Partnering together to serve others

On Thursday, July 26, 2012, a volunteer with Remote Medical Access prepares a set of lenses to be cut into glasses.
On Thursday, July 26, 2012, a volunteer with Remote Medical Access prepares a set of lenses to be cut into glasses. One of the largest humanitarian missions of its kind, Operation Lone Star is an annual joint exercise involving the Texas Military Forces, several other military and civilian agencies that partner together to provide medical, dental and vision services to the under-served communities of south Texas, while taking part in a disaster preparedness exercise.


 Story by Laura Lopez

 BROWNSVILLE, Texas - As hundreds of volunteers from various local, state and federal agencies provide free medical  services to the under-served communities in south Texas, members of the Texas Military Forces spent Thursday, July 26,  2012, in Brownsville, Texas, receiving a first-hand look at everything from blood pressure checks and diabetes screenings  to dental care and prescription glasses, as part of Operation Lone Star VIP Day.

 A partnership that started 14 years ago is now the largest public health humanitarian mission of its kind in the United States  and includes the Texas Department of State Health Services, United States Public Health Services, international  representatives, as well as countless of volunteers from other local, state and federal agencies. For the man behind  Operation Lone Star, it is the memories of constantly being sick in the second grade that has made Dr. Brian Smith, Texas  Department of State Health Services Region 11 medical director come to appreciate medical care and those who continue  to help others.

 “Everyone involved in Operation Lone Star has been selfless over the years and been extremely dedicated to the mission,”  said Smith. “It has been an honor and privilege to work with all of you over the years.”

 A full-scale operation providing disaster recovery training and emergency preparedness, Operation Lone Star 2011 saw  nearly 10,000 people for more than 53,000 services that included immunizations, hearing and vision exams, sports  physicals for students, medical evaluations and exams, dental services and social services. 

 Also joining forces at this year’s exercise, members of the Remote Area Medical Foundation stated that while they have  completed over 674 missions across the United States in the last 20 years, this was their first time, and hopefully not their  last time, in Texas. Able to bring various medical, dental and vision services to the shorter one-week long Operation Lone Star, the message was clear.

“Some people may as well be on the moon in terms of the access they have to necessary medical care, that’s how essential this program is,” said Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical Foundation.

Honored and thankful for the Texas Military Forces to be a part of Operation Lone Star for the last 14 years, Texas Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols referenced Hurricane Dolly from 2008 as a situation where this very mission not only enabled our service members to deploy quickly, but also get much needed assistance to the citizens of Texas.

“When we go overseas to support our country we sometimes forget about what is going on back here at home and Operation Lone Star is just one example of how we can demonstrate ‘Texans serving Texas,’” said Nichols.

Despite Operation Lone Star being able to provide free medical care to more than 100,000 south Texas residents over the last 14 years and its ability to continue growing and strengthening to include international partners, many feel the mission is still a critical part in an on-going battle.

“It will never be enough, but it’s a great start,” said Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos.

Five 449th Air Support Group members earn Security Forces beret

Five 449th Air Support Group members earn Security Forces beret
SMSgt Dan Hawkins, PAO, TXSG
CAMP BOWIE, Texas – Five members of the Texas State Guard’s 449TH Air Support Group (ASG) at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, were awarded Security Forces berets in a ceremony held here in conjunction with the TXSG’s annual training Jun. 28.

The beret ceremony culminated an extensive combined training effort between the 449 ASG, the Texas Air National Guard’s 149th Tactical Fighter Group and the 902nd Security Forces Squadron at Randolph Air Force Base.

Col. Thomas Ball, 5th Air Wing commander, presided over the ceremony and led the new Security Forces members in reciting the security forces general orders and the career field creed before the berets were presented.

Members awarded the beret include Maj. Ferdinand Girard, 1st Lt. Bruce Minor, Senior Master Sgt. Ron Olivarri, Tech. Sgt. Mike Hodges and Airman 1st Class Joshua Roberts.

In attendance at the ceremony were members of the 5th Air Wing’s 449th, 417th and 447th ASG’s, along with the 4th Air Wing’s 454th ASG. Presentations on the history and prayer of the security forces career field were also conducted.

Ball stressed the importance of security forces in completing the overall mission of the Texas State Guard.

“Force protection doesn’t happen without you (Security Forces),” Ball said. “The Texas State Guard and your community are depending on you to keep our assets secure.”

Dallas-based Texas State Guard Regiment Changes Command

Dallas-based Texas State Guard Regiment Changes Command
MAJ Kenneth Feagins, PAO, 19th REGT, TXSG
DALLAS, Texas – In a change of command ceremony held at Camp Bowie, Texas on June 23, command of the Dallas-headquartered 19th Civil Affairs Regiment passed from Col. David Erinakes to Col. Robert Hastings.

Col. Erinakes has commanded the 19th Regiment since Oct. 2009 improving morale and recruiting. During his seven years in the Regiment as Operations Officer, Executive Officer and Commander, he led the 19th Regiment through every major deployment since 2005 including Katrina, Rita, Ike and Operation Wrangler.

“Under Col. Erinakes’ leadership, the 19th Regiment has proven itself time and again,” said Maj. Gen. Raymond Peters, commanding general of the Texas State Guard. “Erinakes has made a significant and lasting impact during his tenure with the 19th. We look forward to his continued contributions as the Joint Staff Public Affairs Officer for the Texas State Guard.”

Col. Hastings, a resident of Keller, TX, joins the regiment after serving as Chief of Public Affairs for the Texas State Guard since 2010, bringing more than 30 years of federal and state military experience to his new role.

“Col. Hastings is a highly capable leader with a long and successful track record of mission execution in demanding situations,” said Maj. Gen. Peters. “Hastings is the right leader at the right time. I have the highest confidence that the men and women of the 19th Regiment will perform exceptionally well under his leadership.”

The official change of command took place with the traditional passing of the colors from outgoing to the incoming commander symbolically passing responsibility for, and authority over, the unit to the new commander.

Since the earliest chronicles of military history, military leaders have used flags as a visible symbol to identify themselves and serve as a rallying point. In the past, the colors were traditionally at the side of the unit commander. The very soul of the military unit is symbolized in the colors under which it operates, for they record the glories of the past, stand guardian over its present destiny, and ensure

inspiration for its future. Tradition dictates that the colors led the unit into battle and that the color bearer was instructed, “when in action, resolve not to part with the colors, but with your life.” Today, the colors serve as a binding symbol of continuity and point of inspiration for the future. Commanders come and go, but the unit continues on.

The mission of the 19th Civil Affairs Regiment is to provide mission-ready military forces to assist state and local authorities in times of state emergencies and to conduct homeland security activities under the umbrella of Defense Support to Civil Authorities. The Regiment is headquartered in Dallas with an area of responsibility that extends from Dallas east and north to the Arkansas and Oklahoma state lines.

TXSG Team Takes Top Sniper Honors

TXSG Team Takes Top Sniper Honors
MAJ Michael Quinn Sullivan, PAO, TXSG
DALLAS, Texas - A school teacher and a truck driver were on the team taking first place at a recent sniper competition. Their team, comprised of members of the Texas State Guard's 19th Civil Affairs Regiment, were competing with other Texas Military Forces teams in the Texas Adjutant General’s Combat Sniper Competition held at Camp Swift this month.

Other competitors included a 36th Division sniper team trained at the US Army Sniper School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and a Texas-based Air Force team. Unlike those teams, the TXSG team is comprised of volunteers who pay for their own ammunition, weapons and range-time.

“I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to compete," said Sgt. Scott Hunt, who also took the "Top Individual Shooter" award, obtaining the Sniper Governor's Twenty tab. "The commitment, countless hours of practice and the personal funds that we’ve had to expend has been well worth the sacrifice.

The 19th Regiment is based in Dallas. Another team from the 19th included Sgt. Donald Sheffield and Sgt. Sean Mounger. Capt. Thomas Baroody is the Officer in Charge of the 19th's weapons teams, as well as commander of the regiment’s Quick Reaction Team (QRT).

The TXSG is an all-volunteer force with full-time civilian jobs. For example, the 19th Regiment's sniper team includes Sgt. Hunt, who is a photography teacher at St Mark’s School of Texas, and Sgt. Lay, who is a truck driver with UPS Freight of Irving, Texas.

The commander of the 19th Regiment, Col.David Erinakes, said the success of the sniper team reflects the quality of soldiers volunteering in the unit and throughout the TXSG.

“We’ve placed top in Pistol, Rifle and now Sniper in the statewide matches becoming, I believe, the first unit to do so in the history of Texas Military Forces," said Erinakes. "The 19th Regiment has the best trained, most highly motivated folks in the state and now we’ve also proved that we have the best shooters in the state. This accomplishment brings immense credit and credibility to the 19th Regiment, the Texas State Guard and the Texas Military Forces as a whole in that it shows the level of dedication, motivation and skills of our volunteer soldiers. I am proud of their efforts and the dedicated competitive team that we have built in the 19th.”

Texas State Guard Deploying for Annual Training

Texas State Guard Deploying for Annual Training
MAJ Michael Quinn Sullivan, PAO, TXSG
BROWNWOOD, Texas – Beginning Thursday, June 21, members of the Texas State Guard will participate in annual training exercises at Camp Bowie ahead of the hurricane and wild-fire seasons. Units from around the state will take part in a simulated disaster, ensuring the TXSG is ready to provide relief services as requested by the state’s civil authorities.

“Annual training this year will focus on ensuring our units are ready to offer support services in response to a civil disaster,” said Maj. Gen. Raymond Peters, commanding general of the TXSG. “Entering hurricane season, Texans expect the Texas State Guard to be trained and ready to go when called, as we done so many times in recent years. Our motto is ‘Texans serving Texans,’ and annual training makes sure we’re able to do just that.”

Guardsmen from the Army and Air components will each spend four days at Camp Bowie, a Texas Military Forces training center located in west central Texas near the cities of Brownwood and Early. Training activities planned for TXSG personnel include the Texas Emergency Tracking Network (TETN), the National Incident Management System, mass care operations, wide area damage assessment, global positioning system operations, first aid, land navigation, radio communications and command post operations among other activities.

Annual training takes part in two iterations, June 21-24 and June 28-July 1, with roughly half of the TXSG participating in each session. The units also drill monthly at armories around the state.

The TXSG’s Maritime Regiment conducted annual training last month at Camp Swift near Bastrop.

More than two-thirds of the TXSG’s soldiers serve in the Army Component, and those men and women will therefore make up the bulk of the force participating in training.

“Our TXSG soldiers are true volunteers who take time from their jobs and families to train and serve,” said Brig. Gen. Manuel “Tony” Rodriguez, the Army Component commander. “These men and women train year-round, without pay and providing their own equipment, to successfully accomplish whatever missions they’re given. With the tremendous support of our families, neighbors and employers, the state guard can be ready to move.”

In recent years the TXSG has been called to active duty for nine hurricanes (Katrina, Rita, Dean, Humberto, Dolly, Eduard, Gustav, Ike, and Alex), severe flooding in Marble Falls in 2007, and the 2011 wildfires in central Texas. TXSG is also the lead military component for Operation Lone Star in the Rio Grande Valley, the state’s largest annual medical emergency preparedness mission.

The Texas State Guard is one of three branches of the Texas Military Forces (TXMF), operating under the command of the Adjutant General of Texas and the Governor as Commander-in-Chief of all state military forces. The TXMF includes the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas Air National Guard.

The mission of the Texas State Guard (TXSG) is to provide mission-ready military forces to assist state and local authorities in times of state emergencies; to conduct homeland security and community service activities under the umbrella of Defense Support to Civil Authorities; and to augment the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard as required.

Headquartered at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, the TXSG functions as an organized state militia under the authority of Title 32 of the U.S. Code and Chapter 431 of the Texas Government Code.