas, September 12, 2015. (Photo by Capt. Esperanza Meza/Released)

Lietz was commissioned a second lieutenant at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1979.  During his 27 years in the U.S. Army, he served as an infantry officer, including 5 years of battalion level command.  His active duty assignments included Operation Noble Eagle in  and Brussels for NATO support activity. 

He graduated from the Branch Immaterial Officers Candidate Course, Airborne School, Infantry Officers Basic and Advanced Courses, Mortar Platoon Leaders Course, the Adjutant/Personnel Officers Staff Course, Command and General Staff College and the Inspector General Course.

Lietz earned the Expert Infantryman and Parachutist badges.  His highest military awards include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal (3rd Award), as well as various other state and federal ribbons.

Upon his retirement from federal service in 2006, Lietz joined the Texas State Guard in 2013.  He has served as 4th Regiment operations officer, executive office, and interim regimental commander.

His professional associations include the American Legion, Association of the United States Army, Disabled American Veterans, Military Officers Association of America and State Guard Association of the United States.

Lietz graduated from the Allen Military Academy in Bryan in 1970 and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism from Texas A&M University and a Master of Arts Degree in Military History (Land Warfare) from American Military University.  Lietz has been married to his wife Gloria for 35 years and has three children, Charlene, June and Richard.

Lietz and his wife live in Stephenville and McKinney, Texas..

Col. Robert Hastings Appointed Chief of Staff Army Component Command

Story by: Chief Warrant Officer Two Janet Schmelzer

Posted:  September 23, 2015

CAMP MABRY, AUSTIN - The Texas State Guard Army Component Command welcomed a new chief of staff, Col. Robert Hastings, September 12, 2015.  As chief of staff, Hastings is the principal military advisor and second in command of the Army Component Command, Texas State Guard. 

"Our role as Army Component Command staff," Hastings stated, "is to make our soldiers successful; ensuring that they have the training, resources, leadership and support necessary to execute their missions, effectively and safely."

Col. Hastings
              Col. Robert Hastings

Hastings enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1978.  He was a distinguished graduate of the Warrant Officer Rotary Wing Aviator Course.  He piloted the AH-1 Attack Helicopter with the 7th Infantry Division, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and the Army Combat Developments Experimentation Command.

Graduating from Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in aviation.  He served as an Attack Helicopter Platoon leader and Forward Support Platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division, and as a Reserve Component Aviation advisor at the Fifth U.S. Army headquarters.

Hastings completed Armor Officer Advanced Course and returned to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment where he served as regimental operations officer, Air Cavalry Troop commander and Assault Helicopter Troop commander.  He served as a public affairs officer, Public Affairs Detachment commander with V Corps, and Senior Public Affairs instructor at the Defense Information School before retiring from the U.S. Army. 

His combat and expeditionary deployments include tours in Iraq, Bosnia and Honduras.

His military education includes the Aviation Officer Basic Course, Scout Platoon Leaders Course, Armor Officer Advanced Course, Cavalry Leaders Course, Public Affairs Officer Qualification and Advanced Courses, and Combined Armed and Services Staff School.

Hastings joined the George W. Bush Administration as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. As the senior public affairs official and spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense, he served as principal staff advisor to the Secretary of Defense for strategic communication, public information, internal information, and community relations, leading a worldwide public affairs community of some 4,000 military and civilian personnel.

Upon joining the Texas State Guard, Hastings has served as the Chief Public Affairs Officer for the Texas State Guard and commander of the 19th Regiment. 

Hastings received the Master Army Aviator, Pathfinder and Air Assault badges.  His military awards and decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Army Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, NATO Medal, and Secretary of Defense Staff Identification Badge. 

His civilian awards include the Secretary of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal and the Order of St. George Medallion.

Hastings resides in Keller, Texas.

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