Texas State Guard Kicks off Young Heroes of the Guard Toy Drive

Story by: Capt. Esperanza Meza, PAO – 19th Regt.
Posted: 20-DEC-2014

A few days before Christmas, members of the Texas State Guard deliver donated toys to various children's hospitals in their local areas to bring broad smiles to kids and teens. With a goal to raise 10,000 toys this year the TXSG Chaplains group, with the guidance of TXSG Chaplain (Col.) Douglas Sewell, kicked off the Young Heroes of the Guard Christmas Toy Drive. The intent is to far-surpass last year's donations of 6,644 toys and leave a year's worth of toys behind at every hospital they visit.

In 2009, two Chaplains were initiated a challenge by a TXSG officer creating the Young Heroes of the Guard after a news report aired. The officer saw a report of children suffering in hospitals; families hurting emotionally and struggling financially, with all of them feeling forgotten during the holidays. That first year they focused their attention mainly on collecting toys for Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth. There is perhaps little which is more painful to a child than to be in the hospital during the holidays rather than at home. In the following years, the vision was expanded to include five hospitals statewide; the goal, to include 15-18 more hospitals this year.

Many touching stories have arisen over the years since this effort began. One story, noted by Chaplain (Capt.) David Fish, 4th Regiment, Fort Worth, came from Cpl. Vic Segura, who visited a cancer floor. The report stated, "One kid in particular made all of us in our group break down. We found out later that she loved art. A gift given to her took her to another place, a better place than a hospital and her current condition. Things given to her helped her create art… creating happiness. Immediately she cried when she got her gift. Anyone with a heart would have cried too upon seeing that. Art she created was shown… amazing. Without that gift somebody gave to our cause, we were told that she would have never been able to have it because her family cannot afford items like that."

Such stories and experiences as these have provided abundant motivation as TXSG units across the state this year started early collecting toys by encouraging businesses, schools, churches and organizations to join the effort. Operation Matthew 25, a grassroots organization promoting humanitarian needs, initiated a partnership challenging its members to raise 1000 toys by sending their gifts through Amazon.com.

To raise more toys, led by Chaplain Sewell and Staff Sgt. John Gately, the 1st Annual Texas State Guard - Veterans Day Celebration & Toy Drive was held in Frisco, Texas. The message, "Do your duty, take care of your people and get those 10,000 toys," was exclaimed by keynote speaker, Maj. Gen. Jake Betty, Commanding General of the TXSG. Representative Dan Flynn, Texas House Representative, District 2, and Colonel in the Army Component Command of the TXSG, also attended.

Gately, TXSG Headquarters J-6, has been instrumental in coordinating with donation providers and in creating the current TXSG toy drive website, www.txsgtoydrive.org. Starting at 19th Regiment in 2010 and then transferring to HQ in Austin, Gately directed his toy drive efforts benefiting Dell Children's Medical Center. "I remember Loxy Passmore, a Child Life assistant. As she was telling me that some toys would be in the hospital's play rooms and given as gifts to young patients, she was looking over the mounds of stuffed bears. She was clearly looking for - or hoping to see - something in particular," said Gately. "We have one little boy here, right now who just loves panda bears. I hope there's a panda in there somewhere,” he recalls her stating. “Moments later, a stuffed panda emerged from the pile. Passmore's eyes lit up. ‘This will mean so much.. All of this,’" stated Gately.

With a personal goal to raise 3,000 toys, Gately fanned out to local businesses setting up donation boxes, partnering with a golf event in Denton and getting a donation from the TXSG non-profit organization for teddy bears. "When I was six years old, I broke my leg. When I got out of the hospital, my parents got me a stuffed teddy bear," said Gately. "I remember how happy it made me. Now I want to help bring the same joy to other children."

Several TXSG soldiers are leading the drive to collect 1000 or more toys on their own like Sgt. James Williams, 2nd Regiment, in Austin, who has collected over 600 toys. Also, Staff Sgt. Rhueben Towne, who serves dual roles with the 447th Air Support Group at Ellington Field JRB in Houston and with 5th Air Wing TXSG as an A6 NCOIC has also raised 730 toys. Additionally, Towne has won the participation of a professional basketball team - the Houston Rockets - with a portion of their ticket proceeds pledged to go towards Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. Towne is also coordinating with other TXSG components like the Galveston Medical Response Group, for Shriners. "Giving a toy to a child who is not expecting it, during their time in the hospital," said Towne, "is seeing a little joyfulness. It's worth their time (along with his wife) in purchasing and collecting toys."

Holiday Safety Tips

Planning a trip for the holidays? Here are a few tips to help with your planning!

Commentary by TXMF Staff

Planning a trip for the holidays? Here are a few tips to help with your planning!

Road Travel Tips

  1. Taking a roadtrip? Have your vehicle inspected before you leave, especially if driving in harsh weather conditions.
  2. Be adaptable if traveling by car. With construction, traffic and road closures be prepared for a change in route.
  3. Equip your car with a winter safety kit. Here's info on how to build one: http://readywisconsin.wi.gov/winter/HowToMakeAKit.asp
  4. Have a second driver and plan frequent rest stops. Fight fatigue and improve alertness by stopping to stretch your legs.

Air Travel Tips

  1. Stay healthy this season. Keep in mind the spread of germs. Get the flu vaccine and wash hands frequently
  2. Traveling by air? Plan ahead and leave extra time for long lines and traffic.
  3. Soaring the skies? Save time and money by packing light as possible. Airlines are getting stricter with baggage allowances

Home Safety Tips

  1. Avoid fire hazards. Inspect holiday decorations, lights, and extension cords for damage before use.
  2. Don’t overload outlets with too many decorations or devices.
  3. If you have a fresh Christmas tree, keep your tree stand full of water to avoid fire hazards.
  4. Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn!
  5. Traveling? Have a neighbor watch your house or call your local PD to do a drive by. Use timers in and outside your house.

For more tips and tricks follow our twitter page @TXMilitaryForce and feel free to share your own #TXMFHolidayTips. Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Texas State Guard makes hospital holiday happier


Story by: Capt. Esperanza Meza, 19th Regiment PAO

Guardsmen from the19th Regiment, Texas State Guard (TXSG), provide toys to children during the holidays at Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas, Dec. 13, 2014. The toy donation was a part of the TXSG’s Young Heroes of the Guard toy drive. Thanks to generous donations from Texas guardsmen and members of the community, over 3,500 toys were delivered to three different hospitals in Dallas during the holidays: Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Medical City Children’s Hospital, and Our Children’s House of Baylor. (Texas State Guard photo by Capt. Esperanza Meza/Released)
Guardsmen from the19th Regiment, Texas State Guard (TXSG), provide toys to children during the holidays at Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas, Dec. 13, 2014. The toy donation was a part of the TXSG’s Young Heroes of the Guard toy drive. Thanks to generous donations from Texas guardsmen and members of the community, over 3,500 toys were delivered to three different hospitals in Dallas during the holidays: Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Medical City Children’s Hospital, and Our Children’s House of Baylor. (Texas State Guard photo by Capt. Esperanza Meza/Released)

DALLAS - Santa’s helpers paid an early visit to three Dallas-area children’s hospitals Dec. 13, 2014, bringing a special delivery from the Texas State Guard, 19th Regiment of Dallas, as part of the TXSG’s Young Heroes of the Guard toy drive.
 
“We have the opportunity to serve Texans during disasters, but this gives us a great opportunity to serve little Texans when they need us most,” said TXSG Chaplain Lt. Col. Douglas Sewell. 

Texas State Guard volunteers rolled in a variety of toys, art projects and games to patients at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Medical City Children’s Hospital and Our Children’s House of Baylor. With the generous donation of more than 3,500 toys from local businesses and communities across North Texas, children were able to pick and choose their favorite toys with the help of their family.

A number of guardsmen said it was very humbling and rewarding. 

“You think you are worse off, but when you see what the kids and families are going through each day, financially and emotionally, it’s humbling and brings joy in doing what you are doing,” said Capt. Joe Jones, 19th Regiment, logistics officer.

Two fathers said they were thankful to the TXSG since they didn’t have time to buy toys for their other children. Others observed a mom in the hallway, overwhelmed with tears in her eyes, as she watched the activity from the hallway into the children’s toy room, as her child couldn’t join the other kids due to his illness. She said it meant so much to her that people cared enough to give, collect and bring the array of toys, also sharing that her child had a big smile when a volunteer brought him a toy.   

 “I have four kids and one of mine was in the hospital so I stayed in the hospital many days,” said Spc. John Turner, TXSG. “Coming back, I know what the parents are thinking. There are so many things to worry about and getting toys for their children at home and their child in the hospital, that’s one less thing to worry about.” 

The TXSG Young Heroes of the Guard program was initiated by a couple of chaplains in 2009 and has grown tremendously, surpassing last year’s record of about 6,600 toys to more than 20,000 this year, helping provide toys to hospitalized children in 14 hospitals throughout the state.  
 
“You don’t know what to say as you don’t know how it feels as a parent being there,” said Cpl. Leonard Deonarine, TXSG. 

To summarize his feelings, Deonarine quoted something he heard once, “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I served and I saw that service is joy.”

The TXSG delivered not just toys, but joy and smiles that day to the children and families that needed it most thanks to the churches, organizations, businesses, private citizens and families and friends of the Guard. 

Texas' 136th Regional Training Institute receives national recognition

Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Photo of troops
The 136th Regional Training Institute (RTI), Texas Army National Guard gathers for a regimental photo at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, Dec. 13, 2014. The 136th RTI was accredited by the U.S. Army Training Command in November 2014 as an Institution of Excellence, the highest accreditation an RTI can receive. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Griego/Released)

AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Army National Guard’s 136th Regiment Regional Training Institute, headquartered at Camp Mabry in Austin, received national recognition as an Institution of Excellence, the highest accreditation a training institute can receive, from the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, November 2014.

There are 54 RTI units in the country, one for each state and territory. Their mission is to provide an alternate location for training to any service member in the U.S. Army, active, guard or reserve. Each RTI has a variety of courses that they specialize in, and each course must be certified by the Army Training and Doctrine Command before it can be taught. RTI instructors go through the same training all Army instructors go through prior to teaching any of the same courses at the Army’s traditional locations.

The benefit to this, said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Ueckert, 136th RTI, Texas Army National Guard, is that it is making the Army more fiscally responsible. For example, traditionally all infantry courses are taught in Fort Benning, Georgia. However, Texas’ RTI offers Infantry courses to soldiers wishing to transition to the Infantry occupation and the advanced leader course, a leadership course for junior non-commissioned officers. 

Army Training Command began accrediting RTIs in 2011. Per Training Command Regulation 350-18, RTIs across the country are evaluated every three years by numerous proponents. For each course offered, the traditional schoolhouse for that course must visit the RTI and evaluate the program, usually more than once. Training command also conducts a separate evaluation.

“During the last year of accreditation, we had more than 20 visits from different proponents,” said Ueckert.

Regulation 350-18 states the purpose of the accreditation process is to “assure the command that training institutions meet accepted standards and higher HQ guidance.”

In order to prepare for the accreditation process, and to continually improve themselves as a training institute, the RTI held annual self assessments, said Ueckert. Each year members of the unit reviewed the past year and looked for ways to improve and move forward. 

“I commend the 136th Regiment RTI for the dedication and hard work that contributed to this coveted distinction,” said Gen. David Perkins, commanding general Training and Doctrine Command, U.S. Army. “Your efforts to maintain strong doctrine, organization, training, material, leadership and education, personnel and facilities functions will ensure our leaders and soldiers possess the qualities and skills necessary to dominate across the spectrum of conflict.” 

The 136th RTI offers numerous courses to soldiers across the force including military occupational specialty producing courses, NCO professional development courses and officer commissioning courses. 

As the RTI looks to continue developing its programs and maintain its accreditation as an institute of excellence, they plan on making some minor changes.

“Our biggest challenge here is the geographic disbursement of training locations,” said Ueckert. 

Texas’ RTI currently works at several different locations in central Texas. The plan over the next two years is for the RTI to relocate to North Fort Hood providing more space and more accessibility to various training facilities said Ueckert.

“Moving will maximize efficiency,” said Ueckert. 

The mission of RTI is about training soldiers to a high standard in the most efficient and fiscally responsible way.

“This is excellent training that we offer to not only our Texas Guardsmen, but also our active duty and reserve counterparts,” said Maj. Gen. William Smith, the deputy adjutant general-Army and commander of the Texas Army National Guard. “This reduces travel, lodging, and training expenses while increasing our capabilities in central Texas. We are proud to be nationally designated as an Institution of Excellence.”

The 136th RTI offers the following accredited courses: 25U-Signal Support Systems Specialist 10-level advanced individual training; 68W-Army Combat Medic advanced individual training; 11B-Infantry transition course and advanced leader course; 19D-Cavalry Scout advanced individual training, transition course and advanced leader course; 13B, F, and R-cannon crew member, Fire Support Specialist and Field Artillery Firefinder Radar Operator advanced individual training, advanced leader course and senior leader course; Master Fitness Program; Officer Candidate School and Warrant Officer Candidate School.

Read more: texas 136th regional training institute receives national recognition

State Public Affairs Media Competition Wrap-up

1st place: Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem, 147th Reconnaissance Wing 2nd place: Mr. John Thibodeau and 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy, TXMF State Public Affairs Office

Commentary by: Michelle McBride

Photo by: Master Sgt. Kenneth Walker

On Dec. 7, 2014, the Texas Military Forces State Public Affairs Office held a media competition highlighting Public Affairs work done by guardsmen throughout Texas.

This year’s award recipients are as follows:

Motivational Video:
1st place: Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem, 147th Reconnaissance Wing

Broadcast Journalism:
1st place: Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem, 147th Reconnaissance Wing 2nd place: Mr. John Thibodeau and 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy, TXMF State Public Affairs Office

Journalism
1st Place: Capt. Martha Nigrelle, TXMF State Public Affairs Office 2nd Place: Master Sgt. Daniel Griego, 36th Infantry Division and JTF- 136th MEB 3rd Place: Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon, TXMF State Public Affairs Office

Publication
1st Place: Mr. Chris Porter, Recruiting and Retention Battalion

Photography
1st Place: Senior Airman Chasity Lollis, 147th Reconnaissance Wing 2nd Place (tied): Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon, TXMF State Public Affairs Office and Spc. Christina Clardy, 36th Infantry Division 3rd Place (tied): Chief Warrant Officer 2 Janet Schmelzer, 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard and Master Sgt. Charles Hatton, 136th Airlift Wing

Special Contribution to the Public Affairs field by a non-Public Affairs member:
Staff Sgt. John Gately, TXMF Website and TXSG Website Tech. Sgt. Eduardo Zamora, TXANG Website Private 1st Class Estefania Reyes, TXMF Website

Public Affairs Leader of the Year:
Master Sgt. Daniel Griego

Nigrelle, who was also the master of ceremonies for the event, said it is important to recognize the efforts of all Texas Public Affairs service members who are always in the background telling the Texas Military forces story. 

“Their hard work and achievements are instrumental in educating the public on everything our Texas guardsmen do for the state and nation,” said Nigrelle.

Congratulations to all of the winners, we look forward to next year’s entries. To view more photos of the award ceremony, please visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/texasmilitaryforces/sets/72157649745003666.

A Texas Family Christmas

“This is a time to spend with your families,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick Hamilton, commander of Domestic Operations, Texas National Guard.

Commentary by: Michelle McBride

Photo by: Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon

AUSTIN- Members of the Texas Military Forces and their families gathered together to celebrate the holidays at the Adjutant General’s annual Christmas Party Dec. 5, 2014. 

This year, festivities included the annual tree lighting as well as a barbecue cook-off, where service members competed in teams for the best brisket.  

“This is a time to spend with your families,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick Hamilton, commander of Domestic Operations, Texas National Guard. “Use this time to recharge your batteries, to thank your families for their support, and return from the holidays ready to work.”

After the official lighting of the tree, the crowd and the 36th Infantry Division band sang Christmas carols as the drill hall was prepped for barbecue and Santa.  Once ready, service members and their families enjoyed a brisket lunch complete with festive desserts while Santa raffled out door prizes. 

“Let’s take a moment to remember that we still have soldiers and airmen in harm’s way today both from Texas and from our nation,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, Adjutant General, Texas National Guard, “As we celebrate this time of the year, let’s keep them and their families in our prayers.” 

For more pictures from the holiday party, please visit our Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/texasmilitaryforces/with/15958196396/

Texas Guardsmen Celebrate Thanksgiving on the Border

“We’re a family here at DPS and now our family is growing, because of Operation Strong Safety,” said Jose Rodriguez Commentary by: Staff Sgt. Tamara Dabney, Texas Air National Guard

Texas National Guard members serving away from home on the Texas-Mexico border enjoyed a home-cooked holiday meal last week thanks to their partners at the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Since July, nearly 1000 Texas National Guard members have been serving alongside DPS, in support of Operation Strong Safety in an effort to secure the Texas border. Their mission is meant to help safeguard the lives and property of Texas citizens, but it has also brought many DPS employees and Texas National Guardsmen closer together.   

“We’re a family here at DPS and now our family is growing, because of Operation Strong Safety,” said Jose Rodriguez, DPS Regional Commander. “This operation has allowed me to work side-by-side with Texas National Guard members. We are glad to see the Guardsmen here with smiling faces and full bellies!”

Through the unique military capabilities of the Texas National Guard, DPS has the advantage of nearly one thousand extra pairs of eyes watching the border.

During the luncheon, DPS Commander Jose Rodriguez expressed appreciation for the service of Texas National Guard members who observe and deter criminal activity along the Texas border everyday.

“The amount of criminal activity on the border has come down significantly”, said Rodriguez. “Our mission is to detect criminals on the front line…so having the National Guard here is a definite plus.”

Lessons Learned From a Fried Turkey

How to fry a turkey Commentary by: Lt. Col. Jamey Creek, Base Operations Manager TCGC and Buffalo Gap Firefighter

Photo by: courtesy of All Hands Fire Equipment

You will likely be utilizing propane, a burner and extremely hot oil to cook your turkey. The safe operation and application of these essentials are vital to success of your Thanksgiving Meal.

Last year was my first attempt at frying a turkey. I simply searched the internet, watched numerous videos and read several articles on frying a turkey. Most all are similar in nature, with only slight variables in temperature, time and seasoning.  A good link to review is:  http://www.heb.com/page/recipes-cooking/cooking-tips/deep-fried-turkey

However, good old fashion first-hand experience is hard to beat. The following are personal lessons learned along with my experience as a volunteer firefighter.  

  • Make certain safety items are in close proximity. A fire extinguisher is an incredibly handy tool when needed. Even more important is to have a phone and the number for your local Emergency Service Provider. Most likely, the simple 9-1-1 will do the trick. Do not wait if an event occurs. Time is critical on fires. The faster responders get there, the greater the likelihood of success will be.
  • Make sure you are familiar with the operation of your propane burner. There are several variables; most notable is that some burners are equipped with timers that require your frequent attendance. Otherwise, it will automatically shut off after a few minutes. 
  • Firmly seat the hose from your burner to the propane tank. A faulty connection can be disastrous. Simply turn on the propane valve and listen for a “hissing” noise to confirm or deny your connection. If you hear or smell anything, immediately close the valve and re-check your connection. 
  • Proper oil depth is imperative. Too little oil prevents proper cooking and too much oil can lead to a fire and or injuries. The best method is to place your turkey into your pot and cover with water. You must then remove the turkey and mark the depth. This will later become the fill mark for your oil. The pot must subsequently be dried along with the turkey. 
  • Under no circumstance should you make an adjustment to the fryer pot without first turning off the burner. This is the most abused step, which leads to the most injuries when frying. By turning off the burner, there are no flames to ignite a potential oil spill. If oil is spilled, be sure to wipe it up prior to relighting the burner. 
  • Flip-flops, short shorts and short sleeves are not your friend when contact is made with 325-375 degree oil. Dress for success when frying. Leather shoes, long pants, long sleeves and gloves are imperative for your protection. 
  • The turkey MUST BE fully thawed and as dry as possible before placing into the hot oil. A significant emotional event will instantly occur if a frozen turkey is dropped into 375 degree oil. Your local emergency service providers will most certainly be needed if this is done.
  • Location is important. Your frying location should be on a hard, level and non- combustible surface. It must also be out of the wind, but in a well-vented area. 

A simple review of these lessons learned, combined with quality research time will undoubtedly set the stage for your safe and enjoyable holiday meal.   

Happy Thanksgiving!

Vietnam War refugee, career guardsman honors Texas, America

Story by: 2nd Lt. Phil Fountain

Photo of Air Force Lt. Col. Don Nguyen Wedding

Air Force Lt. Col. Don Nguyen, assistant director of operations for the 273rd Information Operations Squadron (IOS), Texas Air National Guard, with his parents, Phuoc and Mai Nguyen, during his retirement ceremony in San Antonio, Nov. 23, 2014. Nguyen retired after 27 years of military service, including time with the Texas Army and Air National Guards. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric L. Wilson / Released)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO – LACKLAND, Texas – A career guardsmen was surrounded by friends and family as he capped off a 27-year military career by paying tribute to Texas and the United States, his adopted home, during a retirement ceremony here, Nov. 23, 2014.

Air Force Lt. Col. Don Nguyen, assistant director of operations for the 273rd Information Operations Squadron (IOS), Texas Air National Guard, retired from military service after lifting himself up from unlikely circumstances – a child refugee of the Vietnam War.

In the late 1970s, Nguyen’s family took to the high seas to escape Vietnam’s Communist regime, which took control of that nation in 1975.

“Our family and other families barely survived the five days lost at sea as ‘boat people refugees,’” Nguyen said. “We experienced starvation, dehydration, turbulent weather, life and death situations, and (were) without fuel – drifting until rescued by Malaysia’s international humanitarian effort.”

Following the ordeal, Nguyen’s family was initially sheltered in Malaysia, he said, and was then sponsored to come to the United States.

“I truly understand the genuine meaning of receiving freedom and the opportunity that our magnificent nation has provided to me, my family and many others,” Nguyen said. “I want to remind other Americans that you should do your very best with the freedom, opportunity, and always remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedom.”

“I was just 10 years old when we immigrated to America, in November 1979,” Nguyen said. “I grew up in Houston, Texas, and quickly learned the English language, and how to become a Texan and an American.”

Army Col. Suzanne D. Adkinson, commander of the Texas Military Forces Joint Counterdrug Task Force, presided over the ceremony. In addition to his traditional, part-time role with the 273rd IOS, Nguyen was assigned to the Joint Counterdrug Task Force, at a location in El Paso.

“’Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,’” Adkinson said, quoting the poem placed on the base of the Statue of Liberty. “’Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift up my lamp beside the golden door!’”

“You guys wanted to breath free,” she said, “and here you are.”

In 1987, Nguyen enlisted in the U.S. Army, and later served as a signal officer in the Texas Army National Guard before transferring to the Texas Air National Guard in 2002, when he became a U.S. Air Force cyber-communications officer.

“During my service with the U.S. Army,” Nguyen said, “I was naturalized and received my U.S. citizenship.”

Throughout his life and military career, Nguyen has sought ways to give back. This included making the most of his military service and volunteering with youth programs in his community.

He also volunteered and deployed in support of numerous state and federal missions. 

During the ceremony, Nguyen was presented with the Meritorious Service Medal, and the accompanying state award, the Texas Outstanding Service Medal. 

Nguyen’s service includes participation in state preparedness and response efforts related to Hurricanes Rita, Dean, Gustav, Dolly and Ike, which impacted Texas during the late 2000s, according to the medal citation. He led support teams for planning and engineering with the 254th Combat Communications Group, based in Grand Prairie, in north Texas, and deployed “six emergency command and control communications and supply distribution points” during the state’s response to the hurricanes.

He also supported the state’s Operation Lone Star (OLS) on three occasions, by “providing communications infrastructure support.” OLS is an interagency, state mission, led by the Texas Department of State Health Services, and has provided annual humanitarian medical and dental services in the Rio Grande Valley since 1999.

Additionally, Nguyen answered his nation’s call and deployed numerous times in support of federal combat operations abroad, including the Gulf War, in 1991, and twice for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

During his OIF deployments, Nguyen served as an operations flight commander leading more than 100 people, according to the medal citation. He provided “expeditionary combat communications and air traffic control landing systems support to U.S. Central Command while subject to over 100 indirect fire attacks.”

Nguyen tied his success to leaving his home of birth and immigrating to America.

“It wouldn’t have happened if I never left Vietnam – I thank my parents,” Nguyen said. “I do whatever I can to serve the state of Texas and the United States of America.”

Adkinson expressed appreciation for Nguyen’s service to the Texas Army and Air National Guards.

“What a true patriot,” Adkinson said. “It’s absolutely amazing to me.”

--

The 273rd IOS is a geographically separated unit of the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, which is headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland, Texas.

Read more: vietnam war refugee career guardsman honors texas america

Holiday Survival A-B-Cs

A is for Appreciation. B is for Budget, Budget, Budget. C is for Call for Support. Commentary by: Tracy Ward, TXMF Behavioral Health Counselor

A is for Appreciation.  Appreciation is the opposite of depression.  It is difficult to be depressed and grateful at the same time.  Sincerely being grateful for what you have decreases depressing thoughts and opens the possibility for a positive mood and a smile on your face.  Take time during the holiday season to be aware of all the blessings you have around you.  Many times we take these blessings for granted or just enter in to a type of forgetfulness because the blessings have always been there.  Soldiers I have worked with in the past have shared with me how serving overseas made them realize how many blessings we take for granted in this country.  As they list things like clean water, shoes, a roof over our heads, peaceful nights and abundance of food, I realize I’ve taken those things for granted too and had stopped seeing them as blessings. During the 2014 holiday season make an intention to WAKE UP and see the blessings around you.  Train your eyes to look for hidden blessings that you may have forgotten.  Look for the good around you.  Take inventory of the good in people, in situations, in places and remind yourself that there is good in the world.  A helpful nighttime ritual is to state at least 10 blessings each night before you go to sleep.  Try to add one or two new items to your list each evening.  Making this a habit will help your sleep, decrease depressing thoughts and remind yourself how blessed you truly are. 

If, for any reason, you struggle finding good in yourself or others or struggle remembering your blessings, you may want to contact the Chaplain at 1-866-822-7685 select 7# or write ng.tx.txarng.list.txmfchaplain@mail.mil. 

B is for Budget, Budget, Budget.  Nothing can put a damper on the holidays faster that a stack of unpaid bills.  Spending outside of your means causes tremendous stress.  One way to reduce the amount of debt for this season is to create a holiday spending budget.  Know what you want to buy, for whom, and how much you want to spend. Even deciding on how much you can spend on extra holiday food and travel expenses will save you a lot of grief in January.  After you create your spending list (this is important to discuss with your significant other and get agreement) stick to the list.  A good rule of thumb is always go into a store with a list, an amount you want to spend and a time limit.  The stores want you to have: no plan, no budget, no list and a lot of extra time to look around.  The more time you browse the store or browse on-line the higher the odds of you overspending.  Buy what you need then get out of the store.  

If you need help creating a holiday budget (or any type of financial budget), contact the Soldiers For Life Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) at Camp Mabry.  The financial counselors will be waiting for your call and can be reached at 512-782-5353.  Financial services are free to all TXARNG service members. 

C is for Call for Support.  The holidays can be a time of stress and loneliness.  If you find yourself stressed out, lonely, short tempered or all three, call for support.  Texas has excellent counselors that are located throughout the state to support you and your family.  These counselors are available for confidential sessions by phone, on-line or face-to-face.  They also offer a 24/7 counseling line at 512-782-5069 to support you when you have questions, concerns or just want to talk.  

Counseling services are available to all TXARNG Service Members and Family Members at no charge and are confidential.  

So to review:  A is to Appreciate all the blessings.  B is to budget your resources and C is to call for support when you need it.

And finally....Tis the Season. Remember to treat others the way you want to be treated.  The Golden Rule is always “in season.”  Have a blessed and safe holiday season.

National Hotlines:

Military Suicide Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, Text 838255

Sexual Assault: 1-800-656-4673

Substance Abuse: 1-800-662-4357

Domestic Violence: 1-800-799-7233

Child Abuse: 1-800-252-5400

Vets4Warriors: 1-855-838-8255

Army Sexual Harassment Hotline: 1-800-267-9964