Back to School- Tax Free Weekend!

 

 “back-to-school”

Commentary by Michelle McBride

Though you wouldn’t know it from the heat, summer in Texas is almost over.  For kids, parents and teachers, this translates to “back-to-school” time complete with shopping sprees for school supplies and clothing--a burden on wallets. To help with budgeting shoppers, many retailers in Texas will be offering a tax free holiday this weekend August 7-9, 2015.  As with previous years, this will include most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100.

The Christian Science Monitor noted, as a reminder, that Texas excludes clothing and footwear designed primarily for athletic use, but makes a nice distinction between athletic apparel and stuff that's more equipment than apparel. For example, a football jersey would be tax-free, but football pads and pants are not. Running shoes are tax-free, but track shoes and cleats are not.

Dates for sales tax holidays are set by the legislature and could mean savings of about $8.00 on every $100.00 spent. It is also good to note that Tax free will apply to layaway items if you place your items on layaway during the holiday or make the final payment during the holiday. The tax free sales can be combined with extra deals, both in stores and online, and some stores may even flex their hours, opening earlier or closing later.
For more information and a full list of exemptions please visit http://comptroller.texas.gov/taxinfo/taxpubs/taxholiday/d/
 

39th Composite Regiment Provides Community Service at Bike-A-Thon

Story by: Capt. John Root, 39th Regiment

Posted:August 7, 2015

Rest stop
Pvt. Gregory Turnbow, 39th Regiment, Texas State Guard, guides cyclists at a rest stop during the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Cactus & Crude MS-150 Bike-A-Thon from Midland to Lubbock, Texas, July 26, 2015. The Texas State Guard provides support to community events as part of its mission in addition to assisting local authorities during emergencies such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires. (TXSG photo/Released)

MIDLAND, Texas (July 28, 2015) – Soldiers from the 39th Composite Regiment, Texas State Guard, performed route and safety guidance for the Cactus & Crude MS-150 Bike-A-Thon, sponsored by the  Multiple Sclerosis Society, along the 150-mile route from Midland to Lubbock, Texas, July 25-26, 2015.  The Texas State Guard serves Texans by providing assistance during emergencies such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires, and community events.   

Guiding cyclists
Staff Sgt. Manuel Hernandez and Staff Sgt. Derald Mabbit, 39th Regiment, Texas State Guard, guides cyclists through a blind curve during the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Cactus & Crude MS-150 Bike-A-Thon from Midland to Lubbock, Texas, July 26, 2015. The Texas State Guard provides support to community events as part of its mission in addition to assisting local authorities during emergencies such as hurricances, tornadoes, and wildfires. (TXSG photo/Released)

Soldiers from the 39th Composite Regiment followed the lead of local law enforcement to create a safe roadway for the cyclists at multiple highway intersections, blind curves, and other potentially dangerous points along the route.

In the spirit of the event, Sgt. 1st Class Rosalind Roger, 3rd Battalion, 39th Composite Regiment, entered the race and finished among the top riders. "The ride was great, the weather was fabulous, and the support from the Texas State Guard was amazing," said Roger.  "I am proud to be a part of a great team like the Texas State Guard.  I look forward to this event next year.”

"The  soldiers of the 39th Composite Regiment, along with event organizers, local emergency management, law enforcement and emergency medical services, did an outstanding job of ensuring the safety of all cyclists along the two-day 150-mile route," stated Col. Barney E. Welch, commander of the 39th Composite Regiment, Texas State Guard.  "In the process, our soldiers used this event as a training opportunity for future missions where the regiment is needed for maintaining traffic flow and assisting with the evacuation of citizens during an emergency, such as a hurricane or a wildfire.  The 39th is always ready and "equal to the task"."

The 39th Composite Regiment appreciated the support and cooperation of their local jurisdiction partners, National Multiple Sclerosis Society Event Coordinator Lyndee Groce, the congregation of the Lamesa First Baptist Church, the local officials and citizens of Lamesa, Texas, and Larry Duyck and Terri Stahl of Lamesa and their staffs.

TXSG cyclist
Col.Barney Welch, commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Marshall Allen, 39th Regiment, Texas State Guard, congratulate  Sgt. 1st Class  Rosalind Roger, 3rd Battallion, 39th Regiment, for completing the first day of the Multiple Schlerosis Society's Cactus & Crude MS-150 Bike-A-Thon from Midland to Lubbock, Texas, July 25, 2015. The Texas State Guard provides support to community events as part of its mission in addition to supporting local authorities during emergencies such as hurricances, tornadoes, and wildfires. (TXSG photo/Released)

Working together, the organizers, cyclists, and soldiers, saw this community event as a shining example of  how cooperative efforts among citizens, local authorities, and the Texas State Guard can achieve a successful outcome. 

Operation Lone Star shines once again in South Texas

Story by: Sgt. Praxedis Piñeda
100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Posted: August 5, 2015

Operation Lone Star 2015 Medical PhotoMembers of the Texas Military Forces gathered for a five-day emergency preparedness training exercise in South Texas, July 27-31, 2015. Operation Lone Star allows guardsmen, local and state health agencies, and the Department of State Health Services to train together and prepare for a mass casualty disaster.

"We get the opportunity to practice what we do in case of a deployment for a disaster situation," said Texas State Guard 1st Lt. Daniel Steinberg, a personnel officer with 3rd Battalion, Texas Medical Brigade. "At the same time we get to provide medical care for a lot of individuals that don't have the access to that care"

Community members of all ages give the multi-agency healthcare providers the chance to treat civilian patients as they would during a real-world catastrophe.

"It's invaluable for everyone participating, because it's difficult to gain real world experience during training," said Spc. Danielle Schrag, a health care specialist with the Texas Medical Command, Texas Army National Guard. "You immediately see the impact you have on the community."

While conducting vision, physical, dental and other medical exams, healthcare personnel also benefited from the interagency environment. 
 
"It's my third time doing OLS and every year it’s a little bit different and every year we learn how to effectively manage and communicate amongst other people from different agencies," said Capt. Ryan Sharp, a dentist with the Texas Medical Command.

Together, the supporting agencies provided medical services to more than 9,000 South Texans in Laredo, Palm View, Rio Grande City, San Juan, and Brownsville. The operation has served more than 100,000 people in the last 16 years. 

"This is an excellent service that we're providing for the people of Texas, and it also gives us, as a resource, an excellent opportunity to practice what we may be called upon to do," said Steinberg.

Operation Lone Star 2015

 

Operation Lone Star 2015

Is an emergency preparedness exercise to help us get ready for disasters.
We bring FREE medical services to communities with help from hundreds of local service groups and volunteers.

Some of the services provided are:

Immunizations for children.
Diabetic screening.
Blood pressure screening.
Hearing and vision screenings.
Sports physicals.
Dental

OLS 2015

Texas State Guard: New Assignments

The Commanding General, Texas State Guard, is pleased to announce the following assignments:

 

Colonel Robert Hastings, commander, 19th Regiment, Dallas, Texas, to chief of staff, Army Component Command, Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas. 

 

Colonel Robert Woodmansee, chief of staff, Army Component Command, Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, to commander, 2nd Regiment, Gatesville, Texas.  

Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd Lietz, executive officer and acting commander, 4thRegiment, Fort Worth, Texas to commander, 19th Regiment, Dallas, Texas.

Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Sustaita, training and operations officer, Texas Medical Brigade, Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas to commander 4th Regiment, Fort Worth, Texas.   

Lieutenant Colonel John Dudenhoeffer, commander, 1st Battalion, 2ndRegiment, San Marcos, Texas to training and operations officer, Texas Medical Brigade, Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas.


Approved, MG Betty, Commanding.

Texas Army National Guard supports hundreds of Texas athletes at TAAF Games of Texas

Story by: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy

Posted: July 31, 2015

Pvt. Kamiya Smith, 18, of Houston and Pfc. Stephen Rhodes, of College Station, with the Texas Army National Guard's Recruit Sustainment Program volunteer at the boys high jump competition July 31, 2015, at the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation's Summer Games in College Station. About 75 Texas Guard's RSP warriors and the TXARNG's Recruiting and Sustainment Command supported the annual, five-day sporting event that hosted hundreds of athletes from around the state. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia M. Lacy/Released
Pvt. Kamiya Smith, 18, of Houston and Pfc. Stephen Rhodes, of College Station, with the Texas Army National Guard's Recruit Sustainment Program volunteer at the boys high jump competition July 31, 2015, at the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation's Summer Games in College Station. About 75 Texas Guard's RSP warriors and the TXARNG's Recruiting and Sustainment Command supported the annual, five-day sporting event that hosted hundreds of athletes from around the state. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia M. Lacy/Released

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Texas Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Command brought the force to support the 2015 Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Games of Texas July 30-Aug. 3, 2015, in College Station and Bryan.

For five days, thousands of Texas athletes and their supporters converged upon the two cities to compete in the state’s biggest multi-sport event. 

To support such a large event, coordinators enlisted the help of their partners from the TXARNG and its Recruit Sustainment Program warriors to help manage the chaos at two of the games’ biggest events – track and field and swimming.

“We were really stressed planning this event, knowing that having volunteers would be our No. 1 issue,” said Kelly Kelbly, city of College Station recreation manager and Games of Texas coordinator. 

But the support of the TXARNG, Kelbly said helped alleviate some of the strains that came with planning such a behemoth event.

“As we developed a relationship with the Guard, it’s knowing the dependability we have on the volunteers and it takes some of the stress from the staff,” Kelbly said. “It takes 600 volunteers, 200 staff, a couple hundred liaisons, and so knowing the dependability of the Guard handling our biggest two events, track and swimming, it takes all the pressure off of us.”

Additionally, the TXARNG’s work at the event demonstrated the presence of the Texas Guard, not just in emergency or combat situations, but also in community events such as the TAAF Games of Texas to celebrate Texas athletes.

“It’s exciting and I’m glad that I have the opportunity to volunteer here so everyone can see that the National Guard helps in combat and also the civilian side,” said Pvt. Kamiya Smith of Houston, a human resource specialist assigned to the RSP. “We’re here to help and serve when they need us.”
This is the second year the recruiters have supported the event.

“Last year, we generated more than 200 leads, which is good,” said Staff Sgt. Richard Strelsky, a TXARNG recruiter.

 

For the next two years, the games will move to McAllen, but will return to the Brazos Valley area in 2018-2019, and coordinators will keep the Guard in mind when they begin planning.

 

“We look forward to working with them again,” Kelbly said. 

Operation Lone Star 2015 - Pointing the way

Pointing the way -- Spc. Eric Flindt of D Company, 1st Battalion, Medical Brigade, Texas State Guard assists local residents through a triage line at Operation Lone Star in Mission, Texas, July 29, 2015.  Each year, Texas Military Forces partners with state and local agencies to train and prepare for potential major disasters, which in turn provide free medical services to the community. (Texas State Guard Photo by Col. Robert Morecook/Released)
Pointing the way -- Spc. Eric Flindt of D Company, 1st Battalion, Medical Brigade, Texas State Guard assists local residents through a triage line at Operation Lone Star in Mission, Texas, July 29, 2015.  Each year, Texas Military Forces partners with state and local agencies to train and prepare for potential major disasters, which in turn provide free medical services to the community. (Texas State Guard Photo by Col. Robert Morecook/Released) 

 

TAG Talks: Maj. Scott P. Nicholas

Maj. Scott P. Nicholas speaks about the importance of the manned space exploration for the continuation of the human race. TAG Talks are a series of unique presentations put together by students in The Adjutant General's Executive Leadership Development Program offering the perspective of future Senior leaders of the Texas Military Forces.

 

Operation Lone Star 2015 - Palmview

Capt. George Martin, back left, Lt. Col. Claud Cameron center front, military officer in charge for the Palmview medical distribution point, and Senior Master Sgt. Brandon Clark, right, along with fellow Texas State Guardsmen from 1st Battalion, Texas Medical Brigade, prepare for the 17th annual Operation Lone Star at Palmview High School in South Texas, July 27, 2015.  OLS gives the Texas State Guard the opportunity to train with other state and local agencies for disaster response in Texas, which in turn provides free medical care to local residents. Last year more than 11,000 persons received more than 49,000 services during the training event. (Texas State Guard Photo by Col. Robert Morecook).
Capt. George Martin, back left, Lt. Col. Claud Cameron center front, military officer in charge for the Palmview medical distribution point, and Senior Master Sgt. Brandon Clark, right, along with fellow Texas State Guardsmen from 1st Battalion, Texas Medical Brigade, prepare for the 17th annual Operation Lone Star at Palmview High School in South Texas, July 27, 2015.  OLS gives the Texas State Guard the opportunity to train with other state and local agencies for disaster response in Texas, which in turn provides free medical care to local residents. Last year more than 11,000 persons received more than 49,000 services during the training event. (Texas State Guard Photo by Col. Robert Morecook).

 

WWII Purple Heart Medals return home

Story by: Maj. Randall Stillinger

Posted: July 28, 2015

Maj. Randall Stillinger The Purple Heart Medal of Pfc. James T. Hull is embraced by his brother, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Cecil Hull during a ceremony on July 24, 2015. Pfc. Hull was killed in action during the 36th Infantry Division’s Salerno Beach Landing during World War II and was awarded the medal posthumously. After receiving his brother’s medal, Hull donated it to the 36th Infantry Division where it will be displayed on the wall of its headquarters building in Austin. (36th Infantry Division photo by Maj. Randall Stillinger)
Maj. Randall Stillinger
The Purple Heart Medal of Pfc. James T. Hull is embraced by his brother, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Cecil Hull during a ceremony on July 24, 2015. Pfc. Hull was killed in action during the 36th Infantry Division’s Salerno Beach Landing during World War II and was awarded the medal posthumously. After receiving his brother’s medal, Hull donated it to the 36th Infantry Division where it will be displayed on the wall of its headquarters building in Austin. (36th Infantry Division photo by Maj. Randall Stillinger)

SAN ANTONIO - The Purple Hearts of two fallen World War II Soldiers were returned during a patriotic ceremony on July 24 at a local health care and rehabilitation center.

The lost medals, which were recovered by the non-profit organization Purple Hearts Reunited (PHR), were presented to the family of one of the fallen, and then turned over to the commanding general of the 36th Infantry Division.

The first medal, which was posthumously awarded to Pfc. James Thomas Hull, was presented to retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Cecil Hull, his last surviving brother and a recipient of the Purple Heart himself.

Pfc. Hull was born Jan. 24, 1919, to Rufus and Pocahontas “Honto” Johnson Hull in Moulton, Texas. He enlisted on November 25, 1940 and served with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division. 

After months of final preparation in North Africa, the 36th conducted the first amphibious assault by an American division in the European theater near Salerno, Italy on Sept. 9, 1943. The 3-141st sustained heavy casualties during the beach assault and landing. Among those killed in action that day was a young Pfc. Hull.

Reuniting the Purple Heart

Several years ago, a Highland, Calif. resident discovered the medal while cleaning out a home and contacted retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Paul C. Pfeifer, a member of the local American Legion post. In June the post reached out to PHR, and within a few hours they had located the Hull family in San Antonio.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Mitchell Bell and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Dennis Hensley, members of the PHR Valor Guard, traveled to San Antonio to present the medal during the emotional ceremony. Hull’s wife of 69 years, Sophie, spoke on behalf of her ailing husband.

“I can’t express my feelings for all that you’ve done,” she said. “This means so much to us and I know what it means to him. Thank you for all of this.”

To preserve the medal, the family donated it to the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard. Division Commander, Maj. Gen. Lester Simpson, received the medal from Hull and will display it at the division headquarters in Austin, where it will be honored and protected by current and future Soldiers. 

“I’m happy to be here to accept the medal that represents your brother’s service and sacrifice, and appreciate the work that Purple Hearts Reunited does to get these back to the families,” Simpson said. “We’re certainly happy to have these medals back home.” 

A Second Medal Comes Home

Bell also presented a second Purple Heart to Simpson during the ceremony at the Pecan Valley Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. The medal belonged to Pvt. Joseph Eugene "Gene" Bone, who was born August 19, 1920 in Taylor County, Georgia to Joseph Jackson and Eva Fannie Mott Bone. 

Pvt. Bone enlisted on April 28, 1943 and served with the 143rd Infantry Regiment, another unit within the 36th Infantry Division. He had survived the amphibious landing at Salerno and fought to capture the village of San Pietro despite strong enemy resistance and severe winter weather. He sacrificed his life on February 7, 1944 as the division attempted to secure a bridgehead across the Rapido River and is buried at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy.

In January 2014, veteran Gariel Burchett contacted the Military Order of the Purple Heart after finding the medal while cleaning out his mother-in-law’s home. Since Pvt. Bone's family is no longer living, the Burchett family requested that the medal be delivered to an appropriate place where it can be viewed by others. The medal will be placed on the wall in the division headquarters next to the one belonging to Pfc. Hull along with stories that tell of their service and sacrifice.

“We’re working very hard to get our young Soldiers interested in the history and legacy of the division,” Simpson said. “Our headquarters is a great place for these Purple Hearts so they can see and read about those who have sacrificed and died in defense of our country.”

“These men joined the same unit and fought in the battle of Salerno. Pfc. Hull gave his life on that beach while attacking the Germans. Pvt. Bone survived another four months and died while fighting to cross a river,” Bell said. “They sacrificed in the final act of their military career. They died in service to their country.”

Purple Hearts Reunited

Purple Hearts Reunited was created in 2012 by Army Capt. Zachariah Fike, who was wounded during combat in Afghanistan. The non-profit organization, which relies on grants and donations to continue the mission, has returned over 150 lost or stolen medals and artifacts to family members or museums. The return of these two medals was sponsored by a grant from the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation. Framing of the medals was generously donated by Village Frame Shoppe & Gallery in St. Albans, Vermont.

The return of these medals actually makes a total of three 36th Infantry Division Purple Hearts that have been delivered within a week. The medal belonging to Pvt. Berlin E. Small was also returned to his family in Brainbridge Island, Wash.

“The return of three medals to the same division within a week is definitely historic from a PHR perspective. I would like to think that these guys have been orchestrating these efforts together from up above,” Fike said. “I truly appreciate everyone's effort on this project.”