36th Infantry Division honors Fort Hood 'Hug Lady'

Story by: Maj. Randall Stillinger

Posted: Feb 24, 2015

Maj. Randall Stillinger A Soldier from the 1-112th Cavalry Regiment, 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, receives a hug from Elizabeth Laird before boarding a plane at Robert Gray Army Airfield on Sep. 13, 2015. Laird is commonly known as “The Hug Lady” and is at Fort Hood for almost every arriving and departing flight. The 1-112th deployed to Egypt as part of the Multinational Force and Observers mission, which enforces the 1979 treaty between Israel and Egypt. (36th Infantry Division photo by Maj. Randy Stillinger)
Maj. Randall Stillinger
A Soldier from the 1-112th Cavalry Regiment, 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, receives a hug from Elizabeth Laird before boarding a plane at Robert Gray Army Airfield on Sep. 13, 2015. Laird is commonly known as “The Hug Lady” and is at Fort Hood for almost every arriving and departing flight. The 1-112th deployed to Egypt as part of the Multinational Force and Observers mission, which enforces the 1979 treaty between Israel and Egypt. (36th Infantry Division photo by Maj. Randy Stillinger)

FORT HOOD, Texas – The 36th Infantry Division Commander and Command Sgt. Maj. honored Elizabeth Laird at Fort Hood’s Robert Gray Army Airfield Feb. 13, 2015.

Soldiers of the 1st of the 112th Cavalry Regiment, Texas Army National Guard, were on hand as Maj. Gen. Les Simpson and Command Sgt. Maj. John Sampa presented a plaque and a dozen yellow roses to Laird, who is well known within the military community as “The Hug Lady.”

For almost 12 years Laird has been going out to hug Soldiers as they boarded flights bound for war zones. After checking in at the terminal, each Soldier receives a hug on their way into the waiting area.

Simpson told the departing 36th Infantry Division Soldiers that regardless of the weather, regardless of the circumstances, she comes out to see troops go, and then to see them return.

“She doesn’t get paid to do that. She really cares about you,” Simpson said.

The certificate presented by Simpson reads “Your unending love, support and care for our deploying soldiers means more than you will ever know. Your steadfast, faithful commitment, regardless of the time of day, does not go unnoticed. Thank you for always being there to send us off, and for being the first one to welcome us home.”

The 83-year old Laird has a long history of service and employment with the U.S. military. She enlisted in the Air Force in 1950 on her 18th birthday as a cook, but also played trumpet in a band. 

After military service, she was employed by the Army as a stenographer, secretary and then as a computer analyst. She’s been in the Fort Hood/Killeen area for the last 42 years. These days, when she’s not hugging troops, she’s helping others with their taxes.

During the early days of the global war on terrorism, Laird started volunteering at Fort Hood with the Salvation Army and was involved in the mobilization and deployment process. One day in 2003, she was invited to come over and shake the hands of deploying Soldiers as they boarded a bus.

Laird recalls the day that started it all: “This one Soldier hugged me. There was another Soldier behind him in line and I just had to hug him,” Laird said. “It just snowballed from there.” 

She is now personally notified of each departing and returning flight, and is given the opportunity to speak to each group of Soldiers before they board the plane. She even has her own “III Corps Hug Lady” business card. 

When asked what motivates her to come out for every flight, Laird said, “I just want to thank our Soldiers for what they do. Without our military, we wouldn’t be here.” 

“I just want to say ‘thanks, thanks, thanks,’” Laird said.

Even during this interview, a young 1st Cavalry Division Soldier politely interrupted so he wouldn’t miss his opportunity to hug the iconic Hug Lady. He was getting ready to board a flight to the National Training Center in California, but he had received his first hug on his way to Afghanistan a few years ago.

“You want a hug?” Laird asked him.

“Yes ma’am,” the Soldier replied enthusiastically. He received his hug and the interview continued.

The 36th Infantry Division command team was at Fort Hood to send off the 1-112th Cavalry Regiment as they left for Egypt as part of the Multinational Force and Observers mission, which was created during the 1979 treaty between Egypt and Israel. 

First Lt. Josue Munoz of Grand Prairie, one of the Soldiers deploying with the 1-112th, had received a hug from Laird during a previous deployment and appreciated her being there once again.

“The fact that she’s still out here makes me feel good that there are people that support what we do,” Munoz said. “Having just one person do what she does makes a world of difference.”

Laird’s health has been a concern recently and is usually the only thing that prevents her from coming out for flights. She spent the ten days prior to the 1-112th Cavalry’s departure in the hospital, but immediately got right back to doing what she loves best. 

“As long as the Lord will allow me, I’ll keep doing this," Laird said. "Each of them are special.”

Taking Care of our Own

By: SSG Timothy Pruitt

Group Picture

SPC Poncher and PFC Katz are both full time students while serving in the Texas State Guard.  During this years winter break, they parked SPC Poncher's car at the airport in what they thought was secured parking. 

The car had been broken into and both soldier's gear, uniforms  and other personal items were taken.  The soldiers, over the last few weeks have been slowly replacing all the missing items.

Today during drill at Camp Swift, 1SG Smith and LTC Dudenhoeffer presented replacement ruck sacks to the soldiers.  They used their personal funds to purchase the ruck sacks for their soldiers.

Col Dudenhoeffer said," this is how we take care of our troops in 1BN 2nd REGT."  The purchase of the bags send a message that the troops will be taken care of if the need  arises.

Texas general embraces international goodwill

Sgt. Michael Vanpool Isela Flores, a senior at Martin High School in Laredo, Texas, holds the Texas state flag at parade rest during the International Bridge Ceremony in Laredo, Texas, Feb. 21. The ceremony commemorates the bonds between the United States and Mexico and features a series of abrazos, or embraces, between representatives of the two countries in the center of the bridge. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Vanpool, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs/Released)
Sgt. Michael Vanpool
Isela Flores, a senior at Martin High School in Laredo, Texas, holds the Texas state flag at parade rest during the International Bridge Ceremony in Laredo, Texas, Feb. 21. The ceremony commemorates the bonds between the United States and Mexico and features a series of abrazos, or embraces, between representatives of the two countries in the center of the bridge. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Vanpool, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs/Released)

Story by: Sgt. Michael Vanpool

Posted: Feb 22, 2015

LAREDO, Texas – Standstill traffic is not uncommon on the Lincoln-Juarez International Bridge linking the United States and Mexico. On the morning of Feb. 21, there were no cars, but still scores of people still standing.

At the middle of the bridge, Americans and Mexicans waited together for the ceremony to begin. National anthems were sung. Prayers were said. Speeches were delivered. But the crowd was waiting for what came next.

Dignitaries from both countries walked to the center of the bridge to exchange abrazos, or embraces, with their counterparts and to show their neighborliness during the International Bridge Ceremony, part of the 118th George Washington Birthday Celebration in Laredo, Texas. 

Two children from each country, dressed in historical clothes, began the ceremony by meeting in the middle of the bridge, embracing (or abrazando), and exchanging each other’s flags. 

After the children, dignitaries begin exchanging their abrazos, including Brig. Gen. Orlando Salinas, the deputy assistant adjutant general for the Texas Army National Guard. At the middle of the bridge, Salinas met and exchanged an abrazo with Mexican General de Brigada Georges Andre Van Lissum Gomez.

“Having this opportunity to meet the general and being that military liaison between the two countries is always a good opportunity to learn from each other,” Salinas said.

Following the abrazo, Salinas escorted his counterpart to the American side. Tradition dictates that the Americans invite the Mexicans to the city of Laredo. For the past few decades, they have been treated to a parade that gathers thousands of people.

“Our ability to meet with and continue military relations with the Mexican army is of paramount importance as we work towards the safety of not just the nation, but also the state of Texas,” Salinas said.

The abrazo was a part of Salinas’s role as the honorary air marshal of this year’s Washington’s Birthday celebration. The prior week, he oversaw the Stars and Stripes Air Show Spectacular.

Salinas commanded the 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, based in the Rio Grande Valley. Many of his Soldiers were from Laredo, a city known for rallying around its service members throughout the years. This was especially true when they deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. 

“Laredo has always held a special place in my heart,” Salinas said. “Laredo’s support of the men and women in uniform is some of the best support I’ve ever seen.”

The tradition of abrazando, or embracing, on the bridge began in 1898. It started as a simple sign of goodwill between neighbors and now represents the shared heritage of the sister cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.

“For those of us who live on the border,” said Veronica Castillon, President of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association, “the International Bridge Ceremony is a reminder that Laredo and Nuevo Laredo share more than a river. We share family, business and a cultural heritage that bind us as one community.”

The cities also recognized their shared lineage as former members of the Republic of the Rio Grande, an independent nation that lasted 294 days in 1840. The sisterhood of the two cities remains, as does the short-lived country’s flag. Throughout the ceremony, the three-starred, red, white, and black flag joined the signature six flags of Texas in honor of their unique history.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, delivered the keynote speech at the event. He said that the goodwill exchanged between the sister cities has reinforced a strong neighborly bond, rich with patriotism.

For the city of Laredo, the George Washington Birthday Celebration is a month of festivities, with events ranging from parades and pageants to air shows and fireworks.

The celebration evolved over the years, from a patriotic memorial of America’s first president to a celebration that unites the sister cities. The meetings between civil and military officials from both sides of the bridge aim to honor their mutual histories.

Journey to becoming Army Fit

SGT Cook and SGT De la Garza, Master Fitness Trainers, saw us and came to our rescue to give us guidance on proper form for pushups and sit-ups.Week 4

We planned to meet at the track after work to check our progress. How many pushups can we do? Sit-ups? And how is our time on the two-mile run?

Tracy went first and counted twelve pushups. Courtney did eleven. We then each did fourteen sit-ups. Or so we thought!

SGT Cook and SGT De la Garza, Master Fitness Trainers, saw us and came to our rescue to give us guidance on proper form for pushups and sit-ups. They demonstrated and helped us with our pushup form, hand positioning, and getting our upper arms parallel to the ground. 

After we tried our pushups and sit-ups using what they taught us, we realized we can only do one or two proper pushups (i.e. pushups that would PASS the PT test). We did have some success this week however, as we completed our two-mile run in 22:34, which is above the 60% standard for both of us!

The Master Fitness Trainers also demonstrated several exercises we should do prior to each workout, as well as exercises to help build upper body and core strength. Their knowledge is vast, their patience immense, and we so appreciate their willingness to help and teach us. 

Physical fitness tips (from the Master Trainers): 

  • Although doing pushups with arms placed out wide may be easier and will ‘pass’, moving hands closer together (directly under your shoulders) will help to protect your shoulders and joints from strain. 
  • Squeezing glute muscles will help you maintain a straighter plank or pushup position.
  • To build upper body strength, lie flat on the ground and lift your body into the push-up position, then return to lying on the ground, and push back up. 

Mental fitness tips: 
     
If you keep active, you are:

  • less likely to be depressed, anxious or tense
  • more likely to feel good about yourself
  • more likely to concentrate and focus better
  • more likely to sleep better
  • more likely to cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms if you try to give up a habit such as smoking or alcohol
  • more likely to be able to keep mobile and independent as you get older
  • possibly less likely to have problems with memory and dementia

from: Royal College of Psychiatrists (http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/treatmentswellbeing/physicalactivity.aspx)

Commentary by Courtney J. Lynch and Tracy K. Ward, Psychological Health Coordinators

Texas cavalrymen begin peacekeeping mission in the Sinai

Story by: Sgt. Thomas Duval

Posted: Feb 19, 2015

Sgt. Thomas Duval Maj. Gabe Simonds, commander for 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry Regiment addresses an audience during a Transfer of Authority Ceremony held on the Multinational Force and Observer's South Camp in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt Feb. 19, 2015. The 1-112th Soldiers relinquished command of the U.S. Security Battalion to Soldiers from the 4th Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment.
Sgt. Thomas Duval
Maj. Gabe Simonds, commander for 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry Regiment addresses an audience during a Transfer of Authority Ceremony held on the Multinational Force and Observer's South Camp in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt Feb. 19, 2015. The 1-112th Soldiers relinquished command of the U.S. Security Battalion to Soldiers from the 4th Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment.

EL GORAH, Egypt - The cavalry has arrived and as their unit motto suggests, they are "Rarin to Go." Texas Army National Guard Soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry Regiment assumed command of the U.S. Army Security Battalion from the Fort-Hood based 4th Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, during a transfer of authority ceremony held on the Multinational Force and Observer’s South Camp in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Feb. 18, 2015.

The ceremony marks the 60th rotation of U.S. Soldiers to deploy in support of the MFO’s peacekeeping mission and comes during a time when much of the world’s focus has shifted to the region. The Army National Guardsmen from Bryan, Texas, will be responsible for the security of a number of remote out posts along the Sinai Peninsula and Red Sea and will look to build upon the success’ of their predecessors. 

The 4th Squadron, 3rdd CR will redeploy to Fort Hood having reached a number of milestones along the way. During their time in the Sinai, the 3d CR Soldiers brought the U.S. back to the podium in a number of physical competitions across the MFO to include taking home the Commander’s Cup in the coveted Force Skills Competition. The Soldiers from the "Longknife Squadron" also achieved success from an operational standpoint by patrolling more than 107,000 miles, conducting more than 375 sling-load missions across the Strait of Tiran and transporting almost a million pounds of cargo.

The Texas Army National Guard will pick up where their active-duty battle buddies left off.

Their experience as trained Cavalry Scouts will be required in the manning of multiple response teams on both of the MFO’s North and South camps while accomplishing the overarching mission of observing and reporting compliance of the Camp David Accords Peace Treaty. To accomplish their mission, the Soldiers will have a lot of help along the way as the 1-112th will work closely with service members from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom, Uruguay and the Republic of the Fiji Islands.

Although grasping the reigns of the multi-echelon mission is a daunting task for many, Maj. Gabe Simonds, 1-112th commander, said he and his team are ready for the challenge. 

“The Multinational Forces and Observers have been quietly and professionally serving as welcomed guests for 32 years now,” said Simonds. “It is truly a privilege to be here in the Sinai and we look forward to working with our partners in the MFO…we are ready to stand our posts!”

--READERS NOTE--
The Multinational Force & Observers (MFO) is and independent peacekeeping organization which is headquartered in Rome and based in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Created by agreement between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the State of Israel it is comprised of military members and from 13 nations. Australia, Canada, Colombia, the Czech Republic, the Republic of the Fiji Islands, France, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, the United States and Uruguay contribute contingents to make up the MFO's Force.

TAG Talks: Major Chol Chong

On our first edition of TAG Talks Major Chol Chong speaks about the current status of the Texas Army National Guard Medical Department, issues within it and proposed solution. TAG Talks are a series of unique presentations put together by students in The Adjutant General's Executive Leadership Development Program offering the perspective of future Senior leaders of the Texas Military Forces.

Community, military team up for Laredo air show

Story by: Sgt. Michael Vanpool

Posted: Feb 16, 2015

PHOTO: Sgt. Michael Vanpool Brig. Gen. Orlando Salinas, the deputy assistant adjutant general of the Texas Army National Guard, gives a thumbs up after being designated the air marshal of the 2015 Stars and Stripes Spectacular Air Show in Laredo, Texas, Feb. 15. The Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association Stars and Stripes Spectacular Air Show is one of many events for Laredo’s month-long celebration for America’s first president. (Texas Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Vanpool, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs)
Sgt. Michael Vanpool
Brig. Gen. Orlando Salinas, the deputy assistant adjutant general of the Texas Army National Guard, gives a thumbs up after being designated the air marshal of the 2015 Stars and Stripes Spectacular Air Show in Laredo, Texas, Feb. 15. The Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association Stars and Stripes Spectacular Air Show is one of many events for Laredo’s month-long celebration for America’s first president. (Texas Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Vanpool, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

LAREDO, Texas – Texas Guardsmen parachutists flew the American and Texan flags over Laredo to open the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association’s Stars and Stripes Air Show Spectacular at Laredo International Airport, Feb. 15.

Capt. Tim Hanrahan and Staff Sgt. Zachary Bowen lowered the flags onto the flight line. This was the fifth year for Hanrahan, who said he continues to jump because it’s an “opportunity to represent our country and the Texas Army National Guard.”

For those watching, seeing the flags drop down from the sky has a personal attachment.

“I no longer see red, white, and blue on our nation’s colors,” said Brig. Gen. Orlando Salinas, the air marshal for this year’s show. “What we see now is names and faces of friends and places.”

The air show was first included nearly 20 years ago in the Washington’s Birthday Celebration, a monthlong celebration for the Laredo area. That was when Carlos Garza took the position as the first sergeant for the Texas Army National Guard’s 436th Chemical Company. 

Garza knew the importance of the military in the history of the border town, not just from books but his family’s experience. Laredo is where his mother and family sought refuge during the Mexican Revolution of 1910. 

When Garza began to drill in Laredo, he felt that the city’s attachment to the military had waned. He said that he could grow the community’s patriotism by showcasing the aircraft that helped win World War II. So he helped put together the Stars and Stripes Air Show.

“It started small with war-birds,” Garza said, “but now it’s the biggest event for Laredo and Washington’s Birthday.” 

The spins and rolls captivated the audiences, making the show an integral event for the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association (WBCA). Garza served as a WBCA board member and currently is its military liaison. 

This year brought in nearly 40,000 spectators to the airfield, with countless others looking up to the sky.

The air show now features civilian and stunt pilots from across the country, but the event still holds onto its military roots. Every year, one Soldier from the Texas Military Forces is chosen to preside over the show as the air marshal.

This year, Brig. Gen Orlando Salinas, the deputy assistant adjutant general for the Texas Army National Guard, was selected for the honor. Salinas grew up in San Diego, Texas and said that he had fond memories of visiting Laredo. 

“To me, personally, it is extremely important to say thank you on behalf of a native south Texan to be invited to be your air marshal,” Salinas said to the crowd. “With all the duties that I have and all the places I have visited there is no place in the world I would rather be than sharing this great day with you.”

This year’s show saw the return of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, which was the only fighter plane produced in America during World War II. The particular plane flown was dug from its grave and completely restored to its original glory, said Garza.

For the city of Laredo, Washington’s Birthday is a month long celebration filled with pageants, parades, and so much more; many of which are reminiscent of the days of George and Martha Washington. 

The air show is one of the more grand departures from Washington’s times. However, the airplanes, helicopters and airborne Soldiers are very much a part of today’s military celebrated year after year here in Laredo.

Journey to becoming Army Fit

We are getting pretty comfortable with the two-mile run.Week 3

We are getting pretty comfortable with the two-mile run. Now that we can comfortably run with-out any walking we are about to start timing ourselves and working on increasing our pace to make sure we can meet our 60 percent time standard (24:24 for Tracy and 23:42 for Courtney). 

There seems to be a long-standing myth that it takes about 21 days for a new habit to form. Many people have studied the concept of habit-making and there are varying ideas about the length of time it takes to form them. Some say days, some say months, others say it is about setting realistic and small goals.

We want running, pushups, and sit-ups to become habit, just like something small we do every day, such as brushing our teeth. When we brush our teeth, chances are that we give it no thought at all. If we do think about it, we are probably not thinking how much we dislike it, how we don’t want to do it, or even how it is good for our oral health. We just do it because it is habit and routine, and just what we do every day.

Here are some of the things that are helping us make physical fitness a habit:

  • If you are new to running, start by walking for 10 minutes. Then, for the next 15 minutes, alternate 30 seconds walking and 30 seconds running. End by walking for 10 more minutes. Do this three times per week. 
  • Work out with a partner, whenever you can. 
  • Make your workout something you can do anywhere, whether at home, at work, or somewhere else. For us, this means keeping spare workout clothes and shoes in the car at all times for lunchtime or after-work workouts. Make it difficult to talk yourself out of exercising!
  • At home, map out a two mile route in your neighborhood so that you can be ready to run at a moment’s notice. 
  • Do pushups or sit-ups during commercials of your favorite TV program. 
  • Schedule time for physical fitness and exercise. Put it on your calendar and, as much as possible, try to stick to a routine (i.e. schedule workouts on the same days/times). 
  • Involve family members; children might think doing pushups with you is fun! 
  • Here are some of the things you can try to make mental fitness a habit:
  • "Exercise releases endorphins—chemicals in your brain that boost your mood—giving you an instant surge in happiness…..Happiness Tip: Go on a short 20-minute walk. It will help you relax and make you more confident about your body." (GuardYourHealth.com) 
  • "By elevating your mood and energy levels, your morning workout will curb your cravings and motivate you to make other healthy choices throughout the day." (GuardYourHealth.com)
  • "Don’t underestimate smiles," says psychologist Dan Hill. "When you smile, you pull more oxygen into your lungs. It makes you relaxed and open to possibilities…Happiness Tip: Think of something that makes you smile, like your favorite stand-up comedian or your team’s touchdown on Monday night. By making yourself smile, even when you’re feeling down, you really can trick yourself into feeling happier". (GuardYourHealth.com)

Commentary by Courtney J. Lynch and Tracy K. Ward, Psychological Health Coordinators

TXMF Museum honored with Texas Star Award

Story By: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Posted: Feb 12, 2015

Courtesy Photo The Texas Military Forces (TXMF) Museum’s living history detachment portrays Texas Civil War veterans during a reenactment commemorating the Battle of New Market Heights in Henrico County, Virginia, Sept. 26, 2014. The detachment, which covers numerous time periods and pays tribute to the Texas military and the service and sacrifices made by Texas veterans, received a Texas Star award from the Texas Living History Association for its living history program in a ceremony held in Dallas, Jan. 24, 2015. (Photo courtesy Jeff Cantrell, TXMF Museum)
Courtesy Photo
The Texas Military Forces (TXMF) Museum’s living history detachment portrays Texas Civil War veterans during a reenactment commemorating the Battle of New Market Heights in Henrico County, Virginia, Sept. 26, 2014. The detachment, which covers numerous time periods and pays tribute to the Texas military and the service and sacrifices made by Texas veterans, received a Texas Star award from the Texas Living History Association for its living history program in a ceremony held in Dallas, Jan. 24, 2015. (Photo courtesy Jeff Cantrell, TXMF Museum)

DALLAS – The Texas Living History Association awarded the Texas Military Forces Museum a Texas Star for outstanding contributions to the field of living history, in a ceremony held at the Dallas Heritage Park, Jan. 24, 2015.

The museum’s living history detachment, made up of more than 50 volunteers, participates in reenactments and living history programs spanning numerous time periods, from the War of 1812 to the Vietnam War. Each program or reenactment that the detachment participates in pays tribute to a piece of Texas Military Forces history.

“It’s a great way to reach out to the public,” said Jeff Hunt, the TXMF Museum curator.

The Texas Living History Association was founded in 2012 by living history enthusiasts and professional historians in Texas to help advocate for living history around the state and encourage participation and interaction between fellow enthusiasts and historic sites that have living history programs said Jim Lauderdale, president of the Texas Living History Association.

Steve Draper, director of the 1st Cavalry Museum, located at Fort Hood, and a member of the Texas Living History Association, nominated the TXMF Museum for this distinguished honor. 

“I nominated them because they are one of the few organizations in Texas that primarily do 20th and 21st century history,” said Draper. “The Texas Military Forces Museum has been doing it for a long time. The reviews are that they do an outstanding job – that warrants some recognition.”

There are hundreds of living history programs across the state, from the Alamo’s Texas Revolutionary living history program to groups portraying life in Texas during the 17th century. 

“The Texas Star Award is awarded to the best living history site or group nominated,” said Lauderdale. “The TXMF Museum was nominated based on the outstanding Muster Day event they put on every year and the many other interpretive programs they have done.”

The TXMF Museum hosts programs and reenactments at Camp Mabry in Austin several times a year, but also travels to numerous places across the country, to include the Battle of Gettysburg in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. 

“What’s different about us is that most places only focus on one time period,” said Hunt. “We’re the only museum program that I know of that deals with different time periods.”

The museum conducts approximately one living history program a month. They traditionally cover three separate events in May, their busiest month – a Vietnam display in Temple, the Close Assault reenactment and weapons display honoring the history of the 36th Infantry Division during World War II, at Camp Mabry in Austin and the reenactment of the Battle of Palmetto Ranch, the last battle of the Civil War in Brownwood. 

“I am exceptionally proud of this award because it speaks to the dedication of our volunteers,” said Hunt. “They are the backbone of the whole thing. They love history and want to support the men and women of the Texas guard today and our veterans.”

The TXMF Museum’s Muster Day is held annually during the TXMF Open House at Camp Mabry and traditionally hosts displays and presentations from every military campaign the Texas Military has participated in since the Texas Revolution through the Vietnam War, to include a World War II reenactment with World War II aircraft and several 1940’s Army tanks. 

This year’s TXMF Open House and Muster Day will be held at Camp Mabry, April 18-19. For more information on this event or other upcoming museum events please visit https://tmd.texas.gov/upcoming-events or http://texasmilitaryforcesmuseum.org/.

Texas Army Aviators receive national award

Story by: Maj. Randall Stillinger

Posted: Feb 12, 2015

Maj. Randall Stillinger A C-12 aircraft from Operational Support Airlift Detachment 49 takes off from Dallas Executive Airport en route to Austin, Texas. The detachment, commanded by Chief Warrant Officer 5 Todd Moorehead, was selected as the best fixed-wing unit in its category by the Joint Operational Support Airlift Center. They had just returned from receiving their award at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. (36th Infantry Division photo by Maj. Randy Stillinger)
Maj. Randall Stillinger
A C-12 aircraft from Operational Support Airlift Detachment 49 takes off from Dallas Executive Airport en route to Austin, Texas. The detachment, commanded by Chief Warrant Officer 5 Todd Moorehead, was selected as the best fixed-wing unit in its category by the Joint Operational Support Airlift Center. They had just returned from receiving their award at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. (36th Infantry Division photo by Maj. Randy Stillinger)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – An Austin-based fixed wing unit from the Texas Army National Guard received special honors from the Joint Operational Support Airlift Center (JOSAC) during a ceremony on Tuesday.

Operational Support Airlift (OSA) Detachment 49, which utilizes C-12 aircraft to transport passengers and cargo from across the military branches, received this special honor during a ceremony at the headquarters for United States Transportation Command.

The unit, which is commanded by Chief Warrant Officer 5 Todd Moorehead, is a detachment assigned to the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, 36th Infantry Division, also headquartered in Austin.

Maj. Scott Messare, JOSAC’s Execution Operations officer, said, “These awards are a chance for us to publicly recognize units that are consistently performing at the top of their peer organization groups.”

Messare helps facilitate the awards program and praised the Texas aviators for their great work and willingness to support the Department of Defense mission.

“They are here for a reason,” Messare said. “They are definitely at the top of their group and a pleasure to work with.” 

The annual award is presented among various categories based on size, function and location. Detachment 49 was at the top of the 21 units in their category.

The primary selection criteria includes number of hours and missions flown, number of passengers carried and pounds of cargo hauled. The JOSAC branch chiefs also consider other aspects like aircraft and aircrew availability, flexibility in supporting missions, percentage of cancelled missions, and the accuracy of logistics flight records. 

The goal of the awards program is to recognize the success of flight crews in meeting the goals of JOSAC, which include preventing fraud, waste and abuse of Department of Defense assets, conducting operations with efficiency, and completing assigned missions with the most amount of cost savings to government and the taxpayers.

The program also rewards an aspect of the mission that can’t necessarily be measured in statistics: Excellent customer service for the passengers who fly on their aircraft. 

Moorehead, of Austin, said that this award is a nice recognition of all the work that the Soldiers have done. 

“We threw the Army work ethic at the mission and we make ourselves as available as possible,” Moorehead said.

Col. Micheal Dye, commander of the Army Aviation Support Facility at Austin’s Bergstrom International Airport, said that he’s not surprised that the detachment received the award.

“These are a great group of guys that work hard to accomplish the mission with a tremendous level of professionalism,” Dye said.