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.”

Texas Army National Guard Soldiers stand ready to provide flood support

Story by:  Capt. Maria Mengrone

Posted: May 21, 2015

 Capt. Maria Mengrone Texas Army National Guard soldiers on state active duty, conduct critical water rescue rehearsals with first responders from Texas Task Force 1 (TXTF-1), while on standby to respond to flooding in the North Texas region, May 16, 2015. Guardsmen provided light medium tactical vehicles to emplace TXTF-1 inflatable boats in flood waters to simulate potential flood victim rescues in controlled conditions. Guardsmen often work side by side with local and state partners to help Texans in need during disaster situations. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Maria Mengrone)
Capt. Maria Mengrone
Texas Army National Guard soldiers on state active duty, conduct critical water rescue rehearsals with first responders from Texas Task Force 1 (TXTF-1), while on standby to respond to flooding in the North Texas region, May 16, 2015. Guardsmen provided light medium tactical vehicles to emplace TXTF-1 inflatable boats in flood waters to simulate potential flood victim rescues in controlled conditions. Guardsmen often work side by side with local and state partners to help Texans in need during disaster situations. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Maria Mengrone)

DENTON, Texas – Texas Army National Guard Soldiers on state active duty conducted critical water rescue training with first responders from Texas Task Force 1 in response to recent floods in the North Texas region, May 16, 2015.

“We want to practice utilizing inflatable rescue boats during the day, under controlled conditions, so that our National Guard counterparts can implement the necessary safety measures when we are called to go out,” said Jeff Novak, Battalion Chief and Water Group Manager, Texas Task Force 1. 

The training consisted of guardsmen loading Texas Task Force 1 inflatable boats onto the light medium tactical vehicles and backing the vehicles into high water to launch the boats. 

“My soldiers have never backed an LMTV into flood water and I could see their confidence build as they saw the full capabilities of our equipment,” said Sgt. Matthew T. Wallace, squad leader, 236th Engineer Company, 111th Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade. 

“Having this preparation time is rare; we are running these evolutions and building a relationship with these soldiers. We’re going to respond together if we are called to move out,” said Ralph Diamond, Captain and Water Squad Leader, Texas Task Force 1. “We see how powerful working together can be and together improve the level of service to the state.”

Guardsmen took turns on the inflatable boats to simulate rescuing a potential flood victim. In addition, the guards’ use of high profile vehicles, such as the LMTV, is a unique asset to Texas Task Force 1. 

“They give us capabilities we do not have,” said Novak. “We are able to be more effective using these high profile vehicles; we can do more, and respond more quickly.” 

Guardsmen and Texas Task Force 1 first responders have been on stand by across the state, to respond to inclement weather and anticipated flooding, May 10-21, 2015. They are scheduled to remain on standby through the weekend, May 22-25, to respond to anticipated storms moving through Texas. 

The Texas Military Forces is made up of the Army and Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard who work for the Governor of Texas during domestic operations. The Texas Military Forces partners with local, state and federal agencies when called upon to support domestic operations and often partners with Texas Task Force 1. Texas Task Force 1 is comprised of various first-responder agencies from the State of Texas who provide search and rescue during domestic operations. Texas Task Force 1 is the most active urban search and rescue team in the country. Both teams are trained and skilled in responding to man-made and natural disasters.

ARMY COMPONENT, TEXAS STATE GUARD WELCOMES NEW COMMANDER

Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr.Commentary by CW2 Janet Schmelzer, 4th Regiment, PAO

AUSTIN, Texas – The Army Component Command of the Texas State Guard has a new commander and a new general, Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr.
 Maj. Gen. Jake Betty, Commander, Texas State Guard, promoted Palmer to the rank of brigadier general and formally handed over the Army Component to Palmer at a ceremony held at Camp Mabry in Austin, March 28, 2015.

Palmer will command almost 1,000 state guardsmen, assigned to six civil affairs regiments, located across the state.

"I couldn't be more honored, or more humbled, by the opportunity to lead one of the premier organizations of this type in the United States," said Palmer. "With my mentors' support and the support of the officers, NCOs, and enlisted members of the Army Component, we're going to continue moving forward as an organization with a culture and a strategy of continuous improvement."

Palmer was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Louisiana Army National Guard after completing the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Louisiana College in 1980 and ended his federal service as a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Army National Guard in 2008.  His active duty assignments include a deployment to Bosnia for Operation Joint Forge, in 2000, Operation Noble Eagle II, in 2003 and Operation Jump Start supporting border operations in Texas, from 2006-2008.  He is a graduate of the Field Artillery School Officer Basic Course, Field Artillery School Cannon Battery Officer Course, Field Artillery School Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, Command and General Staff College-Graduate and Field Artillery Pre-Command Course.

Palmer also received The State of Texas Outstanding Service Medal for exemplary service in the military forces of Texas during the ceremony.  Palmer's highest awards for military service are the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal with four oak leaf clusters, as well as various other state and federal ribbons.

Palmer joined the Texas State Guard at the rank of Colonel in 2008, most recently serving as the commander of the 4th Regiment.

Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and History from Louisiana College-Pineville, Pineville, Louisiana, and a Masters of Art in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University-Commerce in Commerce.  He is an Assistant Principal at Denton High School in Denton.  He is married to Dr. Mary "Beth" Palmer. They have a son, 1st Lt. Howard N. Palmer, III, US Air Force, and daughter-in-law Julia C. Palmer.
 

Texas National Guard partners with Texas Task Force 1 during floodwater rescue

Story by: Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert

Posted: May 19, 2015

A meteorologist interviews members of Texas Task Force 1 and the Texas Army National Guard at the Army Natioanl Guard aviation support facility, in Grand Prairie, Texas, May 17, 2015. The combined team rescued a couple in distress early in the day and brought them to safety. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/Released)
A meteorologist interviews members of Texas Task Force 1 and the Texas Army National Guard at the Army National Guard aviation support facility, in Grand Prairie, Texas, May 17, 2015. The combined team rescued a couple in distress early in the day and brought them to safety. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/Released)

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Members of Texas Task Force 1 and the Texas Military Forces positioned at the Army aviation support facility in Grand Prairie, received a call from a local agency early-morning May 17, 2015, to rescue a couple stranded in front of their mobile home in Johnson County.

“When we arrived on scene, we were looking around the area for hazards and for any situation that could arise to ensure we could safely hoist the stranded couple up,” said Army National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Blake Arrington, pilot of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, Texas Military Forces. “The house was next to the river and the river rose due to the heavy rainfall. Their home was surrounded by water while the current kept ground rescuers away.”

The ground rescue operation failed due to the strong current pushing the boat away from the mobile home. At one point the first responders used a drone to drop a line to the couple and anchor it to their trailer. The line was used to pull a rescue raft towards the couple and extract them from the flood waters. The attempt failed. The call came in to Texas Task Force 1 and the flight was generated.

“The biggest issue we had were wires,” said Arrington. “We had to position the Black Hawk in the best possible way for our swimmers and the victims. We worked together as a team - from the crew chief, to the pilots, to the swimmers.”

The rescue team comprised of two Texas National Guard pilots, two Texas Task Force 1 swimmers and a Texas National Guard crew chief, each skillfully trained to conduct search and rescue operations for distressed Texans. 

It is the swimmers’ job to rescue the stranded from the disaster area, while the crew chief’s job is to be the go-between for the pilots and swimmers.

“He is our main eyes between the pilots and the swimmers. He controls the cable for the swimmers and tells the pilot where to move the Black Hawk,” said Arrington. “The swimmers are a vital part of rescuing; they interact with the victims extracting them from the dangerous situation.”

Once the couple was hoisted into the Black Hawk and secured, they were flown to safety a half mile away, into the hands of local first responders where they were examined for any possible injuries. The couple, safely evacuated from the flood waters, was able to return to their home by nightfall.

“We are just Texans helping Texas, said Arrington. “Here to do a job.” 

The Texas Military Forces is made up of the Army and Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard who work for the Governor of Texas during domestic operations. The Texas Military Forces partners with local, state and federal agencies when called upon to support domestic operations and often partners with Texas Task Force 1. Texas Task Force 1 is comprised of various first-responder agencies from the State of Texas who provide search and rescue during domestic operations. Texas Task Force 1 is the most active urban search and rescue team in the country. Both teams are trained and skilled in responding to man-made and natural disasters.

Memorial Day Reflections: Capt. Jose Rafael de la Garza

Captain Jose Rafael de la Garza Captain Jose Rafael de la Garza was born in 1838 to a prominent and wealthy San Antonio family with deep Texas roots. Jose was well educated at St. Joseph’s College in Bardstown, Kentucky. One of his teachers described him as a young man of "fine disposition… very mild and cheerful, always in good humor and someone who never utter an improper word."

After the secession of Texas in February, 1861, Jose was one of 90,000 Texans who joined the Confederate Army, in which he was appointed captain in Company K, 6th Texas Infantry. De la Garza was later a company commander in the 17th Texas Infantry. Jose was killed leading his company in a charge against Union forces at the Battle of Mansfield, Louisiana on May 8, 1864. He was 26 years old. A letter relaying the details of his death is below.

-Compiled by the Texas Military Forces Museum

 

Headquarters Waul’s Brigade
Walker’s Division, in the Field
Apl. 19, 1864

 

Friend Bart,

Having a few leisure moments, I thought I could not better employ them than by writing you. Our command having been halted at this place to give the men an opportunity to wash and clean up generally as they have been marching and fighting for the past month without rest.

I have some painful news to communicate to you. It is that Joe Garza fell while gallantly fighting at the head of his company at the battle of Mansfield on the evening of the 8th inst. He was shot above the knee with a shell and died soon after. This I was told by a number of his company who had assisted at his burial. Joe spent the greater part of the day with me the day before the fight and was in fine health and spirits…

I have had a pretty rough and hard time since I reached this command, as it was falling back from Marksville where we were going and the Yanks pursuing. As I had to relieve the then quartermaster of this brigade and everything being in confusion, I had a pretty rough time. I did not get into the battle of the 8th, but did in the 9th. It was a hard fight, but we whipped the Yanks badly. I think it was the most complete victory of the war. We had but about 8 or 9,000 in the first day’s fight and in the second about 12,000. The enemy had not less than 30,000 in the first, and were reinforced on the second day by a fresh corps. They were completely routed, losing about 300 wagons and trains, wagons loaded with stores, between 80 and 100 ambulances, 16 pieces of artillery with everything complete. All of these fell into our hands and were saved. They also destroyed quartermaster stores without number. Small arms it would be hard to estimate numbers, as all of our gun supplies and Enfield rifles that were left on the battlefield and there were wagon loads hauled off. As far as I was able to see and could learn from the parties sent out to bury the dead, theirs was at about 5 to 1 of our dead. And hundreds were reported laying in the woods, the men not taking the trouble to bury when there were none of our men killed.

In prisoners we got between 4 and 5,000. Our loss in officers has been terribly severe. We have to mourn the loss of Major General Tom Green, Brigadier General Mouton, some 9 or 10 colonels in the same proportion. After the two days fights we were ordered on the march. Where we are going is “Quien Sabe” but am inclined to think Arkansas is the point, unless [Union general Frederick] Steele happens to fall back too rapidly that there would be no chance for us to catch him…

 

H.B. Adams

Memorial Day Reflections

Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall visits Camp Mabry in AustinCommentary by Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Photo By Michelle McBride

The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall visits Camp Mabry in Austin, every year during the annual Texas Military Forces Open House and American Heroes Air Show. It’s one way the event pays tribute to those that went before us.

This year a Vietnam veteran came to see the wall, with a long list of names. He knelt before each name and spent a few moments with each of his brothers who never came home. He said that whenever the wall comes to Texas, there he is, visiting his friends.

Each year during the same event, a wall honoring those lost in the Global War on Terror is set up as well. And each year that I attend the event, I too, go to the wall and seek out my friends.

To some people, the name Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins is a name on a list, just one of many service members who lost their lives in a war. To others, the name symbolizes the price we pay for the freedom we enjoy. To an even smaller group of people, the name represents a life lived.

When I see the wall with my friends’ names on them I remember the lives I was so blessed to share.

 I think of how Travis convinced my husband to ask me out on our first date, how he welcomed me into their group of friends and I think of the wedding photos that will always have a hole where the best man should have stood.

Then I think of Capt. Joshua Lawrence. I think of basmati rice and jelly donuts. I think of the time he accused me of “being allergic to man,” after I informed him that I did not appreciate the smell of Brut cologne that the guys had sprayed all over the office. I think of how every time stupid seemed to happen, which when you are working 20 hour days, seven days a week, does seem to happen often, I could just look at him and roll my eyes. I think of his combat toothpicks – a reshaped paperclip - and his oath to change the brigade headquarters company’s call sign to Honey Badger, after taking command. I think of carrying his body to a Blackhawk, just weeks before he was scheduled to take that command. And I think of the empty desk that sat next to me for what seemed an eternity.

For many of us who have worn the uniform, things like the Vietnam Memorial Wall and days like Memorial Day are so much more than a tribute, or a day to barbeque with family. For us, it is a time to stop and remember the lives of our friends, our brothers and sisters in arms – the ones who never came home as well as those that came home, but are no longer with us.

It doesn’t matter when we served, or what combat theater we served in, we are all connected by those we’ve lost – perhaps the deepest battle wounds we carry.
It’s true what they say – Freedom isn’t Free. It has been paid for by the blood of so many. But each man and woman, who paid that price, first lived a full life; they did not just have a death. 

This Memorial Day, as we roll out the grills and enjoy the beginning of summer, may we all pause to remember those who went before and those who never came home to their families. Take a minute to remember their sacrifice and toast the lives they lived.
 

TAG Talks: LTC Les Davis

LTC Les Davis, Deputy Director CFMO, Texas National Guard, talks about Camp Mabry and its relationship with the local community in a TAG Talk at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas.