TXSG Continues Growth

TXSG Continues Growth
MAJ Michael Quinn Sullivan, PAO, TXSG

Photo of LTC Peyton Randolph shaking hands with PFC Tony Rodriguez
LTC Peyton Randolph, right, shakes hands with PFC Tony Rodriguez after administering the oath of enlistment at a ceremony held at the Texas State Veterans Cemetery near Killeen.

KILLEEN, Texas – Texans have long felt drawn to public service, and especially by wearing the uniforms of our state and nation, so it is no surprise that the Texas State Guard continues to grow through the enlistment of civic-minded young men and women.

Volunteer TXSG recruiters around the state are eager to help bring Texans into the organization and be reached at http://www.txsg.state.tx.us/join-now.aspx

Late last year, the TXSG swore in the 2,000th Soldier. Even as the Texas State Guard grows, Commanding General Ray Peters says each new recruit brings new energy and expertise to the mission of the organization.

“It’s a pleasure to see so many new faces entering service to their fellow Texans,” said Peters. “No matter how large we grow, the Texas State Guard is a family that celebrates the achievements of people and encourages them to grow professionally. Every new recruit and enlistee is a cause for celebration.”

That commitment was on full display recently when the 2nd Civil Affairs Regiment held an enlistment ceremony at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery outside Killeen. While regiment regularly looks for opportunities to make enlistment and advancement ceremonies special for the honorees, this one took on unexpected significance.

This ceremony was to feature one enlistment, Manuel “Tony” Rodriguez. A special setting, but all expected it to be a relatively quiet affair.

Also at the cemetery on Memorial Day morning were a group of veterans, members of a motorcycle club, who had come to pay final respects to fallen comrades. Feeling there was no better way to honor the memory of the departed, they asked to be included in the ceremony.

LTC Peyton Randolph, commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Regiment, invited them to fall into formation. Afterwards, the veterans included attending TXSG personnel in a Memorial Day prayer.

Rodriguez, the son of BG Manuel Rodgriguez, commander of the TXSG Army Component, will join the 2nd Battalion, 2nd CA Regiment, for Annual Training in June. He will study Mass Care Operations, Wide Area Disaster Assessment, entering information into the Evacuee Tracking Network, working at a Point of Distribution, and learn other skills that will make him integral to supporting the citizens of Texas during times of emergency.

Freshly minted PFC Rodriguez eagerly grasped the opportunity to enlist on Memorial Day at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery. Surrounded by well-wishers and monuments to soldiers who have given their all for Texas and for the United States of America, Private First Class Tony Rodriguez joins a long tradition of service to his country, Texas, and his fellow citizens.

Texas troops, civilians march in honor of fallen heroes

Texas Military Forces, service members, families and local civilians participate in the 5th Annual March For Fallen Heroes in Austin, Texas, May 28, 2011.
In this image released by the Texas Military Forces, service members, families and local civilians participate in the 5th Annual March For Fallen Heroes in Austin, Texas, May 28, 2011. The event, held each year on Memorial Day weekend, honors service members who have lost their lives in the global war on terror, as well as lost veterans of past wars. Participants marched a 7.6 mile route from Zilker Park to the state capitol and back in memory of their lost loved ones. Army Staff Sgt. David Mendiola has organized and executed the Austin event ever since first hearing about a similar march in an issue of GX Magazine.


 Story by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Griego

 For some, Memorial Day means little more than a long weekend of barbequing that starts off the summer each year with  fun and activities. For a small band of patriotic service members and civilians, however, the somber day that recognizes  the countless lives lost in American conflicts overseas and stateside is not a celebration, but a solemn reminder of the  sacrifices necessary to ensure the freedom and safety of our nation.

 "Keep in mind who we're walking for," said Army Staff Sgt. David Mendiola at the start of the 2011 March for Fallen Heroes. "Let's make sure the community knows, and never forgets."

 The annual event, now in its fifth year, brings together veterans, family members, current service members and citizens of  all ages for a 7.2-mile foot march from Austin's Zilker Park to the state capitol and back. As a staple affair in the Texas  Military Forces, which includes both the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas State Guard, the march additionally  serves as a community outreach program, inviting Austinites to participate who might not even have family in the armed  forces.

 "Today is great," said Mendiola. "We had a lot of participants show up today. We have more civilians this time, so I'm  pleased about that."
 Mendiola, who started the Texas march four years ago, first got the idea for a memorial foot march after reading a story in  Guard Experience Magazine about a Tennessee guardsman who carried the U.S. flag around his town in honor of those  who died in the Global War on Terror.

 "I immediately went to my first line supervisor," said Mendiola, recounting the day he read the article. "Within three weeks,  me and three other members of my section met up at Zilker park, we loaded up and we started walking toward the  capitol."

 "I'm marching for my buddy Anthony Green," said Army Sgt. Donald Denson, "[killed in action] in Afghanistan two years  ago, and every other soldier that fought for the 36th ID from World War I until now."

 Denson, a soldier with Austin's 36th Combat Aviation Brigade Headquarters, brought with him to the march his son, who  recently enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard.

 "I feel like a soldier now," said Army Pvt. Michael Denson, Donald's son. "It's a real good feeling to be able to march with  everybody out here."

 Texas veterans from outside the Texas Army National Guard proudly joined the march thanks to Mendiola's networking  efforts.

 Preston Rogers, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970, learned about the event after meeting Mendiola on-line.

"We're on a Facebook group together, Friends of Texas," said Rogers.

Rogers also brought his older brother, William Rogers, a veteran of the Navy who served from 1960 to 1965.

"I'm grateful to the people that are here," said William Rogers. "I'd like to see more people out here."

The increased turn-out for this year's march means more and more Texans each year are getting the word. The support for those involved has been resounding.

"When I was out there this morning," said Mendiola, "looking out at the crowd, it hit me hard."

For more information about this year's March for Fallen Heroes and how to join the memorial walk next year, please visit www.marchforfallenheroes.com or e-mail the event coordinator, Staff Sgt. David Mendiola at mfh1775@yahoo.com.


19th Regiment Wins Rifle Competition

19th Regiment Wins Rifle Competition
MAJ Michael Quinn Sullivan, PAO, TXSG
Photo of the team.AUSTIN, Texas – Winning their second competition of the year, the Texas State Guard’s 19th Regiment marksmanship team took top honors in this year’s 2011 Adjutant General’s Rifle Competition. Earlier this year the same team won the Combat Pistol Match.

And just two weeks ago, Texas State Guard soldiers won the Texas Military Forces Sniper Competition. The TXSG has now swept the state military forces competitions that include teams from the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard and Texas State Guard.

The rifle competition included various stages, with participants firing M16/M4/AR-15-type rifles at targets from as far away as 400 yards. The competition took place last May 14 and 15 at Camp Swift, a training facility near Bastrop.

The team included CPT Theodore Baroody, SSGT Admir Pasalic, SGT Sean Mounger, and CPL Scott Hunt.

In the individual competition, Mounger took First Place while Hunt placed Second.

Baroody, the Office-in-Charge of the team, said he was pleased by the hard work and dedication his men exhibited in preparing for the competition.

“The personal sacrifices in terms of having to buy their own rifle and ammo, and training on their personal time away from family, should also be recognized – along with some very supportive spouses,” he said. “It’s our honor and privilege to be ready to serve the citizens of Texas.”

The commanding officer of the 19th Regiment, COL David Erinakes, said the discipline and commitment needed in the competition reflects the broader training of all guardsmen in preparing for the missions and work of the Texas State Guard.

“Once again the soldiers of the regiment, lead by CPT Baroody, showed that grit, determination and a deep desire to serve are the hallmarks of Texas guardsmen,” he said. “I am very proud of their efforts.”

The mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide highly trained soldiers for Defense Support to Civil Authorities by providing ready military forces during State Emergences to assist State and local authorities in homeland security, community service and with medical services.

The Texas State Guard is one of three branches of the Texas Military Forces, reporting to The Texas Adjutant General, Major General John Nichols, The Commander-in-Chief of the Texas Military Forces is the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry. The other two branches are the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas Air National Guard.

Texas State Guard Marksmen take top honors in Texas Military Forces Sniper Competition

Texas State Guard Marksmen Take Top Honors in Texas Military Forces Sniper Competition
COL Robert Hastings, PAO, TXSG
CAMP MABRY, AUSTIN, TEXAS – For the second time this year, marksmen from the Texas State Guard (TXSG) have taken top honors in a Texas Military Forces (TXMF) small arms marksmanship competition.

For 1st Lt. Douglas George and Lt. Col. Troy Smith, teamwork, training and communication are the keys to being recognized as the best long-range riflemen in the Texas Military Forces.

1st Lt. George, a staff officer with the J3 Directorate of Training, is the overall individual winner of the 2011 TXMF Sniper Training Competition, earning the Governor's Twenty Tab for marksmanship excellence. 1st Lt. George has now earned the Governor's Twenty Tab in all four small arms competitions; rifle, pistol, light machine gun and sniper. 1st Lt. George is only the sixth marksman in the Texas Military Forces history to achieve this milestone and is the first member of the TXSG to do so. The Governor's Twenty Tab recognizes the top twenty marksmen in the Texas Military Forces distributed as follows; eight for rifle, eight for pistol, two for light machine gun and two for snipers.

“I’m pleased to be able to represent the Texas State Guard in these competitions,” said 1st Lt. George. “Competing side-by-side with our colleagues in the Army and Air National Guard is not only personally rewarding but validates the role of the TXSG as an important part of the Texas Military Forces.”

Additionally, 1st Lt. George and Lt. Col. Smith, a company commander in the Texas Medical Brigade, were recognized as the 2011 top sniper team. Sniper competition is a team event in which both members contribute to the success of each other's performance. Lt. Col. Smith has now earned three Governor’s Twenty Tabs, two for rifle and one for pistol.

“We’re all incredibly proud of these two officers for their performance in this competition,” said Maj. Gen. Ray Peters, Commanding General of the TXSG. “The professionalism and drive for excellence that they have demonstrated reflects the best of what it means to be a TXSG volunteer.”

“I attribute the victory to an expectation of success that my sniper partner Lt. George and I have in common and our ability to effectively communicate with each other during the stress of competition,” said Lt. Col. Smith.

The 2011 TXMF Sniper Training Event was held April 30th thru May 1st at Camp Swift, Texas. Five teams representing all components of the TXMF participated in this challenging competition that tested the skills of soldiers in long range rifle engagement. Teams were required to engage targets at unknown distance that ranged from 200 meters to 700 meters in very windy conditions (10-30 MPH). They were also required to demonstrate marksmanship skills with the M-9 pistol and the M-16 rifle.

This is the second marksmanship championship that the TXSG has won this year. Earlier, the TXSG’s 19th Civil Affairs Regiment took top honors in the 30th Annual Texas National Guard Combat Pistol Match.

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.

Volunteers Reenact World War II During American Heroes 2011

Reenactment enthusiasts recreate a battle from World War II on Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, April 16.
Reenactment enthusiasts recreate a battle from World War II on Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, April 16. The show for service members, their families and civilians was a part of the American Heroes celebration. The two-day event was designed to increase the communication and interaction between the local community and the military.


 Story by Sgt. Joisah Pugh

 CAMP MABRY, Texas – Once a year, Austin hosts a Texas Military Forces celebration designed to increase interaction  between the local community and service members called American Heroes. One of the more popular events taking place  during the two-day event was a World War II reenactment performed by a group of local enthusiasts.

 “We see this as a time capsule for our visitors to walk into, so that as much as possible, we can surround them with the look  and feel of what happened back in the 1940s,” said Director of the Texas Military Forces Museum, Jeff Hunt.

 Volunteers as young as 14 participated in the simulation, although most of the reenactors were older. Students, doctors,  lawyers, army veterans, historians and teachers comprised a majority of the actors. They slept in World War II style tents near  the battlegrounds and did their best to mimic what life was like for American soldiers of the period. 

 “For so many kids today, history is compressed. They go through it so fast in the schools and memorize the name, place, date,  what happened and regurgitate it on a standardized test,” said Hunt. “History is really a much more dramatic and exciting thing  than that. We want kids to understand that history is not just a lecture, not an old documentary and it’s not a story that grandpa  tells that maybe you only half believe. History is something that lives and breathes. You can hear it, you can feel it, you can  taste it, you can smell it. When the kids get out here and they feel the rumble of a Sherman tank going by, they hear the crack of  one of those guns, they smell the smoke, they see the muzzle flash and they watch people not a lot older than themselves moving across the battlefield, it really does breathe life into the whole experience.”

The emulated battle replicates one fought by the 36th Infantry Division during the invasion of southern France. The museum spent more than $4,000 on pyrotechnics, airplanes, vehicles and blank ammunition to wow the audience. To onlookers, the museum’s budget may have appeared far more massive because the nearly 180 reenactors augmented the museum’s props with their own equipment like uniforms, tents, private vehicles and even tanks.

“If the movie companies were doing this, it’d be a million dollar shot,” said Hunt.

“I think it’s pretty important that young people understand the luxury of peace they have, the security they have and the freedoms they have,” said Hunt. “All of that was purchased and all of that has been secured in the price of service and sacrifice of the men and women in uniform. Many of whom have spilled their blood and many of whom have laid down their lives to give us the kind of world where battles are the sort of thing you reenact and they aren’t things that really happen.”

“It’s good for recruiting because you get a little eight-year-old boy out here watching this battle reenactment and his eyes are popping out,” said Hunt, “You know he walks away with a positive attitude about the military and ten years later he’s much more likely to raise his right hand and take that oath than a kid who’s never been exposed to the history in this way.” 

“It was really cool and I thought it was a good example of World War II,” said Geno Albini, a young boy who watched the show.

Diane Laube, a first-time visitor to the American Heroes celebration, explained her mother was a French denizen who lived through World War II. She imagines that the reenactment might have been what her mother experienced as a young woman in war-torn France.

“I had a great experience here today,” said Laube. “Keep doing it, keep educating everybody, because this is a legacy we need to keep perpetuating.”

TXMF hosts naturalization ceremony during American Heroes Celebration

Texas Military Forces, civilian and military attendees of the American Heroes Air Show paid tribute to names on the American Veterans Traveling Vietnam War Memorial on Camp Mabry Saturday, April 16.
In this image released by the Texas Military Forces, civilian and military attendees of the American Heroes Air Show paid tribute to names on the American Veterans Traveling Vietnam War Memorial on Camp Mabry Saturday, April 16. The exhibit was just one part of the AHAS, a decades old event held in Austin to honor veterans and currently serving military members.


 Story by Sgt. Melissa Bright

 AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Police Department and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services paired with the Texas Military Forces to host a naturalization ceremony April 16, during the American Heroes Celebration at Camp Mabry in  Austin, Texas.

 The ceremony is just one element of the two-day festival that also featured static displays, multiple military  demonstrations and family activities designed to increase awareness within the Austin community of it's substantial  military heritage.

 "This is the second year we have been able to hold this ceremony during American Heroes weekend," said Wuthipong  'Tang' Tantaksinanukij, a corporal with Austin Police Department's Air Operations Unit. "In 2010, Jim Paules invited us to  hold a ceremony here during their American Heroes weekend and we were able to swear-in 13 service members from all  five branches of service. We had double that number this year and hit all branches of service again except for the Coast  Guard."

 Paules, president of the American Heroes Aviation Network, coordinated with the founders of the American Veterans  Traveling Tribute to bring a replica of the Vietnam War Memorial stretching over 380 ft long from end to end to serve as the  backdrop for the ceremony.

"My husband Edmond was in Vietnam in 1968 and again in 1970 to 1971," said Alma Croix as they walked in front of the wall. "I think being able to see this exhibit in Austin is just wonderful."

"The first time we saw the wall in San Antonio I was so overwhelmed," she said. "I couldn't even speak the names of the friends we lost, I had to write them down for the assistants to look up."

The 80 percent-scale replica of the Washington, D.C., Vietnam Memorial Wall displays all 58,253 names of the men and women killed in the Vietnam War.

"It is an honor for us to provide our Vietnam Memorial Wall as the backdrop for members of the military as they recite their oath of allegiance," said Don Allen, executive director of the AVTT and retired U.S. Army Special Forces. 

The AVTT is a veteran-owned project that travels the country to provide a forum for communities to honor, respect and remember those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. 

The wall was the perfect reminder of what it takes to be American for the 25 service members and military one spouse representing 15 different countries sworn in by the Honorable Lee Yeakei, U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Texas.

"I am very excited to be able to do this but today is even more special for me because I was able to do a rubbing of my uncle's name for my mom," said Marine Cpl. Alejandro Mascorro.

"We’re proud to be part of this event at the Texas Military Force’s historic Camp Mabry while we honor all Veterans and those currently serving by letting them know they will never be forgotten," Allen added.

"This is start of my new life," said Army Spc. Jeanette Ponce, with Charlie Company of the 36th Infantry Division in Austin. "I am just so excited to be here today finally fulfilling my dream."

The Adjutant General of Texas hosts Texas Military Forces senior leadership conference

Texas Military Forces, Col. Patrick Hamilton addresses key military and civilian leaders at the JJ Pickle Research Campus, in Austin, Texas, Thursday, April 7.
In this image released by the Texas Military Forces, Col. Patrick Hamilton addresses key military and civilian leaders at the JJ Pickle Research Campus, in Austin, Texas, Thursday, April 7. Hamilton was recently appointed Chief of Staff for Maj. Gen. John Nichols, The Adjutant General of Texas. Nichols had several goals for the event including enhancing interpersonal relationships within the different groups and beginning to address issues that impact the culture and readiness of the TXMF. Representatives came from the Texas State Guard, the Air National Guard, the United States Property and Fiscal Office, several Army National Guard brigade commanders and the office of the TAG.


 Story by Staff Sgt. Melissa Bright 

 AUSTIN, Texas - Coffee cups and presentation packets vied for table space as senior members of the Texas Military  Forces gathered for a two-day information and introduction conference at the JJ Pickle Research Campus with Maj.  Gen. John Nichols, the most recent appointee to the office of the Adjutant General for Texas.

 Attendees of the conference included members of the Texas Army National Guard , Air National Guard and State  Guard, with a cross section of representatives from the officer, enlisted and civilian workforce directly involved with the  Adjutant General’s office. 

 Nichols’ goal for the event was two-fold. First, he wanted to provide an opportunity for interpersonal relationships to  develop, enhancing communication across the services. Second, he sought to open a forum introducing and  addressing issues impacting the culture and readiness of the TXMF.

 “This is an opportunity for each of our groups to calibrate our compasses to be in tune with the vision [Nichols] has for  Texas service members,” said Col. William Hall, Joint Task Force 71 commander. “But also, for each of our groups to be  in tune with each other; to better see how we can support and in turn be supported.”

 Conference planners designed the gathering to function as a relationship-building and advance-planning tool in a  mutually-supportive environment. Each group took the opportunity to present their resources, expertise and potential for  growth while maintaining frankness on limitations and opening the floor for discussion. 

 “One of the greatest advantages our members bring to the table is our passion for volunteerism,” said Maj. Gen. Ray  Peters, commander of the Texas State Guard, as he presented the capabilities and limitations of the no-contract force  that make up the TSG. “To join the State Guard you have to possess a distinct passion to serve, specifically as a selfless  leader.”

 “However,” he continued, “we are faced with true tests as leaders to keep our members engaged without any contractual obligation.”

Conference attendees fulfilled Nichols, few yet substantial goals through a series of break-out sessions and forums where both the officers and enlisted personnel discuss new training programs, the current state of the Texas Military Force as a whole, and new changes in doctrine like the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. 

“When our leadership starts talking policy, how best to create or enforce it, I consider it my highest priority to be in the room,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Broyles, command sergeant major for the Texas Army National Guard. “There are times when the enlisted voice needs to speak up. I use my experience to help guide these talks to increase the chances of a positive outcome for both enlisted and officers.” 

Nichols noted that this casual format enables individuals to spend more time informing themselves on issues and opportunities that exist in support of command and its mission, while allowing ample time to develop crucial personal networks.

“The cross talk that results from having us all here together allows synchronization and development of improved ways ahead,” said Brig. Gen. Joyce L. Stevens, the assistant adjutant general-Army for Texas and commander of the Texas Army National Guard. 

Stevens supervises the operations, training and readiness, and resource allocation for both state and federal missions and serves as the principal advisor to Nichols on all matters concerning the Texas Army National Guard.

Nichols closed out the event by requesting the attendees re-affirm their promise to uphold the values that act as a common bond for the Texas Military Forces.

As one the group stood, raised their right hand and recited the TXMF values that spell out LONE STAR: Loyalty, Opportunity, Networked, Ethics & Excellence, Selfless Service, Texas Spirit, Adaptability and Ready.