Texas State Guard Maritime Regiment conducts drill, locates downed aircraft

Texas State Guard Maritime Regiment conducts drill, locates downed aircraft
STEFANIE THOMAS
2010/04/10

Sgt. Corey Lewis, of Plano, and Petty Officer Carl Clary, of Madisonville, conduct a side-by-side search of Lake Houston waters in an effort to recover aircraft debris during a training exercise April 10. Both are members of the Texas State Guard Maritime Regiment (TMAR) 1st Battalion Rescue Dive Team.
Sgt. Corey Lewis, of Plano, and Petty Officer Carl Clary, of Madisonville, conduct a side-by-side search of Lake Houston waters in an effort to recover aircraft debris during a training exercise April 10. Both are members of the Texas State Guard Maritime Regiment (TMAR) 1st Battalion Rescue Dive Team.

With ’go-bags’ at the ready all hours of the day and night, and dedicated members prepared to drop their daytime jobs for however long it may take, two hours is all it takes to get the Texas State Guard mobilized in the event of an emergency.

Saturday's drill at Lake Houston’s Anderson Park, the site of the Houston Police Department Lake Patrol in Huffman, took six months of planning, but the scenario was all too real as more than 60 men and women in fatigues and police garb swarmed the shore line and waters of Lake Houston in search of the remnants of a downed Air Force drone plane.

“This is a joint operation between the Texas State Guard Maritime Regiment, the Texas Air Guard, and the Galveston Police Department,” said Solomon Cook, public information officer and petty officer in the Texas State Guard Maritime Regiment 1st Battalion, locally known in his role as Humble Independent School District chief of police. “The scenario is that an Air Force aircraft has crashed into Lake Houston and now we’re attempting to recover the plane and any debris. We actually sank parts of a plane in the lake.”

ALL ABOARD

While divers conducted a side-by-side search of the 58-degree waters, a 3-acre area flanked by a peninsula and far off from civilian fishermen and jet-skiers, Galveston PD Marine Division officers used a side-scan sonar to map the bottom of the lake and pinpoint objects possibly related to the crash. The aircraft debris hidden on the lake bottom was donated by the Lone Star Flight Museum.

“We can see items down there and send divers to determine if it’s the debris we’re looking for,” said John Courtney with the Galveston PD, adding that the $3,000 sonar equipment was only recently purchased with funds raised through DVD sales of Hurricane Ike footage. “In Galveston, we plan on using the equipment to locate bodies, vehicles, sunken vessels, and large pieces of evidence. We get about six to 10 calls like that a year.”

Senior airman Scott Hart has taken up his post on the pier. His public announcement system, a medium-sized loud speaker that generates nearly 40 pre-recorded ultra-loud audio files, can be heard across the lake at homes two miles away.

“We can use this equipment to warn ships, vehicles and people away to keep them from interfering with our mission and for their own safety,” Hart explained. “It can also be used during times of civil unrest, when we might be dealing with a large crowd.”

Also assisting in the search for debris are Charles Ashton and his crew. As a member of the Columbia Center, a regional geospatial service center affiliated with Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Ashton’s job is to generate maps of the area utilizing GIS and GPS - onsite.

“It’s very important to know where things are and to put them in a spatial setting so the commanders in control have all the information they need to make decisions while the event is going on,” he said. “We make the maps right here, in a trailer, with Air Force equipment. We’re completely mobile and self-contained. We have our own power, our own data, and within 10 to 20 minutes, we can be fully operational.”

As Ashton maps the terrain and Courtney monitors the lake bottom, Sgt. Raymond Winkler of the 447th Air Support Group Texas State Guard Security Forces instructs his team to keep onlookers at bay, protect communications equipment and search the ground for aircraft debris during the search and rescue/recovery mission.

“Our team performs security around the perimeter of the scene to prevent unauthorized persons from coming in and picking up souvenirs, since it would be sensitive materials,” he said. “We also protect our assets to make sure it doesn’t walk off. Our airmen come out and we set up the search pattern. We walk that search pattern and any debris we might find is marked. We enter everything in the computer and use the GIS/GPS system to lay out a debris field.”

The crackle of the radio is constant, and the orders come in quick succession. Actors pose as civilians trying to breach security; two young girls are missing their father. The scenario is interspersed with many variables.

“Finding a body, for example, will get the chaplain involved,” said Wayne Hogard, commanding officer for the TMAR 1st battalion. Injuries are also part of the scenario, as are missing persons, and bring out the medical team. “We try to get as many people involved as possible.”

John Hesse, the training and operations officer for the 1st Battalion TMAR, said the planning of the drill involved covering every detail from organizing an incident command system, communicating with the national emergency and military emergency management systems, to ensuring civilian safety and plotting activities.

“The idea is to overwhelm the teams and see how they act under stress,” he said. “The better they train now, the better they will perform when an emergency actually happens.”

NO WEEKEND WARRIORS

Cook said some people may think of the Texas State Guard as “weekend warriors,” but nothing could be further from the truth.

“We are trained professionals,” he said. “And even though you may have a combination of people who work in law enforcement, engineering, or as chemical operators, we all bring our abilities and talents to the table in the best effort of helping our state.”

The cooperation among agencies was inspired by the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy in 2003, when the shuttle disintegrated over Texas shortly before it concluded its 28th mission during re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.

“The Columbia disaster was a good guiding force on how things like this need to be done,” said Hesse. “We expanded on that process, created some policies and procedural system on how to get flight plans, utilize the algorithms the Columbia Center has, use information about air speed and altitude to figure out where the aircraft parts should be.”

Hogard said Texas State Guard members serve in a volunteer function until, or unless, the governor of Texas gives orders to deploy the force. Beginning in May, TMAR will be called upon to assist the coast guard, beefing up numbers.

The regiment, Cook said, communicates via e-mail and cell phone. Each member is in possession of a primary and secondary cellular phone. Members are also required to keep a ‘go-bag’ handy at all times, filled with three days worth of supplies, including food, water and clothing.

“We are part of the Texas military system. We are a recognized state agency and we have a monthly drill and training, like the reserves or state guard units,” Cook said. “When an individual decides to participate it’s at least a one-year commitment, and if they have no prior military experience they undergo training. They’re not just handed a uniform.”

Cook said monthly meetings and drills are held at the armory in LaPorte off Spencer Highway. Upon signing up for the Texas State Guard, prospective members are given a choice of participating in the Texas Air Guard, the Texas Army, or TMAR (Texas Maritime Regiment).

Cook, who has served as Humble ISD chief of police for about 6 years and worked for the Humble Police Department for 13 years prior, said he had no former experience in the military when he joined TMAR.

“Personally, I got started through friends,” he said, “wanting to do more to serve our state.” no former military. about 6 years cop, humble 14 years.

State Conference Offers Service members Information, Opportunities, Connections

Soldiers read about new troop transport vehicles
Soldiers read about new troop transport vehicles

 

 Story by Spc. Suzanne Carter

 "Someone asks me, 'How did you get here?' I try to be nice and say, 'I took a plane,'" said senior enlisted advisor for the  Texas Military Forces Command Sgt. Maj. Juan G. Morales.

 After the laughter died down, Morales continued to say that no obstacle kept him from achieving his goals. 

 "I was born in Puerto Rico, but raised in America," he said. "I speak 'Spanglish,' ... that never stopped me."

 A small group of junior enlisted Soldiers and Airmen listened intently as Morales detailed the keys to a successful  military career.

 "Be the person who always has a question," he said. "Be a leader, be the one in front and do research."

The Junior Enlisted Forum, lead by Morales, was part of the 4th Annual Joint Texas Military Affairs Conference held at the Austin Convention Center, March 26-28. The forum allowed Soldiers and Airmen to ask senior NCOs questions about career development.

The conference was a joint venture, combining three different, events: the Joint Commanders Conference, the Family Readiness Conference, and the 51st Annual Conference of the National Guard Association of Texas.

From breakfast to lunch and on through dinner Friday and Saturday, service members of the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air Guard and Texas State Guard ran into old friends and made new ones. Families of servicemembers connected faces with names.

"It's a good place to see people you haven't seen for awhile," said Marline Schloari, a conference volunteer from Grand Prairie, Texas. "I've met a lot of Soldiers and officers when we've had those [family readiness] trainings. They know you've done that training, but they don't know who you belong to. When they see you here with your spouse ... it clicks."

The conference boasted a fun run and relay races for service members' families on Friday, as well as a golf tournament at Star Ranch, a Texas Hold'em Poker tournament, wine tastings, karaoke, and dancing.

Kids participated in the Family Readiness Group's Youth Symposium, where they played games, listened to live music and learned what to do when their parents deploy.

Soldiers, Airmen and Guardsmen, along with their families, strolled through aisles of vendor booths that filled the convention center's exhibit hall. Others bid on baskets filled with treats at the silent auction, proceeds to benefit NGAT.

The booths offered services, products and information for Texas Military Forces service members and their families. One booth displayed new tactical gear.

"We have a lot more visible stuff to actually go touch and see what our husbands may or may not get to use," said Schloari. "The latest equipment is out there. Or if it's not, they can say, 'Hey, we need that. Can you get us that?'"

Schloari enjoyed browsing the line of body protection and armored vehicles.

"They've come out with some really good stuff," she said. "I'm really excited about the protection factor that they've got."

Other booths offered families information about support opportunities during deployments.

"Now that I'm seeing all the information we're giving to family members, there's just so much," said Elizabeth Vega, secretary for the Family Readiness Group. 

She said that during her husband's first deployment, Vega did not know about the support available to her and her two children. The array of information available at the conference confirmed that no Soldier stands alone and neither do their families.

"All you have to do is just walk in the door and ask one person," Vega said. "If that person doesn't know, they can tell you where to find the answer, ... there is no stupid question." 

Texas Military Forces leaders gathered Saturday afternoon to conduct business as part of the Joint Commanders Conference.

During FRG's family programs, leaders deployed with the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team joined the forum via teleconference to answer family members' questions about their troops in Iraq. The FRG also hosted a variety of question and answer panels through their Family Readiness Program Conference.

Texas State Guard members broke away from the crowd on Saturday to discuss duty and share camaraderie as citizen soldiers.

"Service," exclaimed Col. Dennis O'Driscol, 8th Regt. commander, when asked what motivates these Citizen Soldiers. "Before I joined, I just thought that surely there was something I can do to help. We are here as support to civilian and military authorities."

Texas Military Forces Commander Maj. Gen. Jose S. Mayorga marveled at the Guardsmen who sat before him.

"Do you want this job," he asked. "If you join us, you get to pay for your own uniforms, boots, travel and lodging. You only get paid $121 a day when the governor activates us. And here you all are. You can't buy that kind of dedication."

With 1,700 members, said Mayorga, the Texas State Guard responds to natural disasters like hurricanes, provides border patrol support, and controls new communication technology for Texas Military Forces, without the possibility of deployment.

"It's Texans serving Texas," O'Driscol said. "And it doesn't take long to know we're making a difference."

While the conference teemed with useful information, service members and their families took much more than that home. Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy L. Broyles, Sgt Maj. of the Texas Army National Guard, offered encouraging words to service members as they pursue their goals.

"Work hard," he said. "Do what you're supposed to do, and you'll get anywhere you want to go."

ESGR Conference Honors Employers, Service members

Representatives of  the six employment agencies honored at the 2010 ESGR awards banquet stand with their Pro Patria Award.

 

 Story by Staff Sgt. Daniel Griego

 The Employer Support of The Guard and Reserve recognized the outstanding efforts of one such support system at its  annual conference, held March 25 and 26 at the Radisson Hotel & Suites in Austin, Texas. 

 The event honored six Texas employers with the distinguished Pro Patria award for celebrated appreciation of their  guard and reserve employees.

 Tyler Sieswerda, news anchor for ABC-affiliate KVUE-TV in Austin, served as the Master of Ceremonies for the awards  banquet Thursday night.

 "Pro patria is a latin term," Sieswerda said, "meaning for one's country. One of ESGR's missions is to recognize those  employers who excel at supporting their employees serving in the Guard and Reserve."

 Recipients included the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Lubbock County Sheriff's Office, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, TaxMasters, Inc., Tesoro Corporation and Texas Engineering Extension Service. All awardees are Five Start employers, having already received an Above and Beyond Award and special recognition for individual supervisors.

Dr. Jerry D. Icenhower, Chairman of the Texas Committee for ESGR, Ms. Pauline K. Brunelli, Acting Executive Director for ESGR, and Maj. Gen. Jose S. Mayorga, Commander of the Texas Military Forces collectively presented the awards to the representatives from each recipient agency.

"This year these outstanding organizations join the ranks of dedicated patriots who have supported our Citizen-Soldiers as they honorably fulfilled the call to duty to serve their state and nation," said Mayorga.

Employers awarded stood out for their commitment to their activated workforce. Support efforts included continuation of employment benefits during deployments or training missions, paid military leave, care packages and goodwill checks for families of deployed servicemembers, farewell and welcome home celebrations, hiring preferences and reintegration upon return from duty.

Also honored at the banquet was Col. (retired) Dwain James, recipient of the Order of St. Maurice Award, commonly called the Infantry Medal.

"The Order of St. Maurice Award," said Icenhower, "recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to the Infantry and demonstrates the highest standards of integrity and moral character."

Maj. Gen. Michael Ferrier, chief of infantry, presented the award to ames for his years of dedicated service and excellence both within the Infantry and ESGR.

It wrapped up the two day conference with a special tribute to the city of Austin, recipient of the ESGR Prominence Award.

Reinstituted in 2008, the Prominence Award recognizes the highest service an employer can bestow upon its workforce.


"The city of Austin," said Icenhower, "is receiving the Prominence Award for being one of America's leading employers in managing and caring for its employees serving in the Guard and Reserve. Austin is only the third Texas employer to receive this award."

Previously, Austin had received every award available from ESGR and the Secretary of Defense.

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell accepted the award on behalf of the city.

"As a city government," said Leffingwell, "we are committed to go above and beyond the minimum federal requirements to support our military employees. They play a key role in our continued success as a city, and we are deeply appreciative of both their service to our city and to their country."

The military community can only succeed when supportive and caring individuals commit to shared goals. For the National Guard and Reserves especially, these goals include the solid and collaborative efforts of employers, families and friends working together to sustain its uniformed members.

"We congratulate all of our honorees," said Icenhower, "and convey our deepest gratitude for their sacrifices and unwavering support to our men and women serving in the Guard and Reserve to protect our nation."

TXSG PAO's participate in 3rd Annual TXMF International PAO Conference

TXSG PAOs participate in 3rd Annual TXMF International PAO Conference
MAJ Michael Spraggins, PAO TXSG
2010/03/24

Texas Military Affairs 2010 Public Affairs Conference Workshop - Austin, Texas 22-24 February 2010
Texas Military Affairs 2010 Public Affairs Conference Workshop - Austin, Texas 22-24 February 2010

Military PAOs from Kansas, Chile, Florida, the Czech Republic, Alabama, Virginia and South Dakota along with TXMF Army, Air and TXSG were present for the Third Annual TXMF International PAO Conference, hosted by COL William Meehan, Director of Public Affairs, Texas Military Forces and his staff. In addition a number of civilians from Texas Governor’s Office of Emergency Management, ESGR, as well as numerous other civilian organizations were in attendance.

TXSG was well represented; by MAJ Michael Spraggins HQ, MAJ Janet Alvarez HQ, CPT Porshe 19REGT, 2LT Shawn James 5AW, SrA John Crowder 4AW and CPL Jason Marshburn 4REGT.

During the Conference it became readily apparent that no matter military or civilian, what branch of the service, what state, or what country, PAOs all face the same challenges of getting their story out to the public.

A tour and briefing at the JOC at Camp Mabry was included, with transportation provided by a TXMF UH-60 Blackhawk, from Bee Caves Armory to Camp Mabry and back.

TXSG PAOs also met with BG Charles Miller, Chief of Staff, during a tour of TXSG HQ, conducted by MSG Randy Hoffman, a full time employee of the HQ J-1 section.

The TXSG attendees also had a chance to meet with Chief Information Officer and Commander of the HQ J-6 section, COL Janice Bruno.

COL Bruno discussed the important roll that each unit PAO plays in helping spread the word in the local community about the good works their units do, thereby raising public awareness and assisting with recruiting.

Austin Bridges International Divides with PA Conference

Story by: Staff Sgt. Daniel Griego

Posted: February 26, 2010

Master Sgt. Daniel Griego Capt. Jolana Fedorkova, Capt. Jan Sulc, Capt. Miroslava Stenclova and 1st Lt. Denisa Smitalova, of the Czech Republic Armed Forces, look at some materials during the annual Texas Military Forces Public Affairs Conference.
Master Sgt. Daniel Griego
Capt. Jolana Fedorkova, Capt. Jan Sulc, Capt. Miroslava Stenclova and 1st Lt. Denisa Smitalova, of the Czech Republic Armed Forces, look at some materials during the annual Texas Military Forces Public Affairs Conference.

Scientist and inventor Alexander Graham Bell once said, "great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds." For the military public affairs practitioners of Texas, Chile, The Czech Republic, Puerto Rico and various U.S. states, this cooperation came in the form of the annual Texas Military Forces Public Affairs Conference.

Held Feb. 23-24, this international event presented a remarkable opportunity for military experts to share their experiences and values with each other in an open workshop environment. 

"Communication is what we do," said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Gonda E. Moncada, Public Affairs Chief for the State Public Affairs Office. "The importance of doing that right cannot be overstated. Coming together this week with other communicators from other states and other countries gave us the opportunity to hone our skills and benchmark those ideas that have worked for others."

Activities for the two-day conference included public affairs presentations from the representatives, future mission planning, and discussions on the role of public affairs in military operations. Sharing creative briefings and video projects, the participants all learned new things about their international brethren. 

"What I find interesting," said Capt. Jan ŠULC, public affairs officer for the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, "is that you are able to make the message serious but you can deal it in a funny way that's perfect. You will find the audience this way."

It wasn't all classroom discussion, as day two offered attendees a special tour of the Texas Military Forces Joint Operations Center via two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. 

Throughout the conference, all participants came to learn they had more in common in their military roles than they initially thought.

"The most important for me," said ŠULC, "is we are working on the same issues and we find similar challenges. You need to deal with internal public. You need to show how we are here for the public."

"Our job, our mission, is to help them," said Lt. Col. Pablo Müller Barberia, public affairs officer for the Department of Communications - Army, in Santiago, Chile. "We give peace, security and defense."

The conference, which capitalizes on the State Partnership Program pairing Texas and the Czech Republic in 1993 and Texas with Chile in May of 2009, reinforces the established strong bonds of training and cooperation.

In their almost 17 years of partnership, Texas and the Czech Republic have shared host duties, training opportunities and troop commitments in such exercises as medical certifications, combat instruction and F-16 aircraft demonstrations. 

In addition to the Czech and Chilean dignitaries, the conference also boasted a representative from the Puerto Rican Army National Guard.

"I get to network with more public affairs professionals in my field," said Staff Sgt. Luis E. Orengo, Operations NCO for the 113th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. Orengo also serves as the public affairs specialist for the Puerto Rican National Guard, working directly for the Adjutant General of Puerto Rico.

"I'm very glad," said Orengo. "Having this kind of experience that bonds us together gives us also the freedom of mind to do our stuff and you have somebody to rely on. If I have a problem now, I have the confidence to call Col. Meehan or anybody here."

Beyond attending the conference as a public affairs practitioner, Orengo also served as translator for the Chilean team.

Attendees, during their week-long stay in the country, also got the opportunity to explore central and south Texas, visiting Austin, San Marcos and San Antonio.

"It's a good experience for me," said Müller. "This my first time in Austin; it's a great city."

"First time for me not only in Texas, but also the U.S.A.," said ŠULC. "It was really beneficial for me."

Having enjoyed the journey and contacts made, our international partners look forward to sending their peers and comrades to future goodwill events.

"I think that it will also be important for my colleagues," said ŠULC, "to have the chance to come next time."

With fresh contacts made and old friendships renewed, this year's conference successfully sustained the benevolent relationships that will only continue to grow.

"We were delighted to welcome our State Partnership Program partners from Chile and the Czech Republic," said Moncada, "and hope that they enjoyed themselves as much as we did."

One of the TXSG's own is in Haiti on a civilian (non-TXSG) Mission

One of the TXSG’s own is in Haiti on a civilian (non-TXSG) mission
MAJ Michael Spraggins, PAO TXSG
2010/02/18

Chaplain Fair with Mayor of Fort Liberte, Haiti on a civilian mission. Chaplain/Major Fair sometimes puts on different hats, he is also a Major and Chaplin with the Texas State Guard.
Chaplain Fair with Mayor of Fort Liberte, Haiti on a civilian mission. Chaplain/Major Fair sometimes puts on different hats, he is also a Major and Chaplin with the Texas State Guard.

Chaplain/Major Fair TXSG Chaplain, of Brownwood, Texas is in Haiti on a civilian mission known as “The Hope for Haiti Medical Mission” which is comprised of medical personnel from the Brownwood area.

Chaplain Fair said “his TXSG training and the real world experience when activated with the TXSG in his role as Chaplain during Hurricanes IKE and DOLLY, helped prepare him for this mission in Haiti”.

The Chaplain further indicated after seeing the destruction and suffering, he feels that Texas is blessed with having a dedicated group like the TXSG who stand ready assist their fellow Texans in time of need.

The military personnel of the TXSG give of their time, money and yes sweat to train and train hard to be prepared to live up to the TXSG motto “Texans Serving Texas”.

An article Chaplain Fair authored for the America Psychotherapy Association magazine can be accessed by clicking here.

Toy Drive Brings Christmas To Children's Hospital

Toy Drive Brings Christmas To Children's Hospital 
CPL Jason Marshburn
2010/01/30
On Saturday, 12 December 2009 Texas State Guard troops from multiple units and commands arrived at area children's hospitals to distribute toys for the first "Young Hero's Of The Guard" toy drive.

Conceived by COL Gerald Lemons, commander of the 4th Civil Affairs Regiment, the drive benefited sick and injured children enduring long term hospitalizations over the Christmas season. Over 2,000 toys were collected from over 40 locations around north Texas! The toys were then distributed to the Dallas-Fort Worth area children's hospitals: Cook Children's Hospital (Fort Worth), Texas Scottish Rite Hospital (Dallas), and Our Children's House at Baylor (Dallas).

"Our original goal was to collect 500 toys." said LTC Jerald Garner, Chaplain of the 4th Civil Affairs Regiment. Troops from the 4th Regiment distributed 336 toys at Cook's and left another 140.

Later that afternoon, at Ridgemar shopping center, Chaplain (1LT) David Fish, 2nd BN Chaplain, very ceremoniously gave 250 toys to the United States Marine Corps Reserve "Toys for Tots" program. On Wednesday, December 16th, 250 toys were given to the Grand Prairie Police Department, with 2LT Rob Davis and CPL Jon David Wells representing the 4th Regiment.

The 19th Civil Affairs Regiment handed out toys at Our Children's House at Baylor and the 4th Air Wing handed out toys at Shriner's Children's Hospital.

4th Regiment troops deliver Christmas cheer to the children at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.Photo by PV2 Byron Sims
4th Regiment troops deliver Christmas cheer to the children at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.
Photo by PV2 Byron Sims

4th Regiment troops deliver Christmas cheer to the children at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.Photo by PV2 Byron Sims

 

PO1 Gish Awarded Texas Medal of Merit and Junior Enlisted of the Year for 2009

PO1 Gish Awarded Texas Medal of Merit and Junior Enlisted of the Year for 2009
MAJ Michael Spraggins, TXSG PAO
2009/12/21

Major General Jose S. Mayorga (left) Adjutant General of Texas and Major General Raymond C. Peters (right) Texas State Guard Commanding award PO1 Michelle Gish TXSG Maritime Regiment two awards; 2009 Junior Enlisted of the Year, and the Texas Medal of Merit for lifesaving actions while on TXSG hurricane shelter duty during Hurricane IKE.
Major General Jose S. Mayorga (left) Adjutant General of Texas and Major General Raymond C. Peters (right) Texas State Guard Commanding award PO1 Michelle Gish TXSG Maritime Regiment two awards; 2009 Junior Enlisted of the Year, and the Texas Medal of Merit for lifesaving actions while on TXSG hurricane shelter duty during Hurricane IKE.

During the 2009 TXSG Holiday Dinner, Petty Officer First Class Michelle Gish had the unique distinction of being awarded the 2009 Junior Enlisted Member of the Year Award, as well as the Texas Medal of Merit for lifesaving actions during Hurricane Ike in 2008.

PO1 Michelle Gish began proudly serving the citizens of Texas as a member of the Texas State Guard Maritime Regiment, (TMAR) 2nd Battalion-Delta Company in 2006. Currently she is tasked as an Intelligence Specialist, Delta Co. training instructor and recruiting assistant. PO1 Gish began her career with TMAR as a squad leader in Initial Entry Training and graduating Honor Cadet in 2007. Ms. Gish is a member of SGAUS member and has earned her Basic MEMS badge. She graduated Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Training, awarded the Texas Medal of Merit, and Junior Enlisted of the Year in 2009. Her deployments include Hurricane Gustav and Ike in the summer of 2008.

A proud native Texas, she was born in Victoria, Texas and graduated from Gladewater High School in 1982. Ms. Gish’s chosen profession of service to the citizens of Texas began in 1983 as a Police Telecommunications Operator and awarded the State of Texas 911 Commission’s Public Safety Telecommunications Operator of the year on Sept. 11, 1989 and Austin ISD Police Chief’s Award of Excellence in 2004. Obtaining her Peace Officer Commission in 1990, her assignments have included a School Resource Officer for 10 years where she taught the Junior Police Academy curriculum and served as cheerleading coach for two National Qualifier teams. In 1994 and 1995, Ms. Gish also served honorably as an Associate Municipal Court Judge for the City of Sunset Valley before returning to law enforcement as a Travis County Deputy Constable. She is presently with the Austin Police Department’s Special Operations-Airport Division. Ms. Gish is actively pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with minor emphasis in Psychology at Texas State University, maintaining a GPA of 3.67 and membership in Phi Theta Kappa. Ms. Gish has a total of 26 years as a field training officer in her various professional capacities and currently holds a Master Peace Officer Certification, an Instructor Certification, Special Investigator for Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Certification and a Mental Health Officer Certification through TCLEOSE. Ms. Gish is the wife of APD Sergeant Terry Gish, proud mother of TMAR’s SN Samantha Gish and daughter of Mike and CAPT Deana Lynne Abernathey, USNR.