TOYS FOR YOUNG TEXAS HEROES

Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard

Texas State Guard "Young Heroes of the Guard" AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas State Guard kicked off its ninth annual “Young Heroes of the Guard” Christmas Toy Drive on November, 20, 2017.  The toy drive delivers toys to thousands of children at pediatric hospitals, women’s shelters and foster homes across Texas.  

 “Just a few months ago, the Texas State Guard was fully engaged in helping our fellow Texans recover and rebuild during Hurricane Harvey.  Now, we are working to bring joy and happiness to children in need this holiday season, many of whom have a long road toward rebuilding their lives,” state Sgt. 1st Class John Gately, Texas State Guard toy drive coordinator.

Since the toy drive began in 2009, State Guardsmen have distributed more than 100,000 toys, donated by individuals and organizations alike.  Last year alone, the Texas State Guard distributed more than 33,000 toys and expects to distribute even more toys this year.  Over the past nine years the toy drive has grown from serving pediatric hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to serving children in need across the state.  

 “The Texas State Guard wants every child who cannot be at home this year to have a joyous holiday season. The toy drive brings comfort to thousands of Texas children, and our State Guardsmen have as much fun giving out the toys as the children do receiving them,” said Sgt. Lynda Briggs, 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard. “When we deliver the toys, kids see us in our Santa hats and greet us with pure joy, even though many face unthinkable circumstances no child should endure.  The toy drive is the most rewarding and heartwarming activity of the Texas State Guard, and it is just another example of how we serve the people of Texas,” stated Sgt. Derrick Williams, 19th Regiment, Texas State Guard.

For more information on the Texas State Guard “Young Heroes of the Guard” Toy Drive, visit the toy drive website at http://www.txsgtoydrive.com.  

 

 

 

Bvt. Lt. Gen. Gerald R. Betty Retires as Texas State Guard Commander

Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard Public Affairs

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Bvt. Lt. Gen. Gerald R. “Jake” Betty retired as the commander of the Texas State Guard during a ceremony held at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, October 29, 2017.  Betty received the Texas Superior Service Medal and was brevetted to lieutenant general.  Betty served both Texas and the United States Army for forty-one years.  (Texas State Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Malana Nall)

AUSTIN, Texas – “I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by heroes all my life, starting with my family, my education at Texas A&M University and my military career.  And the Texas State Guard is full of patriots and heroes,” Bvt. Lt. Gen. Gerald R. “Jake” Betty told the gathering of family, friends and fellow State Guardsmen at his retirement ceremony at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, October 29, 2017.  Betty’s retirement was the culmination of forty-one years of military service to Texas and the United States and three years as the commanding general of the Texas State Guard. Betty was brevetted to lieutenant general on October 31, 2017.

Betty began his military career upon graduating from Texas A&M University and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U. S. Army in 1973, branching infantry.  He was assigned to the 1st /501st Infantry Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  He served as an infantry platoon leader, infantry company executive officer, recon platoon leader and battalion operations officer.  

 After leaving active duty in 1977, he served as the company commander of C Company, 1st /143 Infantry, 36th Airborne Brigade, Texas Army National Guard.  In 1979 he transferred to the U. S. Army Reserves and served a nine-month deployment for Operation Joint Guard in Bosnia from 1997 to 1998.  He served as the commander of the 3419th Military Intelligence Detachment, Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, Texas, until he was deployed with the Defense Intelligence Agency as chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Fusion Center-CONUS as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in February 2003.  That same year he retired with the rank of colonel from the U. S. Army Reserve after 30 years of military service.

 In 2006 Betty joined the Texas State Guard.  He served as commander of the 8th Regiment, as a joint staff personnel and administration officer and as the commanding general of the Army Component Command.  He deployed for state active duty missions for hurricanes Dean, Gustav, Dolly, Edouard and Ike.     

 On September 1, 2014, he was promoted to major general and named as the commanding general of the Texas State Guard.  During his tenure, Betty focused on strengthening the military doctrine, policies and procedures, training doctrine implementation and the readiness management system within the Texas State Guard.  He also increased joint training between components and cooperation between the Texas State Guard and the Texas Military Department through joint training events and joint mission deployments.  

“Lt. Gen. Betty embodies all the great leadership qualities expected from a senior leader,” said Maj. Gen. Robert J. Bodisch, Interim Commander, Texas State Guard.  “His integrity and his military professionalism are unmatched. His sense of duty, responsibility and accountability, as well as his genuine care for his troops, will serve as a cornerstone of his legacy of military service.”

Betty led the Texas State Guard during Operation Lone Star, Operation Border Star, Operation Strong Safety and Operation Secure Texas. He also led the Texas State Guard during Hurricane Harvey.  

“General Betty, because of your leadership, Texas had the Texas State Guard when Texas needed the State Guard.  When we called, you answered.  When citizens called, you came.  When they asked for help, you did,” stated Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, Adjutant General for the State of Texas. 

Betty was instrumental in the renovation of the headquarters building of the Texas State Guard at Camp Mabry and in maintaining the continuity and functionality of the Texas State Guard to provide services and support to members during the renovation.      

“Lt. Gen. Betty’s guiding principle was ‘Do your duty, take care of your people and go home with your honor.’ He never passed up an opportunity to reinforce it in the minds of our guardsmen and commanders,” said Col. Thomas Hamilton, Chief of Staff, Texas State Guard.

Betty’s military education includes U. S. Army Airborne School, U. S. Army Ranger School, Infantry Officer Basic Course, U. S. Army Air Assault School, Jungle Operations Training Course, Civil Affairs Officer Advanced Course, Command and General Staff College (non-resident), Nuclear Biological Chemical Operations Course, Reserve Components Support Command Course, Combat Service Support Multifunctional Course and Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course.

During the retirement ceremony, Betty received the Texas Superior Service Medal for his honorable state and federal service and superior performance in key leadership positions.  His other military awards and honors include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Commendation Medal (with four Oak Leaf Clusters), Joint Meritorious Unit Award (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (with four Oak Leaf Clusters), National Defense Service Medal (with two Bronze Service Stars), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal (with Silver Hourglass, “M” Device and Numeral 2), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon (with Numeral 7), Lone Star Distinguished Service Medal, Texas Outstanding Service Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Texas Humanitarian Service Ribbon, Commanding General’s Individual Award, Texas State Guard Service Medal, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, Ranger Tab and Air Assault Badge.

Betty has been married to Julianne for 43 years, and they have two children. Son Josh is a major in the U. S. Army and assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas, where he lives with his wife Jen. Daughter Alison is married to Sgt. 1st Class James Perdue and lives in Mansfield, Texas.

Betty holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics and Master of Science in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University.

 

    

 

The little armory atop a hill

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Nike Hercules missiles at bee caves Austin, TX

Story by: Mark Otte

 

AUSTIN, Texas--The little armory atop a hill, in the now-upscale Austin Bee Caves neighborhood, is seldom talked about, and even often unknown to both military and civilians. While the aging facility’s story actually starts south of Austin, much of its roots are lost in a swirl of Cold-War mystery.

The 12.5-acre site just off Bee Caves road, often colloquially called the “hilltop,” now houses the 71st troop command, but started life providing the city, and more importantly at the time, Bergstrom Air Force Base with protection from aerial attacks.

When visitors arrive at the gate today, the giant Nike-Hercules missile pointing skyward pays homage to the armory’s beginnings as the site for the integrated fire control center for the 10,000-pound missiles capable of hitting targets up to 90 miles away.

In the 1960s, the suburban hilltop had all of the necessary equipment to track targets, fire the missiles and would even house the troops needed to run the air defense equipment.

Complete with radars and generators, Defense Site BG-80 was just missing one thing: Missiles.

So, where were they?

The exact location of the launch site isn’t known.   What is known is that the missiles were somewhere close.

Technical data on the launch capabilities suggest that the launch site and the integrated fire control needed to be separated by at least 0.56 miles but not more than 2.98 miles.

Pedro Garcia knows where they were, but he’s not saying.  Garcia was stationed at the armory in late 1962 and 1963.

“The launching area was surrounded by berms 20 feet high,” Garcia said.  “Every missile was inside what we called a globe tent, to hide it from the air and to protect them from the weather.”

To bring the missiles to “red status,” ready to launch, was as easy as pulling a rope.

“You just jerk the rope, the clips came off and the tent fell on both sides,” Garcia said. “Then the launcher started raising.”

Now at 74 years old, Garcia said that he thinks the surface to air missiles that were housed near the Bee Caves Armory were essential to the security of Bergstrom Air Force Base. What is now Austin Bergstrom International Airport, at the time was under Strategic Air Command and a prime target for Cold War foes.

“Back then, the Bee Caves Armory was instrumental, because of Bergstrom operating the way they did,” Garcia said.  “I think it could have been a target for Russian bombs.”

With the days of the cold war squarely in the rear-view mirror, the soldiers of 71st Troop Command spend their days at the hilltop armory looking forward and preparing to defend the United States in future conflicts, pausing only occasionally to ponder the Cold War secrets that still surround the little Armory.

Soldiers from Texas and Maryland helping manage busy skies over Kuwait

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Sgt. Richard Bosquez, F Company, 2-149th General Support Aviation Battalion’s acting facility chief at Udairi Landing Zone, poses in front of the Radome, which houses the Air Traffic Navigation, Integration, Coordination System at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Oct. 19, 2017. F Co. Soldiers provide air traffic services and airfield management at multiple locations in both Kuwait and Iraq. (Photo by Capt. Stephen James)

By Capt. Stephen James

29th Combat Aviation Brigade

November 03, 2017

 

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – The Soldiers from Company F, 2-149th General Support Aviation Battalion, 29th Combat Aviation Brigade, manage multiple airfields and provide the technical expertise to manage the crowded skies above Kuwait and Iraq.

Soldiers from F Co. out of Camp Buehring, Kuwait, conduct air traffic services at Udairi Landing Zone and have already performed 300 ground-controlled approaches.

In order to maximize safety in all conditions, the Soldiers at Udairi are trained on the precision approach radar, which requires air traffic controllers on the ground to use radar to triangulate an aircraft's position when guiding it to land, even in situations of poor visibility.

"If an aircraft were to hit bad weather, we can guide them in," said Sgt. Richard Bosquez, acting facility chief at Udairi Landing Zone.

This capability is unique, as the PAR at Udairi Airfield is the only recovery system of its kind for CENTCOM, said Warrant Officer 1 Elaine Santiago, F Co.'s air traffic/airspace manager.

In addition to the ATS provided by F Co. at Camp Buehring, 29th CAB Soldiers also act as airfield managers. Airfield managers are responsible for coordinating operations on the airfield to ensure a vast array of tasks are complete so the airfield runs as efficiently and safely as possible.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gino Spescia, the 29th CAB's command chief warrant officer, sees all different aspects of the job as he performs duties both as an airfield manager as part of the airfield management element cell and as the primary contracting officer representative at Udairi Landing Zone, the heliport at Camp Buehring.

"The airfield management element cell is responsible for the day-to-day operations at Udairi Landing Zone, which can be anything from fuel to repair requests to vehicle usage, so it is never boring and never the same," said Spescia.

F Co. Soldiers also contribute to a variety of operations at Patton Army Airfield, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, where they provide air traffic control services, passenger and aircrew transportation, airfield inspections, grounding point certifications and a central communications point for airfield security, the fire department and the refueling office, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Barry Bertram, Patton Army Airfield manager.

Outside of Kuwait, a separate contingent of Soldiers from F Co. perform ATS services at a remote site where they also have responsibilities as the senior airfield authority and airfield management.

According to Capt. Brian Burgi, F Co. commander, his Soldiers have been responsible for the safe execution of over 5,500 individual aircraft movements, including 300 cargo air drops and over 4,000 movements across the theater since they arrived in April.

"The airfield manager from F Company was personally responsible for ensuring all construction activities, lighting installation and associated maintenance was performed in accordance with all Army, Air Force and Combine Federal Regulations," said Burgi.

Compounding the complexity of managing an airfield at this site is the fact that the ATS Company was still required to run full-time control tower operations in which they safely manage the skies above them.

The airfield manager was responsible for coordinating with rescue and construction teams from the U.S. Air Force working on the airfield while simultaneously de-conflicting aircraft, said Burgi.

The 29th CAB is an Army National Guard brigade comprising Texas and Maryland Army National Guard Soldiers that provides aviation assets, operational and logistical support for operations across the region.

F Co. Soldiers will provide ATS and airfield management across their area of operation for the remainder of the year.

HEALING AFTER HARVEY: One soldiers Journey through the great storm of 2017

SWEENY, TX, UNITED STATES

11.01.2017

Story by: Staff Sgt. Bethany Anderson

100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 

SWEENEY, Texas - As a mother and Texas Army National Guardsman, I have had first-hand experience with wildfires, tornadoes, ice storms, snow storms and earthquakes, but Harvey was my first hurricane.

What could have been an ugly and terrible life changing event for my little girls was turned into a beautiful adventure.

As Texas Guardsmen from across the state geared up to serve Texas citizens, I was preparing to evacuate my family from our home. Not knowing where we’d go, how long we’d be gone, weighed me down like a ton of bricks. But I was not about to unnecessarily put my three little girls in harm’s way.

While we loaded food and clothes into the cars, I asked my 3-year-old daughter, Kayden, and my 5-year-old daughter, Alex, to make sure they picked up everything off the floor in case water got inside while we were away.

“Is the house going to sink, Mommy?” Kayden asked, peering up at me with her beautiful big blue eyes.

“Sort of,” I replied. “Now, please go pick up your things off the floor.” Alex and Kayden darted off to their rooms and I continued to pack.

I was gathering up the last of our belongings when I heard Alex and Kayden talking in the hallway. “I love you, one would say. “Be safe,” the other would say. “I’ll miss you… we’ll be back soon.”

I peered out of the doorway to see my two babies hugging door frames and kissing the walls of our house. When they reached me, I could barely hold back my tears.

I evacuated my family around six o’clock on the evening of Monday, August 28, 2017. With my mother’s help, we loaded up my three daughters and three dogs into the car. My mother, whose flight back to California out of Houston was canceled, drove my husband’s truck containing our food, water, some valuables, and clothes. My husband, JD, who was working in Brownsville, looked for someone who could house our dogs.

The drive from Sweeny to San Antonio took us almost seven hours; a drive which normally takes three.

My 13-year-old daughter, Emily, argued with Alex while Kayden made animal noises and sang at the top of her lungs and one of the dogs whined and howled. The madness inside our car seemed to mimic the madness outside the car while I gripped the steering wheel and strained to hear the GPS.

I took a deep breath, focusing on the road as another violent gust of wind rocked the car. What used to be open fields of green were now angry oceans of flood water stretching out as far as I could see. It seemed as if our Toyota 4Runner was precariously skimming over the thin ribbon of road that cut through the massive expanse of water. I have driven through a lot of intense situations as a mom and as a Soldier, but this was, by far, my most stressful drive ever.

We arrived at the hotel in San Antonio around one o’clock in the morning, August 29, 2017.

Despite being mentally and emotionally drained, sleep did not come easy. Kayden’s little fingers were gripped around my index finger and Alex’s head rested gently on my shoulder while I listened to Emily sleep on the couch. My family was safe; but instead of feeling relieved, the uncertainty of our situation gnawed at me. With a heavy heart and my stomach in knots, I finally drifted to sleep.

Warm sunshine poured through the windows of our hotel room the next morning. Alex and Kayden hopped up in bed and exclaimed, “It’s not raining! Can we go home now?” I was both amused and disheartened. “No, girls. It’s still raining at our house. It’s not safe to go back.”

I spent the next two weeks answering the same question, and each time my answer never failed to produce a look of disappointment on my children’s faces.

We relocated three times and had to relocate the dogs twice. Each time we left the dogs with someone else, Alex’s heart would break and she’d sulk into my arms desperately fighting back tears.

I spent every day checking the weather, skimming through Facebook for information and watching Brazoria County press conferences for updates. I hated not being able to tell my children when we would go home. I didn’t even know if we’d have a home to go back to.

Anxiety, guilt and frustration came to me in waves, but I held it all; my girls needed to feel safe. They couldn’t see Mom disappear into her emotions.

Disappointing my children wasn’t the only thing on my mind. I had a couple part-time jobs and had recently started my own business to help pay the bills. Even though my husband was still working, Harvey’s relentlessness put every stream of income I had in limbo. Our family was already struggling to keep our finances afloat, and this certainly wasn’t going to help.

When I first received a message from my unit asking if our family was financially affected by the storm, I didn’t respond. Thousands of other people were much worse off than we were; it didn’t feel right asking for help. But my mom reminded me of all the times that we were able to help other people.

“You and JD have helped financially support others when they needed it,” my mom said. “You need to give others the opportunity to bless you.”

I replied to the text and let my unit know our family’s situation.

While our story is filled with tears and frustration, it is also filled with kindness, hope and gratitude. I have never been on the receiving end of so much generosity, support and encouragement.

When I first heard the phrase ‘Texans serving Texas,’ I only thought of myself as a Texas Guardsman, serving the citizens of Texas and the United States. I never thought it would mean Texas Army National Guard Soldiers serving my family.

Peers and leaders in the 71st Troop Command reached into wallets, without hesitation, and gave money, gift cards, toiletries and toys to my family, many of whom had never seen my face or heard my name before. Letters, gift cards and care packages also arrived from friends of Soldiers.

“This is like Christmas!” Alex shouted in excitement as she reached into a box of toys.

My children were filled with joy and laughter as they played with their new treasures. I was, and still am, both overwhelmed and humbled by the support my family and I received from my fellow service members.

One of my responsibilities as a Public Affairs NCO is to help tell the Army story. My unit, the 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, even found a way for me to support the Texas Military Department’s mission in response to Hurricane Harvey, despite my situation. I had Soldiers from my team spread out all over the state of Texas working long, hard hours to make sure people knew who the Texas Army National Guard was and what we were doing to help. It is difficult to be a leader and stand on the sidelines, but my unit empowered me to dig in and help my Soldiers be successful.

While my unit was doing everything they could to ensure the safety and well-being of my family, my business partners from all over the country flew into action. They took up donations and sent our family care packages with activities for the girls, home made cookies and gift cards. Another business partner sent a care package of supplements to help with my daughter’s digestive health problems.

We were even able to explore some fun places, as many businesses (like the aquarium) were opening their doors to Harvey evacuees free of charge. I didn’t have to stress over where dinner was coming from, and I didn’t have to confine my children to a hotel room for two weeks because we didn’t have money for gas. Every penny we received was used on gas, groceries and bills. The monetary and physical gifts my family received were in exact proportion to what we needed, exactly when we needed it. No more, no less.

On Saturday, September 9, the roads cleared and the sun broke through the clouds, so we headed home.

JD had driven up from Brownsville to help me get our family back to the house. We hadn’t seen our home in almost two weeks and didn’t know what to expect, but we were hopeful.

The closer we got to home, the more destruction and devastation we saw. Sheet rock, furniture and appliances were already sitting outside of houses. Trees, bushes and buildings were coated with thick brown mud. Some of the trees and bushes were tangled up with mattresses, chairs and trash. My 13-year-old daughter, Emily, noticed her best friend’s house had fallen prey to the flooding.

Our home was spared, for the most part. The menacing waters of the flooded San Bernard River came within just a few short feet of touching our home. Our master bedroom, bathroom and closet will need repairs from water damage caused by a leak from the first few days of the storm.

We are truly blessed to have so little to repair when so much of our neighborhood and community lost everything.

Whether in uniform, or out of uniform, I am a Texan serving Texas. I’m working to raise money to buy new playground equipment for Kayden’s daycare that lost everything in the flood.

Alex and Kayden sorted through all their belongings so they could share their clothes and toys with children who have none. Emily spent her free time with our church youth group helping people clean up wherever they could. So many people helped us after we evacuated and we’re going to do everything we can to help too. Only good things can come from helping others.

The road ahead for our family is going to be a difficult one. But we know that we won’t have to travel that road alone, or more than one day at a time. The recent events of the last three weeks have shown me that I have the strongest support networks a person could hope for.

I am a better person because of this experience and I will be able to bless others because of it. There are too many people who helped to list them all, but I will never forget and will always cherish their generosity.

There is a lot of uncertainty in our near future, but I am certain that everything’s going to be just fine.

I AM HERE TO HELP YOU

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Lampasas County Sheriff Jesus “Jess” Ramos thanks Sgt. Moody for his good-Samaritan action

Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard

 

Lampasas, Texas- Texas State Guard Sgt. 1st Class Howard Moody has driven between Austin and Granbury, Texas, so many times that it has become routine.

But in a split second, his routine drive turned into the scene of a life-threating emergency.

During that drive along U.S. Highway 281 on Jun. 3, 2017, a terrible two-vehicle crash had just occurred as Moody was making his commute.  One mangled vehicle was on its side leaking fuel. The other, upright but badly damaged, was smoking from the engine.

Texas Department of Public Safety State Troopers Nestor Reyes and Tyler Ross were already on the scene.  Moody, who works full-time on the Texas Military Department’s Domestic Operations Task Force and is trained in combat life-saving and emergency response, followed to see if he could assist.

“Working as a team with emergency responders and law enforcement agencies, such as the Department of Public Safety and the Lampasas County Sheriff’s Office, to assist fellow Texans during an emergency or disaster is what the Texas State Guard is all about,” Moody said.

Moody, along with Reyes, ran to the car lying on its side and looked inside.

A little girl in a car seat was trapped in the wreckage.  Her legs were pinned between seats so she couldn’t move.  

“We instinctively knew something had to be done quickly to extract the occupants of the vehicle who were obviously injured and trapped,” Moody said. “Waiting for the fire department didn’t seem like the best option.  We didn’t discuss it.  We just glanced at one another and went to work.” 

Moody tried to open the rear hatch, but it wouldn’t budge. Reyes and Ross broke the rear window to get to the little girl pinned inside.

Moody crawled in.  

“It’s going to be okay.  You are okay.  We are going to get you out.  I am here to help you.” Moody says he told the girl trying to reassure her as he climbed inside.

A trooper handed Moody a coat to cover the trapped girl, while he broke the side window. Another trooper and a passing motorist, who had stopped to help, reached in and pried the seats apart, giving Moody just enough room to gently extract the pinned girl’s legs.

Once the little girl was free, Moody lifted her up to the side window and handed her to first responders, who took her to an ambulance and eventually a medical helicopter.

Within minutes, other emergency personnel, Lampasas County sheriff’s deputies and more DPS troopers arrived.  Everyone was working together with a common purpose to care for the injured.

But Moody was still in the car, and it was still leaking fuel.

He moved forward to the front to help the woman buckled in the driver’s seat.  He covered her with a coat while firefighters cut the vehicle open to help the injured woman.  When emergency responders got to the woman, Moody backed out of the vehicle.  

It wasn’t until the Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter lifted off with the little girl and an ambulance had transported the other injured people to local hospitals that Moody had a moment to gather his thoughts. He hadn’t realized his leg was bleeding.

“I was so focused on the task at hand, I didn’t realize I was bleeding.  The emergency responders bandaged my wound, and later that evening a shard of glass was removed from my leg.”  Moody said.

Since the accident, the first responders have expressed their gratitude for Moody’s actions that day.

“I am very grateful that Sgt. 1st Class Howard Moody, stopped to assist DPS Troopers Nester Reyes and Tyler Ross. Moody was responsible for climbing into the wreckage to rescue a little girl,” said Lampasas County Sheriff Jesus “Jess” Ramos. “Thank you, Sgt. Moody.  We appreciate your good-Samaritan action and your service to our country.”

Wet Feet – Hurricane Harvey 2017

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GOODEN, WAYNE CPL TXSG-PHOTO

By Cpl. Wayne Gooden, 4th Regiment PAO

 

I happened to look down at the floor and saw wet footprints on the church’s hardwood floors. I don’t know why, but I was a little shocked that someone was so wet inside the church.

I was part of a Texas State Guard shelter management team, assigned from 4th Regiment 3B, Texas State Guard.  My normal job was on the command staff, but since I was mission trained and certified, I was placed in the capable hands of seasoned leadership to carry out my duty for the citizens of Texas.  

Our first mission was to assist a church in Champions, Texas. The church had set up a shelter and requested support. We arrived to find church members and community volunteers accepting donations and feeding storm victims and first responders. There were several residents present when we arrived mid-morning. We assisted church leaders in managing the incoming donations, providing a secure presence and giving their leadership our support and expertise in shelter management. 

I soon learned that the wet footprints belonged to a father who was running around making sure everyone in his family had dry clothes, a towel and a hot shower.  The family had been forced to evacuate with just a trash bag of clothes as floodwaters rose in their subdivision.
A group of Army veterans, who had come from Austin with their boat to help fellow Texans, rescued the family, transporting them to a main road where a trash truck ultimately brought them to this church shelter.  The truck drivers helped the father, mother, grandmother, son and daughter into the back of the truck.   

I was humbled by the father’s strength of will.  He did not complain but always had a smile.  There he stood, wet feet, dripping water on the hardwood floor. Yet, he remained positive and hopeful.  One church leader expressed condolences that the man had lost everything. “I didn’t lose everything,” the father replied. “I never lost hope.”

For seven days, our team performed several missions, and each time I found the people whose lives had been turned upside down giving me reassurance that they would be okay.  I returned from my mission a better man, husband, father and soldier than when I left. 
 

8th Regiment Honors The Fallen

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Sgt. Eseil Hernandez, 8th Regiment, Texas State Guard, reads names of fallen Texas service members during the annual Watermelon Run for the Fallen remembrance ceremony held at the Staff Sgt. Jeffery Lee Hartley Memorial Park, in Hempstead, Texas, August 19, 2017. This event honors Texas service members who have died in the service of Texas and the country since September 11, 2001. (Texas State Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich)

Story by: Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich

Texas State Guard

 

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The 8th Regiment, Texas State Guard, honored Texas service members at the 8th annual Watermelon Run for The Fallen, held in Hempstead, Texas, August 19, 2017.  The event recognizes those service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving their state and nation since September 11, 2001. 
 
    Guard members assisted the event organizers by placing photos of the 834 fallen service members along a 5K run from Hempstead High School to the Staff Sgt. Jeffery Lee Hartley Memorial park.  Hartley, a Hempstead native, was killed in Iraq in 2008.

    Sgt. Eseil Hernandez, 8th Regiment, was chosen to read names of the fallen service members. “It was heartbreaking to read the names of so many brave service members. I was proud to have the honor read the roll of those who have sacrificed so much for Texas and our country,” stated Hernandez.

    This is the third year the 8th Regiment has participated in this event.  “The assistance of the Texas State Guard makes the event go so smoothly and so seamlessly.  They have that mindset, that mentality: all right, we have a job to do, we are going to do it,” stated Scott Duncan, Vice President of the Watermelon Run.

    This annual event included Gold Star Families, who have lost a loved one in the service to the country, members of the Texas National Guard, U.S. Army and U.S. Marines, Hempstead residents and hundreds of visitors.
    
 

Col. Grantham Tapped as Army Component Chief of Staff

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Texas State Guard Army Component Command welcomed a new chief of staff, Col. E. A. “Buddy” Grantham, at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, August 1, 2017

Story by: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Malana Nall

Texas State Guard

 

AUSTIN, Texas- The Texas State Guard Army Component Command welcomed a new chief of staff, Col. E. A. “Buddy” Grantham, at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, August 1, 2017.  As chief of staff, Grantham will be the principal military advisor to Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr, the Army Component commander.

“When I received a call from Brig. Gen. Palmer, who tells you that he wants you to be his chief of staff, I was truly honored,” Grantham said. “I have great examples of previous chiefs of staff to follow, Col. Paul Watkins, Col. Robert Hastings and Col. Robert Woodmansee.  I will follow in their footsteps to help build a stronger and well-trained Army Component.”  

Grantham’s military career began when he enlisted in the Texas National Guard in 1979 and then commissioned as a second lieutenant through the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets in 1981. He entered active duty in the United States Army in 1985 and served as an Armor and Calvary Officer in Operation Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Desert Calm, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Joint Forge (Bosnia) and Noble Eagle I and II. He also served in West Germany, South Korea and Hungary.

Grantham retired from active duty in 2005 after 20 years of service.  He joined the Texas State Guard in 2007.  He served as the commander of the 8th Regiment from 2014-2017.  He also served previously as the 8th Regiment operations and training officer, regimental executive officer, and 1st Battalion commander.  He has deployed for Hurricanes Dean, Gustav, Dolly, Ike and Alex and Tropical Storm Edouard. 

“I chose Col. Grantham as my chief of staff because I value his opinions, and he asks the right questions to make the Texas State Guard Army Component ready to serve our fellow Texans, when called upon,” Palmer said.  “He brings a wealth of talent and knowledge to this position, and I am very happy to have him by my side.” 

Grantham recently received the Texas Outstanding Service Medal for his service to the State of Texas while serving as the commander of the 8th Regiment.  He has also received for his service in the United States Army the Bronze Star, Valorous Unit Award, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (5th Award), Army Commendation Award (6th Award), Army Achievement Medal (3rd Award), National Defense Medal (2nd Award) and in the Texas State Guard, the Texas Humanitarian Service Ribbon.

Grantham lives in Houston, Texas, with his wife of 36 years, Julie, and is a proud father of daughters Jennifer and Kathleen and her husband Sean, and his son Capt. William Grantham, U.S. Army Reserves, and his wife, Alicia. Grantham and his wife have six grandchildren. 
 

4th Regiment Command Welcomes New Leader

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Texas State Guard welcomed its new commander, Col. Robert Hastings

Story by: Cpt. Esperanza Meza, Texas State Guard 

 

FORT WORTH, Texas – On April 22, 2017, the 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard welcomed its new commander, Col. Robert Hastings, during a change of command ceremony at the Texas National Guard Shoreview Armory in Fort Worth, Texas.


“I am both honored and humbled to have been selected to lead the 4th Regiment,” Hastings said.  “The citizens of Texas rely on great units like the 4th Regiment to respond when they are called upon. Our job ahead is to make sure we are, in fact, trained and ready." 


Hastings enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1978.  He was a distinguished graduate of the Warrant Officer Rotary Wing Aviator Course.  He piloted the AH-1 Attack Helicopter with the 7th Infantry Division, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and the Army Combat Developments Experimentation Command.  
After graduating from Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant.  He served as an attack helicopter platoon leader and forward support platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division. He also served as a reserve component aviation advisor at the 5th U.S. Army headquarters. Hastings completed Armor Officer Advanced Course and returned to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment where he served as regimental operations officer, air cavalry troop commander and assault helicopter troop commander.  


He served as a public affairs officer and the public affairs detachment commander with V Corps and was a senior public affairs instructor at the Defense Information School before retiring from the U.S. Army. 


His combat and expeditionary deployments include tours in Iraq, Bosnia and Honduras.


Hastings joined the George W. Bush Administration as the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. As the senior public affairs official and spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense, he served as the principal staff advisor to the secretary of defense for strategic communication, public information, internal information and community relations, leading a worldwide public affairs community of some 4,000 military and civilian personnel.
His military education includes the Aviation Officer Basic Course, Scout Platoon Leaders Course, Armor Officer Advanced Course, Cavalry Leaders Course, Public Affairs Officer Qualification and Advanced Courses and Combined Armed and Services Staff School.


Hastings received the Master Army Aviator, Pathfinder and Air Assault badges.  His military awards and decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Army Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, NATO Medal and Secretary of Defense Staff Identification Badge. 


His civilian awards include the Secretary of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal and the Order of St. George Medallion from the Armor/Cavalry Association and the Order of St. Michael Medallion from the Army Aviation Association of America. In 2016, Hastings was inducted into the US Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia. 


In 2010 Hastings joined the Texas State Guard and has served as the chief public affairs officer, commander of the 19th Regiment and Army Component chief of staff.


“Col. Hastings is a leader who takes care of his soldiers and provides the kind of leadership that results in a well-trained force,” said Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr., Army Component commander, Texas State Guard. “He was selected to be the commander of the 4th Regiment for his proven capabilities to motivate and envision unique solutions to problems.  He was chosen for his ability to communicate a vision and supporting goals, and to build consensus toward achieving them,” 


Hastings will command 4th Regiment headquarters in Fort Worth and battalions in Weatherford, Decatur and Arlington, Texas.
Hastings resides in Keller, Texas.