627th Engineer Dive Unit’s Change of Command Ceremony held underwater

Story by: Spc. Aaron Moreno

Posted: December 13, 2012

Courtesy Photo Capt. Jacob Patterson and Capt. Terrance Tysall of the Texas Army National Guard’s 627th Engineer Heavy Dive Detachment conduct a unique under water change of command ceremony, Dec. 8 (Army photo by Staff Sgt. Lance Little)
Courtesy Photo
Capt. Jacob Patterson and Capt. Terrance Tysall of the Texas Army National Guard’s 627th Engineer Heavy Dive Detachment conduct a unique under water change of command ceremony, Dec. 8 (Army photo by Staff Sgt. Lance Little)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Members of the Texas Army National Guard’s 627th Engineer Heavy Dive Detachment, headquartered in Corpus Christi, Texas, welcomed a new commander during a unique underwater ceremony, Dec. 8.

Capt. Jacob Patterson received the detachment’s guidon and responsibility of the unit from Capt. Terrance Tysall, the outgoing commander. The ceremony was anything but routine as family, friends, and special guests watched the ceremony via an underwater video feed from a remotely operated vehicle. 

“I have many goals coming into this unit,” Patterson said, “but primarily I want to continue the history of diving that they’ve started here in Texas for the military.”

“One of our primary missions is to support civil responders and I want to ensure we have the ability and force packages available successfully support civil authorities,” Patterson said about his new command.

The underwater guidon exchange is a tradition within the detachment that also showcases the unit’s unique capabilities to friends, family, and high ranking officers. The Heavy Dive Unit is one of the Texas Army National Guard’s newest units and outgoing commander Capt. Terrance Tysall joined the unit shortly after its creation.

According to Tysall, his fondest memory as team member and commander was helping to build the team from the ground up and working with talented Soldiers who wanted to take the unit to a higher level of operational capability. 

“I was fortunate enough to be present when the team was growing and becoming a fully realized unit,” Tysall said. “I mean, we became real divers instead of just scuba. We got service supplied, we got our chamber, and we were really accepted by the Army as a larger entity.” 

The unit is composed of scuba and surface supplied divers that can perform underwater tasks, including: demolitions; port construction and rehabilitation; salvage and clearance; and search and reconnaissance missions. 

The unit was organized in 2008, and Patterson the detachment’s third commander. 

“At the end of the day, this ceremony is not about me, but a new chapter in the history of this unit,” Patterson said. “I’m taking over a unit of highly trained Soldiers that are eager to serve and ready to face the challenges ahead. I am excited about the future and confident that we will succeed in our future operations.”

Addicted to Giving

Addicted To Giving
MAJ Michael Quinn Sullivan, PAO, TXSG

(L to R) MAJ Christopher Sauceda, SGT Johnny Gately, and SrA Rheuben Towne present some 1,300 toys to the Dell Children’s Hospital on behalf of the soliders of the TXSG.
(L to R) MAJ Christopher Sauceda, SGT Johnny Gately, and SrA Rheuben Towne present some 1,300 toys to the Dell Children’s Hospital on behalf of the soldiers of the TXSG.

As addictions go, Johnny Gately has a good one: organizing Christmas toy drives.

“The more toys I get, the more toys I want,” said Gately, a sergeant assigned to the Texas State Guard headquarters in Austin. “It’s an addiction, I admit it.”

On Sunday morning, Gately delivered more than 1,300 toys - stuffed animals, board games, videos and more - to Dell Children’s Hospital on behalf of the soldiers of the TXSG.

The toys came from a variety of sources: employees at Securus Technologies, cash donations through the Texas State Guard Association from the Frisco-based Roughriders minor league baseball team, and Gately’s own business, the Drop N Aces poker league.

The toys were delivered unwrapped to Dell Children’s, giving the hospital’s staff greater latitude in how to use and distribute them now and in the months ahead.

Loxy Passmore, a Child Life assistant, said some toys will be used in the hospital’s play rooms, but many more will be given as gifts to the young patients.

Looking over the mounds of stuffed bears, she was clearly looking for - or hoping to see - something in particular.

“We have one little boy here right now who just loves panda bears. I hope there’s a panda in there somewhere.” Moments later, a stuffed panda emerged from the pile. Passmore’s eyes lit up. “This will mean so much,” she said. “All of this.”

Gately was pleased to see the number of toys collected nearly double from last year. In 2011, the TXSG delivered 755 pieces to the hospital. This year’s 1,334 sets an impressive goal for Gately to reach in ’13.

The drive started in earnest in October, but planning begins much sooner. In fact, Gately has already started thinking about next year. Employees at Securus Technologies - a Metroplex-based business - have already volunteered to participate in 2013.

SGT Gately said one selling point for both individuals and business contributors was that the toys were “staying in Texas, for Texas kids.”

Spurgin takes reins at Texas ESGR

Jim Rebholz, chairman of the National ESGR Committee, presents retired Maj. Gen. Jerry D. Icenhower with the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service for his service as the chairman of the Texas ESGR Committee (2006-2012) following an ESGR/Wal-Mart Statement of Support Signing event in San Antonio, Nov. 12, 2012. ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve) is a Department of Defense agency that was formed in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component service members and civilian employers. (National Guard Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain / Released)


Story by Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain

 CAMP MABRY, Texas – Retired Maj. Gen. Eddy M. Spurgin, the former commanding general of the Texas Army National  Guard’s 36th Infantry Division, headquartered here, became the new chairman of the Texas ESGR Committee in Austin,  last month.

 After graduating from Texas A&M University, Spurgin spent more than 30 years as a citizen-soldier in the Texas Army  National Guard, including service in Iraq. He is currently the District Conservationist for the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 Spurgin replaced retired Maj. Gen. Jerry D. Icenhower, who served as Texas ESGR chairman from 2006-2012, and said he  will take over where Icenhower left off.

 “I want to continue to foster good communication and interface with national headquarters,” said Spurgin, and will help  “move the ball forward with the ESGR mission here in Texas.”

Having been a career guardsman, Spurgin said he understands the unique challenges that arise from service in the military’s reserve components. “I want to be a strong advocate for our employers and our service members,” he said.

The Texas ESGR Committee is the state-level affiliate of the national Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense agency, said John Steele, the program support technician for Texas ESGR. The organization was created in 1972 to increase cooperation and understanding between guardsmen and reservists and their civilian employers, and to help resolve conflicts that arise between the private company’s operations and the employee’s military service.

“ESGR is not a law enforcement agency, but serves as a neutral resource for employers and service members,” said Steele. “The Ombudsman Services Program provides trained mediators to help resolve employment disputes.”

As an organization, ESGR provides outreach to employers and service members, Steele said, including training and materials (at no direct cost) on their rights and responsibilities under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, or USERRA, which is a federal law that provides employment protections for individuals who choose, voluntarily or involuntarily, to service in the uniformed services.

Additionally, ESGR works with companies to help integrate unemployed National Guard and Reserve service members into the workforce, Steele said, including the “Hero 2 Hired” program (www.h2h.jobs), and will recognize outstanding employers through several annual awards issued by the Department of Defense.

The Texas ESGR Committee has about 230 volunteers and full-time staff members throughout the state to build bridges in the community, Spurgin said.

“ESGR is out there, side-by-side with these partners,” Spurgin said. “I’ll provide whatever leadership I can to continue the success of the program here in Texas.”

For more information:
Internet - http://www.esgr.mil/Contact/Local-State-Pages/Texas.aspx
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TXESGR
Twitter - https://twitter.com/TX_ESGR

Beyond the yellow ribbon: Family support services connects texas guardsmen with services

On Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, friends and family members of the Soldiers from the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade say goodbye, with hugs and kisses, at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville, Texas as the approximate 200 soldiers prepare to leave on a deployment to Afghanistan.
On Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, friends and family members of the Soldiers from the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade say goodbye, with hugs and kisses, at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville, Texas as the approximate 200 soldiers prepare to leave on a deployment to Afghanistan. While away from their loved ones, family members of the deployed soldiers will have opportunities to participate in yellow ribbon events and receive any necessary support from Family Support Services. (National Guard photo by Laura L. Lopez/Released).


Story by Laura Lopez

 CAMP MABRY, Texas - November 1st marks the start of a month-long proclamation declaring November as Military Family Month. With more than 31,000 men and women in the Texas Military Forces (TXMF) answering the call to serve the  nation in support of the Global War on Terror, members with Family Support Services (FSS) remain diligent in providing  top-notch care and support services to service members and their families.

 “Without strong families who stand by their service member, a successful National Guard cannot exist,” said Lt. Col. Alba  Villanueva, Family Support Services Branch Manager. “With the ever-changing face and duties of the National Guard, it’s  important to help National Guard families achieve readiness for what’s ahead while remaining flexible in the present.”

 An umbrella organization consisting of youth and family programs, Strong Bonds workshops, Transition Assistance  Advisors, Resilience and Mental Health programs, as well as family readiness, the Texas Military Forces Family Support  Services reports assisting more than 185,000 customers in fiscal year 2012.

 “Throughout fiscal year 2012 our Yellow Ribbon program, which aims to help Reserve and National Guard members  reintegrate with their families, communities and civilian employers following a deployment, reached nearly 6,300 people  over the course of 40 events,” said Villanueva. 

 A congressionally mandated program, established in 2008, the Yellow Ribbon Program focuses on preparing service  member and their families for mobilization, sustaining families during deployment and reintegrating service members and  their families following one’s return from a deployment. Phases commencing a minimum of 60 days before the Soldier  leaves and continuing throughout and for a minimum of 60 days post deployment, Yellow Ribbon topics include legal  readiness, family stressors, communication, suicide prevention, substance abuse and job fairs. 

 “We want to stress that whether it be a first deployment or sixth for our service members, new information and resources  are identified every year,” said Villanueva stressing those Soldiers with multiple deployments have an added value to the  families and other Soldiers by sharing their knowledge and lessons learned.

 In addition, the Family Support Services resilience team members strive to assist units, Soldiers, and Families by providing  programs, services and resources that address critical psychological and emotional needs. Through Peer-to-Peer (P2P)  training and other advanced courses, soldiers learn how to recognize signs of distress in their fellow Battle Buddies and Wingmen and how to get help when needed. Essentially enabling qualified service members to be peer interventionists at the unit level to identify, intervene and initiate referral management the ultimate goal is to ensure both their personal and extended military family is there for support.

“This program is focused on preventing our soldiers and families from getting so stressed that they consider taking drastic measures to deal with their stress and is one that is driven year round,” said Capt. Carina Robinson, Texas Military Forces Family Support Services Resilience Coordinator. “After all, we are Texans defending Texas.”

Other fiscal year 2012 highlights include the Job Connection Education Program’s 1000th hire, several youth program camps, multiple family outreach events and a Suicide Prevention 5K run.

For more information, about Family Support Services or a list of upcoming events visit http://www.txfss.us or call 1-800-252-8032.

Perry honors Texas Guardsman for combat valor

Staff Sgt. Patrick D. Rogers, Jr., a flight medic and member of the Texas Army National Guard, visits with a news reporter after being presented the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with "V" Device for Valor and the Combat Medical Badge from Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, Nov. 1, 2012.
Staff Sgt. Patrick D. Rogers, Jr., a flight medic and member of the Texas Army National Guard, visits with a news reporter after being presented the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with "V" Device for Valor and the Combat Medical Badge from Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, Nov. 1, 2012. Rogers received the awards for actions that took place during his service in Afghanistan. (National Guard Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain / Released)


 Story by Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain

 AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Gov. Rick Perry presented a Texas National Guardsman with the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with  “V” Device for acts of heroism and the Combat Medical Badge during a ceremony at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, Nov. 1, 2012. Perry, commander-in-chief of the Texas National Guard, honored the service member's sacrifice, as  well as the numerous Texans and Americans who have served during the past decade.

 “The young men and women of this generation have been asked to perform on battlefields in Iraq, and Afghanistan,  standing up against the forces of terror at home and abroad,” Perry said. “Without their willingness to give their all, if  required, America would be nothing but a sad footnote in history, a place that held great promise, once upon a time.”

 Staff Sgt. Patrick D. Rogers, Jr., of Galveston, Texas, a flight medic assigned to the Texas Army National Guard’s Austin-  based 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, received the citations from Perry, on behalf of the U.S. Army, for his actions this past  June and July while he was assigned to the U.S. Army’s Task Force Wolfpack, a subcomponent of the 4th Platoon at  Forward Operating Base Salerno in the province of Khowst, in southeastern Afghanistan, which is near the country’s border  with Pakistan.

 “Today, we are honoring a particularly brave individual,” Perry said. “Staff Sgt. Patrick Rogers not only served his country in  Iraq and Afghanistan, he also served as medic, which means he didn’t really get involved until things had gone really bad.”

 After sustaining injuries during an attack that damaged FOB Salerno’s dining facility in June, Rogers is credited with  rescuing several soldiers and a local national from the building and then setting up a triage station to evaluate and initiate  treatment for additional injured personnel.

“It wasn’t until he was ordered to stop tending to the wounded that he finally relented and allowed other medics to take care of his own injuries,” said Perry.

Then, in July, Rogers was involved in an aerial rescue operation near FOB Salerno while being exposed to gunfire from enemy combatants, according to Capt. Joshua C. Aronson, the aeromedical evacuation officer for Task Force Wolfpack, who wrote the recommendation for Rogers to receive the Air Medal with “V” Device. Rogers was lowered by a hoist and a steel cable from inside a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and helped with the extraction of two soldiers from a narrow ledge on a mountainside.

For his actions under fire, Rogers was also presented the Combat Medical Badge, which is conferred upon military medical personnel that face combat conditions. The badge was first awarded to American combat medics during World War II.

Perry said he was humbled and privileged to present Rogers with the awards.

The feeling between the Governor and the Citizen-Soldier appeared to be mutual.

“It was definitely an honor,” Rogers said of receiving his awards from the state's chief executive, “this is something I will never forget.”

Rogers said he has to undergo further physical therapy and treatments for his combat injuries, but that he will soon head back to Galveston to continue life, go back to work and raise his children.

“Everything after combat is great,” Rogers said. “Everything else is easy."

Texas National Guard Fiscal Accountability Efforts Benefit Texans

Texas National Guardsmen conduct night operations training.
Texas National Guardsmen conduct night operations training. The Soldiers are part of the Site Security Team, Task Force Raptor, 3rd Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, whose mission is to promote regional stability, dissuade conflict, and protect U.S. and coalition interests


 Story by Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain and Laura Lopez

 CAMP MABRY, Texas – During the past decade, the Texas Army National Guard has evolved from a Cold War-era  strategic reserve force to a high-tempo operational reserve force, and deployed more than 50,000 soldiers to locations  abroad and here at home. These missions have included combat operations in the Middle East as well as hurricane and  wildfire support missions here in the Lone Star State.

 Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General of Texas, and Maj. Gen. Joyce L. Stevens, the Assistant Adjutant General  for Army, have made fiscal responsibility and accountability a focal point for the Texas Army National Guard. 

 “Fiscal responsibility is a top priority,” Nichols said, the state’s senior military official appointed by the governor. “Our goal is  to always be mission-ready, and that includes accounting for our property.”

 Nichols said that the increased number of financial liability investigations in recent years reflects this leadership emphasis.

 “The Texas Army National Guard is the largest Army National Guard force in the nation,” Stevens said. Ninety percent of  our force is part-time, with only a little over ten percent working full-time to ensure deployment readiness.

 “We have more than 19,500 traditional Guard Soldiers that drill one weekend a month,” she said. “Since 9/11, Texas has  deployed Army Guard soldiers throughout the United States and to 40 countries around the world in response to federal  and state requirements,” Stevens said.

 Because of its size, the Texas Army National Guard is responsible for about $2.53 billion in property, which includes  installation property, such as office furniture and buildings, and equipment issued to individual Soldiers, including tents,  canteens and protective armor, said Lt. Col. Stanley E. Golaboff, Director of Logistics for the Texas Army National Guard.

This can be a daunting task in a state that spans 268,000 square miles and includes 96 armories and 17 joint reserve centers.

“We need to know where our property and equipment are so it’s ready when the time comes to respond to a call from our civilian leadership,” Nichols said.

Since 2008, the Texas Army National Guard has documented about $3.5 million in property losses.

“Of the $3.5 million, nearly $2 million occurred during the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade’s recent deployment to Iraq,” Golaboff said. “This includes damaged equipment that has to be documented as a loss, as well as gear that was reabsorbed by the active duty Army logistics system.”

For the last five years, the Texas Army National Guard has had to investigate annually the loss of less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the property entrusted to the organization by the U.S. Army to prepare units for deployment, Golaboff said.

While property can be lost as a result of damage or destruction during a dangerous mission, soldiers can be held liable if they lose or abuse their equipment.

“Our increased investigations have led to the recovery of $500,000 from soldiers,” Golaboff said. “We are determined to ensure that any loss of equipment is properly documented – immediately – and if a service member is found to be the cause, then he or she is held financially liable.”

The state’s military leaders want to ensure the military organization is responsive to Texas taxpayers.

“The Texas Army National Guard remains committed to transparency and accountability to the citizens of Texas while providing the governor and president with ready-trained forces,” Stevens said.

Turning it in- TXARNG increases equipment accountability


Courtesy Story

AUSTIN, Texas - As the Texas Army National Guard transitions from the high deployment operational tempo of the Global War on Terrorism, it continues to implement the Campaign on Property Accountability (COPA) with intensity usually reserved for mobilization operations.

ALARACT 210-2010 and EXORD 259-10 outline the Army’s Campaign on Property Accountability. The campaign intends to account for all Army property. Excess equipment or equipment not on record is reintegrated back into the Army supply system to make better use of materiel resources assigned to both units and individuals. Lost equipment is also accounted for, meaning both missing gear, and equipment lost due to damage or destruction during deployment or mobilization.

In the Army National Guard, this effort relies on synchronization between the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (DCSLOG), G4 supply and the United States Property and Fiscal Office (USPFO).
A prime example of this synchronization has been the ongoing effort to bring the Central Issue Facility- Installation Support Module (CIF-ISM) records of the TXARNG in line with current policy. This effort has included not only the DCSLOG office and USPFO but also the commanders and logistics personnel assigned to TXARNG MTOE and TDA units. The Texas CIF-ISM warehouse contains the clothing records of just over 19,000 current TXARNG Soldiers and is valued at a little over $54 million.

When Soldiers are discharged and still show clothing signed for from the CIF-ISM warehouse, a report, known as the CIF-ISM Discharge Report, is generated, showing a mismatch in the system. Currently, Texas exceeds the COPA goal of less than 5% of mismatched records. 

However, great strides have been and are continuing to be made on the CIF-ISM front of the Campaign on Property Accountability. Over the last six months Texas has seen an 18 percent decrease in the number of records and the overall dollar value of Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE) on the monthly CIF Discharge Report.

Texas conducted four regional CIF turns this past year in Midland, Corpus Christi, Houston and Fort Worth. During these week-long turn-ins unit supply sergeants were able to work directly with CIF warehouse personnel to turn in on-hand OCIE from discharged Soldiers and correct errors to numerous individual clothing records. These efforts lead directly to the recovery and reintegration of just under $700,000 of previously report unaccounted gear. 

In addition, unit commanders have spent the last year contacting previous TXARNG soldiers whose records do not show them as clearing the CIF warehouse properly; either by not turning in gear or failing to post turn-in documents if the soldier cleared supply prior to their discharge. These efforts have enabled unit supply sergeants to gather an additional $800,000 worth of gear scheduled for turn-in this fiscal year.

Commanders are also using the Financial Liability Investigation (FLI) process to resolve the accountability of many of these records. There are 700 open FLIs with a value of $1.3 million in OCIE being investigated at this time to determine what if any liability exists for this property being unaccounted for. 

Of course the real aim is to avoid having to resort to these reactive-type measures to ensure property accountability and as such the TXARNG has instituted several proactive steps. Among them is a change in turn-in policy, a more proactive monitoring methodology and a revised storage policy.

IAW with TXARNG policy 12-22 ETS management, soldiers are now informed during their 90-day exit interview with their company commander that if they are still undecided about re-enlisting or have decided to ETS, that they are required to clear supply and turn in all OCIE on their clothing by the end of the following drill weekend. The intent is to ensure all gear is recovered 60 days prior to the soldier’s exiting the service.

A new monthly metric tracked at all levels is the number of unconfirmed OCIE records. An unconfirmed report is generated every time a change is made to an individual’s clothing record. All changes to a soldier’s clothing record are required to be confirmed by the soldier. The soldier can either confirm his clothing record in person or online via the My Clothing tab on AKO. All confirmations are done using the Soldier’s Common Access Card (CAC).

Finally, all commanders are highly encouraged to allow Soldiers to store their OCIE in a secure portion of the armory. Many of the newer facilities come equipped with either individual storage lockers or rooms where soldiers can store locked duffle bags containing their OCIE.

These steps are no by no means an all-inclusive listing of the numerous efforts that commanders and supply personnel are using to maintain property accountability but are just a few highlights of the multiple actions on numerous fronts that occur on a daily basis in the Army’s efforts to implement the Campaign on Property Accountability.

The Texas Army National Guard remains committed to working with soldiers at all levels to increase transparency and property accountability to the citizen of Texas while proving the Governor and President with ready and trained forces.

Aircraft Accident Exercise Test TXSG

Aircraft Accident Exercise Tests TXSG
CW2 Janet Schmelzer, PAO, TXSG
DFW Airport, Texas – A commercial aircraft accident simulation was conducted Saturday, September 29, by a component of the Texas State Guard, with soldiers working alongside the Search One K-9 Unit. The exercise was intended to prepare TXSG soldiers for working with local authorities during a natural or manmade emergency anywhere in Texas.

The TXSG’s 3rd Battalion 4th Regiment’s executive officer, CPT Gary Sherman, said the exercise was a great opportunity for his solders.

“It’s a real privilege to work with the premier K-9 Search team,” said Sherman. “We were training on 350 acres of one of the largest airports in the United States.”

The scenario was that a commercial aircraft had crashed with passengers aboard. The first phase of the exercise included a "Search and Rescue" exercise with the Texas State Guard and Search One K-9 Unit. The second phase of the exercise was a Wide Area Disaster Assessment, relaying the GPS coordinates of critical areas to a Tactical Operations Center.

“Creative training exercises like this keep the Texas State Guard at the forefront of disaster preparedness for the State of Texas,” COL Howard Palmer, commander of the 4th Regiment, commented. “Time in the field is time well spent. We greatly appreciate the good relationship with DFW Airport and Search One K-9. These are great partners serving Texas.”