MLK Day of Service - Jan. 21, 2013

What is the MLK Day of Service?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’"

Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on the King Holiday to serve their neighbors and communities.

Find out more at: www.MLKDay.gov

Civil Support Team trains with Texas airlift wing

Members of the National Guard's 6th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, headquartered at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, and members of the Texas Air National Guard's 136th Airlift Wing, headquartered at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, load a military vehicle onto a C-130 Hercules, assigned to the 136th Airlift Wing, at NAS Fort Worth JRB, Dec. 5, 2012.
Members of the National Guard's 6th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, headquartered at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, and members of the Texas Air National Guard's 136th Airlift Wing, headquartered at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, load a military vehicle onto a C-130 Hercules, assigned to the 136th Airlift Wing, at NAS Fort Worth JRB, Dec. 5, 2012. (National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class William Gee / Released)

 Civil Support Team trains with Texas airlift wing

 Story by Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain
 

 CAMP MABRY, Texas - About 20 members of the National Guard's 6th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support  Team (CST), headquartered here, conducted joint-service training involving C-130 Hercules aircraft and crews assigned  to the Texas Air National Guard's 136th Airlift Wing at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Dec. 5, 2012.

 The aircraft loading operation was part of a three-day training mission for the 6th CST, which is responsible for  responding to disasters and catastrophic events, said Air Force Maj. Michael A. Torres, the unit's deputy commander.  When activated by civil authorities, the CST deploys an advance party to the site of the incident, within 90 minutes of  notification, and they must be self sustainable for a minimum of 72 hours.

 "The idea for the [C-130] training was to use organic assets within the state in a way that could help us quickly deploy  and integrate with our civilian partners," Torres said. "Ultimately, we work for the [civilian] incident commander."

 "The CST is different than other civilian counterparts, in that it possesses a mobile, analytical laboratory, which provides  on-scene, presumptive analysis, allowing incident commander's to quickly implement life saving actions," he said.

 The organization is comprised of full-time, Title 32, Army and Air National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, who have been  trained in: operations; administration and logistics; communications; medical science; and reconnaissance and survey  operations.

 "We're built up from many specialties, but we are all trained HAZMAT technicians and specialists," Torres said. "We train  all year in different scenarios and situations to support our first responders."

Torres said there are 57 CSTs located throughout the United States, with at least one in each state and territory, and that the concept was developed in 1999. National Guard assets, similar to CSTs, have assisted in the response to: the 9/11 terrorist attacks; the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster; Hurricane Katrina; and numerous high profile events at large population venues.

During the recent training, 6th CST members coordinated with 136th Airlift Wing personnel to load equipment and vehicles onto the tactical cargo aircraft.

In addition to the 6th CST, the Texas Air Guard benefited from the training activities, said Air Force Lt. Col. Tom Suelzer, the domestic operations officer for the Texas Air National Guard and chief of staff for Joint Task Force 71 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade).

"The 136th Airlift Wing conducts training throughout the year to maintain a regional and national response capability across the full spectrum of domestic operations," Suelzer said, "from hurricane support to CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear) Consequence Management."

The 136th Airlift Wing's C-130s are available to the Texas governor for disaster relief efforts, and are the only such Air National Guard aircraft controlled by a state along the United States' Gulf Coast.

"The 136th, with its hard-working people and responsive airlift capability, is a state treasure and a key regional asset," said Suelzer.

Additional joint-training is likely to be developed for the 6th CST and the 136th Airlift Wing to conduct in the future, Torres and Suelzer said.

"Training with the 136th [Airlift Wing] provided the opportunity to validate planning, as well as identify future force packaging needs and priorities," Torres said, "depending on the number of aircraft available in an actual emergency response."

 

Texas State Guardsmen team up with state agencies to eradicate rabies

Private Paul Pettit, 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, Texas State Guard, unloads a bag of bait to be dropped over the South Texas Zapata area during the 2012 Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program.
Private Paul Pettit, 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, Texas State Guard, unloads a bag of bait to be dropped over the South Texas Zapata area during the 2012 Texas Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. Since the program's inception in 1995, more than 39 million doses of the oral rabies vaccine, Raboral V RG, have been distributed over approximately 540,000 square miles of Texas. (U.S. Army Photo photo by Laura L. Lopez)

 Story by: Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon

  ZAPATA, Texas – Members of the Texas State Guard and the Texas Wildlife Services, joined forces with the Texas  Department of State Health Services to participate in the Oral Rabies Vaccination Program along the Texas/Mexico  Border, Jan. 8-17, 2013.

 The annual program drops baited vaccines from an aircraft over high-risk wildlife areas to help control rabies. 

 “We have been dropping baited vaccines in to reduce rabies in domestic dogs and coyotes in south Texas since 1995,  and the gray fox in west Texas since 1996,” said Dr. Ernest Oertli, director ORVP, DSHS. 

 Oertli states that the number of rabies cases in south Texas has dropped from around 150 cases in 1995 to zero in  2000, and only one known report since then. Similarly in West Texas, 240 cases were reported in 1996, with the number  dropping to zero in recent years. 

 The program’s success hits home for Alamo, Texas resident, Sgt. 1st Class Gary Vanderpool, 3rd Battalion, 1st  Regiment, Texas State Guard, who has participated in the program for two years. 

 “I live about 1.5 miles from the border, pretty much an area where we drop the vaccines,” said Vanderpool. “I was around  when a rabies outbreak hit the local community years back.”

 Vanderpool remembers hearing about the initiation of ORVP to combat the epidemic.

 “I recall seeing the planes flying overhead and dropping baits,” Vanderpool continued. “I had no idea the State Guard  was involved and much less that I would someday be up there myself.”

 Up in the air, Vanderpool, along with fellow State Guardsmen, 1st Lt. Stephen Walker, Sgt. Joel Hernandez, Sgt. Ignacio  Vega and Cpl. Arial Lim, rotated in two-man crews to help distribute the vaccines.

“One person is the navigator and one person is a baiter,” Vanderpool said. “The navigator helps the pilot watch for hazards such as flocks of birds, wires, or other aircraft. He also keeps watch on the distance of each bait line dropped and relays that information to the baiter. The baiter then takes that info and prepares the proper amount of baits to be dropped accordingly.” 

The baits are delivered from as far south as Zapata to the west near Alpine, across a 25-mile wide “barrier zone” every January. Oertli said the cooler weather helps with the effectiveness of the vaccines.

“There are three main reasons we drop in January,” Oertli said. “One, is that food is scarce in the area, so the animals at risk are more likely to come out to eat the bait; two, the cooler weather helps keep the vaccines viable longer; and three, fire ants. Fire ants are less active in the winter, so less likely to devour the baits.”

Oertli said in addition to the weather, the program’s success is due to the hard work of all the agencies involved, and gave a particular mention to the Texas State Guard.

“The State Guard is a valuable asset to this program.” Oertli continues. “Their flexibility and determination to get the job done, absolutely contributes to the ORVP’s accomplishments. Most of these Soldiers are from the areas affected, so they can see the benefits of their efforts firsthand.”

This success came full circle for Vanderpool.

“I joined the State Guard three years ago, because I wanted to be a Soldier again and serve my community,” Vanderpool said. “Working on ORVP gives me the opportunity to use my soldier skills to plan and execute the mission. The success of my team’s hard work is evident, almost literally, in our own backyard. ”

ORVP’s success in south and west Texas, and communities similar to Vanderpool’s has prompted DSHS to begin assessing the possibility of expanding the program in areas in east Texas.

Executive Leadership Development Program

Lorie Khatod, a civilian with the Department of the Army’s Installation Management Command, discusses her participation in the Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) during a visit to Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas, Jan. 15, 2013. ELDP provides Department of Defense (DOD) and interagency personnel the opportunity to participate in an exceptional joint and enterprise-wide Civilian leadership training and development experience. (Video produced by the Texas Military Forces Public Affairs Office)

Executive Leadership development programParticipants in the Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) practice convoy maneuvers in a virtual convoy operations trainer at Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas, Jan. 15, 2013. ELDP provides Department of Defense (DOD) and interagency personnel the opportunity to participate in an exceptional joint and enterprise-wide Civilian leadership training and development experience. (National Guard photo by Army Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon) 130115-Z-FG822-002

Compilation of events from the TXMF 2012

A compilation of events that took place during 2012 throughout the Texas Military Forces. (Video produced by the Texas Military Forces Public Affairs Office)

National Guard civilian's legacy, four decades of service honored

Ms. Gloria Sassman, the deputy human resources officer for the Texas Military Forces, greets a member of the Texas Air National Guard following Sassman's retirement ceremony on Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, Dec. 20, 2012.
Ms. Gloria Sassman, the deputy human resources officer for the Texas Military Forces, greets a member of the Texas Air National Guard following Sassman's retirement ceremony on Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, Dec. 20, 2012. Sassman served more than 44 years in the human resources field for the Texas Military Forces.

 

 Story by Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain

 CAMP MABRY, Texas - Current and former members of the Texas Military Forces honored the four decades of service of  the organization's deputy human resources officer, during a recognition ceremony on Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, Dec.  20, 2012.

 Gloria M. Sassman, a non-dual status civilian employee, began her civil service career with the National Guard in 1968,  during the federal administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson and the state tenure of Texas Gov. John B. Connally.  She was initially assigned to the Texas Air National Guard headquarters and then worked her way through various  assignments, culminating in her position at the state Joint Force Headquarters' human resources office, all at Camp Mabry, where she officially retired from on Jan. 1, 2013.

 "There is not a more helpful, more knowledgeable person, in personnel and technician programs, than Gloria," said  Army Col. Patrick M. Hamilton, The Adjutant General's chief of staff. "She has been one of those key staff people in this  agency that is a 'go-to person,' that everybody can count on to get a right answer and will work tirelessly to help people  and help this agency be better."

 Sassman was recently the focus of a National Guard Bureau "Technician Spotlight," which reported that she "served in  all but one of the Human Resources specialties" during her career. The story further stated, "Gloria's expert advice  always ensured the proper blend of NGB policy and state-level program execution and served to strengthen partnerships  between the State HRO and NGB."

During the ceremony, Sassman received the Superior Civilian Service Award and the Certificate of Retirement from The Adjutant General of Texas, Air Force Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols. Additionally, the TAG presented Sassman with the state's "Yellow Rose of Texas" award, on behalf of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Sassman's previous honors include the National Guard Bureau's Minuteman Award, which she was presented in 2010. The award is approved by the chief of the National Guard Bureau and is given to outstanding personnel who have had a nationwide impact on the oldest component of the armed forces of the United States.

During her career, the Texas Military Forces has been involved with major personnel actions, base realignments and force structure adjustments, Nichols said. Additionally, Sassman was instrumental in policy development, formulation and implementation at the highest levels of National Guard decision-making in Austin and Washington.

Nichols said Gloria would always try to figure out, "What's the best thing that we can do for this person?"

"She was always worried about not impacting people," Nichols said. "Even though she's got it in black and white, Gloria knows what gray looks like, she does, and she would make things gray to benefit the person. She's left us a legacy of how we take care of our people, and to do it the right way."

Sassman is expected to keep busy in retirement. She said that she is looking forward to traveling, spending time with her daughter in California, and remaining actively involved with her church.

"It's been a wonderful, wonderful career," Sassman said. "I've absolutely enjoyed every minute of it. .... My heart will be here at Camp Mabry, no matter where I am."

2012 Holiday Message from the Commanding General

2012 Holiday Message From The Commanding General
M. A. Rodriguez, MG, Texas State Guard, Commanding
2012/12/19
Fellow Guardsmen,

As we enter this most joyful time of year, I offer you my deepest thanks for your dedication to the people of Texas and your fellows in the Texas State Guard.

This time of year, the short days, long nights and cool weather seemed designed for reflection and I cannot help but think how blessed I have been by my family. As guardsmen, we are each blessed by a much larger family - those we drill and deploy with. During the holiday season, I think of those other young men and women with whom I entered the Army, and served on posts across the world, and I think of the friends I have made in the Texas State Guard.

A while back, I was talking with one of the Soldiers in the 2nd Regiment. He summed things up better than I ever could have; 'Colonel, even if I just clean up the Armory, that's one less thing those boys downrange have to worry about. I can't carry a rucksack anymore, but I can try to make theirs lighter, and that's what I am here for.

I hope you will join me in thinking of those brave men and women serving far from home this season, trusting that their Creator will extend his protecting hand over them and return them home to their loved ones. Our freedom is purchased and retained by their selfless devotion to duty. They will always have a place at our table and we never forget them - because they are part of our family too.

If your holiday plans include travel, please be safe! If you need help call your chain of command, we are here for you.

I am confident that we will each return to duty following the new year Equal to the Tasks that are set before us. Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah and best wishes for a wonderful new year!

M. A. Rodriguez

MG, Texas State Guard

Commanding