Story by: Sgt. Praxedis Pineda
Posted: April 19, 2015
AUSTIN, TEXAS – Highlighting more than three decades of local, state and federal partnership, the Texas Military Forces and first responders demonstrate teamwork during the Texas Military Forces Open House and Air Show at Camp Mabry in Austin, April 18, 2015. The free two-day event welcomed the local community to view this partnership.
“We host this event to thank our friends and neighbors,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general of Texas.
Because of operational tempo and mission requirements, it’s not usually possible for visitors to interact with the service members and first responders.
“We’re always in such a hurry,” said Patrick Phillips, flight paramedic with the Travis County Start Flight. “When we’re operational there’s not an opportunity to visit.”
The open house lets agencies slow down to demonstrate their capabilities.
“People can see what we do in a friendly environment,” said Phillips. “It’s an opportunity for us to display our equipment.”
Displays included helicopters, trucks and boats used during combat and emergency operations. Some visitors touched and even operated some of the equipment.
“My kids can connect the things they see in the movies with reality,” said Jessie Metcalf, a community member that lives in the surrounding neighborhood.
Agencies clarified many myths and misconceptions visitors had in regards to their capabilities.
“This is a great insight to different emergency services, and not just fire,” said Lt. Jarrett Jobes, member of the Austin Fire Department Special Operations rescue team. “The unit responds to hazardous material, cave rescues and water rescues.”
The event endorsed the “Partnerships That Matter” theme, and informed the community of the teamwork performed between agencies.
“We learned about the camaraderie and connections between the volunteers,” said Metcalf.
Throughout the year, Texas Military Forces and first responders work together to strengthen their partnerships.
“We work pretty close with the Texas Military Forces and the police,” said Phillips.
Modern equipment and weapons were the spotlight this weekend, but the show wasn’t complete without reminders of the past.
“To me it is very important because we’re also remembering those who came before us,” said Nichols.
Visitors traveled through time with activities like the WWII reenactment and multiple vintage weapons demonstrations.
“We learned how they shoot the big guns,” said Miguel Ornelas, Palm Elementary School student.
While some displays advertised history other events were dedicated to the future. A naturalization ceremony allowed veterans to receive their American citizenship.
“There are some that are Americans by birth, [these veterans] are Americans by choice,” said Mayor of Austin Steve Adler.
This opportunity allows new citizens other options and benefits.
“This was possible because I enlisted,” said Pvt. Carlos Hernandez Del Bosque, Texas Army National Guard. “Now I’m a U.S. citizen. Now I can finish school.”
The spirit of the event flows from veterans, to newly naturalized citizens, to children that want to share their experience with others.
“Try to come next year because it’s a lot of fun,” said Phillips.