Texas Military Department Names Human Resources Director

Ms. Shelia B. Taylor has been selected to serve as the State Human Resources Director for the Texas Military DepartmentAUSTIN, Texas (July 1, 2015) – Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, The Adjutant General of Texas is pleased to announce that Ms. Shelia B. Taylor has been selected to serve as the State Human Resources Director for the Texas Military Department, effective April 1, 2015.

“I consider it an honor and a privilege to have been selected as the new State Director of Human Resources,” said Taylor. “I look forward to continued service in my new role as part of the TMD team; and--with the help and support of dedicated staff- I will do my best to maintain the vote of confidence indicated by giving me this opportunity.”

Taylor joined the agency in March 2011 as Legal Counsel. Prior to that she served as the Deputy Chief and Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) (gubernatorial appointment by former Governors George W. Bush and Rick Perry), Legal Counsel with the Disaster Recovery Division at the Texas Department of Rural Affairs, Administrative Law Judge and Assistant Director of Hearings for the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Assistant District Attorney for Travis County District Attorney's Office.

As the Human Resources Director, her role will involve the management, supervision, coordination and oversight of all aspects of human resources activities, including, but not limited to: personnel administration (recruitment, selection, classification, performance management; staff development, employee benefits; and employee relations, etc.); ensuring compliance with applicable state and federal laws and policies, as well as agency policies. Additionally, she will provide direction, guidance, and assistance to agency staff and supervisors on issues, rules, and regulations related to human resources; develop policies and procedures and other guidance; assist in the coordination and management of the agency's defense on administrative actions and litigation such as proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and unemployment claims before the Texas Workforce Commission. Taylor will also review the results of special investigations, internal audits, research studies and forecasts, to provide direction and guidance; maintain a working knowledge of changes in employment law and legislation that affect (or may potentially impact) agency operations.

Taylor received a Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Criminal Justice from Southern Methodist University and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from The University of Texas at Austin School of Law. She has been licensed by the State Bar of Texas since October 1981. She is the recipient of the Victor J. Rosskopf Award, awarded by the National Association of the Administrative Law Judiciary for significant contributions made in the field of administrative adjudication.

Texas Signal Guardsmen prepare for deployment

Story by: Master Sgt. Daniel Griego

Posted: July 2, 2015

 Master Sgt. Daniel Griego Soldiers with the Texas National Guard's 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion conduct pre-mobilization training June 29 at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas. This training, which includes weapons familiarization, chemical training, land navigation, and other basic warrior skills, is in preparation for the unit's upcoming deployment to Kuwait and surrounding areas. The Houston-based outfit, part of Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade), trained from June 22 through July 11 at Camp Swift before conducting its farewell ceremony in Houston. (Photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Griego/Released)
Master Sgt. Daniel Griego
Soldiers with the Texas National Guard's 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion conduct pre-mobilization training June 29 at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas. This training, which includes weapons familiarization, chemical training, land navigation, and other basic warrior skills, is in preparation for the unit's upcoming deployment to Kuwait and surrounding areas. The Houston-based outfit, part of Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade), trained from June 22 through July 11 at Camp Swift before conducting its farewell ceremony in Houston. (Photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Griego/Released)

CAMP SWIFT, Texas – For three weeks from June 21 to July 11, more than 200 men and women of the Texas Army National Guard’s 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion conduct pre-mobilization training at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas. This training, which focuses on basic warrior skills common to all Soldiers, prepares the troops for their upcoming deployment to Kuwait and surrounding countries.

“It’s good to have a foundation; it’s good to sharpen up all our skills,” said Spc. Dilan Goodwin, a network operator with C Company, 136th ESB. “You never know when you’re going to need it in combat.”

This training period is the first of two preparatory rounds for the battalion, with the second happening later this month at Fort Hood where they’ll train on their signal mission. Once at Fort Hood, the headquarters company and C Company will be joined by A Company from the Alabama National Guard. 

“The ESB is a communications battalion, so what we’re going to be doing is providing backbone communications,” said Chief Warrant Officer Wade Vrtis, a network technician with HHC, 136th ESB. “We’re also going to be running help desks and technical control facilities.”

The organization’s primary objective overseas will be to provide network and voice capabilities to the main elements located throughout seven countries, including Kuwait, Jordan, The United Arab Emirates, and Egypt. 

“It’s a very big mission, very important,” said Vrtis. “It feels like we have something to give and something to provide.”

The training here at Camp Swift focuses on the Soldiers’ traditional Army skills, from weapons familiarization and land navigation to react to contact drills and decontamination.

“The training that we have is very important in case things happen out of your control,” said Vrtis. “But mostly the mission is going to be communication mission, and these guys are pretty good when it comes to communications.”

This will be the first deployment for the signal battalion, which has been around for about six years and falls under the Texas National Guard’s Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade). For the deployment, the battalion will fall under the 160th Strategic Signal Brigade, the outfit responsible for providing the United States Central Command and Third United State Army with enterprise communications capabilities. 

“We’re also expeditionary, so that means that we’re not afraid to be in a tactical environment,” said 1st Lt. Jouhee Han, the 136th ESB Battle Captain. “So we can set up just about anywhere.”

The Texas Guardsmen will serve for approximately nine months overseas for this deployment. 

“I’m really honored to work with the Soldiers I’m working with,” said Han, “and I’m really honored to be a part of the battalion. I feel that this mission is very important.”

The farewell ceremony for the 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion will take place July 18th at Houston’s Minute Maid Park before the Houston Astros square off against the Texas Rangers. This event marks the first time for a deployment ceremony in Texas to take place at a major sporting event.

19th Regiment Trains for Disaster Relief in East Texas

Story  by: Capt. Esperanza Meza

Posted: July 2, 2015

Annual Training commenced for the Dallas-based 19th Civil Affairs Regiment
Texas State Guard 19th Regiment soldiers, Pvt. David Bridgwater, Pvt. John Leveridge and Pfc. Levi Sourjohn, evacuate an injured role player, a boy scout from Troop 1857, Texas Skies District, Circle Ten Council, Boy Scouts of America, assisted by  Steve Gilbert, District Training Chairman, during a Ground Search and Recovery exercise in Ben Wheeler, Texas, June 5, 2015. Ground search and rescue is a Texas State Guard mission essential service that assists local authorities during an emergency. (Texas State Guard photo by Capt. Esperanza Meza/Released)  

CANTON, Texas - Annual Training commenced for the Dallas-based 19th Civil Affairs Regiment, Texas State Guard, as troops deployed to various locations in Van Zandt and Upshur counties to test and strengthen their emergency response capabilities, June 4-7, 2015.

Treating boy scout
Staff Sgt. John Legg, Texas State Guard 19th Regiment, conducts a medical review of an injured role player, Stephen Gilbert, from Troop 1857, Texas Skies District, Circle Ten Council, Boy Scouts of America, during a ground search and recovery exercise in Ben Wheeler, Texas, June 5, 2015. Texas State Guard soldiers are trained to provide combat life-saving first aid to assist victims during an emergency. (Texas State Guard photo by Capt. Esperanza Meza/Released)

The training scenario for the exercise involved a Category 4 hurricane making landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast spawning severe weather with widespread flooding and tornadoes. The exercise tested the regiment’s leadership and staff at every level, strengthening their overall capability during an emergency. The scenario challenged troops to exercise their response capabilities in communications, mass care, shelter management, evacuee tracking, and search and rescue.

Local churches and high schools across Van Zandt County were transformed into mass care shelters with emergency tracking network stations and medical treatment stations for special needs patients. 

“We were very happy to be here with the Texas State Guard and being part of the community that helps our residents,” said Reverend Wade Harman of The United Methodist Church, Canton, Texas. "It is important to see our Texas State Guard at work."

"I am impressed by the professionalism and high operating tempo of the 19th Regiment,” stated Brig. Gen. Howard Palmer, Army Component Commander, Texas State Guard. “I am grateful by the level of community response and participation.  This cooperative training benefits everyone."

Pvt. Jason Harber, a new enlistee who swore into the Guard at annual training commented that "the 19th Regiment is professional, well-organized, friendly, and helpful in getting me up to speed. This was a good decision to join.”

The exercise also included Ground Search and Recovery in Ben Wheeler, Texas, which tested soldiers' abilities in land navigation, communication, first aid, and search methods. Assisting the regiment, six Texas Skies District Boy Scouts from Van Zandt County played the part of a lost campers in the path of a tornado.  Three six-man search teams from the regiment searched the area to locate victims, apply first aid as required and evacuate them. Champion Emergency Support supported the exercise with paramedics and an ambulance and Flight for Life, based in Palestine, Texas, simulated patient recovery with an emergency medical helicopter.

"Annual Training provided unique challenges for command and control. Our unit force packages were stretched to make numerous decisions within a framework of rapidly changing locations and conditions. They accomplished the mission,” said Lt. Col. Wendell Sadler, 19th Regiment operations officer.

"This is an outstanding training opportunity to work with local authorities," stated Maj. Gen. Gerald "Jake" Betty, Commanding General, Texas State Guard.  "As normal, our soldiers are doing an outstanding job.  I am honored and humbled to visit with the dedicated soldiers of the Texas State Guard."

Following completion of the hurricane scenario, troops conducted a confidence exercise at Alert Academy, led by Col. Richard Tanner, commanding officer, Alert Academy and academy training instructors, in Big Sandy, Texas. The exercise started with an arduous land navigation exercise with a dismounted cross country movement followed by advanced ground search and rescue training. Troops were physically and mentally focused as they approached obstacles, including a rappelling tower, rock climbing wall, and a one-rope river crossing exercise.

Pvt. Brooke Jones, another recent enlistee, stated that she "thoroughly enjoyed the experiences with the rappelling tower and the water crossing activity. Both exercises allowed me to push myself, build my confidence, instill a sense of trust and foster camaraderie with my teammates, who also provided plenty of encouragement along the way. I enjoyed the rappelling so much I opted to descend inverted, along with Pfc. Michael Roppolo. I am confident that my experiences with both exercises will make me a more effective soldier so that I may be able to better serve my fellow Texans." 

During the closing ceremony at the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial, the 19th Regiment thanked Van Zandt county officials and residents for supporting the regiment's annual training, at Canton, Texas, June 7, 2015.   Attending the ceremony were Van Zandt County Judge Don Kirkpatrick, Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Department, Van Zandt County Fire Marshal and Emergency Management Coordinator Chuck Allen, the Van Zandt Precinct Watch, Red Cross, Circle Ten Council Boy Scouts and Cub Scout Pack 378, local church pastors, municipal fire and police, and representatives from the Wills Point, Texas, and Martin Mills, Texas, independent school districts.  

The Texas State Guard provides support to local authorities during a disaster or emergency such as hurricanes, wildfires, and flooding.  The Texas State Guard also conducts the state's largest annual humanitarian medical mission, Operation Lone Star, in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas.

Texas State Guard Partners with Brazoria County Emergency Management

Story by: Warrant Officer Malana Nall 

Posted: June 30, 2015

Pfc. Justin Stanton, 8th Regiment, Texas State Guard, carries cases of ready-to-eat meals for residents of Brazoria County
PFC Justin Stanton, 8th Regiment, Texas State Guard, carries cases of ready-to-eat meals for residents of Brazoria County during a points of distribution exercise at Alvin Community College, Alvin, Texas, June 27, 2015.  Distributing food, water, and ice to residents is a mission essential task for the Texas State Guard during an emergency. (Texas State Guard photo by Capt. Shawn James/Released)

HOUSTON, Texas – Joint training benefits the Texas State Guard and the local management and residents so in the event of a real emergency, every-one will be able to respond effectively and provide assistance to those in need. In the spirit of cooperation, education and training, the Texas State Guard 8th Regiment, 447th Air Support Group 5th Air Wing, 2nd Battalion Texas Medical Brigade and Corps of Engineers partnered with the Brazoria County Office of Emergency Management and the Fort Bend Community to run a hurricane evacuation and sheltering exercise June 25th through June 28th. Armories in Angleton, Rosenberg and Houston, Texas served as bases of operations. 

Troops mustered at the Westheimer Armory, Houston, TX, to receive safety and mission briefings before heading to their duty assignments. During the exercise, soldiers assigned to Angleton broke into two groups. One proceeded to the Lake Jackson Civic Center, Lake Jackson, TX while the other went to the Pearland Recreation Center in Pearland to conduct mock evacuations of Brazoria County residents. The exercise utilized the Brazoria County All Hazard Response Network, a system similar to the Evacuation and Tracking Network used by the state to track evacuees throughout the process. 

The 8th Regiments also conducted a mock mass casualty incident at the Lake Jackson Civic Center. Soldiers assigned to the Rosenberg armory, in Rosenberg, Texas, set up a temporary daytime only shelter at the First Assembly of God Church in Rosenberg, for residents escaping rising flood waters. The local volunteer organization, Helping Hands, which helped cleaned homes damaged by the recent Memorial Day flooding, assisted by acting as evacuees. 

As the exercise moved into it’s third day, the 8th Regiment set up and operated points of distribution on the campus of Alvin Community College in Alvin and at the Rosenberg Civic Center in Fort Bend County for local residents who were without electricity and in need of food, water and ice.

Texas State Guard officers 1st Lt. Carl Mathews, 447th Support Group, 5th Air Wing, and Capt. Joseph Conte, 8th Regiment,   review the emergency operations command information board at the 8th Regiment tactical operations command center
Texas State Guard officers 1st Lt. Carl Mathews, 447th Support Group, 5th Air Wing, and Capt. Joseph Conte, 8th Regiment, 
review the emergency operations command information board at the 8th Regiment tactical operations command center during 8th 
Regiment annual training at the Westheimer Armory in Houston, Texas, June 26, 2015.  This information provides the Texas 
emergency management system real time updates to the Texas State Guard during an emergency.  (Texas State Guard photo by Warrant Officer Malana Nall/Released)

At the same time, Corps of Engineers used this training as an opportunity to inspect local roads, bridges and levees for damage from the recent rains and river flooding.

Volunteers from both counties assisted with the exercises by becoming role players to enhance the complexity and realism of the training.

A real world event, solar flares disrupted radio communications with the tactical operations center. Command Sgt. Maj. John Marshall immediately assisted with re-establishing communications. Marshall was very proud of how the soldiers responded. “They were very quick to find a solution to the problem,” he stated. 

The 8th Regiment used local caterers to provide meals for the troops and in the process added over $14,000 of financial stimulus to the local communities according to financial officer Chief Warrant Officer 2 Gregory Murray. 

This annual training was an outstanding opportunity for the soldiers and airmen of the Texas State Guard to sharpen their skills and abilities to help their fellow Texans during an emergency.

 

San Antonio resident inducted into TXMF Hall of Honor

Retired Air Force Col. Harold H. Blackshear, of San Antonio, was inducted into the Texas Military Forces Hall of Honor programAUSTIN, Texas (June 29, 2015) – Retired Air Force Col. Harold H. Blackshear, of San Antonio, was inducted into the Texas Military Forces Hall of Honor program June 27, 2015, at Camp Mabry, in Austin, for his outstanding military service and leadership while serving as a member of the Texas Air National Guard.

Blackshear enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in Aug. of 1949, as a T-6 trainer and F-51 Mustang Fighter mechanic. Following three years at the University of Texas, where he majored in architectural engineering studies, Blackshear received a commission in the Texas Air National Guard in 1956. Blackshear attended pilot training and finished at the top his class, accumulating 3,639 hours of flight time in all-weather fighter interceptors, tactical fighters and support aircraft.

Blackshear’s work ethic is mission oriented as evident in unmatched performance as the air technician base civil engineer and commander of the 149th Civil Engineering Squadron that maintained a C-1 combat-ready status. His base master planning proved invaluable, setting standards, cutting costs, and building state of the art facilities. 

His design of a first of its kind mobile hydraulically-operated thrust frame supporting an engine test stand to provide safe change-over for use with a unique noise suppressor with either aircraft or engine, earned him the prestigious Texas Minuteman Award. His design of a highly-specialized foundation and appurtenances for the first “Hush-House,” resulted in building an additional 126 Air Force-wide. He also is credited with the design and construction of the first military non-destruct inspection laboratory that high-intensity x-rays detect imperfections in metal. Blackshear chaired a select group of base civil engineers to develop a mission directive for a civil engineer emergency force. For state employees, he developed a career progression ladder that resulted in adoption of Senate Concurrence Resolution #08 effective state-wide. Blackshear served the National Guard Bureau during three one-year terms as chief engineer of the ANG Civil Engineers Association. His final position with the TXANG was as director of plans, where he was promoted to colonel, receiving the Meritorious Service Medal. He retired from the Texas Military Forces in March of 1986.

The Hall of Honor program was established in 1980 to recognize outstanding Texas Air, Army and State Guard members. Since its inception, more than 95 members of the TXMF have been inducted. Blackshear’s picture and a narrative explaining her service will hang in the conference room of the Brig. Gen. John C.L. Scribner Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry in Austin.

Article on 8th Regiment from The Facts

Article on 8th Regiment from The Facts

Posted with permission of The Facts

Hurricane drills test, prepare local volunteers

By BRITTANY LAMAS brittany.lamas@thefacts.com | Posted: Sunday, June 28, 2015 2:00 am

Hurricane Expo
Hurricane Expo
Karen Booren is carried by Theodore Mikeasky and Eseil Hernandez of the Texas State Guard to the medical station as part of a mass casualities drill Friday at the Lake Jackson Civic Center.

LAKE JACKSON — As Lisa Dewey reclined on a table in the Lake Jackson Civic Center with bandages on her arms and wounds on her head, Texas State Guard troops bustled around, assessing her fake injuries.

She was impressed with the team’s professionalism and seriousness.

“They’re definitely taking this serious. Some of the times I’m trying not to laugh, but they’re very good,” she said.

Dewey came by the Civic Center as a volunteer for an evacuation hub exercise and a mass-casualty drill to test emergency response procedures for the county and the Texas State Guard.

After seven years of mild storms since Hurricane Ike in 2008, drills are critical as a major storm hitting Brazoria County becomes inevitable, Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator Glenn LaMont said.

The hub was the county’s first opportunity to test new software meant to help if an evacuation is called because of a hurricane, LaMont said.

“We’re one of the first county jurisdictions to use it in a drill,” he said. “We got to see how it worked. It’s pretty simple to use, and do it quickly at the level of putting people in and getting them out.”

The county’s Community Emergency Response Teams worked with the Texas State Guard, one of the state’s three military forces deployed in emergencies, and Galveston County emergency teams to practice signing people in, designating where they would go and getting them loaded onto evacuation buses.

LaMont said 60 to 80 volunteers came by to help make the drill as realistic as possible, which is key to checking how the procedures will hold up in a storm.

Response team volunteer Tallie Taylor Fine said she will be so much more confident in her skills if a storm blows through this summer.

She and her husband signed up to be part of Lake Jackson’s response team two months ago, so they really had no idea going into Friday what all would come with a real disaster situation, Fine said.

“There were some glitches, but we got those worked out and now I know where we’d put people with dogs and people with medical needs,” she said.

“I’m a lot more prepared now.”

Texas State Guard Capt. Austin Green said the teams were able to get people through the lines at the goal speed of one every 45 seconds. It was important volunteers get used to the pace needed for real situations, Green said.

Galveston County Homeland Security Planner Michael Lambert said it was a huge benefit for some of his employees to get to work with their neighbors and run through the system.

“Our people got to work with the software in real life and we all got to work together,” he said.

After the hub, the response teams surprised Green’s Texas State Guard troops with the mass-casualty drill.

The scenario given to them was that a tornado spawned from a storm blowing through, leaving several people injured and scattered about the Civic Center.

Green said a few years ago, some of his team members were gathered in a small-town city hall when the roof was almost ripped off the building.

“This would’ve occurred for real,” he said. “That’s why we train so heavily in first aid.”

General Howard Palmer said he was excited to see the hub and disaster drill go so well and have so many volunteers. It will all be critical in a real emergency, he said.

“We get as close to real life as we can make it. These guys have a sense of urgency. It’s important to them,” he said. “To see the community and the volunteers really come out to support the training, everybody benefits.”

On Saturday, the county teams worked with Lake Jackson, Richwood, Clute and Angleton emergency response crews to run POD, point of distribution, sites as an after-the-storm practice of giving out supplies to residents.

LaMont said that kind of exercise hasn’t been tested since 2011, and even though it’s been seven years since a major disaster, the entire weekend of drills will likely come in handy sooner, rather than later.

“We got lucky with Tropical Storm Bill, but our luck can’t hold out much longer,” he said. “It’s good to have these drills for everybody, so everybody can see how it really works.”

Elgin resident to be inducted into TXMF Hall of Honor

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Maggie McCormick, of Elgin, will be inducted into the Texas Military Forces Hall of Honor programAUSTIN, Texas (June 24, 2015) – Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Maggie McCormick, of Elgin, will be inducted into the Texas Military Forces Hall of Honor program June 27, 2015, at Camp Mabry, in Austin, for her outstanding military service and leadership while serving as a member of the Texas Army National Guard.

McCormick’s service in the Texas Army National Guard began August 1977 as an administrative specialist. During her service with the TXMF, McCormick served as personnel sergeant, first sergeant and chief personnel sergeant; the first female sergeant major to hold the position. Later, McCormick served as the chief personnel services sergeant, while simultaneously serving as a command sergeant major for the 149th Personnel Services Battalion. 

During her career in the personnel field, her superior knowledge of personnel services contributed exponentially to the success of the organization. She implemented measures that streamlined personnel action processing throughout all levels of the Texas Army National Guard.

McCormick frequently traveled throughout the state visiting subordinate units to ensure the competency of the personnel force. She unselfishly dedicated many off-duty hours of her time to ensure the health, welfare and morale of all Soldiers in the Texas National Guard was high.

McCormick is the recipient of the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Lone Star Distinguished Service Medal, the Texas Outstanding Service Medal, the Texas Medal of Merit, the Adjutant General’s Individual Award and the Texas Faithful Service Medal.

The Hall of Honor program was established in 1980 to recognize outstanding Texas Air, Army and State Guard members. Since its inception, more than 95 members of the TXMF have been inducted. McCormick’s picture and a narrative explaining her service will hang in the conference room of the Brig. Gen. John C.L. Scribner Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry in Austin.

4th Regiment and City of Olney, Texas Conduct Joint Training

Story by:  Chief Warrant Officer 2 Janet Schmelzer

Posted:  June 25, 2015

1st Day Briefing
The 4th Regiment conducts an initial briefing for the joint operations training with local emergency officials of Olney, Texas, June 12, 2015.  Warrant Officer Robert Gustavsen, 4th Regiment, serves as the battle captain. Participating in the briefing were 4th Regiment staff, Olney Emergency Manager Ronny Coward, Olney Police Chief Barry Roberts, and Olney Fire Chief  Ron Keeter.  The Texas State Guard conducts joint training to be ready to serve Texas communities during a man-made or natural disaster. (Texas State Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Janet Schmelzer/Released)

OLNEY, Texas - When deployed for an emergency, the Texas State Guard is under the control of the local emergency management operations.  So soldiers need to be trained on how to support local authorities in joint operations.   For annual training this year the 4th Regiment joined with the City of Olney, Texas, to conduct joint exercises, June 12-14, 2015. 

shelter operations
At the Olney High School gym, the 2nd Battalion sets up a shelter during annual training in Olney, Texas, June 13, 2015.  Spc. Rachel Carmickle and Staff Sgt. Eddie Thomas set up cots and place blankets for shelter guests. Shelter Management is a major mission essential task of the Texas State Guard when deployed during an emergency to assist Texas residents. (Texas State Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Janet Schmelzer/Released)

To conduct a successful joint training, planning began months in advance of the exercise.   The 4th Regiment training and operations staff Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ray Spoth and Master Sgt. Richard Schilling and Regiment Commander Lt. Col. Lloyd Lietz met with local officials many times to work out the details.  By the time the final decisions had been made, the 4th Regiment would be training with the City of Olney Emergency Management Operations, Olney Fire Department, Olney Police Department, Olney Hamilton Hospital, Olney EMS, Olney ISD, the Olney Enterprise, Olney Chamber of Commerce volunteers, local city and county officials, City of Graham Emergency Control Mobile Command Center, Wichita Falls Red Cross, and the Military Auxiliary Radio System

shaking hands
Olney local officials demonstrated their appreciation for the service of the 4th Regiment during annual training in Olney, Texas, June 12-14, 2015.  The spirit of joint cooperation and collaboration between the Texas State Guard and local authorities proved essential for the success of the joint operations training exercise.  When deployed for an emergency, the TXSG provides support to and operates under the control of local authorities to assure that Texas residents receive the necessary services during a disaster. (Texas State Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Janet Schmelzer/Released)

The scenarios for the exercise had several moving parts. The first day of the exercise had the 4th Regiment in Guthrie, Texas, for wildfires and then the regiment was ordered to Olney to prepare shelters for evacuees from Guthrie.  The regiment tactical operations center was located in the Olney Fire Department. The Olney Emergency Management and the Red Cross had designated two locations for shelters at Olney High School gym and the Southside Baptist Church (which had just recently received the Red Cross designation as a shelter).  With the assistance of the Wichita Falls Red Cross, shelters received cots and blankets and the regiment set up such areas as sleeping, eating, medical, children play, reception, and intake.  The Red Cross and the Baptist men's organization provided meals to the soldiers.

receiving instructions
Olney Emergency Manager Ronny Cowart directs 4th Regiment soldiers to begin necessary tasks required by the mock emergency.   Pvt. Joseph Harwell and Pfc. Traci Lamm, 2nd Battalion, and Cpl. David Files, 1st Battalion, receive instructions to set up road blocks in order to direct traffic away from the emergency command center, police department and fire department.  During an emergency, the Texas State Guard is capable of providing numerous support skills to assist local authorities. (Texas State Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Janet Schmelzer)

Working in the shelter at the church, Pfc. Kendra Neuendorff, 3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment, who is attending her second annual training, commented that "I have a better idea of what I am supposed to do in a shelter and am learning more about the importance of the TXSG in a disaster."

On the second day, as shelter operations continued, Olney emergency management initiated its  disaster training events which would involve the training of multiple agencies.  The first emergency was a search and rescue of a hotel hit by a tornado where actors played roles of victims.  The fire department conducted the search and EMS transported the victims to the local hospital which conducted training on how to handle mass casualties.  The second emergency was a mock three-car crash which required the fire and police departments to extract victims who were then transported to the hospital.

The training also included 4th Regiment chaplains Capt. David Fish and 1st Lt. Todd Virnoche, who were called in to comfort a grieving parent of one of  the mock crash victims.  At both scenes the Texas State Guard set up a perimeter to keep onlookers at a safe distance from the disaster area.

On the final day the 4th Regiment was invited to attend church services in Olney.  Afterwards, the regiment joined in a parade down the main street along with Olney police and fire departments, and Olney Emergency Management.  At the final formation of the regiment in a moving gesture of appreciation, the Olney emergency officials shook hands with each soldier. Olney Emergency Manager Ronny Cowart expressed his appreciation for the capabilities of the TXSG.  "I am very grateful to have this opportunity to work with the Texas State Guard  and we are very happy that you came to Olney for your annual training."  Lt. Col. Lloyd Lietz, commander, 4th Regiment, was "impressed with the level of coordination and cooperation of the Olney emergency services and local officials during our annual training here in Olney."

Training is a learning opportunity to practice skills needed in the event of an emergency.  This joint annual training between Olney emergency responders and the 4th Regiment was therefore a success.  Olney emergency responders strengthened their skills and identified where more training was needed.   The 4th Regiment sharpened its ability to provide the support necessary to assist local authorities and the TXSG mission.  And everyone learned much more about how to work together in joint operation emergencies.  Once again, the 4th Regiment demonstrated the meaning of the TXSG motto "Texans Serving Texans."

Austin native to be inducted into TXMF Hall of Honor

Retired Master Sgt. Theresa M. Billeck-Zuniga, of Austin, will be inducted into the Texas Military Forces Hall of Honor programAUSTIN, Texas (June 24, 2015) – Retired Master Sgt. Theresa M. Billeck-Zuniga, of Austin, will be inducted into the Texas Military Forces Hall of Honor program June 27, 2015,at Camp Mabry, in Austin, for her outstanding military service and leadership while serving as a member of the Texas Army National Guard.

Billeck-Zuniga served a total of 26 years in the U.S. Air Force and the Texas Army National Guard. Her service in the Guard began in March of 1988, when she enlisted as a personnel records specialist. Throughout her career in the Texas National Guard, Billeck-Zuniga served as an administrative specialist, unit clerk, training noncommissioned officer, readiness NCO, operations NCO and a recruiter.

Billeck-Zuniga has a record of superior achievements that enhanced the image of the Texas Military Forces throughout her career. During her career she was involved with many programs that brought attention to the Guard, to include a training event, unit activity, retiree event, a family program or a deployment/homecoming ceremony. In 1996, the Adjutant General selected the Billeck family as the Texas National Guard Family of the Year for exemplifying the total family concept. From 1997 to 2000, she made the National Guard Bureau honor roll achieving 44 enlistments each year, as the first female recruiter for an all-male battalion. 

As a National Guard Association of Texas life member and member of the board of directors from 2001-2007, she served as only the second female president of the association in 2006-2007 and is only one of four females to receive the prestigious Minuteman award. She has served as the editor of the NGAT News Magazine for more than 10 years spending hours searching for stories that highlight the citizen-soldiers and airmen of the Texas Military Forces. Through the NGAT Silent Auction she has raised over $52,000 for scholarship to be given to TXMF members.

Among her numerous awards are the Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with seven oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Humanitarian Service Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Army National Guard Master Recruiter Badge, Career Counselor Badge, Lone Star Distinguished Service Medal, the Texas Outstanding Service Medal, The Texas Medal of Merit, Honorable Order of Molly Pitcher and Order of Saint Martin.

The Hall of Honor program was established in 1980 to recognize outstanding Texas Air, Army and State Guard members. Since its inception, more than 95 members of the TXMF have been inducted. Billeck-Zuniga’s picture and a narrative explaining her service will hang in the conference room of the Brig. Gen. John C.L. Scribner Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry in Austin.

Recruits “Come And Take” RBOT

Story by: SPC Matt Bramanti

Posted: June 23, 2015

2nd Regiment RBOT Graduation
Graduates of the Regional Basic Orientation Training (RBOT) at DPS Headquarters in Austin, TX on May 17, 2015.

AUSTIN – Amid shouts of “Come And Take It,” nearly 40 soldiers from around the state completed Regional Basic Orientation Training in May, marking the largest class to date.

The training, which spanned two weekends in April and May, gave recruits an introduction to the mission and capabilities of the Texas State Guard.

The April session focused on classroom sessions covering TXSG history, military customs and courtesy, first aid, land navigation and radio communications, as well as introductions to shelter operations. In May, recruits put those classes into practice, with a leadership reaction course and urban land navigation exercise. Recruits also had the opportunity to earn the Physical Fitness Ribbon.

While many recruits hailed from 2RGT, the course included participants from other Army Component outfits, as well as the Air Component, Medical Brigade and Maritime Regiment. SSG Angie Ogle, an instructor from TXSG J-3, said the group’s diverse unit assignments strengthened the platoon.

“They came together as a cohesive unit despite being from different units and branches,” Ogle said.  “That ability to work together embodies what the TXSG is about.“

That cohesiveness was evident in the platoon’s teamwork. With the famed Gonzales flag as its guidon, the platoon adopted the Texas Revolution  slogan “Come and take it” as its motto, and worked together outside of class to prepare for the written examination covering all RBOT courses. For the first time in the history of the RBOT program, all recruits passed the test on the first try.

CSM Richard Chamberlain, Commandant of the 2RGT RBOT program, praised the NCOs from his regiment who served as instructors.

“Most of the cadre from the 2nd are graduates of the course, so they know both sides of the coin,” Chamberlain said. “They want the soldiers to be successful and push themselves to accomplish challenges they didn't believe they could.”

One of those soldiers was PV2 Cody Allen, who overcame a fear of public speaking to serve as a squad leader and platoon leader. Allen credited the RBOT program with giving him a new level of confidence.

“RBOT was the most rewarding experience that I have personally been through,” Allen said. “I gained something most special - a bond with the brothers and sisters that I have worked and trained with.”