2LT Arto Lehtonen Graduates from OCS

4th Regiment Welcomes Home New Officer

Story by: CW2 Janet Schmelzer, PAO, 4th Regiment
Posted: 10-MAY-14

FORT WORTH, TEXAS--On May 10, 2014, 2LT Arto Lehtonen, 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard (TXSG) received his commission following his graduation from the recent Class 13 of the Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas. He returns to the 3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment to assume his new responsibilities as an officer.

Born in Halikko, Finland, Lehtonen grew up on a small dairy farm with his eight siblings. His parents encouraged their children to work hard, study their school lessons, and be responsible individuals.  He joined the local 4H club and served as club president.  He liked to read history books and tinkered with an old tube radio.  "I guess I can say that my dream jobs were either," he remembered, "an engineer or a soldier."  After high school he joined the Finnish Army (military service is mandatory for all males in Finland).  After his service in the army, he then went on to attend the Technical Institute of Turku, graduating with a BS in Telecommunications. 

In 2005 his employer, Nokia, relocated him to Texas and both he and his wife Lilli became naturalized citizens in 2012.  He now is employed by BenefitMall, Inc. as a software developer. 
In 2011 Lehtonen joined the TXSG because "I wanted to give back to this society and the TXSG mission sounded like something that I wanted to be involved with."  He has served as a squad leader and platoon sergeant. In deciding to apply for OCS, "I wanted to grow as a leader and OCS is the best leadership training you can get in the TXSG." From OCS he learned both theoretical and practical leadership skills, "some of which I have even been able to use in my civilian job." The most challenging part of OCS, according to Lehtonen, was Military Decision Making Process and Troop Leading Process.  This four-month project required writing WARNOs and OPORDs and the presentation of a briefing on how the processes were used to produce those orders.

Texas Guardsmen share response lessons with Brazilians

members of the Exercito Brasileiro or Brazilian Army, conduct a tour of the Round Rock Armed Forces Reserve Center, home of the Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade) April 8, 2014.
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Griego
In this image, members of the Exercito Brasileiro or Brazilian Army, conduct a tour of the Round Rock Armed Forces Reserve Center, home of the Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade) April 8, 2014. The delegation, which included Maj. Anaditalia Pinheiro Viana Araujo, 1st Lt. Aline Campos Dia, and Sgt. 1st Class Jao Batista Junior, conduct the vist to learn about the brigade's Homeland Response Force Mission, which bridges the gap between civilian first responders and National Guard support efforts. Photo by National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Griego.

Story by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Griego


ROUND ROCK, Texas - The Texas National Guard is no stranger to international partnerships, sharing long working relationships with both Chile and the Czech Republic. Recently, though, members of Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade), a Round Rock-based National Guard unit, enjoyed a visit from a new foreign partner: the Exército Brasieiro, the Brazilian Army. The visit, conducted May 8th at the Round Rock Armed Forces Reserve Center, focused on sharing best practices during emergency response operations.

"The main objective is to learn about the program," said Maj. Anaditália Pinheiro Viana Araújo. "We are beginning our  program in Brazil. We are looking for knowledge from different sources."

 Araújo, a medical officer within the Exército Brasieiro, was joined by 1st Lt. Aline Campos Dias, who serves as a military  doctor, and Sgt. 1st Class João Batista Júnior, a combat medic. With their specialty in patient care, learning how the  National Guard approaches mass casualty incidents was a natural fit. Prior to meeting with JTF-136 (MEB), they toured  the San Antonio Army Medical Center and the San Antonio Fire & EMS Department. 

 "It was wonderful," said Júnior. "You showed us how the military and the civilians can work together. That is fantastic for  us. It would be nice if in the future, we could have the same structure. 

 JTF-136 (MEB), as custodian of the FEMA Region VI Homeland Response Force Mission, is uniquely qualified to  discuss the role of interagency cooperation during emergency response operations. Their mission is, at the request of  civil authorities, to directly support and reinforce the life-saving efforts of local first responders in a disaster engagement.  Unlike the United States, Brazil's military forces serve as their first responders in combating natural and man-made  threats.

 "There, we are the first responder," said Júnior. "In Brazil, we are the only response that we have. We need to teach our people to do the same, to be prepared for some kind of threat and divide the responsibility with us."

On hand to share the National Guard support perspective was the 6th CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package, the life-saving element of JTF-136 (MEB)'s HRF mission. CBRNE refers to the increased threat of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive hazards during a mass-casualty incident that would require the specialized capabilities of military assets in supporting civilian first responders.

"As an element of the CBRNE mission, the 6th CERFP was delighted to entertain members of the Exército Brasieiro," said Lt. Col. Les Edwards, commander for the 6th CERFP. "Their visit allowed us an opportunity to positively influence our international partners as they develop their own emergency response management team."

Sharing their experiences and best practices helped bridge the gap between the two nations' armies, fostering trust and confidence as they discussed how best to approach their respective life-saving missions. 

"It is always interesting to discuss the civil-military relationship that exists in the United States with representatives from other countries, like Brazil, and compare and contrast the two systems," said Maj. Patrick Nolan, the training officer for JTF-136 (MEB). "Only by understanding such things can we communicate an understanding of how missions like the Homeland Response Force actually work."

Communication was a key theme throughout the tour, as Guard personnel shared with the Brazilian delegation the equipment and techniques that allow them to work fluidly with their civil partners. 

"The main equipment that we need is the communication equipment to integrate the people we have," said Dias. When asked what the best capability they could gain in Brazil would be after meeting their US counterparts, she responded, "the possibility to have communications with people who are in the hot zone and people who are in the cold or warm zone."

These zones refer to the varying levels of contamination that make up a CBRNE situation. The hot zone represents the greatest contamination threat when rescuers are already working to save lives from rubble and debris. The threat of such hazards is especially relevant for the Brazilian army as they prepare to host the World Cup later this year and the Olympics in 2016. Security and safety preparations will be tantamount during these high-profile events.

"These are the kind of events in the United States that the National Guard would be called on to support with capabilities like the Civil Support Team," said Nolan. "They are just now developing those capabilities in Brazil and today's visit is especially important for them."

The members of JTF-136 (MEB) look forward to continuing this relationship with their Brazilian counterparts and furthering their emergency response program. For them, it's not about the uniforms worn, it's about the lives saved when disaster strikes. 

"The more we share best practices," said Edwards, "the better equipped they will be to answer the call when it comes."

Gov. Perry inducts 9 into Texas Women’s Hall of Fame

Gov. Perry inducts 9 into Texas Women’s Hall of Fame
Posted on: May 6, 2014 | By Lauren McGaughy


First Lady Anita Perry, Secretary of State Nandita Berry and Houston-area state Rep. Senfronia Thompson were just three of the honorees Gov. Rick Perry inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

The biennial awards were handed out to nine women in a ceremony held in Texas State Senate Chambers. The inductees, chosen for the leadership they exhibited in everything from business and health advocacy to community and public service, will be featured in the state’s Hall of Fame permanent exhibit at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. The names of more than 100 notable women have been added to the list since it was established in 1984 under then-Gov. Mark White.

During his keynote address, Perry said the successes of these women are all the greater for having been made in the face of often overwhelming societal barriers. He said the Hall of Fame is a place for the state’s greatest, many of whom were “non-conformists.” “Yes Senfronia, I’m looking at you,” Perry joked, referring to Thompson, the longest-serving woman and African-American in the Texas Legislature.

After the ceremony, Thompson said her greatest achievement has been standing up for Texas citizens who can’t afford lobbyists, whom she calls the “little dogs.” When asked about her long career – she was first voted in in 1972 and has been re-elected 21 times – she said serving in the state Legislature is more than just a job to her. “It’s not work to me. It’s something I fell in love with.” Thompson arguably received the loudest standing ovation of the inductees Tuesday, the video presentation of her life and leadership ending with her proclaiming indigent and uneducated Texans are “not asking for a handout. They’re asking to be lifted up.”

Newly-minted Secretary of State Nandita Berry also was honored for her accomplishments in the business and legal fields. During his speech, Perry specifically touched on Berry and her path – from her arrival in the U.S. 25 years ago with less than $200 in her pocket, to her naturalization, thriving legal career working for Fortune 500 companies and international law firms and, finally, her appointment as Texas’ first Secretary of State of Indian descent in January.

Perry also honored his wife, Anita, with a leadership award. During her video presentation, Anita Perry noted her long career as a nurse and her efforts to promote economic development, child immunization and anti-domestic violence programs during her years as First Lady of Texas. Gov. Perry also thanked his wife for saying yes to his marriage proposal, more than 16 years after they first started dating.

The recipients are chosen from nominations submitted and reviewed by a panel of judges. Past honorees include former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, basketball star Sheryl Swoops, astronaut Sally Ride, George W. Bush counselor and ex-U.S. State Department Undersecretary Karen Hughes and Ann Richards, Texas’ most recent female governor.

Below is a full list of the 2014 inductees to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame:

- Nandita Berry (Business Award): Texas Secretary of State, the first of Indian descent, appointed Jan. 7, 2014; former counsel at Locke Lorde LLP in Houston. – Lillie Biggins (Health Award): President of the non-profit medical center Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, Chair of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Board of Directors.

- Joanne Herring (Community Service Award): Houston-area socialite, businesswoman, philanthropist and cultural ambassador; active in Afghanistan and Pakistan and a key driver in U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson’s efforts to convince Congress to support Afghan fighters against the Soviet incursion.

- Ret. Col. Kim Olson (Military Award): President and CEO of Grace Under Fire, a nonprofit serving female veterans; retired Air Force colonel and one of the first female military pilots to command an operational flying squadron; after serving on the Joint Staff and under the Secretary of Defense, she became the Director of Human Resources for the Dallas Independent School District. Also served in Texas State Guard as IT and personnel systems head.

- Anita Perry (Leadership Award): longest-serving First Lady of Texas; former nurse and current advocate for Texas economic development, childhood immunizations, breast cancer awareness, and anti-domestic violence and sexual assault programs; founded the Texas Conference of Women in 2000.

- Dr. Ann Stuart (Education Award): Chancellor and President of Texas Woman’s University; has grown university enrollment 85 percent under her tenure, which began in 1999; supporter of programs benefiting animals and natural spaces, like the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and Dallas Zoo.

- State Rep. Senfronia Thompson (Public Service Award): longest-serving woman and African-American in the state Legislature; Houston attorney; author of anti-hate crime and human trafficking legislation and laws creating a minimum wage and state drug courts; former public school teacher.

- Deborah Tucker (Community Service Award): Founder of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence; former school teacher and founder of the Austin Center for Battered Women, the nation’s first shelter for abused women and their children.

- Carolyn Wright (Public Service Award): Chief Justice for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals; first African-American head of a Texas intermediate court of appeal and first black woman to win a multi-county election in the Lone Star State; civil, family and criminal judge with 30 years experience; Houston-born recipient of the Yellow Rose of Texas award for community service.

Real World Training in Grapevine

4th Regiment Soldiers Train in Disaster Rubble

Story by: CW2 Janet Schmelzer, 4th Regiment PAO

Posted: 26-APR-14

GRAPEVINE, TEXAS -- The 4th Regiment, Civil Affairs, Texas State Guard (TXSG) was in  Grapevine, Texas, Saturday, April 26, 2014 for life-saving skills training and a mock disaster exercise. Soldiers used life-saving skills to treat mock victims.

The exercise was designed to be as close to real world events as possible. There were four mock training areas: triage, first aid, search and assessment, and extraction. The soldiers had to triage mock victims.  Then they had to search and assess the disaster area, administer first aid, and extract victims from a mock collapsed building.  The soldiers had to prepare a victim for transport, and transport the patient from the danger zone to a safe zone.  Soldiers had to climb through collapsed walls, go through rubble (rocks, dirt, and boards), through narrow tunnels of rubble moving along on hands and knees, and work in small and confined spaces, all of which was designed to replicate a tornado strike. Soldiers had to remain aware of their surroundings and safely treat mock victims as they would in a real world emergency.

Working with the 4th Regiment were soldiers from the TXSG Dallas-Fort Worth Medical Response Group, Arlington firefighter and Texas Task Force One Team leader Billy Hirth, and  Grace Cares, a volunteer disaster relief organization.

American Heroes Open House and Air Show

Commentary by: Michelle McBride

Open house and Air showThe Texas Military Forces would like to invite the community to enjoy a weekend of fun at Camp Mabry!

While Camp Mabry is always an open base, this weekend, April 26-27, we will host a free open house and air show that will demonstrate capabilities of the Texas Military Forces to include engineering, aviation, security, transportation, airfield operations, communications and logistics should the governor call on them for support.  Many of the agencies that the Texas Military Forces regularly partners with, like the Austin Police Department, will also be there to showcase some of their assets.The Texas Military Forces would like to invite the community to enjoy a weekend of fun at Camp Mabry!

Camp Mabry is proud to be a part of this community and would like to use this free event to thank Texans for their continued support as their loved ones, employees, friends, and residents have served at home and abroad.

The event will kick off on Saturday, April 26th at 8 a.m. and go through the weekend. Helicopters from both the military and civilian agencies will be showcased on both days, as well as, soldier training simulators.

Saturday will feature a Naturalization Ceremony for service members as they become American citizens; Jack Woodville London, nationally acclaimed author; the TXMF Parachute Demo team; the Austin Police Department K-9 Demo team; a World War II reenactment; and even  Texas Revolution and Civil War weapons demonstration.

Sunday will feature the Missing in America Project Memorial Service, a special tribute to service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice and whose remains were never claimed; the Cox Elementary Choir; Puerto Rican Folk Dancing; and another World War II reenactment.

Rain or shine, the 36th Infantry Division Band will be playing and there will be numerous activities for the kids along with many popular Austin food vendors.  It should be a great event!

We hope to see you there.

For more information and a detailed list of events please visit our webpage at https://tmd.texas.gov/

Texas 'Ready Brigade' to say farewell

Mortarmen from the 36th Infantry Division fire a round during the Rapido River Crossing in the  Liri Valley of Italy during World War II, January 1944.
Mortarmen from the 36th Infantry Division fire a round during the Rapido River Crossing in the  Liri Valley of Italy during World War II, January 1944. The 36th lost 1,681 soldiers in combat during this crossing, with more than 1,200 others wounded. (Courtesy photo Texas Military Forces Museum)

  Story by Capt. Martha Nigrelle


 AUSTIN, Texas - They were in France during World War I, they were in Europe and in the Pacific during World War II, they  have been to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan and they have served their fellow Texans during hurricanes, fires, and floods. They  are the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team or “Ready Brigade,” and soon, they could be gone.

 The 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, part of the Texas Military Forces’ 36th Infantry Division, located in Houston, could  be deactivated as part of a National Guard Bureau reduction of force structure. 

 The brigade was first organized as part of the 36th Infantry Division upon America’s entry into World War I. After arriving in  France July of 1918, the brigade fought on the front lines during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive where they saw continuous  combat for 23 days straight, said Jeff Hunt, director of the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. 

 Many historians believe this victory led to the German defeat. German defeat, or not, the soldiers were commended for  bravery during the decisive battle.

“No braver men ever fought for liberty and right than those who so gloriously upheld the traditions of Texas and Oklahoma,” said, in 1918, Maj. Gen. William R. Smith, the then 36th Infantry Division commander, speaking of the men from both Texas and Oklahoma who fought with the 36th.

Although the headquarters was disbanded during World War II, the infantry regiments that fell under the 72nd Brigade were not, and deployed soldiers to both the Europe and Pacific theaters of operation. Again the soldiers from the brigade’s infantry regiments were recognized for bravery and valor – three of the unit’s soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor and 38 received the Distinguished Service Cross for their actions in combat, said Hunt.

The Brigade has been reorganized and re-designated several times in order to meet the needs of the state and nation. Yet over the years, the soldiers of the brigade have continued to respond to both federal and state calls to service. 

In recent years, the 72nd deployed overseas in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. During their 2009 deployment to Iraq, the brigade’s approximately 2,800 troops were spread across the country in 11 different locations performing various force protection missions and working one-on-one with Iraqi troops to facilitate the transition of security to the Iraqi government. The unit was recognized for its work in Iraq with the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the only ribbon award granted by the Department of Defense, said Hunt.

At home the 72nd Brigade has also stayed active.

“We’re nicknamed ‘The Hurricane Brigade,’” said Col. Gregory Barrow, Commander, 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “The brigade responds, on average, to a major tropical storm every other year.”

Being located in Houston makes the brigade the de facto headquarters for any Gulf Coast response missions that the Texas Army National Guard is asked to perform, explained Barrow.

In the last 10 years, the brigade mobilized more than 3,800 troops in response to every major hurricane in the southwestern region of the U.S. In 2005, the brigade sent more than 400 soldiers to support recovery operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and in 2008, they sent more than 1,000 in response to Hurricane Ike, said Barrow.

Besides hurricanes, the brigade has assisted civilian authorities during flood season, wildfires and recovery operations.

“We routinely provide high water mobility assets to the Trinity River Basin during the fall and winter rain season,” said Barrow. 

In 2003 the brigade mobilized approximately 800 soldiers to assist with Space Shuttle Columbia search and rescue operations, a recovery operation that covered more than 2,000 square miles after the space shuttle broke apart over Texas during its final descent to Earth.

Now the brigade’s service could be over. 

Due to the force structure drawdown proposed by the Department of the Army, the National Guard Bureau was directed to reduce their soldier strength by two brigade combat teams. Only two states in the nation have more than one brigade combat team – Pennsylvania and Texas. The proposal is to defund the brigade headquarters, explained a Texas Army National Guard representative. 

This would also impact all the subordinate units located throughout south Texas that fall under the 72nd Brigade headquarters. Based on further cuts, which have already been communicated to the states’ adjutant generals, this move could affect 2,400 Texas guardsmen over the next two years, said Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, the Texas Military Forces State public affairs officer.

Should the proposed force structure reduction be approved, the brigade would become a non-deployable unit without a federal mission and its subordinate units would no longer have a wartime higher headquarters. 

The proposed reductions also affect facilities funding said MacGregor. The proposal calls for a $1 billion cut to facilities funding across the country which will result in the closure of several National Guard facilities in southeast Texas. The equipment and service members currently located at these facilities would no longer be available to react to natural disasters, making a National Guard response to support this area much more difficult.

Some people believe these cuts are too hasty.

“Currently there is a bill in the House of Representatives, HR 3930, which calls for a commission to study the structure of the Army,” said MacGregor. “It would halt these changes until an independent commission can provide recommendation on the most cost effective way to restructure the Army and Air National Guard.”

This bill has a significant and bi-partisan following with more than 167 signatures on it so far, including more than half of the Texas delegation, according to Govtrack.us, a website that tracks congressional activity. Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee and Pete Olsen out of Houston are two of the many congressmen to sign this bill so far.

The important thing for the Texas Military Forces is ensuring they are able to continue defending the state and nation.

“We’ve got to find the best way to defend America,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Texas adjutant general.

HR 3930 states that the purpose of establishing a national commission to study the structure of the Army is to do just that.

The bill and the proposed soldier strength reductions are both realities for the Texas Military Forces. Either solution will be a solution that the organization will have to adjust to and work with in order to continue doing their job.

“As the Texas Military Forces continue to work through this process, every member of the Texas National Guard will continue to do the outstanding work that has become the hallmark of our organization,” said Maj. Gen. Nichols, speaking about the impending changes to the 72nd. “Our citizen-soldiers remain committed to supporting the state of Texas any time they are called into service by Gov. Perry.”

San Jacinto – Texans Defending Texas

Commentary by: Michelle McBride

Texans Defending TexasFrom the official report of the April 21, 1836 Battle of San Jacinto, by General Sam Houston to D. G. Burnet, Provisional President of the Republic of Texas,  “The conflict lasted about eighteen minutes from the time of close action until we were in possession of the enemy’s encampment … In the battle, our loss was two killed and twenty-three wounded, six of them mortally.  The enemy’s loss was 630 killed, among whom was 1 general officer, 4 colonels, 2 lieutenant colonels, 5 captains, 12 lieutenants; wounded 208, of which were 5 colonels, 3 lieutenant-colonels, 2 second lieutenant-colonels, 7 captains, I cadet; prisoners 730-President General Santa Anna, Gen. Cos, 4 colonels, aides to Gen. Santa Anna, and the Colonel of the Guerrero Battalion, are included in the number … About 600 muskets, 300 sabres, and 200 pistols, have been collected since the action; several hundred mules and horses were taken, and near twelve thousand dollars in specie.” 

Texan soldiers fought side by side for their independence, outnumbered by their enemy, in the Battle of San Jacinto.  This battle was the final battle in the Texas Revolution, paving the way for Texas independence - it has been recorded as one of the most decisive battles in military history.

The soldiers that fought for Texas independence were not career soldiers, but rather citizen soldiers, who risked everything in service to Texas and their fellow Texans. Today our citizen soldiers of the Texas Military Forces continue to serve Texas and their fellow Texans, working hard to maintain the legacy that was started so many years ago.

“This battle shows that there is a long tradition of serving Texas in a military capacity,” said SSG Jennifer Atkinson, Texas Army National Guard, “and I am proud to continue that tradition.”

In celebration of the day, an annual re-enactment of The Battle of San Jacinto will take place Saturday, April 26, 2014 on the ground surrounding the San Jacinto Monument.  For more information on the event as well as the history behind it please visit


The Gonzales Cup Competition Tests Soldiers

19th Regiment Wins Cup Second Year In A Row

Story by: CPT Esperanza Meza, 19th Regiment PAO, and CW2 Janet Schmelzer, 4th Regiment PAO

19th Regiment Winning Team.  Photo taken by CPT Esperanza Meza.  Gonzalez Cup members and staff, 19th Regiment: (L-R) COL Robert Hastings, MSG Mark Sligar (coach), OC David Park, CPL Nick Sanders, 1SG Admir Pasalic (coach), SPC Christopher Parrish, CPL Brian Nail, (kneeling L-R), CPL Jonathan Kelley, PFC Jonathan Turner, SGT Sean Mounger, SGT Kenneth Clayton and not shown, communications NCO, SSG Donald Sheffield.
19th Regiment Winning Team. 
Photo taken by CPT Esperanza Meza.
Gonzalez Cup members and staff, 19th Regiment: (L-R) COL Robert Hastings, MSG Mark Sligar (coach), OC David Park, CPL Nick Sanders, 1SG Admir Pasalic (coach), SPC Christopher Parrish, CPL Brian Nail, (kneeling L-R), CPL Jonathan Kelley, PFC Jonathan Turner, SGT Sean Mounger, SGT Kenneth Clayton and not shown, communications NCO, SSG Donald Sheffield.

STEPHENVILLE, Texas--The Texas State Guard (TXSG) held the second annual team and individual competition which tested the skills and endurance of twenty-one of the finest TXSG soldiers. The competition was held at different venues in Stephenville and Erath County, Texas, from April 11-12, 2014. The National Guard Armory in Stephenville served as the base for the competition and as billeting for the soldiers.

Teams from the 4th Regiment, 8th Regiment, and 19th Regiment took up the challenge. The team from the 4th Regiment included SSG Gary Harvel, SSG Dennis Burks, CPL Joe Ringnald, CPL Justin Carter, SPC Stephen Walton and PFC David Anderson. The team from the 8th Regiment included SSG William Clark, SGT Johnathan Jones, SGT Robert Wilson, PFC Robert Davis, PFC Thomas Hall, PFC Nicholas Lawrence, and PFC Shane Haygood. The team from the 19th Regiment included OC David Park, SGT Kenneth Clayton, SGT Sean Mounger, CPL Brian Nail, CPL Jonathan Kelley, PFC Jonathan Turner, and two alternates, CPL Nick Sanders and SPC Christopher Parrish who competed for individual honors.

The competition tested six skill sets. Four events were held on Friday, April 11, 2014. At the Tarleton State University Track and Field Course, in Stephenville, Texas, the physical fitness test challenged each soldier to complete as many sit-ups and push-ups as possible in 2 minutes followed by a mile run. CPL Joe Ringnald, 4th Regiment, considered the physical fitness challenge very important. “Physical fitness never stops. It is the way we should live every day.”

The second competition was the 9mm pistol marksmanship held at the Tac Pro Shooting Range in Erath County. Team members shot targets 75-feet away in the standing, kneeling, crouching and prone positions to achieve the highest total team score.

The third competition was Land Navigation at the Tarleton State University Hunewell Ranch, in Erath County. In teams of two, soldiers had to locate as many of the thirty-nine markers hidden in the wild brush and mesquite trees as possible using maps, protractors, and compasses within a 2 ½ hour time limit. Each marker was worth from 5 to 15 points. SSG William Clark, team leader of the 8th Regiment team, stated that the competition “was excellent and challenging. The competition is of value to the NCOs for team cohesion and to help the next crop of junior enlisted to be trained and efficient leaders.” SGT Sean Mounger, 19th Regiment, agreed. “It was well organized and quite challenging and relevant to the training.”

The fourth competition was at the Tarleton State University Challenge Course. The three challenges required teamwork and team strategy to succeed and to complete each challenge successfully without penalties in the fastest time possible. The ropes challenge required each team to pass each soldier through the “Human Sensor Web, which looked like a spider web made of rope. Another course challenge was the “Acid Crossing” which required each team to build a bridge, using only three 2”x8”x8’ boards to connect together five 12-inch poles buried in the ground. As the bridge was built, each team had to cross from pole to pole on the 2” side of the board. If a soldier fell off, he had to start at the beginning of the bridge and the team received a penalty. The final challenge was the 15-foot high “Perimeter Breach” wall which required each team to lift up the first soldier who then reached up to grab the top of wall and pull himself to the top of the wall. While the remaining team members hoisted the second soldier, he then pulled the next soldier to the top. When the third soldier got to the top, the first soldier left the top of the wall and was not allowed to help hoist others. This test continued until only one soldier was to be pulled up by a rope without any other soldiers to hoist him up. 4th Regiment team leader SSG Gary Harvel believed that the competition was “all about team building.” SGT Robert Wilson, 8th Regiment, thought the challenge course was “awesome.”

Observing the competition, BG Jake Betty, TXSG Army Component Commander, was pleased with the performance of the soldiers. “The events went very well. I was impressed with the level of enthusiasm of the individuals and teams in their dedication and performance. This event helped build unit esprit de corps, allowing individual soldiers skills and confidence to be tested to be state guard ready.”

On Saturday, April 12, at the National Guard Armory in Stephenville, the final competition was Life Saving Skills. The Gulf Coast Medical Response Group, who designed the life saving competition, traveled to Stephenville to conduct the tests which would determine the proficiency of each soldier in three life saving skills. Each soldier administered first aid to an unresponsive and unconscious mock victim using CPR and an Automated External Defibrillator, treated a broken arm using splints and bandages, and treated a mock victim for shock and a bleeding arm wound by applying a pressure bandage. The members of the Gulf Coast Medical Response Group were 1LT Colin Adams, SGT Michael Poland, and PFC Wesley Willoughby. MAJ James Vretis, TXSG Army Component Staff Surgeon, commented that this challenge was “a clear way to evaluate the training for life saving intervention.”

The final life-saving competition was a wounded casualty extraction which required each team to carry a 200-pound dummy in a skid stretcher over a ½ mile course with trees and a shallow gulley as obstacles in the fastest time possible. SPC Stephen Walton, 4th Regiment, viewed the challenge as “learning to trust your teammates to finish a task successfully.”

Once the points were totaled for individuals and teams, BG Betty announced the winners. The top three individual soldiers were 1st place winner OC David Park, 2nd place winner CPL Jonathan Kelly, and 3rd place winner SGT Kenneth Clayton, all from the 19th Regiment. The 19th Regiment won the team competition and was awarded the coveted Gonzales Cup for the second time. “It was a great event as it brings out the best in people and makes them stronger, win or lose. Morale was great and it was competitive,” stated COL Robert Hastings, 19th Regiment commander. “The event’s values to the TXSG were composed of two things, morale and communication and skills testing that improve training.” COL Howard Palmer, Jr., 4th Regiment Commander, stated that he was “very proud of all the soldiers in the competition. They demonstrated great esprit d’corps and teamwork.” “The spirit, resilience, and competitiveness of each soldier” he continued, “speaks to the energy and determination of each team to put forth their very best effort to win the Gonzales Cup.” 19th Regiment OC Park, who will be graduating in May from the TXSG Officer Candidate School at Camp Mabry, commented that “this would be the last time for me to be one of the guys and I found every event a challenge.” "In experiencing missions from hurricanes Katrina, Rita and other deployments," SGT Mounger, 19th Regiment, who has over 11 years of service with the TXSG, stated "this training is valuable and relevant to what we do.” CPL Brian Nail, 19th Regiment, "this event was very well organized and time efficient.”

General Betty thanked the troops and commands for their dedication and service. LTC Pedro Barreda commented that the "most important thing about the Gonzales Cup is that it give soldiers a chance to win."

The success of the Gonzales Cup competition depended on many individuals, including Army Component Command (ACC) Chief of Staff COL Paul Watkins, ACC Operations and Training Officer LTC Pedro Barreda, ACC Assistant Operations Officer CPT Jan Petreczko, 19th Regiment Operations and Training Officer MAJ Wendell Sadler, 4th Regiment Executive Officer and Operations and Training Officer LTC Lloyd Lietz, 4th Regiment Operations and Training NCO SFC Richard Schilling, 19th Regiment Logistics and training coach NCO SFC Admir Pasalic, 19th Regiment Communications NCO SSG Donald Sheffield, and 19th Regiment training coach MSG Mark Sligar.

The Gonzales Cup represents the courage, strength, and skill that the defenders of Gonzales, Texas, demonstrated while resisting the attack of the Mexican Army during the Texas Revolution in 1835. The Gonzales Cup is engraved with the words "Come and Take It" found on the flag made by the people of Gonzales during the fight.