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Families serving together to help Texas

Story by Master Sgt. John Gately, Texas State Guard

Warrant Officer Hopper and his sons
Left: Pvt. Samuel Hopper, Center: Warrant Officer Hopper, Right: Cpl. Grant Hopper 

The military is no stranger to having many generations of family members serving, from great-grandparents to current service members.  The Texas State Guard is also part of this time-honored tradition.  However, due to the nature of the State Guard, it is more common to see families serving together at the same time than with other military organizations.

Although family members serving together is happening across the State Guard, today’s focus is the T6-Shop. Currently, the T6-shop has four families serving together to support a common goal for the Guard and for the State of Texas.

The Hopper family has three members currently serving in different roles within T6.  Warrant Officer Andy Hopper joined the State Guard on Oct 25, 2014, and is the father of two current troops, Cpl. Grant Hopper who serves on the Radio Operations, and Pvt. Samuel Hopper serves on the Software Testing team for the Readiness Management System (RMS).

When asked what it means to him to serve alongside his two sons, Warrant Officer Hopper stated, “Having the opportunity to serve with my boys in the greatest and most robust state military force in the country is a unique privilege and a pleasure. Throughout Texas history, the backbone of our state military has been families standing together for their rights and their homes. I am so proud to say that the Hoppers stand to serve Texas.”

Always looking for new members to serve in our ranks, one of our newest has hit the ground running with recruitment. Cpl. Tatiana Spence joined the State Guard a little over a month ago, and she has talked her brother, Orrin Spence, into joining the T6 shop as well.  Orrin just left the Texas Army National Guard as a Staff Sergeant after serving 12 years and is one of the Texas Military Department’s webmasters. He will be swearing-in next month. Once Orrin swears in, he will be joining Programming Operations alongside his sister.  She’s not stopping there; Cpl. Spence is now setting her focus on getting her husband to join our ranks.

Did you know that you could join the Texas State Guard at the age of 17? Warrant Officer John Turner did and is swearing in his son on his 17th

Warrant Officer Turner and his son
Left: Warrant Officer John Turner, Right: Luke Turner

birthday. This is not the only child that Warrant Officer Turner has serving in uniform. His second-oldest son was planning to join the State Guard until the United State Army made a better offer. When asked what it is like serving with his son, he replied, “It’s an honor to serve my state and help people when needs arise. It makes you feel good about what you do. As a father it makes me shine with gratitude that my children have that same desire to help others. I’m proud of my young men. It is even more special when we get to serve and build this legacy together.” Warrant Officer John Turner serves in Programming Operations.

Another example from the T6-Shop is Master Sgt. John Gately, who joined the State Guard on July 1, 2010. His son Warrant Officer Jacob Gately followed in his footsteps just a few years later, joining on January 26, 2013. Warrant Officer Gately currently serves in Programming Operations and Master Sgt. Gately is the NCOIC for T6 and the Product Manager of RMS.  
 
These four families have a combined service of well over 50 years in uniform. 
 

A Sense of History, a Passion for People: Anthony Woods Takes Charge of the Texas State Guard

By David Brown, 1LT, Texas State Guard

As a youth, Anthony Woods wanted to become a policeman.  After retiring from a distinguished career in law enforcement (for the Dallas Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration), Woods might have thought his life in public service was over. Not even close. Today, Brig. Gen. Woods is Acting Commanding General of the Texas State Guard, leader of the premier state guard force in the nation.  

“I never would have imagined it,” said Woods, whose first mentor in the military was a Major who was head of his high school Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.  “I thought if I could make Major like him, that would be a big accomplishment.  All my (advancements) have been a surprise to me.  My promotions are the byproduct of my passion for the people.” 

Indeed, Woods’ reputation as a leader with a commitment to the welfare of soldiers precedes him. “He is passionate about caring for the people of the Texas State Guard,” says Sgt. Maj. John Jacobs.  “I was in a meeting with him today and Gen. Woods said that ‘we do not make the difference; we are the difference’; I had to write that one down. That says a lot about how he sees our soldiers.”  

Sgt. 1st Class Jeanette Jimmerson heartily agrees.  “I can honestly say he sees the value of every soldier. He wants to know what matters to you - it matters to him. He wants to know soldiers by their first names, he wants to know what they care about.”

A graduate of TCU with a Masters’ degree from the United States Army War College, Woods’ military career began in the early ’80s serving in the Texas Army National Guard, receiving a 2nd Lt. commission from the University of Texas at Arlington ROTC program.  He would be responsible for training thousands of troops in border operations at the U.S.-Mexico border.  Woods would go on to be deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom serving tours of duty in Afghanistan and other points abroad leading military intelligence operations. In 2005, Woods became the first African American Commander of the 1st Battalion, 112 Armor, leading his unit in the first American training exercise in the country of Romania after the fall of the Soviet Union.  

There is a picture on the wall of his office at Camp Mabry that says a great deal about the person he is.  It is a portrait of one of the legendary Buffalo Soldiers–the Black troops known for their ferocity and skills as warriors who helped shape the West and much of American history.  

It was during his time serving at the US border that he first encountered the story of the Buffalo Soldiers.  “I’m a Black man, grew up in good government housing…”, Woods says, but he’d never heard of the Buffalo Soldiers before. 

“I was embarrassed. I got a lesson in Black history. I promised myself I would learn more.”  

The Buffalo Soldiers (how they got their name is a point of dispute among historians) were Black soldiers from a variety of Army units including the 9th Cavalry, 10th Cavalry, 24th Infantry, and 25th Infantry based in a variety of locations.  Fort Huachuca in Arizona claims to be the “home” of the Buffalo Soldiers because it is the only base to have hosted all members of the group.  

“I visited the Fort Huachuca Museum.  I got into it,” Woods says with some degree of understatement.  These days, he owns a replica vintage Union uniform which he uses in his travels to different schools and speaking engagements, sharing the stories of the Buffalo Soldiers, who fought with valor during the Spanish-American War, in the Philippines, and in both World Wars before being absorbed by other Army units after World War II.  When not fighting wars, the Buffalo Soldiers defended westward travelers and settlers and helped shape the contours of what the US would become.  

“It means a lot to me. It is my heritage. The Negro soldier, the Buffalo Soldier, the Black soldier: they have all had a huge impact on our country’s history, from the period of westward expansion all the way up to World War II and beyond.  If you think about it, in all the major conflicts, our position didn’t change until the military included the Black soldiers.” 

Today, it is clear Woods is focused on positive change for the State Guard, building off the accomplishments of his predecessor as Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Robert Bodisch, who retired on October 31, 2021. 

“Being a force multiplier for Texas and the Texas Military Department is a huge responsibility.  We don’t have the numbers (of personnel) but we have people with heart. And we’re not just equal to the task, we exceed it. The level of professionalism in the Texas State Guard is huge.”

Woods has a three-phase plan in mind for the Texas State Guard.  Phase 1, he says, will focus on retention.  “There are three reasons I believe people join the Texas State Guard: to serve, to grow, and for recognition–the promotions and awards,” Woods says.  To that end, Woods plans to double down on valuable training opportunities and make sure that awards and promotions are prompt, timely, and prolific.  

Phase 2, Woods says, is promotion.  While the Texas State Guard has been called ‘Texas’ best-kept secret’, Woods wants to raise the profile of the State Guard so that more potential recruits know about the opportunities to serve their fellow Texans. “We’re not going to be shy about banners,” Woods adds, saying that we can expect to see more Texas State Guard signage at Camp Mabry and beyond.  

Phase 3?  “Get ‘em in here!”, Woods says with a laugh. But he’s quite serious; recruitment is a key goal.  “Our recruiters are doing a great job,” Woods adds. “We need to make joining the Texas State Guard as easy as it can possibly be, promising exciting training opportunities and creating a sense of belonging and inclusion. As we go forward, we need to see more women in leadership positions.  We want the ranks of the Texas State Guard to look like the communities we serve.  I don’t want to exclude anybody.”  

Woods’ objectives reflect his own experience in discovering the Texas State Guard.  As a member of the Texas Army National Guard, Woods says initially, he knew little about the structure of the Texas State Guard but witnessed firsthand the professionalism of its soldiers.  

“I saw the commitment made by Texas State Guard servicemembers and I was impressed by their sacrifices. These were people who had nothing to gain from being in the State Guard.”  Noting the selflessness of the troops, Woods says he expects Texas State Guard leaders to care deeply about soldiers and their families.   

And, Woods notes, as the Texas State Guard takes active roles in Operation Lone Star and other missions, the reputation of the entire corps grows as well.  “Respect for the Texas State Guard has risen tenfold.  Our soldiers are showcasing the professionalism of the Guard and all the mission-ready packages.”  The Texas State Guard provides mission-ready forces to assist state and local authorities in times of state emergencies, conducts homeland security and community service activities, and augments the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard as required.  The Texas State Guard, Texas Army National Guard, and Texas Air National Guard are all part of the Texas Military Department led by the Texas Adjutant General, the state’s senior military official appointed by the governor.

Woods, who lives in Dallas with his wife, has raised seven children and runs the private investigation service Checkmate Surveillance, LLC. It appears clear his love of family, deep appreciation of history, business acumen, and real-world military experience will serve him–and the people of Texas - extraordinarily well as he takes the reins of Acting Commanding General, Texas State Guard.  

The Texas State Guard is looking for professionals from a variety of fields to serve their fellow Texans. Prior military service is not required, but a commitment to public service and a willingness to meet the high standards of the Texas State Guard is essential.  You can learn more about the opportunities to serve in the Texas State Guard online at tmd.texas.gov/state-guard. 

Cannot stop the fight: Texas Counterdrug helps take down drug networks in 2021

Story by Master Sgt. Michael Leslie, Texas Joint Counterdrug Task Force

Photo by Master Sgt. Michael Leslie | Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force support Red Ribbon Week flying to schools across Texas to help spread the word about the dangers of drug use. 

AUSTIN, Texas – During the past two years, life as we had grown accustomed to has drastically changed. From a global pandemic to several calls for National Guard support, the members of the Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force have adjusted and thrived.

When the COVID-19 virus shut the country down, law enforcement agencies had to come up with new ways to detect, interdict and disrupt drug trafficking in the state without operations slowing down.

“One of the first things I did was reach out to our law enforcement partners stating that we would continue to be by their side and assist,” said Lt. Col. Erika Besser, the Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force Coordinator. “Continuity of our support is critical. If they are out there, we are out there.

“Sometimes that meant thinking of new and different ways to maintain our support, like working remotely. My preference will always be working side by side because collaboration and interaction are pivotal to successful partnerships, but we had to balance that with safety concerns.”

Members of the Texas Counterdrug Task Force have come up with new ways to stay relevant and fight the threat as they have for more than 30 years.

During 2021, although there were different challenges, service members still supported law enforcement in seizing more than $350 million in drugs, bulk cash, vehicles and property, as well as nearly 4,200 weapons. The increase from 2020 numbers of $290 million and 3,100 weapons, shows that as the environment adapts, so do the techniques of catching the bad guys.

“The last few years have challenged our normal collaboration process to support law enforcement agencies,” said Maj. Robert Anspaugh, Executive Officer for Texas Counterdrug. “But we are used to working across the entire state and found ways to stay engaged, utilizing new tools and skills harnessed by serving in the military, to continue providing excellent support to our partners.”

Another way of increasing the illicit revenue denial was to bring back a capability that had been used in other ways. The Air National Guard RC-26 fixed-wing aircraft had been supporting other missions in Texas and abroad, but in 2021, RC-26 came back home to Counterdrug.

The RC-26 program, along with the Counterdrug Aviation Element of LUH-72 Lakota helicopters, increased support from 570 flight hours in 2020 to 1,130 flight hours which directly supported law enforcement agencies.

“Having the RC-26 program back on Counterdrug orders has allowed us another aerial platform with similar capabilities but can be used in conjunction with each other or separately,” said Besser. “We have been able to expand our support all over the state, in multiple locations at once.”

The adjustments in tactics and capabilities have led to seizures that significantly impacted drug-trafficking organizations in Texas and Mexico.

In north Texas, Counterdrug analysts supported the Drug Enforcement Administration in taking down a methamphetamine ring helping seize nearly 1,600 pounds at a value of more than $16 million and arresting 13 drug-trafficking organization members. Another case resulted in seizing 1,000 pounds of methamphetamine and another seven arrests.

In west Texas, Counterdrug task force members assisted in a $5 million liquid methamphetamine seizure that linked suspects to a previous seizure in Oklahoma. Link chart analysis in a different case resulted in finding nearly 500 pounds of marijuana and 160 pounds of methamphetamine.

In east Texas, the Texas Counterdrug Ground Reconnaissance Detachment supported DEA for weeks as they conducted area observation to gather critical vehicle confirmations, patterns of life and helped identify suspected narcotics supplier locations resulting in the seizure of cocaine, cannabis, bulk cash and weapons.

“Changes in the operational environment affect how drug-trafficking organizations do business,” said Anspaugh. “Working with our law enforcement partners, we must anticipate these changes to stay a step ahead and continue disrupting the flow of drugs into our state and nation.”

Along with analysis, Texas Counterdrug increased their Drug Demand Reduction Outreach program placing personnel in each of the four High-intensity Drug Trafficking Area prevention initiatives leading to an increase of 40% in events. DDRO handed out 300,000 Red Ribbon bracelets in support of the DEA’s Red Ribbon Week honoring fallen agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena and spoke to 9,000 students across the state.

An enduring mission for the Texas Counterdrug Task Force is supporting two Texas ChalleNGe Academy classes each year. During the acclimation phase, service members mentor at-risk youth to get back on the right track.

Texas Counterdrug has a long history of helping law enforcement fight drug trafficking, manufacturing and distribution, and 2021 wasn’t any different. Now that 2022 is here, the program will continue to endure, coming up with innovative ways to face new challenges.

“We will continue to put effort into influencing at the national level, and into growing and evolving in order to have the most effective impact possible,” said Besser. “We have several initiatives in the works, which will benefit not only Counterdrug programs nationally, but also our law enforcement partners across Texas and other states, namely those facing specific challenges associated with the southern border.”

Texas State Guardsmen promote happiness, healing for holidays

By Warrant Officer David Brown, Texas State Guard

Texas State Guard service members all across the state of Texas collected toys to bring joy to children in need. 

AUSTIN, Texas – A doll. An electronic keyboard. A monster truck. A surprise under the tree. 

It would appear Santa’s helpers are at it again. Rumor has it some of those helpers have been spotted wearing camouflage with Texas flags on their right shoulders.  

But it’s no rumor.

For the past 12 years, members of the Texas State Guard have taken to collecting toys to support children during the holidays. The annual “Young Heroes of the Guard” Toy Drive started as an initiative of the 1st Brigade Chaplain Corps but has grown to be a force-wide community service event.

For the past several years, the drive has been coordinated by Master Sgt. John Gately of Round Rock. He has enhanced partnerships with businesses across the state, growing annual donations from about 6,000 toys to more than 100,000.

“I got lassoed in by a sneaky chaplain,” Gately said with a laugh. “He patted me on my right knee – I’ll never forget it – and said, ‘I want you to run the toy drive. If you don’t do it, no one else will. Think of the children.’”  

There was no pressure, of course. But Gately quickly took up the challenge. He has kept the effort focused on young Texans in hospitals and from families facing financial challenges, which has been at the heart of the campaign from the outset.

Among other things, Gately manages lists and organizes drop-offs of donated toys to medical facilities, Title I elementary schools, churches, orphanages, and other locations across the state focused on child advocacy.

But he’s not alone in the effort.

“Our mission is to make sure no child goes without a toy, whether it’s a natural disaster or during the holiday season,” said Capt. Sean Payton, a Texas State Guard chaplain who helped coordinate a delivery event in Copperas Cove, in central Texas.

“This is perfect, it gives back to the children, and teaches the children to give to other children in need.”

The two have set their sights high for next year’s drive and set an ambitious goal of distributing 200,000 items. There is growing interest from businesses statewide with a renewed effort to involve Texas-based sponsors.

The toy drive is truly a volunteer effort and is affiliated with the State Guard Association of Texas, a non-profit organization that supports the toy drive and other Texas State Guard initiatives. Those interested in getting involved can visit the toy drive’s website at: www.txsgtoydrive.com.

“We collect toys throughout the year,” Payton said. “It’s a great opportunity for other businesses, doctor’s offices, other schools, and other entities to get involved.”

This year’s sponsors included: Five Below; i7 Media; 1000 Bulbs; The Laird Team real estate; Supplemental Warehouse; Texoma Strength (sports gym); Melly Vent’z (photography); and the Iron Saber Motorcycle Club.

Gately also credits the program’s success to the dedication and commitment of State Guard personnel who volunteer their off-duty time and talents to support Texas children.

They pointed out the efforts of Sgt. First Class James (Damon) Williams of Buda and Warrant Officer 1 Gregory Illich of Houston, members of the 6th and 2nd brigades, respectively.

While everyone involved with the toy drive talks about the immense joy of seeing the smiles on the faces of young Texans, the drive has a special significance for Illich. When he was six years old, Hurricane Camille destroyed his family’s home in Mississippi.

“We lost everything; no clothes, nothing (remained),” Illich said. “My toys were everything for me, they were gone.”

But through the devastation, there was a spark of inspiration.

“The Mississippi State Guard was staffing the shelter,” Illich said. “Before then, I’d only seen soldiers on TV in news reports from Vietnam. When those people in uniforms at the shelter gave toys to me and my brothers and sister…well, it meant more than I can possibly say.”

Years later, as an adult attending a “Wings Over Houston” event, Illich saw Guardsmen on duty wearing the Texas flag patch and said the memories came rushing back.

“That’s when I knew. I knew I could be ‘that Guardsman,’” Illich said, “and be there for those kids. Because I am that kid.”

But for Illich, like all who work with the “Young Heroes of the Guard” Toy Drive, at the end of the day, this is a mission of healing and hope.

“I wish others could have my experience seeing those children,” Illich said. “The folks at Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital (in Houston) told us when we visit and bring toys, it visibly improves a kid's health. They do better and heal faster. The kids who know we’re coming – that’s all they talk about for weeks!”

But the impact may last a lifetime.

“Who knows?” Illich said. “One of those kids getting a toy may remember that uniform and become a future member of the Texas State Guard!”

The mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide mission-ready 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.

The Texas Military Department is commanded by the Adjutant General of Texas, the state's senior military official appointed by the governor, and is comprised of the Office of State Administration (formerly the Office of the Executive Director), the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) and the Texas State Guard (TXSG).

 

 

 

Ho, Ho, Hope: Texas State Guardsman trades camo for Santa suit

By Capt. Phoebe Sisk, Texas State Guard

DALLAS (Dec. 21, 2021) – ‘Tis the season for spreading holiday hope and joy. Each year, members of the Texas State Guard (TXSG) find ways to go above and beyond the call of duty.

One such Guardsman is Cpl. Derek Martinez of Mesquite, near Dallas.

In addition to serving as the main coordinator in the 1st Brigade, 3rd Battalion for the annual TXSG Toy Drive, Martinez spends personal time supporting youth in need of extra cheer in his annual role as Santa. Specifically, he hosts visits with children undergoing difficult life circumstances, many who are so young and innocent - they delight in the magic of Old St. Nick.

"The greatest gift I am spreading is forgetfulness," Martinez said. "I know it seems odd, but for the 20 minutes these children are visiting with Santa, they are forgetting that mom is mobilized to the border, or that dad is working graves (night shifts) as a police officer. They forget that there is a Child Protective Services court hearing coming up or they forget that dad is working in healthcare on the COVID front lines.”

Since 2020, Martinez has brought additional comfort and joy to the hearts of young Texans in need, including children in foster care or adoption proceedings, and active military, law enforcement, and fire/EMT families.

The act of giving is almost second nature to Martinez, a three-year veteran of the TXSG. In addition to his military duties, Martinez works as a regional manager for Imaging IoT and security at Konica Minolta Business Solutions in north Texas. These positions have given him a greater understanding of working with people as individuals.

Local foster agencies have coordinated visits directly with “Santa” Martinez. 

"Who knew that Santa knows exactly how to interact with children in foster situations and has such a jolly sense of humor for all ages," said Jade McCoy Alsina of Dallas Foster Closet. "Everyone loved him and we are already looking forward to next year!"

Martinez’s gift for having sensitive interactions with foster children may well come from being a foster parent himself. 

“Santa came by our home and surprised our children with a visit. I have to admit, I cried,” said parent Lindsay Harrell after a recent visit by the ‘Jolly Old Man’. “Santa came in with his big jolly smile, naughty and nice book (my kiddos were on the nice list!), sang, read a book, and talked to each child one on one. It was wonderful to see their faces glow with surprise and joyful hearts. I hope to make it a yearly tradition as it was definitely an unforgettable moment that my family and I will cherish.”

Due to the realities of the current pandemic, Martinez has found innovative ways to connect with young Texans. He’s has taken to social media, where parents and guardians can set up virtual visits with Santa.

“Children are dealing with a lot but for 20 minutes they get to sing, they get to smile, and they get to laugh so hard their ribs hurt; that's the joy I'm trying to spread," said Martinez.
Martinez’s selflessness and generosity of spirit exemplify the best traditions of the Texas State Guard, whose motto is “Texans Serving Texas.”

The mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide mission-ready 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.

The Texas Military Department is commanded by the Adjutant General of Texas, the state's senior military official appointed by the governor, and is comprised of the Office of State Administration (formerly the Office of the Executive Director), the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) and the Texas State Guard (TXSG).

 

A ‘Changing of the Guard’ in the Texas State Guard

By David Brown, WO1, TXSG, HQ

Brigadier General  Woods (left) has assumed duties as acting commander of the Texas State Guard after Major General Bodisch (right) recently retired after 33 years of service.  

AUSTIN, Texas - On Sunday, October 31st, as dignitaries, officials of the Texas Military Department (TMD), and members of the Texas State Guard’s (TXSG) 6th Brigade and Headquarters Company toasted newly retired Major General Robert J. Bodisch, Sr. at a reception at Camp Mabry, a poignant moment took place outside an empty office at Building 32, TXSG Headquarters.  Amid dimmed lights, without fanfare or audience, a lone State Guardsman carefully and quietly removed a plaque by the door reading “MG BODISCH”. In its place went up a new plaque: “BG WOODS”.  

Just a few minutes earlier, Bodisch’s retirement as Commander of the TXSG was celebrated on Camp Mabry parade field with a full-color guard, a final ceremonial inspection of the troops (accompanied by Major General Tracy Norris, Texas Adjutant General and Commander of Texas Military Forces), and congratulatory remarks from Norris. Also in attendance were Stephen McCraw, Director and Colonel of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas State Representatives Cecil Bell, and Phil King (both TXSG service members), past Commanders of the TXSG, TXSG officers from across the state, as well as friends and members of the Bodisch family. 

“I can’t thank you enough for your service to Texas.”, Bodisch said in brief farewell remarks to the TXSG forces. “You epitomize ‘Texans Serving Texans’, and you exemplify our motto, ‘Equal to the Task’.”

Bodisch was appointed Commanding General of the TXSG in 2018 by Governor Greg Abbott.  A veteran of the US Marine Corps, Bodisch’s 45-year career in law enforcement and criminal justice included two tours of duty in Iraq with the Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program. Bodisch also served as Deputy Director and Chief of Staff for the Texas Department of Public Safety, which included responsibility for Texas Homeland Security.  He received the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Civilian Service Commendation Medal in 2005, and the U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal in 2007 for service in Iraq. Bodisch holds a Master Peace Officer license with over 6800 hours of law enforcement education and training, a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from the University of Houston, and a master’s degree in quality systems management from the National Graduate School in Falmouth, Massachusetts. 

Bodisch joined the TXSG in 1988.  His many years rising through the ranks of the TXSG prepared him well for what would be a transformative and historic 3-year term as Commanding General.  In that role, Bodisch emphasized training with an overhaul of professional military education, a top-to-bottom review and overhaul of regulations and policies, and a reorganization and streamlining of the organization, aligning brigades with the Texas Emergency Management map, capable of rapidly mobilizing ‘mission ready’ specialist teams anywhere in the state.  Bodisch transitioned the TXSG into a common uniform, significantly increased the Chaplain Corps, developed a casualty notification and Casualty Assistance Program, a wellness program, a performance evaluation program, a dispute resolution program, a history unit, four new TXSG service awards, and enhanced training for search and rescue. Bodisch bolstered dive teams and boat rescue teams, the TXSG recruiting program, and a professional public affairs section.

Bodisch led the TXSG through a historic period of deployment, logging over 80,000 Service member days - numbers not seen since World War II. Deployments included tropical weather events, a tornado, civil disturbance, medical and border missions, as well as COVID-19 response. 
Maj. General Bodisch is married to Charisse Canfield of Longview, Texas and has four sons: Robert, Jr., currently serving in the U.S. Marine Corps; Kenneth, recently retired from the U.S. Marine Corps and currently working with FEMA; James, who works for Tango in Austin; and Joseph, an engineer with Anheuser-Busch.

Governor Abbott has not yet appointed a replacement as permanent Commanding General, but the Guard will be led in the interim by a respected, experienced leader with distinguished federal and state military service who well knows the needs of Texas, cares deeply about TXSG soldiers, and has a deep appreciation for the reputation of the TXSG as the pre-eminent State Guard force in the nation. 

The Texas Adjutant General, Major General Tracy Norris has appointed Brigadier General Anthony Woods as acting Texas State Guard Commander.  

Woods’ resume includes several leadership positions in 1st Battalion 112th Armor, Dallas, including Battalion Executive Officer during Operation Noble Eagle (the first deployment of troops to protect America’s infrastructure from Terrorist attacks after 9-11). In 2005, Woods became the first African American Commander of the 1st Battalion, 112th Armor, leading his unit in the first American training exercise in the country of Romania after the fall of the Soviet Union. In 2006, Woods served as Deputy Commander for Operation Jump Start (OJS), an initiative started by President Bush to secure the Southwest border.  He also served as the Deputy Commander of the Joint Interagency Task Force (JI-A-TF).  Woods commanded the 136th Combined Arms Training Regiment in 2010, leading it to be awarded the Institution of Excellence by the Army Training and Doctrine Command.  In 2012, Woods deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, as the Task Force Commander of the Security Force Agency Task Force (S-FAT).  

Since 2015, Woods has served in various positions with the State Guard, most recently as Deputy Commanding General. 

As a former Dallas Police Officer and Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Woods served in the Los Angeles Field Division before moving to the Houston Field Division Waco Resident Office in 1999.  In 2005, Woods transferred to the Houston office where he served on several High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area teams (HIDTA) before moving to the technical group. Woods retired from the DEA in June 2018. 

Woods is married to Cecilia (formerly Durham) of Dallas, Texas, and they have seven children.  Tony, a graduate of Tarleton State University; Amanda and Christen both graduates from Sam Houston State University; Dalton, a graduate of North Texas State University; Ciara, a medical assistant student at the College of Health Care Professionals; David is in the United States Air Force station in Alaska; and Daniel is a Senior at Lamar University. The Woods have one grandson, Marcellus Marquise Pullom. 

Brig. Gen. Woods earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Texas Christian University and an M.S. Degree from the United States Army War College.

In the military, such transitions are sometimes referred to as a “changing of the guard”. But Woods has made clear that his plans for the immediate future are to sustain the momentum established by his predecessor: a remarkable trajectory for which former TXSG Commanding General Bodisch will long be remembered. 

The mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide mission-ready 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.

The Texas Military Department is commanded by the Adjutant General of Texas, the state's senior military official appointed by the governor, and is comprised of the Office of State Administration (formerly the Office of the Executive Director), the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) and the Texas State Guard (TXSG).

 

 

 

Texas State Guard Hosts Dallas City Councilman

By John Duesing, PV2, Texas State Guard, 1st Brigade

DALLAS (October 23, 2021) - The Texas State Guard 1st Brigade hosted Dallas City Councilman Omar Narvaez at its headquarters in Dallas on October 23.  Commanding Officer of the 1BDE, Brigadier General Robert Hastings greeted Mr. Narvaez before moving into the Drill Hall. Councilman Narvaez delivered remarks about the Texas State Guard’s involvement in disaster relief and presented a certificate of special recognition signed by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.

“We couldn’t have accomplished the emergency water distribution following Winter Storm Uri without the Texas State Guard,” said Narvaez. “Your willingness to serve others out of the goodness of your heart in times of needs represents the best of Texas.”

The certificate recognized the work of the Texas State Guard over the past year, including COVID-19 response, Hurricane Laura evacuations, and Winter Storm Uri relief. Activities the Texas State Guard undertook during these crises included civil support and emergency management missions, surveying decommissioned medical facilities to expand COVID-19 treatment capacity, and establishing water points-of-distribution.

“Building and maintaining our relationships with city leadership is a key part of our mission with the Texas State Guard,” said General Hastings. “This helps us to serve our local Texas communities better.”

Following the presentation of the certificate, the Texas State Guard presented awards and promotions as well as swore in new Texas State Guardsmen. The Texas State Guard 1st Brigade supports 113 counties in North Texas and the panhandle. 

The mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide mission-ready 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.

The Texas Military Department is commanded by the Adjutant General of Texas, the state's senior military official appointed by the governor, and is comprised of the Office of State Administration (formerly the Office of the Executive Director), the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) and the Texas State Guard (TXSG).

 

Texas National Guard hosts Egyptian Armed Forces for state partnership summit

Egyptian Delegation
Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Melisa Washington | The Texas National Guard hosted a delegation of senior officers from the Egyptian Armed Forces for the Egypt-Texas International Summit (ETIS) in Texas this past week at the invitation of Texas Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris. The weeklong summit provided a collaborative environment for Texas and Egypt’s senior military leaders to discuss the future of the Egypt-Texas partnership and learn more about each other's respective organizations. The Texas National Guard formally established a partnership with the Arab Republic of Egypt through the National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) at a signing ceremony in Cairo this past June. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Melisa Washington) 

10.04.2021
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Melisa Washington 
Texas Military Department  

AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas National Guard hosted a delegation of senior officers from the Egyptian Armed Forces for the Egypt-Texas International Summit (ETIS) in Texas this past week at the invitation of Texas Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris.

Texas formally established a partnership with the Arab Republic of Egypt through the National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP) at a signing ceremony in Cairo this past June. The ETIS is the first senior leader summit between the two organizations since the partnership began.

“This weeklong summit provides a collaborative environment for Texas and Egypt’s senior military leaders to discuss the future of the partnership,” said William Duff, Senior Advisor for Political-Military and International Affairs for the Texas Military Department.

During the summit, attendees participated in a two-day conference in Austin, discussing their respective organizations, security challenges, areas of cooperation, and future subject matter expert exchanges.

Areas of emphasis for future exchanges will include the C-130J Super Hercules airlift and F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighter operations, AH-64 Apache helicopter flight maneuver and maintenance, cyber defense, logistics, special forces, homeland security response, military support to civilian authorities, and humanitarian and disaster assistance response.

“The exchanges between our militaries will make both our forces stronger, build our interoperability, and diversify our formations,” said Norris. “And these exchanges don’t just benefit Egypt and Texas. They benefit CENTCOM’s strategic objectives and the overall U.S.-Egypt relationship.”

Since June’s signing ceremony, as part of the SPP, Texas And Egypt have already facilitated five subject matter expert exchanges focused on the commanders’ resilience program, cavalry scout tactics, civil disturbance operations, explosive ordnance operations, and marksmanship.

“Conducting five training events in a relatively short time is concrete evidence that the partnership is developing really quick,” said Maj. Gen. Mohamed Fekry, Deputy Education and Training Commander, Egyptian Training Authority.

The summit also provided the opportunity to build upon the longstanding relationship Texas and Egypt already have.

Since 2006, the Texas National Guard has contributed troops to five rotations of the Multinational Force and Observers, an international peacekeeping force in the Sinai peninsula that oversees the terms of the 1979 Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

More recently, Texas Guardsmen participated for the second time in Exercise Bright Star, a multilateral Egyptian and U.S.-led multinational exercise designed to enhance regional security and stability by responding to present-day security scenarios.

“Partnership with Texas is an expansion to the strategic partnership with the U.S., a great partnership that lasts over four decades where military and security cooperation are the milestone of the relation between the two countries” said Fekry.

The summit also familiarized Egyptian partners with the TXNG’s facilities and capabilities. The visit included an orientation flight on the Texas National Guard’s newest aircraft, the C-130J and tours of the Texas Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Wing, the Inter-American Air Forces Academy, and the Texas National Guard Regional Training Institute.

“Texas owns great potentials in all fields and excels in some areas such as [unmanned aerial vehicles], intelligence, education, and supporting their civil community,” said Fekry. “Texas and Egypt have great capabilities and expertise that may help both sides achieve mutual benefits.”

The Texas National Guard has state partnerships with the Czech Republic and Chile, routinely conducting exchanges and joint operations.

“Texas has the most experienced troops we’ve ever seen. In the last several years we’ve contributed to numerous overseas deployments, multilateral training, civil disturbance operations, COVID-19 response, natural disasters, and border support.” said Norris. “The timing is perfect for this partnership, Egypt is getting the best skills we have to offer.”

Search and Rescue Finds New Focus, Mission Readiness in Texas State Guard

By David Brown, WO1, Texas State Guard

Camp Swift, TX – “A child is missing...”

“My father is lost...”

“We think our grandparents may be trapped by the floodwaters…”

Such events can set off an intense sense of desperation.  Time is of the essence.  Every minute of delay may be a matter of life or death.  

Soon, the Texas State Guard will play a much bigger role in responding to such emergencies in coordination with state and local authorities. 

The Texas State Guard Search and Rescue program has launched a major new transition to standardize training, to create an official Mission Ready Package, and to make the State Guard’s search and rescue capability a go-to resource for officials statewide. 

“Our goal is to have hundreds of Texas State Guardsmen earn national-level certifications so we can partner with local jurisdictions across the state in search and rescue operations,” said Brig. Gen. Talentino Angelosante, Asst. Dep. Commanding General of the Texas State Guard. 

A longtime veteran of the U.S. Army with decades of experience in search and rescue is redesigning the program and overseeing new instruction and certification standards for State Guard search and rescue personnel.  

Capt. Terry Benjamin joined the Texas State Guard in 2015 with 18 years of prior federal service, and experience as a trained Cavalry Scout and Blackhawk pilot. 

“I’ve been doing search and rescue all my life, deployed hundreds and hundreds of times,” Benjamin said. 

In addition to using his tracking skills throughout the Middle East and South America, Benjamin performed search and rescue operations as an Army medical evacuation pilot. Benjamin also taught Urban and Wilderness tracking techniques with the U.S. Border Patrol, while working as a law enforcement officer in Southern California. Benjamin is currently director of Lone Star Search and Rescue, a North Texas K-9 search and rescue team, and serves as a SARTECH II Senior Evaluator for the National Association of Search and Rescue. Additionally, he is one of the founding members of the Texas Task Force 2 (TX-TF2) urban search and rescue unit, an elite team of search and rescue dog handlers. 

In the coming months, Benjamin anticipates assessing the existing search and rescue skills of all State Guard personnel, to support agency plans to certify qualifying service members under a new partnership between the Texas State Guard and the National Association of Search and Rescue. This new arrangement will make it possible for State Guardsmen to get intensified field and classroom training culminating in the association’s nationally accredited Search and Rescue Technician Level 1 certification. The new program, developed in collaboration with the National Association of Search and Rescue, includes training tailored to the State Guard service with participants able to obtain certification within 4 to 6 months. 

The Texas State Guard has a rich history in search and rescue operations, notably during major disasters such as Hurricane Harvey.  The State Guard was also among the first on the scene in the wake of the Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy and has a long record of assisting Texas Parks and Wildlife in performing search and rescue operations. 

Having search and rescue technicians in the Guard isn’t new, said Benjamin. This is the first time, however, that the Texas State Guard will have a standardized way to assess service members in this field, empowering the State Guard to stand up mission-ready packages in support of partner agencies statewide.

“We want to get as many service members qualified as we can so that we can be a force multiplier,” said Maj. H. Lee Burton, Dep. Commander of the Texas State Guard Special Teams Training Group. 

Burton said he anticipates developing close relationships with local fire departments, sheriffs, and other agencies statewide so that they know they can call on highly trained State Guard forces to support their search and rescue efforts.

“This will help local communities in a big way,” said Burton. “And help us enhance our role as ‘Texans Serving Texas.’”

“I think about how we helped during the floods in Wimberley (in 2015),” Benjamin said.  “We can build on that. The local sheriff calls, they don’t have the manpower, they don’t have a dog team, they need areas cleared. And the Texas State Guard is ready to go in.  Texas has flooding like that all the time.  With Mission Ready Packages (MRP) in place, we can do more for more communities.  We want to be in front of everybody’s mind.”

Tracking skills are important, but land navigation, GPS, and technology skills are, too. Everyone in the Texas State Guard has a role to play and a strength to bring to search and rescue operations. 

“This isn’t some elitist program, we want everybody in,” said Benjamin. 

Some people may be proficient with boats, others drones, and drivers are needed as well. 

Although the goal of getting everyone to a Search and Rescue Technician Level II certification is a long-term objective, the ball is already rolling. So far, 16 Texas State Guardsmen have received their SARTECH II certification through this program.

“Our goal is to train everybody in the Texas State Guard in search and rescue,” said Benjamin. “So when ‘the emergency’ comes, we have people ready to serve in those MRPs.”

The Texas State Guard is looking for Texans with search and rescue experience, as well as people with backgrounds in engineering, law, medicine, construction, technology, and other fields willing to serve the people of the Lone Star State.  Prior military experience is not required to join the Texas State Guard, but those with prior federal service are especially encouraged to explore available opportunities.  More information can be found online at tmd.texas.gov/state-guard.

The mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide mission-ready 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.

The Texas Military Department is commanded by the Adjutant General of Texas, the state's senior military official appointed by the governor, and is comprised of the Office of State Administration (formerly the Office of the Executive Director), the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG), the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG) and the Texas State Guard (TXSG).
 

MG Federico Lopez III Story

MG Frederico


HARLINGEN, Texas – Retired Maj. Gen. Federico Lopez III, the first Hispanic commander-general of the 49th Armored Division, passed away Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Texas Guardsmen came together to honor their brother in arms with full military honors.  Lopez was laid to rest at the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Lopez served with the Texas National Guard for more than 38 years, beginning as a platoon leader with the 4-144th Infantry Regiment starting in February 1963 and retiring in 1998.

Lopez is survived by his wife, Enriqueta "Keta" Lopez, and two daughters, Laura and Melissa.

"My uncle was extremely influential on our family," a member of the Lopez family said. "He taught us to work hard and value service to the nation."

MG Frederico Lopez IIILopez assumed command of the 2nd Brigade of the 49th Armored Division in 1990 and led the division in 1995. Lopez focused his efforts on increasing the quality of training in the force. In a 1997 report with Armor Magazine on the state of the 49th Armored Division, Lopez explained his philosophy:

"Do less better." said Lopez. "Stop trying to do more with less."

This philosophy led to relocating weekend drills away from Texas armories to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where infantry units and armor units would participate in combined drills to take advantage of top-of-the-line simulation technology.

Lopez helped modernize the division by upgrading the division with M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks. In addition, thousands of Texas Soldiers deployed under Lopez's command supported peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia and supported efforts in Germany and Australia.

Lopez also mentored partner military leaders through the State Partnership Program. The program was established to developed relationships between state national Guards and allied nations. Texas leaders like Lopez worked together helping prepare the nation to enter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which occurred in 1999, shortly after Lopez retired.

"Major General Lopez had a monumental impact on the Texas National Guard, said Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, the Adjutant General of Texas. "His leadership and innovation helped shape our force for the future. We are where we are today because of people like him."