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      The 4th Infantry Division Memorial stands adjacent to First Army Division West's Cameron Field on Fort Hood, Texas, and will be the site of DIVWEST's Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony Wednesday at 10 a.m.

     

    FORT HOOD, Texas — First Army Division West will hold a wreath laying ceremony here 10 a.m. Wednesday at the 4th Infantry Division Memorial to commemorate Memorial Day.

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, DIVWEST commanding general, will host the event, paying tribute to those brave men and women who have given their lives in defense of our nation.

    Maj. Gen. Ryan F. Gonsalves, 4th ID commanding general, will attend from Fort Carson, Colorado, home of the 4th ID.

    Several Gold Star Families will attend the ceremony, along with Killeen and Copperas Cove city officials, Fort Hood Good Neighbors, and III Corps and Fort Hood Army leadership.

    Division West, a subordinate unit of First Army, headquartered at Rock Island, Illinois, trains and validates Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers for deployment to combat and other contingency operations. The division also trains units of the active Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and United States partner nations, for a total of nearly 40,000 service members every year.

    Division West’s seven subordinate training brigades are the 120th Infantry, 479th Field Artillery and 166th Aviation Brigades at Fort Hood, Texas; the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; the 189th Infantry Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; and the 402nd Field Artillery and 5th Armored Brigades at Fort Bliss, Texas.

    Media representatives interested in attending the Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony should contact the Division West Public Affairs Office and arrive at the Fort Hood Visitor Center no later than 9:15 a.m. to be escorted to Cameron Field.

    For more information about the Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony, contact Michael Novogradac, Division West Public Affairs chief, or Sgt. First Class Thomas Wheeler at (254) 553-5003.

Headlines

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      The 4th Infantry Division Memorial stands adjacent to First Army Division West's Cameron Field on Fort Hood, Texas, and will be the site of DIVWEST's Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony Wednesday at 10 a.m.

     

    FORT HOOD, Texas — First Army Division West will hold a wreath laying ceremony here 10 a.m. Wednesday at the 4th Infantry Division Memorial to commemorate Memorial Day.

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, DIVWEST commanding general, will host the event, paying tribute to those brave men and women who have given their lives in defense of our nation.

    Maj. Gen. Ryan F. Gonsalves, 4th ID commanding general, will attend from Fort Carson, Colorado, home of the 4th ID.

    Several Gold Star Families will attend the ceremony, along with Killeen and Copperas Cove city officials, Fort Hood Good Neighbors, and III Corps and Fort Hood Army leadership.

    Division West, a subordinate unit of First Army, headquartered at Rock Island, Illinois, trains and validates Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers for deployment to combat and other contingency operations. The division also trains units of the active Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and United States partner nations, for a total of nearly 40,000 service members every year.

    Division West’s seven subordinate training brigades are the 120th Infantry, 479th Field Artillery and 166th Aviation Brigades at Fort Hood, Texas; the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; the 189th Infantry Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; and the 402nd Field Artillery and 5th Armored Brigades at Fort Bliss, Texas.

    Media representatives interested in attending the Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony should contact the Division West Public Affairs Office and arrive at the Fort Hood Visitor Center no later than 9:15 a.m. to be escorted to Cameron Field.

    For more information about the Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony, contact Michael Novogradac, Division West Public Affairs chief, or Sgt. First Class Thomas Wheeler at (254) 553-5003.

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    Command Sgt. Oscar Arroyo, right, a command sergeant major in 5th Armored Brigade, greeted Staff Sgt. Brian Eakins, 2nd Battalion, 290th Training Support Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, after the graduation at Noel Field here on Wednesday. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David A. Parish, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    By Capt. John A. Brimley, Mobilization Training Center Bliss, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT BLISS, Texas — Excitement and relief filled the faces of three Division West Soldiers when they earned their air assault wings Wednesday at Noel Field.

    The Soldiers used the inaugural 5th Armored Brigade three-day Pre-Air Assault course, led by Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Dunlap, 5th Armored Brigade telecommunications noncommissioned officer, and his team as a gauge and training aid to prepare them for the grueling 10-day course.

    “The Pre-Air Assault totally set us up for success,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Caskin, 2nd Battalion, 290th Training Support Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade observer coach/trainer.

    Caskin, Staff Sgt. Kenyunus Andrews, 3rd Battalion, 364th Engineer Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade observer-coach/trainer, and Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Eakins, 1st Battalion, 360th Infantry Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade observer coach/trainer, went to the course confident about skills acquired from the three-day course several weeks earlier.

    Soldiers from 5th Armored Brigade pose after the Air Assault graduation ceremony at Noel Field on Wednesday.  From left to right are Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Dunlap, Command Sgt. Maj. Neil McKinley, Staff Sgt. Brian Caskin, Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Eakins, Staff Sgt. Kenyunus Andrews and Command Sgt. Maj. Oscar Arroyo. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David A. Parish, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    The Soldiers agreed that the training beforehand provided them a leg up on other Soldiers.

    “It saved us a lot of time,” said Eakins.

    Many Soldiers stayed late to learn and practice what the 5th AR Soldiers experienced during the pre-course.

    “The Air Assault guys here gave me the tools and I was able to mimic what’s taught in the course, except slingload,” Dunlap said.

     

    Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Dunlap, Air Assault training non-commissioned officer-in-charge, congratulates two of the 5th Armored Brigade Soldiers after they graduated from the Fort Bliss Air Assault Course. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David A. Parish, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    The course is broken down into three phases: Air Assault Operations, Sling Load Operations and Rappelling.

    Not much different than what Dunlap provided during the three-day training.

    “We didn’t have to focus on the things we learned in the three-day training,” said Andrews. “We were able to focus more on tips and hints the cadre provided us.”

    It was a short window for Dunlap and his team to assess and prepare the Soldiers, but each Soldier benefited because of the three individuals who earned their wings at Noel Field Wednesday. They all excelled in the pre-training.

    “The repetitions in the Air Assault training course built muscle memory for the actual Air Assault course,” said Eakins.

     

    The 5th Armored Brigade Air Assault training course team led by Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Dunlap, telecommunications non-commissioned officer, conducted air assault training previous to the course beginning to prepare the brigade aspirants for the 10-day Fort Bliss Air Assault course. From left to right are Staff Sgt. Karen Martinez, Staff Sgt. Javier Oropeza, Staff Sgt. Shane Carpenter and Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Dunlap. (U.S. Army photo)

    Command Sgt. Maj. Neil McKinley, 5th AR senior enlisted advisor, sparked the interest for the three-day course in a meeting with Dunlap.

    “Sergeant major told me I’d be the NCOIC of the Air Assault training course,” said Dunlap. “He gave me the guidelines and I went to work.”

    The final event to mark the completion and symbolize success for the three 5th AR Soldiers was the 12-mile foot march, an event the Soldiers were prepared to handle as evident by their presence in the graduation formation and the wings on their chest.

    McKinley and Dunlap congratulated each of them upon the completion of the ceremony, but they both recognize that it took preparation and hard work from Caskin, Eakin and Andrews to be successful.

    “You always want to set Soldiers up for success,” said McKinley, “and this was our opportunity to do so and I think we did.”

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    Sgt. 1st Class Heather West, center, 402nd Field Artillery Brigade operations noncommissioned officer, serves food to destitute community members at the El Paso Opportunity Center, El Paso, Texas.  (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Parish, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    Capt. John Brimley, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs

    EL PASO, Texas — A 402nd Field Artillery single Soldier and mother of three children spends most of her personal time away from home serving others.

    Between local homeless shelters, elementary schools and Circle K stores in Northeast El Paso, Sgt. 1st Class Heather West, a 402nd operations noncommissioned officer, manages not to miss a beat in all she has going on in her life. 

    While some Saturdays she works at Operation Santa Claus at Fort Bliss, Texas, other days she’s at one of the local convenience stores chatting with a person for whom she bought a soda and a bag of potato chips.

    But every first Sunday she can be found at the Opportunity Center of El Paso feeding the homeless.

    “I really just get an idea about wanting to volunteer, and I just go and do it,” said West.

    For West, her time is far more valuable than what she attributes monetarily, and having people alongside her with a like-minded approach is a win-win for all involved.

    West said she gets calls from people all around El Paso, but Councilman Carl Robinson is the one person who can get her to do almost anything and has helped fuel her efforts.

    “Heather’s very cooperative and responsive,” said Robinson. “It’s always good to know when you have a civic-minded person on your team.”

    Sgt. 1st Class Heather West, 402nd Field Artillery Brigade operations noncommissioned officer and a regular volunteer at the El Paso, Texas Opportunity Center, serves food to members of the community. West has been offering her time to the El Paso community for years. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Parish, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

     With a packed work schedule as an Ops NCO and a single parent, it’s a wonder West finds time for all of her volunteer work.

    “Sometimes people sacrifice family to help out,” said Robinson.

    West doesn’t look at it as a sacrifice. In fact, the 13-year veteran just so happens to be the president of the Fort Bliss Sgt. Audie Murphy Club, which is also known for its volunteer efforts.

    “You make time for what you want to make time for,” said West. “You just really have to take advantage.”

    West isn’t out in the community going at it alone. Her daughter is a huge part of her efforts.

    Eleven year-old Dasanah West, received the Fort Bliss Volunteer Youth of the Year award. Her receipt of the award is evidence of her community involvement, but West and Dasanah are not the only ones in the family who have made community service a lifestyle.

    Her two teenage boys, C.J. West, 16, and Aaron West, 15, volunteer just as much as their sister, Dasanah, and they all do it together as a family.

    While C.J. wasn’t too thrilled about volunteering initially, he took a liking to it and it truly has become a family affair.

    “When she first introduced us to feeding the homeless, I wasn’t really skeptical and I wasn’t really up for it either because I wanted to stay home,” said C.J.

     

    Sgt. 1st Class Heather West, 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, Division West operations non-commissioned officer, poses with her kids, C.J. West, 16, Dasanah West, 11, and Aaron West 15, in El Paso, Texas. West started volunteering in the El Paso community three years ago and shortly thereafter brought her kids onboard. Dasanah received the Fort Bliss Youth Volunteer of the Year award on April 17, 2015. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Parish, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    Aaron felt the same way. He said he wanted to stay home and sleep the whole day.

    “I’m glad she got me out the bed that day,” said Aaron.

    For the past three years, the Wests have made a life out of community service. While the people receiving the help reap the immediate benefit, the bond of the West family has been strengthened by these acts of kindness.

    “Before we started volunteering, everybody was pretty spaced out,” said West.

    That space has dwindled to almost nothing, said Dasanah.

    “It’s brought us pretty close,” she said. “The more we get to know one another, it’s actually pretty special.”

    With everything West keeps her hand in, from the 10- and 12-hour workdays to the countless hours she spends helping others, her efforts and impact on her own family is not lost. They value what she does in the community for the less fortunate just as much as what she does at home.

    Dasanah hopes to be there for her mom like her mom is there for everyone else.

    “Never in my life have I met a woman so persistent for the happiness of others to where she will go out of her way for the smallest things to make people happy,” said Aaron.

  • By Capt. John A. Brimley, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs

    FORT BLISS, Texas — The U.S. Army Reserve Command and 85th Support Command senior enlisted advisors recently spent some one-on-one time with Army Reserve Soldiers with the 5th Armored Brigade. Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas Jr., USARC command sergeant major, discussed Operation Full Court Press, a deliberate operation that focuses on USAR leaders at every level helping to increase accessions, reduce controllable Soldier losses, increase promotions to sergeant and staff sergeant and improve the sponsorship program. While Thomas addressed big picture Army Reserve topics, Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Greene, 85th Support Command senior enlisted advisor, focused on Soldier issues such as the Noncommissioned Officer Education System and NCO promotions.

    Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Gerwing, a medical team observer coach/trainer with 2nd Battalion, 290th Training Support Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, talks about difficulties involved in enrolling and completing Non-Commissioned Officer Evaluation System schools while on mobilized Reserve status with  Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Greene, 85th Support Command senior enlisted advisor. (Photo by Capt. John A. Brimley, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Greene, 85th Support Command senior enlisted advisor, addressed a room full of Reserve Soldiers recently during a visit to Fort Bliss, Texas. During the visit, Greene stressed how important it is for Soldiers and non-commissioned officers to seek and complete their Non-Commissioned Officer Evaluation System schools. (Photo by Capt. John A. Brimley, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Greene, 85th Support Command senior enlisted advisor, recognizes four deserving Soldiers with “coins of excellence” during his recent visit to Soldiers assigned to 5th Armor Brigade, Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Capt. John A. Brimley, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas Jr., U.S. Army Reserve Command senior enlisted advisor, addresses Reserve Soldiers at Fort Bliss, Texas, recently. Thomas discussed Operation Full Court Press, a deliberate operation that focuses on USAR leaders at every level helping to increase accessions, reduce controllable Soldier losses, increase promotions to sergeant and staff sergeant and improve the sponsorship program. (Photo by Capt. John A. Brimley, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

  • By 1st Lt. Corey Roccograndi, 2nd Battalion, 290th Training Support Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    MCGREGOR RANGE, New Mexico — Division West’s 5th Armored Brigade incorporated medical evacuation support and medical treatment into a culminating training exercise for Louisiana Army National Guard’s 1023rd Engineer Company in preparation for their deployment to Afghanistan. The 2nd Battalion, 290th Training Support Regiment, provided the training in the previous days leading up to the CTE.

    Observer coach/trainers from 2nd Battalion, 290th Training Support Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, observe medical personnel assigned to the U.S. Army Reserve’s 244th Engineering Battalion, Denver, Colorado, during the unit’s culminating training event recently at McGregor Range, New Mexico. (Photo by Master Sgt. Vance Switzer, 2nd Battalion, 290th Training Support Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)
    Sgt. 1st Class Tanya Rose, right, and Staff Sgt. Daniel Gerwing, both 2nd battalion 290th Training Support Regiment medical team observer coach/trainers, await the detonation of a simulated improvised explosive device during a recent culminating training event at McGregor Range, New Mexico, for the Louisiana Army National Guard’s 1023rd Engineer Company. (Photo by Master Sgt. Vance Switzer, 2nd Battalion, 290th Training Support Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)
    Soldiers with the Louisiana Army National Guard’s 1023rd Engineer Company react to simulated injuries sustained during a staged improvised explosive device attack during the unit’s recent culminating training event at McGregor Range, New Mexico, in preparation for the unit’s upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.  (Photo by Master Sgt. Vance Switzer, 2nd Battalion, 290th Training Support Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    Sgt. 1st Class Tanya Rose, front center, and Staff Sgt. Daniel Gerwing, bottom right, both medical team observer coach/trainers with 2nd Battalion, 290th Training Support Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, evaluate Soldiers of the Louisiana Army National Guard’s 1023rd Engineer Company during the unit’s culminating training event at McGregor Range, New Mexico, recently. (Photo by Master Sgt. Vance Switzer, 2nd Battalion, 290th Training Support Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

  • Soldiers and civilians from 5th Armored Brigade, Division West, alongside German Air Force Capt. Norfried “Maxx” Paetz, pose for a photograph in front of the German Tornado fighter jet. (Photo courtesy of Luftwaffe Public Affairs, Holloman Air Force Base)

    By 1st Lt. Brandon VerSchuer, 2nd Battalion, 290th Training Support Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico — Soldiers and civilians from Division West recently met with the German Air Force Flying Training Center here and learned to fly a Tornado fighter jet in the flight simulator.

    Terri Balster, Association of the United States Army Vice President for Corporate Membership, coordinated the international relationship event. People attending this function were chosen based on their involvement with the German Armed Forces Badge competitions hosted at Fort Bliss earlier this year and their association with AUSA. 

    Balster, and German officer liaison to the 5th Armored Brigade, Capt. Norfried “Maxx” Paetz, met at the base Welcome Center and then continued to the GAF Squadron Headquarters. There, the crew met with Lt. Col. Karl F. Eppler, the Flying Training Center deputy commander. 

    “The training center at Holloman Air Force Base produces the best pilots and pilot instructors in the German Air Force,” said Eppler. 

    The GAF trains basic flight school, fighter weapons pilots, and flight instructors at Holloman AFB, he added.  

    After the meeting, Paetz escorted everyone over to the base Officer’s Club for lunch where Balster expressed AUSA’s appreciation for its members. 

    “The AUSA Omar Bradley Chapter is very involved and takes great pride in helping the Soldiers and their Families here at Fort Bliss; this includes all of our reserve components as well,” said Balster.

    After lunch, Paetz took the group to the flight simulation area where they met flight instructor, Capt. Kevin “Kurt” Kummer, who gave a briefing on aircraft orientation, flight plans, and the instrumentation for both pilots and co-pilots. The group was divided into two-man teams and received call signs, which seemed to be the highlight of the day.

    The flight crews took turns conducting simulated take-offs, landings, and bombing missions throughout the Fort Bliss training area.  

    This is definitely not a Playstation,” said Staff Sgt. Kelly Steidley, a Division West small arms instructor, while attempting to fly back to Holloman after his simulated bombing mission.

    “Gentlemen, if you crash the Tornado in the simulator, at least we won’t charge you 40 million dollars,” said Eppler.

  • By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    AUSTIN, Texas — Soldiers from Fort Hood and Camp Mabry, Texas, attended the Texas State Prayer Breakfast here, Monday morning, with the emphasis of spreading prayer and praise across America. The official National Day of Prayer is May 7. The event’s bible scripture came from 1 Kings 8:28, “Lord, Hear Our Cry.” The guest speaker was Chuck (Carlos) Norris, American actor, expert martial artist, producer and screenwriter. Norris, a U.S. Air Force veteran, thanked all the attending servicemembers for their hard work, selfless service and dedication to our Nation.

    Chuck Norris, center kneeling, poses with servicemembers from Fort Hood and Camp Mabry after the Texas State Prayer Breakfast in Austin, Texas, Monday. Norris was the guest speaker for the day’s event. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    Chuck Norris, right, and his wife, Gena, pose with Chap. (Lt. Col.) Kenneth R. Sorenson, left, Division West command chaplain, and his wife, Patrice, after the Texas State Prayer Breakfast in Austin, Texas, Monday. Norris was the guest speaker for the day’s event. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    Chuck Norris, American actor, martial artist, producer and screenwriter, spoke at the Texas State Prayer Breakfast Monday in Austin, Texas. Norris and wife, Gena, are head of Kickstart Kids, an anti-drug nonprofit organization he started in 1990. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    Soldiers from Fort Hood and Camp Mabry gather for a photo with Texas Governor Greg Abbott during the Texas State Prayer Breakfast in Austin, Monday. The event’s guest speaker was American actor, martial artist and producer, Chuck Norris. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

  • Lt. Col. Emco Jellema, center, 302nd Squadron, Royal Netherlandscommander, raises a drink to toast Dutch King William Alexander at the beginning of King’s Day, at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area April 25. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    BELTON, Texas — The Royal Netherlands’ 302nd Squadron held their King’s Birthday celebration at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area, April 25.

    King’s Day is a holiday held in the Netherlands in which Dutch citizens wear their national color, orange, and engage in a day of festivities and fun for friends and family.

    “Today here at BLORA we are celebrating the birth of our king, William Alexander,” said Maj. Larry Hammers, 302nd Sqdn. executive officer. “This is how we celebrate in the Netherlands and we are enjoying doing it here in Texas with our families.”

    Hammers didn’t neglect to mention Division West’s 166th Aviation Brigade, who recently received operational command of the Dutch airmen on Fort Hood  when the the 21st Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat)  deactivated during March.

    “We also invite our neighbors,” Hammers added. “We want to enjoy this day with our partnerships as well.”

    The Grey Wing command team, Col. Christopher Albus and Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Bailey — also dawning orange for the occasion — had only the very best words for their Dutch partners.

    The 302nd Squadron, Royal Netherlands, with their partner organization, Division West’s 166th Aviation Brigade, enjoy the Dutch national holiday, King’s Day, at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area April 25. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “I think it’s a great day to build a team and camaraderie with our new Dutch unit here and to recognize one of their important national holidays,” said Albus.

    Bailey followed adding comments about the cohesion between the two units.

    “I think we’re off to a great start,” Bailey said. “The relationship we have is very strong and it’s really neat to be able to work in this joint environment and help establish relationships with our allies.”

    As children played traditional Dutch games,adults engaged in laughter and merrymaking, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Rob de Graap, 302nd Sqdn. loadmaster instructor and the event’s DJ, made sure the celebration stayed lively and had a touch of Dutch revelry.

    “The King’s Day for us Dutch people is very famous. It’s a lot of partying all day,” said de Graap. “We’re trying to do it the same here.”

    Maj. Gen. Kendall P. Cox, III Corps deputy commanding general, commented on the relationship between the two nation’s military forces as he enjoyed the orange party and conversations with Lt. Col. Emco Jellema, 302nd Sqdn. commander.

    “Our relationship with the Dutch began years ago,” said Cox. “The 21st Cavalry Brigade has had oversight for the past few years and now 166th Aviation Brigade is at the helm.

    “They share this celebration with us here in America and it’s wonderful,” Cox continued. “It’s a great opportunity for the 302nd Sqdn. to celebrate their king’s birthday.”

  • Brig. Gen. Frederick R. Maiocco, Jr., Commanding General, 85th Support Command and Deputy Commanding General at First Army Division West, speaks during the 107th birthday of the Army Reserve at the North Fort Hood Chapel Saturday. Maiocco, who also serves as commander of the 85th Support Command in Chicago, shared the capabilities of the Reserve and its unique relationship with its active Army partners. The official birth date of the Army Reserve is April 23, 1908. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Anthony L. Taylor, 85th Support Command Public Affairs)

    By Sgt. 1st Class Anthony L. Taylor, 85th Support Command Public Affairs

    NORTH FORT HOOD, Texas — Army Reserve and active component Soldiers from First Army held a ceremony Saturday at the North Fort Hood Chapel here to celebrate the 107th birthday of the Army Reserve.

    Brig. Gen. Frederick R. Maiocco, Jr., Commanding General, 85th Support Command, and Deputy Commanding General for Support at First Army Division West, attended along with Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, Commanding General, First Army Division West.

    Maiocco served as the ceremony’s guest speaker.

    “I just returned from the First Army commanders’ conference this week, and on behalf of

    Lieutenant General (Michael) Tucker and Major General (Jeffrey) Colt, we want to extend our congratulations to the Army Reserve, and a thanks to the incredible Citizen Soldiers who work and support all the (missions) taking place across, not only First Army, but across the Army as a whole,” said Maiocco.

    Active component and Army Reserve Soldiers applaud during the Army Reserve 107th birthday celebration at the North Fort Hood Chapel Saturday. Brig. Gen. Frederick R. Maiocco, Jr. Commanding General, 85th Support Command and Deputy Commanding General, First Army Division West, gave remarks. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Anthony L. Taylor, 85th Support Command Public Affairs)

    Maiocco discussed the three Army components and the recent dedicated recognition established for Reserve soldiers at the Pentagon.

    “The Army Reserve has been granted a special prominent place at the Pentagon where we have our history identified and recognized in a corridor there,” he said. “Without the support of our Army Reserve, its Soldiers, civilians, and families, our world may look very different than it does today.”

    Maiocco shared the different expertise fields in today’s Army Reserve, such as doctors, engineers, lab technicians and logisticians; and he said such career fields are vital to the success of communities and building families across the country.

    “All of you know that if you don the uniform, you (contribute) a commitment to service and pride in serving our nation and its armed forces,” said Maiocco. “But we also have another uniform that we wear, our civilian attire — because we pursue these additional professions, we bring an amazing unique skill set — this robust capability to the Army does not exist anywhere else.”

    The role for the Army Reserve, as an enabling force for our Army, began more than a century ago on its official birth date of April 23, 1908.

    “The Army Reserve began in an act to increase the efficiency of the medical department of the United States Army,” Maiocco explained. “The Army Reserve dates back to medical heritage. The challenges associated with the Civil War, where so many soldiers died, and there was such a need for medical care (brought attention) to the U.S. Congress (for) the need to have a corps of professionals to provide support. (This) began the Army Reserve as a medical tool to support warfare, and to be able to give our soldiers the kind of medical care that they deserve.”

    From left to right: Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, Commanding General, First Army Division West; 2nd Lt. Natasha Hernandez, 2nd Battalion, 381st Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade; Brig. Gen. Frederick R. Maiocco, Jr. Commanding General, 85th Support Command and Deputy Commanding General, First Army Division West; and Sgt. 1st Class Lawrence Michaels, 2nd Battalion, 381st Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, cut the Army Reserve birthday cake during 107th birthday celebration of the Army Reserve at the North Fort Hood Chapel Saturday. The official birth date of the Army Reserve is April 23, 1908. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Anthony L. Taylor, 85th Support Command Public Affairs)

    Maiocco discussed the history of the Army Reserve across its 107 years and its integration with the active component during the 1970s’ Army Total Force Policy. It allowed the Army to maintain an active force that was relatively small while still being able to access peacetime capability for contingency environments and contingency operations, and generate force when necessary in times of conflict.

    “We are able to do a full range of missions, everything from contingency operations,  force-on-force operations, to theater security cooperation response to homeland crisis, training and equipping the force, and partnering with other nation’s militaries, like host nation training support,” said Maiocco. “The Army Reserve has demonstrated its value as a federal force for the nation for over a century.”

    Taking a glance at the Army Reserve, Maiocco said that more than 50 percent of those serving as part of First Army observer coach/trainers are from the Reserve.

    Since September 11, 2001, more than 300,000 Citizen Soldiers have deployed to overseas contingencies with an Army Reserve force current strength of about 198,000.

    “I want to say thank you for your service and commitment in peace time and at war during the past 107 years. It’s been an amazing history for our Army Reserve,” said Maiocco. “You should be proud of your legacy as Army Reserve Soldiers. I am proud of our legacy as Army Reserve Soldiers.”

  • Capt. Robert Blome, left, an observer, coach/trainer with Division West’s Medical Training Task Force, and the 2015 Army Nurse Corps’ Reserve Component Award of Excellence award recipient, observes a nurse with the 115th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Polk, Louisiana, during the unit’s culminating training exercise, held at North Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Sgt. 1st Class Thomas W. Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs

    Falls Church, Virginia — For the first time in its history, the C.J. Reddy Leadership Conference, the Army Nurse Corps’ premiere leadership symposium, was well represented with not one, but two First Army Division West nurses.

    Capt. Robert Blome, an observer, coach/trainer with the 479th Field Artillery Brigade’s Medical Training Task Force, and Capt. Brandi Lange, Division West’s clinical operations nurse, joined 45 peers from throughout the armed services, Department of Defense and Public Health Services, at the Defense Health Agency headquarters March 29 to April 2.

    Blome, this year’s recipient of the Nurse Corps’ Reserve Component Award of Excellence, was both excited and humbled by the experience.

    “I’m honored that my leadership even thought to nominate me for this,” said Blome. “To be in there with all the other components was really exciting. It’s a huge honor.”

    Blome recalls his thoughts and feelings just moments before the announcement.

    Capt. Brandi Lange, Division West clinical operations nurse, and 2015 C.J. Reddy Leadership Conference nominee, observes medical personnel assigned to the 115th Combat Support Hospital from Fort Polk, Louisiana, during the unit’s culminating training exercise at North Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    “Only two are awarded each year, one to Active Duty and one to the Reserves,” he said. “I remember sitting at the dinner and feeling extremely excited for Capt. [Anthony] Sabatini who won the 2015 Army Nurse Corps’ Active Duty Award of Excellence. When they called my name next, I was shocked, humbled, and speechless.”

    Lange, Division West’s active duty nominee, added what it meant for her to be nominated and selected.

    “Considering only company-grade officers from the entire Nurse Corps were selected to attend, it was a huge honor to be selected to represent FORSCOM and First Army,” she said. “It means a lot that my boss thought highly enough of me to nominate me for this honor.”

    Blome and Lange went on to describe the five-day course detailing numerous book discussions and presentations by ANC and Medical Command senior leaders covering a variety of topics to include leadership, thinking outside the box, AMEDD’s future, Arbinger Leadership Training, and talent management.

    “It was great learning the vision and future of the Army Health Care System directly from the top,” said Blome. “The collaboration with motivated, like-minded leaders was very rewarding.”

     

    Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, left, awards the Army Achievement Medal to Capt. Robert Blome, an observer, coach/trainer with Division West’s Medical Training Task Force, at the conclusion of the 2015 C.J. Reddy Leadership Conference held at Defense Health headquarters, Falls Church, Virginia, April 2. Blome was also awarded the 2015 Army Nurse Corps’ Reserve Component Award of Excellence. (Courtesy photo)

    Blome continued to speak highly of the conference and quickly identified the things he found to be most beneficial.

    “I feel the C.J. Reddy course provided me with a more holistic and global view, not only of Army health care, but also of military health,” he said.

    “As we collaborated in our groups, I learned how the Navy, Air Force, and Public Health Services address, or go through, some of the same issues Army health care faces. I feel there is so much we can learn from each other,” he added.

    Selection for C.J. Reddy is no easy task, and according to the Division West Surgeon Lt. Col. Timothy Haley, selection is highly-competitive and requires selectees to be nominated by their commands and thoroughly vetted by an ANC panel before receiving an invitation.

    The C.J. Reddy Leadership Conference was named in honor of Col. Charles J. Reddy, a long-time Army nurse most noted for his leadership qualities and enthusiasm for developing junior leaders. During his tenure, Reddy specialized in clinical practice, education, administration, and support and research.

    The conference was first organized and held in June of 1992 with the goal of encouraging junior officer leadership development. During the course, attendees are provided the opportunity to meet and work with ANC officers in key leadership positions, allowing them to gain a unique insight into the future of Army nursing.

  • Huw Priday, Welsh opera singer and Christian recording artist, sings an old Wales hymn during the First Army Division West Prayer Breakfast at the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel on Fort Hood, Texas, April 17. Priday was joined by his English musical counterpart, Richard Lewis. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas — First Army Division West hosted a prayer breakfast at the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel here, April 17, featuring words of prayer and preparation from the incoming U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains.

    “The purpose of our gathering together is to reflect and ask ourselves, where am I in my own prayer life,” said Chap. (Col.) Paul K. Hurley, incoming Chief of Chaplains. “It’s in that prayer, it’s in that life that we will come to experience the awesomeness of our God working in us and through us and for us.”

    The morning’s breakfast started with about 189 people mingling to a medley of soft music presented by the 1st Cavalry Division Band followed with an invocation by Chap. (Lt. Col.) Kenneth R. Sorenson, Division West Command Chaplain.

    Following Sorenson, Lt. Col. Damar K. Jones, Division West Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program Manager, spoke to reflect on April as SHARP Awareness and Prevention Month.

    “April offers a unique opportunity to build an existing momentum to fight this crime and ensure that all servicemembers are treated with dignity and respect,” said Jones.

    She went on to explain the meaning of the color teal as it relates to the SHARP campaign, emphasizing that teal represents the idea of enriching the spirit while coinciding with the prayer breakfast’s theme.

    “Teal represents a touch of sophistication and richness,” said Jones.  “It also indicates trust, devotion, healing and spiritual guidance.”

    A scripture reading of Proverbs 3:5-6, was followed by musical selections from Staff Sgt. Chor Park, Division West’s senior driver, Richard Lewis, an English musician, and Huw Priday, a Welsh opera singer and Christian recording artist.

    Chap. (Col.) Paul K. Hurley, incoming U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains, speaks to approximately 189 people at the First Army Division West Prayer Breakfast at the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel on Fort Hood, Texas, April 17. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    Before Priday began his rendition of what became known as “The Love Song of the Welsh Revival of 1904,” he gave affirming words to the crowd.

    “Wales stands firm with America. When we sang this morning, when you all faced the flag, I sensed such a heart of commitment and compassion for your Nation,” said Priday.  “I was reminded that this mission was founded on Christian principles, as is the land of Wales.”

    Patrice L. Sorenson, wife of Chap. Sorenson, had heart-felt words to reflect her thoughts toward the breakfast’s atmosphere.

    “I felt like it really prepared the people for what the speaker was about to say,” she said. “It was so quiet in the room once the song was done and we were all ready to hear a word from the Lord.”

    The event’s speaker was introduced by one of his chaplain counterparts, Chap. (Col.) Robert H. Whitlock, III Corps Command Chaplain.

    Hurley captured the audience with humorous statements which filled the room with laughter. He spoke on the need for spiritual preparation and paralleled it with the military profession’s own standard of being prepared.

    “We are masters of being prepared,” said Hurley. “Think about how much it takes to prepare a single Soldier and their family for deployment.”

    He stated how impressive the Army’s preparation skills are, but also intrigued the crowd with a question that was the foundation of his speech.

    Hurley asked, “Do we prepare ourselves in our spiritual life? Do we take a fraction of our time and resources to prepare ourselves in this way?”

    Chap. (Col.) Paul K. Hurley, fourth from left, incoming U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains, poses with Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, third from left, First Army Division West commanding general, and members of the Division West unit ministry team during the Division West Prayer Breakfast at the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel on Fort Hood, Texas, April 17. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    As silence gripped the room, then Hurley continued with a quote from former General of the Army George C. Marshall, commenting on the importance of the spirit.

    “The Soldier’s heart, the Soldier’s spirit, the Soldier’s soul, are everything. Unless the Soldier’s soul sustains him, he cannot be relied on and will fail himself and his commander and his country in the end,” quoted Hurley.

    Marshall’s words emphasized the significance of working on the inward parts of ourselves that are more permanent and lasting.

    “We are building on a belief of a belief. We are building on things infinitely more potent,” said Hurley. “For it’s what men believe that makes them invincible.”

    He referenced Marshall’s words again to further explain our innate need to seek for something greater inside.

    “We have sought for something more than enthusiasm, something finer and higher than optimism or self-confidence, something not merely of the intellect or the emotions but rather something in the spirit of the man, something encompassed only by the soul,” said Hurley, quoting Marshall.

    Hurley concluded his sermon in the same way he began, with words about spiritual preparation and the need for a relationship with God.

    “We can’t do backwards planning for when we’ll meet our God,” he said. “Our lives are mysterious in that sense and there are aspects of our lives that are a complete mystery that we don’t entirely understand.

    “Our lives are awesome and have an element, that if we let it, will surprise us and put us in awe,” he continued. “That kind of life requires something of us that is to be prepared for those times. It’s in that prayer, it’s in that life that we will come to experience the awesomeness of our God working in us and through us and for us.”

  • Soldiers assigned to the South Carolina National Guard’s 351st Aviation Support Battalion perform perimeter support for a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to the Ohio National Guard’s B Company, 1st Battalion, 137th Aviation Regiment, as part of Operation Road Block, a training exercise for Army National Guard aviation units at Fort Bliss, Texas. The 1st Battalion, 351st Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West, planned and facilitated the training, which allowed mobilizing National Guard units to work together on key mission tasks before deployment. (Photo by Capt. Michael D. Bales, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Capt. Michael D. Bales, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT BLISS, Texas — Division West observer-coach/trainers from Fort Hood, Texas recently traveled here for environmental flight training as part of the Ohio National Guard's mobilization training.

    1st Battalion, 351st Aviation Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade OC/Ts trained the Ohio Guard's 1st Battalion, 137th Aviation Regiment aviators and crews on proper high altitude flight procedures as well as appropriate take-off and dust landing techniques in an extreme dust filled environment.

    "The heavy dust in environments like Kuwait and Fort Bliss makes it more difficult to see, forcing pilots to use different techniques to control the helicopter than they would in a clear dust-free environment," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Eric Petricka, an instructor pilot with the 1-137th Aviation Regiment. "This opportunity will serve the Pale Riders well as they go forward."

     

    A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to the New Mexico National Guard’s C Company, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment, prepares to land and pick up a fictional patient on Fort Bliss, Texas, in response to a training 9-line medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) request. The 1st Battalion, 351st Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West, planned and facilitated the training, setting up multiple "injury" sites to allow MEDEVAC aircrews to exercise emergency evacuation flights and procedures in preparation for deployment. (Photo by Capt. Michael D. Bales, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    The 1-137th is an aviation task comprised of Guard elements from Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Mississippi, all training to deploy in support of worldwide contingency operations. To ensure the flight environment would resemble what the 137th would face downrange, the 351st temporarily deployed instructor pilots, crew chiefs, and support Soldiers from Fort Hood, to one of only a hand-full of locations in the United States that can pass for the real thing — Fort Bliss. 

    In true train-the-trainer fashion, 1-351st instructor pilots first demonstrated dust take-offs and flight and landing tactics and procedures in a desert environment to instructor pilots assigned to the 137th. The 137th instructors, in-turn, flew with, and certified their own pilots and crew chiefs, setting the tone and standards for all flights the 137th will make during its deployment. 

    “The integration of active component and National Guard training was aimed to fully support the Army Total Force Policy,” said Capt. Jeremy K. Walters, 1-351st Operations Officer.

    During the training, the 137th also completed more than 375 hours using night-vision goggles, completed individual proficiency training for organic aviators, and provided flight support for several Fort Bliss active component units as well as the German Air Defense Artillery School where Soldiers learned about air assault operations during an orientation flight. The 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, also conducted multiple iterations of medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) training with 137th aviators. 

    Despite unfavorable weather, the 137th and 166th successfully redeployed all personnel and equipment to Fort Hood and are continuing to work together as they train and prepare the 137th for operations downrange.

  • Senior leaders from the 166th Aviation Brigade and the 302nd Squadron Royal Netherlands Air Force pose with 302nd Squadron Soldiers and Airmen after their graduation ceremony from the Fort Hood Army Air Assault School Class-006. From left to right standing, are Chief Warrant Officer 5 James E. O’Gorman, 1st Lt. Bart Havenaar, Lt. Col. IJmke (Emco) Jellema, Pfc. Antonius Van Dreumel, Pfc. Vladimir Gorshkov, Sgt. 1st Class Kevin De Jager, Command Sgt. Maj. James Put, and Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Bailey. From left to right kneeling are Cpl. Jorgen Duijndam and Sgt. Michel Prins. (Photo by Capt. Sean J. Davis, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Capt. Sean J. Davis, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas — Recently, six Royal Netherlands airmen, all part of Class 006, graduated from the Fort Hood Army Air Assault School here. 

    The graduates are all assigned to the 11th Air Mobile Brigade based in Schaarsbergen,  Netherlands, but are temporarily attached to the 302nd Squadron, Royal Netherlands Air Force, Fort Hood, during their training.

    “Air assault operations are huge in my formation and the course provided a lot of excellent training in 10 days,” said 1st Lt. Bart Havenaar, 302nd Squadron, RNLAF. 

    The Army Air Assault School trains students in air assault and sling-load operations, as well as rappelling, ultimately arming Soldiers with the skills to maximize rotary wing assets in training and combat operations. 

    “It was a great experience to learn the way training is structured,” said Sgt. Michel Prins, 302nd Squadron RNLAF. 

    Along with the operations side of the course, the Dutch airmen faced both physical and weather challenges. 

    “The course was very challenging both physically and mentally,” said Havenaar. 

    The course included air assault physical training as well as a Espirit de Corps run, all overcoming the challenges that go hand-in-hand with Central Texas weather.

    “The first time I experienced four seasons of weather in a two-week period was right here at Fort Hood, Texas,” said Pfc. Antonius Van Dreumel, an airmen with the 302nd Squadron, RNLAF.  

    Participants concluded the course with the required 12-mile ruck march with full combat load and weapon, which all participants must complete in less than three hours to graduate.

    All of the 302nd Squadron Airmen and Soldiers completed the six- and 12-mile ruck marches in the top 10 of the class, finishing first and second for each distance. Additionally, Prins earned a certificate during the graduation ceremony for earning the fastest 12-mile time in the class at 2 hours,12 seconds. 

    All the RNLAF airmen emphasized their pride in successfully completing the Army Air Assault course and stressed that they would wear it with pride. 

    Since March 22, 2011, the 302nd Squadron has facilitated joint Air Assault training on Fort Hood for Royal Netherlands Army Air Assault Infantry and Royal Netherlands Air Force helicopter crews to prepare for future combat deployments.  Additionally, the 302nd Squadron conducts Mission Qualification Training (MQT) for RNLAF Apache and Chinook flight crews.

  • Col. Michael C. Kasales, First Army Division West chief of staff, speaks to a crowd of Soldiers and civilians about the importance of Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) at the division’s Teal Garden Dedication Pledge ceremony on Fort Hood, Texas, April 15. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas — Taking part in the fight against sexual assault and sexual harassment, First Army Division West held a Teal Garden Dedication Pledge ceremony at division headquarters here, April 15.

    “Thanks for coming to this simple, yet important recognition today,” said Col. Michael C. Kasales, the ceremonies keynote speaker and Division West chief of staff. “This is to symbolize and recognize those that have been victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and more importantly to remind us of our responsibility as Soldiers and leaders to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment in the future.”

    Division West’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) team organized the event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month on a sunny Wednesday morning to a packed house to support one of the Army’s campaign.

    “Several years ago the Army recognized that sexual assault and sexual harassment was a significant issue within our ranks,” said Kasales. “We have the duty and obligation to point those people out to our chain of command. It takes everyone’s commitment.”

    The event began with an invocation by Chap. (Maj.) Mark B. Cisco, Division West deputy division chaplain, as well as brief remarks from Lt. Col. Damar K. Jones, Division West SHARP program manager.

    As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, First Army Division West senior leaders place flowers representing the victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the division’s Teal Garden at the conclusion of the Division West Teal Garden Dedication Pledge ceremony held on Fort Hood, Texas, April 15. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “April is SHARP awareness month. Know your part, do your part,” said Jones. “It’s important to have a prevention campaign against sexual assault and sexual harassment.”

    Though sexual assault and sexual harassment are very serious issues, an upbeat medley of music from the 1st Cavalry Division Jazz Band, created a subtle, yet hopeful atmosphere for the participants to better receive the event’s message.

    After the Jazz Band sang a few songs, Kasales was called to the podium to share his thoughts on SHARP and the meaning behind the ceremony.

    “We know we’re all Soldiers, we know we’re all offered opportunities, and those opportunities should be available to us without the fear of being sexually assaulted or sexually harassed,” said Kasales. “We need to keep personal, personal, and professional, professional.

    It’s our responsibility to make sure that it doesn’t persist,” he added.

    Kasales then shared a personal experience to explain the importance of educating, not only Soldiers, but civilians, on sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention.

    “I volunteer with the Southwestern University Girl’s Lacrosse Team as the assistant coach and a couple of weeks ago we were at practice and they all had these teal ribbons in their hair,” said Kasales. “I asked them if they knew what that teal ribbon meant, and one said, ‘Something to do with sexual harassment or something.’ They had no real idea what it was about, so I had about a 10-minute session talking about what it truly represented.”

    Soldiers from First Army Division West sign the division’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) commitment pledge at the conclusion of the Division West Teal Garden Dedication Pledge ceremony held on Fort Hood, Texas, April 15. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    Jones’ counterpart, Master Sgt. Darla K. Farr, Division West Lead Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, shared Kasales’ thoughts on properly informing people about the importance of speaking out and standing up for SHARP.

    “This program is here to advocate for the victims of sexual assault and harassment and it will not be tolerated in our organization,” said Farr. “I’d like people to take away from this ceremony that this isn’t just a check-the-block event. I want people to leave here feeling empowered to come forward and have the courage to see that what is being said or done is not acceptable.”

    Concluding the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, Division West commanding general, Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick K. Akuna, Jr., Division West’s senior enlisted leader, and Kasales, placed flowers that they received at the beginning of the ceremony into the teal garden and signed the division SHARP commitment pledge.

    “By offering the flowers, which symbolizes the victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment, it allows people to be a part of the actual program,” said Farr. “The pledge affirms their commitment to the SHARP program and putting their name to something is really a promise that they’ll be accountable for.

    “Having an event like this — it’s small and simple — but it invites everyone to be a part of it. SHARP is important and we have to find different ways of getting it out there,” Farr added.

    Following the ceremony’s close, division leaders reflected on the impact of the dedication and pledge.

    “It was an outstanding ceremony,” said Akuna. “I think our bring-home from this event is our commitment to this fight at Division West. This is something we dedicated ourselves to.”

  • Sgt. 1st Class Christopher L. Dyer, a senior observer-coach/trainer with 1st Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, takes a written test to become a member of the prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Club. Dyer was selected to be apart of the SAMC, March 31. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas After months of preparation, one Division West noncommissioned officer joined the prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, March 31.

    Sgt. 1st Class Christopher L. Dyer, a senior observer-coach/trainer with 1st Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, spent long hours and sacrificed much to attain the title of SAMC member.

    “I felt happiness and relief after I found out I was selected,” said Dyer. “I was happy to have gone through the process and relieved to have accomplished my goal.”

    The road to the SAMC was filled with rigorous tasks for Dyer. Would he not only have to take a written exam, physical fitness test, write a 700-word essay, but also prove to a panel of senior enlisted leaders, that he embodied the standards and spirit of the elite club.

    “The club shows how professional we are,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick K. Akuna Jr., Division West command sergeant major. “It’s about building the next generation of noncommissioned officers.”

    Spanning back six months, Dyer began his journey to the SAMC. He was compelled to pursue membership by his former battalion command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Richard A. Henson, and his mentor at the division level.

    “I didn’t know much about it, except it was a club for the prestigious NCOs,” said Dyer. “To prepare, I printed off every regulation on the MOI.”

    Meeting weekly with his mentor, Sgt. 1st Class Christie R. Holloway, Division West Career Counselor and a member of SAMC since 2004, Dyer prepped and allowed her to push him to achieve his goal.

    Sgt. 1st Class Christopher L. Dyer, left, a senior observer-coach/trainer with 1st Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, talks with Sgt. 1st Class Christie Holloway, Division West Retention noncommissioned officer, before his Sergeant Audie Murphy Club board appearance, March 31. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “We practiced reporting procedures and drill and ceremony, amongst other tasks,” said Holloway. “I found him to be a determined individual.”

    Dyer balanced out his SAMC studies with his everyday duties, to include his military and scholastic pursuits.

    “I had to split time studying for my master’s degree, regular duty and studying for the board,” said Dyer. “I finished a 25-page paper in five days in order to free up time to prepare for the board appearance.”

    Holloway said Dyer was a humble person. Personifying that virtue, he didn’t hesitate to attribute his success to his faith and loved ones.

    “Sgt. 1st Class Holloway kept me on track and pepped up, but my greatest supporters were my wife and daughter,” said Dyer. “They allowed me to break away from them during dinner or family time to study.

    Truly the only way I could’ve made it this far is with their help and the blessings of God getting me through,” he added.

    Quickly approaching the Division West board, Dyer re-read every regulation and bits of information pertaining to the SAMC. He said his wife would even go as far as to quiz and drill him while they were driving, presenting him with the toughest questions she thought he would encounter.

    “This whole process has definitely opened my eyes to how much information there is out there,” said Dyer. “Also that I don’t have to know it all, as long as I know where to find and reference it for me and my Soldiers.”

    The day of the division board, his leaders and peers rallied to support him.

    Sgt. 1st Class Christopher L. Dyer, a senior observer-coach/trainer with 1st Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, reports to a panel of Division West senior enlisted leaders for an opportunity to vie for membership in the prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Club at division headquarters on Fort Hood, Texas, March 31. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “He’s always trying to get his Soldiers more engaged,” said Command Sgt. Maj. James L. Collins, 1-393rd senior enlisted leader. “He fully supports his Soldiers and I will support him the same.”

    After his selection, Akuna assured him that his journey starts now.

    “This is not a job, it’s a profession,” said Akuna, referring to Dyer’s future involvement as a member of the SAMC.

    Dyer, a faithful and dedicated volunteer with the Gatesville, Copperas Cove and Fort Hood communities, saw Akuna’s words as a pleasant challenge.

    “Now that I’m a member, more than ever, I have an opportunity to stand in front of Soldiers and show them what a professional looks like,” said Dyer. “I’ll let them know that they can achieve more than they think, if they can just put their mind to it.”

    As Dyer’s leader and mentor, Collins and Holloway express their confidence in the example that he will set for his Soldiers, subordinates and peers.

    “I believe he can get other Soldiers to follow in this path to SAMC,” said Collins.

    “I see greatness in him,” said Holloway. “He exemplifies what it means to be in the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club.”

    To learn more, visit www.hood.army.mil/samc.

  • Chap. (Lt. Col.) Paul Andreasen, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, gathered more than a dozen Soldiers and their families together for a Strong Bonds weekend full of family fun, bonding and skills enrichment at the Great Wolf Lodge, Grapevine, Texas, March 27-29. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs

    Grapevine, Texas — More than a dozen Soldiers and their families gathered for a weekend of family fun, bonding and skills enrichment here, March 27-29.          

    Showcasing their dedication to the Soldiers and families they serve, Chap. (Lt. Col.)  Paul Andreasen and the 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, ministry team planned the family retreat at the Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park and resort to focus on couples’ communication skills, all while providing a much-needed respite from the daily rigors of life.

    “At this particular event we’re using “The 5 Languages of Love,” by Dr. Gary Chapman, which helps couples identify what love language they have been gifted with so they can learn to speak each other’s love language and in turn enhance their overall communication skills,” said Andreasen.

    However, “The 5 Languages of Love” is not the only instruction used during these events.         

    “We also use many other programs of instruction,” said Andreasen. “For our family events we also use ‘Couple Communication,’ which focuses primarily on communication skills and also a program called ‘Active Relationship,’ which includes a whole host of modules designed to enhance relationship skills.”

    Andreasen highlighted one particular program his team uses for their singles events called “How Not to Marry a Jerk.”

    “Perhaps the most popular singles program we have is called, “How Not to Marry a Jerk,” said Andreasen. “The program offers skills and techniques to individual Soldiers to help them side-step marrying somebody they would later regret and how to marry somebody they could live well with.”

    While identifying each other’s love languages was a key point of discovery at the event, the overall goal was to enhance each couples’ communications skills.

    “If families can walk away from this particular event with enhanced communications skills that they can carry with them through the trials and tribulations of marriage for years and years until death do us part, than that’s what I’m looking for,” said Andreasen.

    Couples invited to the 479th Field Artillery Brigade's family Strong Bonds event held at the Great Wolf Lodge, Grapevine, Texas, March 27-29, pose for one last photo before departing for home. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    For many of the attendees, the weekend served two purposes: providing tools to improve communications within their marriages, and providing much-needed family time.

    “Two things I took away from it were the original communications technique that we went over which referenced repeating back to the other person so they really know what you’re saying, and also acknowledging that your spouse is not going to change everything that you want them to change, and that’s okay,” said Capt. David Miller, 1st Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade.

    “It was nice to be able to actually go and do something that we wouldn’t normally be able to do,” said Miller’s wife, Sharla.

    “It was also nice to work on our marriage,” she added. “Being in an Army marriage, you’re constantly apart and then thrown back together, so you have to get used to being apart and then you have to get used to being thrown back together again. It’s actually really difficult for a lot of people. You either figure it out or you don’t.”

    Whether a participant enjoyed the opportunity for family bonding or the discovery of their particular language of love, consensus was virtually unanimous — the Strong Bonds program is extremely important and needs to expand.

    “Next to MRT (Master Resiliency Training) it is probably the most efficacious program that the Army has,” said Andreasen. “I would like to see it expanded to help more families and help more single Soldiers.”

    “These are extremely important,” echoed Miller. “I just came out of company command and I can’t tell you how many marriages were not doing well because of optempo or other stressors the civilian world may not experience in the same way.

    “I would actually like to see more of these,” added Miller. “Maybe a variation of programs like advanced family or marriage retreats with a slightly different more advanced curriculum.”

    The chaplain said the Strong Bonds program is a Department of the Army program administered by the Chief of Chaplains Office. He added that the program includes instruction for both single Soldiers and married couples and encourages the spiritual aspect of relationships.

    Andreasen estimates that the 479th Field Artillery Brigade’s Strong Bonds program has served hundreds of Soldiers and family members since 2008. The 479th ministry team holds four events each year: two for singles and two for families. For more information on your unit’s Strong Bonds program, contact your unit chaplain.

  • Capt. Michael D. Bales, with the 1st Battalion, 351st Aviation Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade, conducts the flexed arm hang as part of requirements to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge ("Das Abzeichen fur Leistungen in Truppendienst") at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Command Sgt. Maj. Edgardo Cuadrado, 1st Battalion, 351st Aviation Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West)

    By Capt. Michael D. Bales, 166th Aviation Brigade, First Army Division West

    FORT BLISS, Texas — A few Division West aviation Soldiers recently earned the German Armed Forces Proficiency and Marksmanship Badge during an event hosted by the German Air Defense School at Fort Bliss, Texas.

    The German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (“Das Abzeichen fur Leistungen in Truppendienst”) tests a Soldiers’ physical and mental toughness, requiring them to dig deep in order to qualify.

    Only German and Allied Soldiers who successfully complete a combat lifesaver test, 110-meter shuttle run, 1000-meter sprint, flexed-arm hang, 12-kilometer ruck march, 100-meter swim in uniform, and pistol marksmanship qualification earn the badge.

    Soldiers must complete all events within a prescribed time to earn points, earning a gold, silver, or bronze badge according to their overall score.

    Lt. Col. Sean Smith, 1st Battalion, 351st Aviation Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade commander, conducts the 12-kilometer ruck march as part of the requirements to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge ("Das Abzeichen fur Leistungen in Truppendienst") at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Command Sgt. Maj. Edgardo Cuadrado, 1st Battalion, 351st Aviation Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West)

    "I fell short of the gold standard for some events while practicing, but the added adrenaline of competing, especially with young ROTC cadets, was enough to push me over the top," said Lt. Col. Sean Smith, commander, 1st Battalion, 351st Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade. 

    The German Armed Forces Badge for Marksmanship (“Schutzenschnur”) is earned for proficiency firing the G36 rifle, P8 pistol and MG3 machine gun. Depending on the number of targets successfully engaged with each weapon, the Soldier can earn a gold, silver or bronze badge.

    The 1-351st Soldiers were grateful to German Master Sgt. Thomas Schade and the entire German Air Defense School for allowing the Nighthawks to participate in the marksmanship tests.

    "It was an honor to compete for and earn this badge, particularly as both my dad and wife earned it previously," said Capt. Mike D. Bales, 1st Battalion, 351st Aviation Regiment.

    During the three-day event, Smith, Bales, and Sgt. 1st Class Demis A. Valdez, 1st Battalion, 351st Regiment, earned the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Charles M. Day, Sgt. 1st Classes Anthony D. Linton, Joseph A. Tijerina, Demis A. Valdez, and Spc. Lashawn D. Frazier, all earned German Armed Forces Badges for Marksmanship.

  • Sgt. Maj. Susan Hunter, 166th Aviation Brigade, stands with her Family during her retirement ceremony at the 25th Street Chapel on Fort Hood, Texas, Friday. (Photo by Capt. Sean J. Davis, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Capt. Sean J. Davis, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas — A Women’s Army Corps enlistee retired after over 33 years of military service Friday at the 25th Street Chapel, here.

    “I've been everywhere,” said Sgt. Maj. Susan Hunter, as she referenced a song by Hank Snow.

    Hunter’s career allowed her family to travel across the United States as she held a myriad of positions.

    Sgt. Maj. Susan Hunter, 166th Aviation Brigade, poses with her husband, Jeff Hunter, as she receives her Army Certificate of Appreciation during her retirement ceremony at the 25th Street Chapel on Fort Hood, Texas, Friday.(Photo by Capt. Sean J. Davis, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    She began her career in the WAC during 1975 at a very different period of American history — before women were integrated into military formations. She now works as the 166th Aviation Brigade’s operations sergeant major.

    “As a young woman from Nebraska, I had dreamed of becoming a farmer/rancher's wife, not a career woman,” said Hunter.

    Hunter exceeded her expectations, leading a life and career that was only a dream of many women from her hometown of Arnold, Nebraska — population 510, as of the 2010 census. She progressed through the Army ranks from private to sergeant major.

    As a sergeant major, she was charged with the health and welfare of Soldiers and equipment, as well as being a senior adviser to field grade officers and commanders.

    “I’m so proud of my mother and she truly inspires me to follow in her footsteps and become a Chief Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Detrick Thomas, noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Vehicles and Equipment Section, 91st Maintenance Operations Squadron, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota and Hunter’s son.

    Sgt. Maj. Susan Hunter, 166th Aviation Brigade, addresses the audience during her retirement ceremony at the 25th Street Chapel on Fort Hood, Texas, Friday. (Photo by Capt. Sean J. Davis, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    “Our families share all the hardships, know all of the fears and make personal sacrifices daily, all without rank, pay or recognition” said Col. Christopher E. Albus, 166th Aviation Brigade commander.

    Albus revealed the Hunters’ legacy and honored military family members as the real heroes of service.

    “When Jeff said, ‘I do,’ I informed him he had a responsibility as the spouse of a Soldier,” said Hunter. “To be a member of the Family Readiness Group.”

    Jeff took that challenge to heart and excelled as a volunteer and FRG advocate. Albus presented him with an Army Certificate of Appreciation signed by Army Chief of Staff General Ray T. Odierno, and an Army Certificate of Appreciation from the 166th for his support to his wife and countless unit FRG’s over Hunter’s 33-year career.

    ”Sgt. Maj. Hunter, your service to this great Army does not end here today. The scores of Soldiers you influenced and helped develop over your 33 years of service remain,” said Albus. “They carry forward your standards, your examples and marching in your footsteps into the Army of tomorrow. Old Soldiers never die, they just fade away.”

  • Chap. (Maj.) David W. Peters, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 166th Aviation Brigade, posed for a photo during a book signing for the release of his memoir, “Death Letter:  God, Sex, and War” (Tactical 16 Press, 2014) at the Harker Heights Public Library, Harker Heights, Texas. (Photo by 1st Lt. Jocelyn L. White, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West)

    By 1st Lt. Jocelyn L. White, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West

    Fort Hood, Texas — When one Army chaplain, during a time of divorce, alienation, despair, rejection and betrayal, turned to reading memoirs of others, it did not help him understand his own problems.

    Not finding the single story that could help, Chap. (Maj.) David W. Peters wrote his own book.

    In “Death Letter: God, Sex and War,” Peters began with his 2006 deployment to Iraq with Fort Hood’s 62nd Engineer Battalion, and the trials of his homecoming. His dark and humorous picture of life after war has resonated with Soldiers, Families and veterans who have read his book.

    “One of my most cherished letters is from a woman whose son died in 2013. He was a homeless Vietnam veteran,” said Peters. “She said that she felt like her dead son was speaking to her through this book.”

    Now a Chaplain with First Army Division West's 166th Aviation Brigade, Peters finds he experiences the same numbness, anger, and the broken marriage awaiting when he returned from Iraq. His attempts to numb his symptoms with alcohol and sex sent him into even deeper despair. He wrote his memoir during this time as an attempt to say goodbye to the man he was before he deployed, with the hope that he could figure out who he should become.  

    “The biggest problem downrange for most Soldiers in my experience was shattered relationships,” said Peters. “When I came home, I found out my relationship had shattered, just like the Soldiers I served.”

    Peters also writes about his faith, and how he thought he’d lost that faith during war and homecoming. His fractured narrative, often explicit, gives the reader a snapshot of his struggles and challenges to continue to serve the many Soldiers that depended on him for spiritual support.

    “I’m always surprised about the book’s impact on people,” said Peters. “So many Family members and veterans have told me how the book helped them understand what happened to them or their loved one in war.”

    On a somber note, Peters talks about an account with a Soldier he consoled that suffered from double limb amputation and relationship issues.

    “I remember a young Army Ranger who was getting into frequent fights with his girlfriend. I went to his room one day and he was on the floor. His girlfriend was packing her bags, because she couldn’t take his anger anymore,” said Peters. “On the floor, he started sobbing. I just got down on the floor next to him and just stayed with him until he was ready to talk.”

    Peters recalls the difficulty of that moment and also how he had to be strong for fellow comrade.

    “There aren’t many words for those moments. ‘Where is God in those moments’ we might wonder,” said Peters. “All I could think, in that difficult moment, was that God was down there on the floor with him, weeping.”

    Peters recalls in ‘Death Letter’ that when he left for Iraq, he thought about the many things he could lose: An arm, a leg, or his life. He never expected to lose himself or the God he took with him to war. Now, Peters emphasizes the need for Soldiers to care for each other during our long journey home from war.

    “It’s like U2 wrote in their song,” Peters says, “We get to carry each other.”

    Peters, also a priest at Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown, Texas, saw that there were few rituals to bring warriors home from war, founded the Episcopal Veterans Fellowship that meets weekly and conducts ‘Pilgrimages of Remembrance and Reconciliation’ at Central Texas churches.

    “These groups are designed to build community and process the spiritual changes that happen after combat,” said Peters. “We always have someone bring a Lament, a poem, song, or story, that helps them process their own experience in war.”

    The fellowship group has three regular meetings in Killeen, Georgetown and Austin. They soon plan to launch a group in Houston.

    Most of Peters’ work in the 166th is not always out in front. While he loves praying at ceremonies, promotions, changes of command, and balls, his greatest privilege is to be with someone during their time of need. Chaplains maintain the strictest confidentiality with Soldiers during difficult times, such as depression, divorce, alcoholism, and suicide.

    “World War I Army Chap. Paul Tillich said, ‘The first task of love is listening’,” sited Peters.

    Peters’ book “Death Letter: God, Sex, and War” can be purchased wherever books are sold.

  • Service members, their families and veterans alike gather for the 2015 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for military appreciation day here, March 4. Organizers provided a free meal, coupons for carnival rides and free entrance to a world-class rodeo and concert featuring country music star Hunter Hayes. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    Service members, their families and veterans alike gather to watch "chuck wagon" during the 2015 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's military appreciation day held here, March 4. Organizers provided a free meal, coupons for carnival rides and free entrance to a world-class rodeo and concert featuring country music star Hunter Hayes. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    Service members, their families and veterans alike gather to watch a musical performance by the U.S. Marine Corp Band, New Orleans, during the 2015 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's military appreciation day held here, March 4. Organizers provided a free meal, coupons for carnival rides and free entrance to a world-class rodeo and concert featuring country music star Hunter Hayes. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    Photos by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs

  • Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, First Army Division West commanding general converses with retirees over breakfast at the Blackjack Dining Facility on Fort Hood, Texas, Feb. 26. The breakfast was an informal meet-and-greet the day before the formal III Corps retirement ceremony. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas — III Corps and Fort Hood, alongside First Army Division West, held a breakfast for 15 Soldiers and a civilian retiring from active federal and civil service, Feb. 26.

    “The breakfast was intended to be an opportunity to meet the retirees at a more personal level,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, Division West commanding general and speaker for the next day’s retirement ceremony. “It was a chance to hear some of their experiences and for them to meet others who are facing the same or similar life frustrations.”

    Attendees gathered at the Blackjack Dining Facility on Fort Hood to meet the Division West command team of Colt and Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick K. Akuna, Division West command sergeant major. Soldiers, spouses and civilians sat together and conversed as they enjoyed breakfast.

    “The breakfast was different and unique,” said Sgt. 1st Class Niarcos de’Shong, 85th Civil Affairs Brigade noncommissioned officer.

    Not only was the breakfast an informal meet-and-greet, but a prequel to the formal retirement ceremony that would take place the very next morning.

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, First Army Division West commanding general, talks with Rosanna Honts, III Corps Mission Support Element financial management specialist, over breakfast at the Blackjack Dining Facility on Fort Hood, Texas, Feb. 26. Honts was the only civilian to be offered in the formal retirement ceremony, Feb. 27. She is also a veteran of the Women’s Army Corps. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “I like it a lot, because we got to meet those that were going to conduct the ceremony. As I sat and listened, I realized that we had some of the same things in common,” added de’Shong.

    The room was filled with laughter and reminiscent memories of years of service. From the ranks staff sergeant to colonel as well as one Department of the Army civilian, all found common ground, and experiences to relate to.

    “I enjoyed getting to meet some of the other retirees and hearing their plans and what they’ve done in the past,” said Rosanna Honts, III Corps Mission Support Element financial management specialist and veteran of the Women’s Army Corps. “Maj. Gen. Colt was absolutely wonderful. He spoke with everyone with such ease.”

    The retirement ceremony began the next morning at III Corps headquarters. The retirees, their Families and supporters, all listened attentively to Colt as he gave words of appreciation.

    “Leaving the service for many is an understandably difficult transition to make and in most cases, whether we overtly admit it or not, the profession and its way of life, is really an addictive waver of love,” said Colt. “Love of challenges, love of teamwork, and most importantly, the love of a fellow Soldier and our Family members.”

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, second from right, First Army Division West commanding general, Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick K. Akuna, right, Division West command sergeant major, pose for a photo with Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jesse E. McCoy, Jr. and his wife, during a retirement ceremony at III Corps headquarters on Fort Hood, Texas, Feb. 27. The previous day Division West command team hosted a breakfast for the retirees at the Blackjack Dining Facility on post. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    The retirees arouse when called upon, just as they did to serve their country, to receive their awards and flags for their dedicated service.

    At the conclusion of the ceremony and their careers, some had different feelings as they faced an excitingly new, yet unknown future.

    “It’s been a long, hard road to get here and it will be interesting tomorrow,” said Col. David Hinckley, deputy of III Corps Surgeon’s office. “It’s kind of closing a chapter to a book.”

    “Retirement is a big step,” said de’Shong. “You go from something you know to the unknown, which is no different than when you started in the Army.”

    In closing, Colt emphasized the pride, respect, and appreciation he personally has for each of the new retirees.

    “We owe the retiring Soldiers and Families our professional respect and personal appreciation,” said Colt. “They’ve certainly earned it. It makes me incredibly proud to serve with them and for them.”

  • Master Resiliency Training module “Avoid Thinking Traps” was taught to Soldiers in 1st Battalion, 363rd Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West, on Jan. 10 at Parks Reserve Training Area in Dublin, California, in order to provide the Soldiers with “tools” when training units as observers-coach/trainers. The unit has conducted MRT for the past three months. (Photo by By Sgt. 1st Class Rosario Urquieta, 1st Battalion, 363rd Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)   

    By Sgt. 1st Class Rosario Urquieta, 1st Battalion, 363rd Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West, Public Affairs

    DUBLIN, California – Reserve Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 363rd Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West, recently received Master Resiliency Training over the past three months at Camp Parks, California.

    MRT is designed to help Soldiers cope with and adjust to various situations they may face in their private lives as well as military situations.

    There are several areas of concern within MRT. One such area is called “Thinking Traps.” Based on MRT conducted by the United States Army, thinking traps are easy to fall into and sometimes difficult to climb out of.

    “Thinking traps make you focus on one set way,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stickles, detachment sergeant and MRT instructor for the 363rd.

    Stickles also said that being aware of what your common thinking traps are and consistently training to avoid these traps can help you succeed, not only in the military, but also in your everyday life.

    “Mental agility is the primary goal to avoiding thinking traps”, said Stickles. “Doing this in a classroom set-up is fairly easy. But what you need to start thinking about is how can this help me outside of a classroom?”

    Soldiers were given worksheets to help them understand their own thinking traps and how to determine their individual triggers. This is one of the methods used to instruct the class along with interactive conversations and sharing personal experiences.

    Observers-coach/trainers from 1st Battalion, 363rd Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West, listen to a Master Resiliency Training class on “Thinking Traps” and how to spot and avoid them during the unit’s Feb. 8 battle assembly at Parks Reserve and Training Area in Dublin, California. The unit has conducted MRT for the past three months. (Photo by By Sgt. 1st Class Rosario Urquieta, 1st Battalion, 363rd Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    Stickles stated that training and evaluating each individuals’ thinking traps and triggers will help in dealing with real life situations both at home and at the work.

    In an open-ended question Stickles asked the class, “How does this affect you?”

    Sgt. 1st Class Genaro Garcia, 363rd’s Maintenance NCO replied, “I think it affects us all in different ways. Thinking traps can affect us in things we do every day without us being aware of them.”

    Garcia’s answer prompted Stickles to ask a follow-up question. “How can you avoid thinking traps?”

    “By recognizing the thinking traps,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Payne, 363rd’s Medical NCO. Payne also said that by taking classes like MRT, it becomes easier to recognize the signs of thinking traps ahead of time.

    Stickles ended the class with this message, “Learn to think outside the box, take your blinders off. Most of us have the coping mechanisms built in; we just don’t know how to recognize them.”

    This is how observer-coach/trainers maintain and sharpen their mental skills in order to coach Soldiers in the field and maintain their readiness to detect and/or overcome mental obstacles.

    The 363rd supports units throughout the complete training cycle to achieve collective training readiness in accordance with United States Armed Forces Command, First Army, Division West and 120th Infantry Brigade directives in building competent and capable units able to meet the Army Force Generation requirements.

  • Maj. Jeremy Simmons, 3rd Battalion 393rd Field Artillery Operations Officer, bestows the Saint Barbara’s Medal on Sgt. 1st Class Jesse English of Kaunakakai, Hawaii during the annual Saint Barbara Ball hosted by 41st Fires Brigade on Killeen, Texas, recently. (Courtesy photo)

    By Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ismael Rodriguez, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Field Artillery Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    KILLEEN, Texas – A 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West Soldier was recently inducted into the prestigious Order of Saint Barbara given to outstanding Soldiers from within the field artillery community.

    Over 900 Soldiers and family members from units across Fort Hood attended the Order of St. Barbara award ceremony during the annual St. Barbara’s Day Ball, held February 21 at the Killeen Civic Center.

    Sgt. 1st Class Jesse English from Kaunakakai, Hawaii, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Field Artillery, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West was nominated by existing awardees and was selected by the Order of St. Barbara board from the Field Artillery Association.

    A rigorous vetting process ensures the future integrity of the honor. English currently serves an observer-coach/trainer and an operations noncommissioned officer.

    “To be considered and then awarded this award by very experienced and skilled field artillerymen is a great honor,” said English. “I am the kind of person who works hard at everything and then to be awarded this award is an honor beyond belief.”

    English began his career in the Hawaiian National Guard as an infantryman, then transferred to Air Force Special Operations as a weatherman. In 2006, he transferred to the Army as a field artillery meteorologist.

    The ceremony was hosted by Col. Patrick Gaydon, 41st Field Artillery Brigade commander and featured guest speaker, Lt. Gen. David C. Halverson, U.S. Army Installation Management Command and Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management. 

    The Honorable Order of St. Barbara is given to Soldiers and civilians who have served the field artillery community with distinction, made a significant contribution in support of the field artillery, and represent the highest standards of integrity, moral character, professional competence, and dedication to duty.

  • Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, addresses Soldiers, families, veterans and community members with words of appreciation on behalf of Fort Hood service members during the Gatesville Chamber of Commerce’s seventh Annual Military Appreciation Fish Fry at the Coryell County Activities Complex in Gatesville, Texas, Friday. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    GATESVILLE, Texas — The Gatesville Chamber of Commerce held its seventh Annual Military Appreciation Fish Fry here Friday for Soldiers, families and veterans from their southern neighbor, Fort Hood.

    “This is the military appreciation fish fry we hold every year,” said Gary Chumley, Gatesville mayor. “It’s mainly to just touch base with our neighbors down at Fort Hood, and let them know how much we appreciate their service to our country and community.”

    The fish fry is deemed a very festive occasion, even though it was birthed from the unfortunate events from the November 2009 Fort Hood shooting.

    The incident spurred Gatesville residents to come to the aid of Soldiers and Families of Fort Hood; with one of the most notable events being the Military Appreciation Fish Fry held each year since then.

    “We’re just here to help out in any way we can” said Chumley.

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, right, First Army Division West commanding general, talks with Gary Chumley, mayor of Gatesville, Texas, during the Gatesville Chamber of Commerce’s seventh Annual Military Appreciation Fish Fry at the Coryell County Activities Complex Friday. The fire department prepared the catfish, hushpuppies and sides for the event. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    The gathering began with a social hour of Soldiers, families and residents mingling together in the Coryell County Activities Complex. Retired Army chaplain Rev. Buddy Wheat gave the evening’s prayer.

    Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, addressed the crowd with gratefulness on behalf of Fort Hood.

    “Thank you very much for inviting us here tonight,” said MacFarland. “The hospitality of Gatesville is delightful, and the way that you’ve supported our troops is absolutely wonderful.”

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, First Army Division West commanding general, followed MacFarland as the event’s guest speaker. Colt began his speech with not only words of adoration for Gatesville, but also of his predecessors.

    “The truth of the matter is, it was my high privilege to come in here after Warren Phipps and Perry Wiggins, people who established an unbelievable relationship, I think, with Gatesville,” said Colt. “I am marveled by how much time this community continues to contribute to our welfare.

    “The patriotism, hospitality and humility of this community makes it particularly special for us to be a part of,” Colt added.

    Soldiers, families, veterans, Gatesville residents and friends all gather to enjoy catfish, hushpuppies and sides prepared by the Gatesville Volunteer Fire Department for the Gatesville Chamber of Commerce’s seventh Annual Military Appreciation Fish Fry at the Coryell County Activities Complex in Gatesville, Texas, Friday. Gatesville is the partner community of First Army Division West, and the community supports Soldiers training on North Fort Hood. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    Colt also paused to thank the mobilizing Guardsmen and Reserve Soldiers that attended the fish fry. The service members came from various units from Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan and Washington.

    “We recognize all that you have given; all your sacrifices in order to make a difference for all of us,” said Colt. “You have our tremendous respect and appreciation.”

    The Gatesville Volunteer Fire Department prepared the fish, hushpuppies and sides that were enjoyed by all.

    “We have a volunteer fire department that’s second-to-none in this state,” said Chumley. “In addition to that, they are also fantastic cooks.”

    One Washington National Guard aviators said the evening would have a lasting impact.

    “It was a great time,” he said. “It’s something I haven’t seen from communities back home. It’s a truly welcoming community.”

  • Capt. Jonathan Farwell, senior Observer-Coach/Trainer for 2nd Battalion, 362nd Field Artillery, 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, walks members of the brigade staff through a Rehearsal of Concept Drill recently at Fort Bliss, Texas. The ROC drill is designed to address potential causes for concern the mission commander might have prior to execution on the ground. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Parish, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    By Capt. John A. Brimley, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs

    FORT BLISS, Texas — Leaders from 2nd Battalion, 362nd Field Artillery Regiment, 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, conducted a Rehearsal of Concept Drill here recently, in preparation for their first training support battalion observer-coach/trainer mission.

    “The ROC drill was very important,” said Capt. DeCarlos Ware, senior O-C/T, 2/362nd FA. “It allowed us as a unit and team to synchronize our efforts throughout the battle ensuring that every team player and role player understands where they need to be and when they need to be there.”

    Ware was one of three O-C/T’s to brief during the ROC drill giving Col. James Gallivan, commander of 402nd FA, a frame of reference for where the battalion is headed as they prepare to execute their mission.

    Col. Jay Gallivan, commander of 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, listens to 2nd Battalion, 362nd Field Artillery Regiment, brief his staff on an upcoming exercise during a Rehearsal of Concept Drill recently at Fort Bliss, Texas. ROC drills allow commanders to address concerns and ask questions of the Brigade staff prior to executing a mission set. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Parish, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    “I think it was valuable to allow some of the brigade staff to see what we’ve done and once again understand where they can render some assistance,” said Maj. Stefan Hutnik, executive officer of 2/362nd FA,

    For the last couple of years, the battalion has served as the Plans, Exercise Movement Control battalion with the 402nd FA. However, as part of Operation Bold Shift, the unit is scheduled to transition to a training support battalion, a mission that the leadership and Soldiers in 2/362nd are looking forward to.

    “As we transition to a training support battalion, it gets us into the fight as far as training and preparing units to deploy,” said Ware.

    According to Hutnik, the transition is a two-phase operation. Phase I coincided with the unit being able to provide O-C/T support to the 1st Armored Division during Operation Iron Strike during December 2014, and Phase II coincides with the battalion’s upcoming O-C/T mission supporting the New Hampshire National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery Regiment.

    Staff members from the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade take notes and listen to the brigade commander’s feedback during a Rehearsal of Concept Drill here recently. During the ROC drill members of the staff as well as members from the units executing an upcoming mission are questioned by the commander. The commander addresses his concerns to ensure that his intent is being met. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Parish, Mobilization Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    Capt. Jonathan Farwell, senior O-C/T with 2/362nd FA, didn’t experience the PEMC mission; however, his experience during Operation Iron Strike introduced him to the O-C/T mission set.

    “For me, that mission was a good mission to step in to becoming an O-C/T at the 402nd giving me guidance on how to look at things, how to conduct an AAR, and how to mentor my counterparts,” said Farwell.

    Lt. Col. James Laslie, commander of 2/362nd FA, Hutnik, Farwell, and other senior O-C/T’s presented their training plans to Gallivan and the 402nd staff in ROC drill format receiving his final approval and sincere gratitude for the team’s hard work.

    Hutnik said the battalion is not only excited about its new mission, but also to be artillerymen, and to train Soldiers.

    “Just getting back out there working with artillerymen, putting some rounds down range, is going to make everyone pretty happy,” Hutnik said.

  • Sgt. 1st Class Cynthia Pearson, 166th Aviation Brigade Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) volunteers her time at the Bell County Juvenile Education Center in Killeen, Texas, where she mentors children from ages eight through twelve. (Photo by Capt. Maria Orozco, 166th Aviation Brigade)

    By Spc. Carl Havlik, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    Fort Hood, Texas — One 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West noncommissioned officer dedicates her time by aiding others in various locations, in different ways.

    “It’s the same thing.  The only thing that changes is the location,” said Sgt. 1st Class Cynthia Pearson, 166th Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.

    Pearson devotes all of her free time serving others throughout her community.  She volunteers at Bell County Juvenile Detention Center working with at-risk youths, where she mentors children from ages eight through twelve. 

    On Wednesdays, Pearson provides a ninety minute intervention with students in the all volunteer group:  Building Empowering Appreciating Cultivating Our Neighborhood, the “BEACON” program.  

    Sgt. 1st Class Cynthia Pearson, 166th Aviation Brigade Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) volunteers her free time in various locations around the Fort Hood area and neighboring communities. (Courtesy photo)

    Being appointed as the brigade SARC has given Pearson insight and the knowledge to understand and mentor children.  Most at-risk children had no mentors or parents when they were growing up, so this was a way for her to give something back to them. 

    “It’s always been a passion of mine,” said Pearson. “I did not come from an at-risk upbringing, but I do have children and an opportunity to give back.”

    Pearson also teaches Sunday school at her church every Sunday.  When asked about the differences between teaching Sunday school and at-risk youths, Pearson said it was more biblical, yet for the most part they are the same. 

    The children she mentors have also made an impact on her life. Pearson retires in one year and already has dreams for the future.  According to Pearson, she wants to open a center of her own for at-risk youths in the future as she feels she can do more to help this population.

    Always striving to do more for others is why Pearson will be receiving the Volunteer of the Quarter Award for her selfless service, which continues to inspire others to do the same.  However, do not talk to her about awards, as she seeks her rewards elsewhere.

    “My reward is knowing I did something to help another person,” said Pearson.

  • Master Sgt. Jeffrey Fenlason, Raider Initiative Group leader, provides Bystander Intervention Training to the brigade and battalion command teams from 5th Armored and 402nd Field Artillery Brigades on Fort Bliss, Texas, recently. Col. Raul Gonzalez, commander of 5th AR BDE, and Col. James Gallivan, 402nd FA BDE, first experienced Fenlason and his team at a First Army commanders’ conference in Rock Island, Illinois. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Parish, MTC Bliss Public Affairs)

    By Capt. John A. Brimley, Mission Training Center Bliss Public Affairs

    FORT BLISS, Texas — More than 45 Soldiers and leaders from both 5th Armored and 402nd Field Artillery Brigades received Bystander Intervention training here recently.

    The Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Program Victim Advocates received the intense three-day session while brigade and battalion command teams participated in the five-hour executive session.

    Both courses were designed to provoke critical thought and spark dialogue about leader development, trust and their roles within the unit and as a potential bystander.

    Master Sgt. Jeffrey Fenlason, Fort Stewart, Georgia, Raider Initiative Group director, and his team travel throughout the Army teaching Bystander Intervention.

    “We believe we’re doing leader development and culture change work throughout the Army,” said Fenlason.

    While Bystander Intervention sheds light on SHARP-related incidents, it extends across the formation and focuses on the decision making process in that moment for individual witnesses.  

    “What we’re trying to do is poke a little bit through some very engaging scenarios that make you think about what you would do and why you would do it in a particular situation,” said Fenlason.

    For many training participants, it was eye-opening information and a refreshing experience. The training was a transition from typical SHARP-related training and provided a different perspective.

    “The class took us from not really acknowledging the bystander at all to actually being able to justify different actions that a bystander takes,” said Sgt. 1st Class Melliony Carter, 5th Armored Brigade personnel and administrative support non-commissioned officer-in-charge.

    Carter brings a unique perspective having been both a victim of sexual harassment and assault and a bystander.

    “Even with the education of this class, I think I would’ve dealt with it the same way,” said Carter. “You stick to what’s most familiar to you, and we resort back to ‘what’s safer for me’.”

    While the training didn’t change the way she views her own reactions in the incidents, she’s mindful and aware of how they transpire.

     

    Representatives from 5th Armored and 402nd Field Artillery Brigades listen attentively during the Bystander Intervention training on Fort Bliss, Texas, recently. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Parish, MTC Bliss Public Affairs)

    “You know the moments and the seconds that led up to yours,” said Carter. “You’re still in that frame of mind where you’re asking ‘is it truly happening, am I seeing something that’s really real or am I putting something in that’s not real.’”

    For Arellano and Carter, the inaction isn’t based on the individual’s unwillingness to get involved. There are many factors that play a role, but as Arellano sees it, individuals are bystanders to many infractions everyday such as Army uniform violations as well as customs and courtesies.

    “If you were to count up how many times you saw something and didn’t say a word about it, you’d probably lose count,” said Sgt.1st Class Albert Arellano, 5th Armored Brigade Equal Opportunity Advisor.

    The bystander intervention training recognizes and places emphasis on an individual’s decision-making process. Experiences, cultural biases, age, gender and other factors all play into how an individual reacts in the moment.

    “I think as we look at the overall climate of many units, a program like this fosters discussion,” said Fenlason. “People start to talk and in that talking we break down the barrier that stops people from getting involved.”

    Fenlason, one of the creators of this training, and his team, do not see this instruction as SHARP.

    “It combines a lot of different programs,” said Fenlason. “There are elements of the SHARP Program. There are elements of EO (Equal Opportunity). There are elements of Family Advocacy.”

    Col. Raul Gonzalez, commander of 5th Armored Brigade, see the benefits beyond SHARP and EO.

    “I look at it as a leader development session and the big thing is for Soldiers to be mindful of themselves, to understand and then start doing introspection,” he said. “From that, it’ll affect their judgment. Once you’re able to make decisions, you’re then accountable for those decisions. That bystander intervention [training] gets us to that.”

    Col. James Gallivan, commander of 402nd Field Artillery Brigade agrees.

    “We’re growing leaders,” he said. “It’s job one of what we do and it impacts all of our principles.

  • Sgt. 1st Class Ismaro Carrasquillo, victim advocate for the Army Reserve's 389th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB), Fort Totten, New York, interviews Staff Sgt. Erica Cain, a 479th Field Artillery Brigade observer-coach/trainer, during the 389th's SHARP program evaluation. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Sgt. 1st Class Thomas W. Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs

    NORTH FORT HOOD, Texas – With sexual harassment and assault response and prevention emerging as a hot button issue for the Army, First Army Division West is taking on a pointed approach to training.

    Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Sgt. 1st Class Tammy Potter, with the 479th Field Artillery Brigade, managed a SHARP “inject”, or evaluation, of the Army Reserve’s 389th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion during its pre-mobilization culminating training event here recently.

    An inject is a scenario-driven training event designed to check and evaluate leader response.

    “The purpose of a SHARP inject is to help units to practice protecting and caring for victims, to make sure that proper reporting procedures are followed, and to ensure that those that need to know, have the information they need,” said Master Sgt. Darla K. Farr, lead SARC for First Army Division West.

    It directly affects the readiness of the force, and according to Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, needs to be embraced by leaders at all levels to help eliminate sexual assaults and harassment from our formations.

    Farr also said that when setting up an inject, the observer-coach/ trainer’s primary focus should be to bring the unit to the self-realization of what was supposed to happen, what did happen, and what they can do to improve.

    Potter stressed the importance of conducting injects on all units, but especially those scheduled to deploy.

    Sgt. 1st Class Tammy S. Potter, center, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for the 479th Field Artillery Brigade, First Army Division West, gives feedback to Sgt. 1st Class Ismaro Carrasquillo, left, victims advocate for the U.S. Army Reserves 389th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Fort Totten, New York, during the organizations SHARP program evaluation, held here, Jan. 30, 2015. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler Division West Public Affairs)

    “SHARP injects are vital to a command team when units are preparing to deploy,” said Potter. “Conducting injects like this helps us to ensure units are doing the right thing.”

    Farr stressed the need to always properly handle SHARP incidents, especially while down range.

    “In the heat of battle things happen that often disrupt commands and when complicated with a SHARP incident it is important for units to understand victim care and the steps they need to take to properly handle an incident,” said Farr.

    “Missing just one step, or simply not following the proper procedures, can easily violate a victim’s rights,” added Potter.

    For Lt. Col. Thomas P. Sullivan, commander of the Fort Totten, New York, and Queens, New York-based 389th CSSB, it is about the command gaining a better understanding of the process.

     “Injects help us to better understand the process and the importance of training,” said Sullivan. “The 389th has gone above and beyond when it comes to SHARP. We recognize the threat and we’ve developed policies and training to mitigate it where we can.”

    For the battalion’s victim advocate, and East Meadow, New York, native, Sgt. 1st Class Ismaro Carrasquillo, it’s about confidence gained.

    “It gave me the confidence I needed to know that I can handle this down range,” Carrasquillo said. “It was great information. It also helped us to identify deficiencies in our program that we can work on to make our program stronger, and more efficient.”

    Although the 389th has exceeded both the required SHARP training hours and qualified its SHARP representatives, Sullivan also stressed the need for the command to show compassion for the victim.

    “In the unfortunate event of an incident, we want to be compassionate to the victim. We want to do what we can to prevent future events from occurring and we want justice for the victim,” he added.

    Maj. Glenn R. Herbert, 389th support operations officer and head victims advocate, says it’s also about taking the training home at the end of the duty day.

    “Yes we are reservists, but we also take this home with us. We take it beyond the green suit. We need to change the culture, both in and out of uniform, “said Herbert.

  • Soldiers with First Army Division West’s 120th Infantry Brigade pose with bull riders at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 2 for Military Appreciation Day. Division West Soldiers were part of a 300-Soldier group traveling from Fort Hood to the event. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT WORTH, Texas Over 20 First Army Division West Soldiers attended the 119th Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo here, Feb. 2 for Military Appreciation Day.

    “Every year we declare one day as military appreciation day,” said Clayton Melton, Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo director and a retired U.S. Army brigadier general. “We worked the Joint Readiness Base here and with Fort Hood to open this up to as many personnel as possible.”

    The Longhorn troops counted among 300 Soldiers invited from Fort Hood to the event.

    Upon arrival at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, Soldiers were given time to explore the grounds before lunch. The morning’s affair included a long list of vendors, livestock showing, horse barrel races and tons of exhibits.

    “It was a great opportunity to see something that we don’t have locally at Fort Hood,” said Capt. Maria Orozco, 166th Aviation Brigade headquarters and headquarters company commander. “The food and festivities were awesome. It was a great experience.”

    As the Soldiers dined, the event directors and organizers gave words of admiration for the nation’s heroes.

    Soldiers from Fort Hood gathered at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas, for a Military Appreciation Day, Feb. 2. Approximately 300 Soldiers from Fort Hood were in attendance for the event. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “This is a great reunion for me seeing these great Soldiers here,” said Melton. “It brings me joy knowing that I was a part of that group at one time.”

    Music and mounds of great food filled the room, as the Soldiers laughed and conversed with a few of the riders and participants of the upcoming rodeo.

    Riders drifted through the crowd, speaking to the troops and showing gratitude for their selfless service on their behalf. There was a mutual sense of enthusiasm in both the riders’ and Soldiers’ words as they spoke.

    “Those guys do what they do, so we have the freedom to do what we do as Americans,” said Ardie Maier, professional bull rider with the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. “With the military here, it gives us incentive to do better and entertain them.”

    The World’s Original Indoor rodeo began with a thunderous roar from the civilian crowd welcoming the legion of Soldiers attending.

    The few hours following that welcome were filled with calf-roping, chuck wagon racing, bull riding and jesting rodeo clowns.

    The Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Veterans and Retirees were all in awe of the tremendous effort put forth on their behalf.

    “I thought it was entertaining and something that helps boost the morale of the Fort Hood Soldiers,” said Sgt. Nicholas Sencey, Division West human resources noncommissioned officer. “Being involved in all that made me feel like someone was looking out for the benefits of the Soldiers without expecting anything in return.”

  • Col. Christopher Albus, left, 166th Aviation Brigade commander, and Carla Manning, Gatesville Military Affairs representative, talk with First Army Division West and Gatesville leaders during a meet-and-greet lunch in Gatesville, Texas Jan. 29. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    GATESVILLE, Texas — Gatesville community leadership held a luncheon here Jan. 29 at an Italian restaurant to discuss and enhance the relationship with their partnership unit, First Army Division West.

    “This is a meet-and-greet with some of our local Gatesville leadership and the new commander of Division West, Maj. Gen. Jeffery Colt,” said Diana Fincher, North Fort Hood Ministry Unit Coordinator. “We hope to make our relationship with Division West bigger and better.”

    The assembly included some of the division’s local leadership from the 166th Aviation and 479th Field Artillery Brigades, as well as Fort Hood “Good Neighbors.”

    During the lunch, the leaders focused on what it would take to further develop relations between the two communities.

    “We are trying to build on the relationship that we have already, and find out what Division West needs,” said Carla Manning, Gatesville Military Affairs representative. “Furthermore, what the division can provide to help us support the Soldiers.”

    Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick K. Akuna Jr., Division West command sergeant major, observed the benefits of this meeting of the minds.

    Maj. Gen. Jeffery N. Colt, First Army Division West commanding general, discusses the relationship between Division West and the city of Gatesville with Fort Hood Good Neighbor from Gatesville, David Barnard, during a lunch in Gatesville, Texas Jan. 29. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “It was an outstanding opportunity for myself, as well as the commanding general to meet the civilian leadership of Gatesville,” said Akuna. “It gave him an opportunity to see what they do for us.”

    Akuna continued to explain the depth of the community partnership.

    “They’ve set up a huge list of events to support the Soldiers to include the Military Appreciation Fish Fry, Memorial and Veteran’s Day events, as well as Independence Day,” he said. “They go above and beyond to provide for the Soldiers, and that’s a great win.”

    By the end of the get-together, the Gatesville leadership further proved why there is such a wonderful relationship with the division.

    “We are trying to continue a fantastic relationship as a community that supports North Fort Hood Soldiers who are deploying and are a part of the training staff of Division West,” said Fincher.

    The division’s senior enlisted leader shared those sentiments.

    “I’ve never seen such a close-knit relationship between units and the civilian towns as with Gatesville, Fort Hood and Division West,” said Akuna.

  • Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, left, First Army Division West commanding general, discusses training opportunities with Air Commodore Jan Willem Westerbeek, right, of the Dutch Defense Helicopter Command, and Dutch Brig. Gen. C.J. (Kees) Matthijssen, center, 11th Airmobile Brigade commander, at division headquarters on Fort Hood, Texas, Jan. 29. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas — Dutch officers met with the Division West commanding general here Jan. 29 to discuss potential training opportunities for their units.

    “It was an office call between the commander of Division West and the Air Commodore of the Dutch Defense Helicopter Command, and the Dutch 11th Airmobile Brigade commander, to discuss possible cooperative opportunities,” said Col. Christopher Albus, 166th Aviation Brigade commander, who was present at the meeting.

    The Dutch armed forces have held a significant footprint on Fort Hood for some time now and look to further establish itself at the “Great Place.”

    “I think we already have a good working relationship with units on Fort Hood,” said Air Commodore Jan Willem Westerbeek.

    He further explained the reasons the Dutch train on Fort Hood.

    “We built a business case a few years back, in which we put down which effects we’d like to achieve on our training,” Westerbeek said. “The results of that business case, was that Fort Hood would give us the best opportunities to execute and conduct our training.”

    Col. John White, right, 21st Cavalry Brigade commander, shakes hands with Dutch Brig. Gen. C.J. (Kees) Matthijssen, left, 11th Airmobile Brigade commander, and Air Commodore Jan Willem Westerbeek, center, Dutch Defense Helicopter Command, after an office call with Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, First Army Division West commanding general at division headquarters on Fort Hood, Texas, Jan. 29. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    Division West training alongside Dutch forces here has evolved over time.

    “I think that the Dutch-American relationship is strong,” said Albus. “There is a lot that we can gain from each other, especially as a First Army organization.

    “This is all contingent on whether the Army chooses to select First Army to handle the transition responsibilities from 21st Cavalry Brigade.”

    The idea of future training opportunities and the beneficial international relationship between the two organizations seemed to be a mutual feeling.

    “We are confident that we could have a good cooperation ahead of us,” said Dutch Brig. Gen. C.J. (Kees) Matthijssen, 11th Airmobile Brigade commander.

    Only time will tell what the Army has planned for these allied commanding generals and their units.

    “I rather look forward to the opportunity to potentially work with this great NATO partner,” said Albus. “I think there are benefits for both First Army Division West and the Dutch air and ground forces.”


  • Maj. Jovany Barrow, a headquarters staff officer with the 389th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, an Army Reserve unit from Fort Totten, New York, takes in the exhibits inside the 1st Cavalry Division museum as part of his unit's officer professional development training. The 389th is at North Fort Hood preparing for its deployment to Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan. (Photo by 1st Lt. Ryan Stallings, 389th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion)

     

    By 1st Lt. Ryan Stallings, communications operations officer, 389th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion

    NORTH FORT HOOD, Texas — Some Reserve Soldiers training here for deployment to Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan took the chance to evaluate their preparedness as leaders during an officer professional development program session Jan.16.

    The 389th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion from Fort Totten, New York, started by screening the film, “We Were Soldiers,” based on the book “We Were Soldiers Once … And Young,” by retired Army Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and reporter Joseph L. Galloway, both of whom were at the battle of Battle of Ia Drang on November 14, 1965.

    Maj. Glenn Herbert, a headquarters staff officer with the 389th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, an Army Reserve unit from Fort Totten, New York, utilizes the interactive display at the  1st Cavalry Division museum as part of his unit's officer professional development training. The 389th is at North Fort Hood preparing for its deployment to Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan. (Photo by 1st Lt. Ryan Stallings, 389th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion)

     

    “It’s imperative to reflect on the sacrifices of those who have come before us as we prepare to serve our country in a more robust capacity than normal,” said Lt. Col. Thomas P. Sullivan, the 389th’s battalion commander.

    During a discussion after viewing the film, Sullivan’s officers volunteered how the soldiers and leaders from “We Were Soldiers” affected the execution of their duties.

    “Watching Lt. Col. Moore’s interactions with his men is something I strive for,” said 1st Lt. Kevin S. Loyer, battalion service and support officer. “He disintegrates into the soldiers and once he’s one with them and gains their full trust he inspires them to heights that they couldn’t have imagined.”

    Officers from the 389th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, an Army Reserve unit from Fort Totten, New York, gather outside the 1st Cavlary Division museum Jan. 16 as part of the unit's officer professional development training. The 389th is at North Fort Hood preparing for its deployment to Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan. (Photo by 1st Lt. Ryan Stallings, 389th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion)

     

    The officers also connected their pending mission to help sustain the Train, Advise, Assist Command mission of ORS by visiting the 1st Cavalry Division museum, where they gathered around exhibits including memorials to fallen Soldiers, Vietnam War history, and 1st Cavalry Medal of Honor recipients.

    The 389th is currently training with First Army Division West’s 479th Field Artillery Brigade, which provides post-mobilization training to units from the United States Army Reserve and Army National Guard.

  • Maj. Aaron Grant, an assistant operations officer for 166th Aviation Brigade wished Veterans a Happy New Year at the William R. Courtney Veterans Home in Temple, Texas, recently. (Photo by Chief Warrant Officer 4 Virgil Martin, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West)

    By Spec. Carl Havlik, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West

    TEMPLE, Texas – Soldiers and Families of the 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West, brought holiday cheer to local Texas Veterans on New Years’ Eve at the William R. Courtney Veterans Home here.

    The home is named after World War II veteran, 1st Lt. William R. Courtney, who passed away in 1998 and was influential in getting a veterans home built in Temple, Texas.

    The William R. Courtney Texas State Veterans Home is a long-term care facility for Texas veterans and their families that opened in 2000.  It has 160 residents, including 32 Alzheimer’s Veterans.  

    There was no better way to bring in the New Year for the GreyWing Soldiers, than to spend it visiting Veterans from America’s past wars and conflicts.

    From Vietnam to the Korean War, and even as far back as WWII, Veterans at the home account for almost four decades of military service.  This service is a feat that Sgt. 1st Class Frank Reyes, 166th Aviation Brigade administrative assistant, finds a very important lesson to show his children who he brought to the home. 

    Capt. Sean Stapler, an assistant operations officer for 166th Aviation Brigade wished Veterans a Happy New Year at the William R. Courtney Veterans Home in Temple, Texas, recently. (Photo by Chief Warrant Officer 4 Virgil Martin, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West)

    “They see their parents going off to war and coming back,” said Reyes. “They need to understand who makes us free.  It was very good for them to see Veterans from past wars and talk with them.”

    Soldiers and their Families spent time making homemade cookies and other baked goods to share with the Veterans and also gave away various Army goodies. 

    “It was good for them to have something homemade,” said Reyes. “Having homemade baked goods is something special for the Veterans.  Baking is personal and comes from the heart.  It takes time and effort to bake cookies and cakes.

    “Around this time of year it is easy to get caught up in store bought baked goods and bring them to parties and family functions.  When someone is given food that you baked, they are forever connected to you,” Reyes added.

    Hats, bags, key chains, water bottles, and other Army branded gear were given to the Veterans in appreciation for their service.

    The Veterans were not the only ones with a lasting impression of the visit. Reyes’ nephew came along and was able to talk to and spend time with some of the Veterans. 

    “He now wants to come back and work here,” said Reyes.

  •  

    Staff Sgt. Jeremy Neal, Staff Sgt. Samuel Stapp and Cpl. Brent Boroff, Soldiers of the Ohio National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, perform final  maintenance checks on their Avenger Missile System prior to the launch of the first missile during the units Live Fire Exercise at Oro Grande, N.M. Range 91, recently. (Photo by Master Sgt. Donald Keith, 1st Battalion, 362nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment)

    Capt. Kevin W. Lockett, 1st Battalion, 362nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West

    ORO GRANDE, N.M. - The 1st Battalion, 362nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West recently conducted a Culminating Training Exercise from Dec. 27, 2014 through Jan. 8, 2015 here with the Ohio Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment.

    The Renegades, working in conjunction with the South Carolina Army National Guard's 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Civil Air Patrol, and civilian contractors, conducted the evaluation on the battalion's ability to conduct tactical and maintenance operations while simulating the mission they will conduct in the National Capital Region.

    The Ohio Guardsmen will utilize Integrated Air Defense Systems and short-range air and missile defense to protect key assets within the NCR.

     

    Sgt. Ronald Kelly and Pfc. Michael Szajna, Soldiers of the Ohio National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, perform the checks on their Stinger Missile before moving down range on at Oro Grande, N.M. on Range 91 during the Live Fire Exercise, recently. (Photo by Master Sgt. Donald Keith, 1st Battalion, 362nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment)

    The Culminating Training Event completes the post-mobilization phase of an ongoing partnership that began with the unit in May 2014.

    "The battalion was one of the best battalions to complete a CTE with our battalion as evaluators, and continued to prove to us that they are ready to conduct this vital Homeland Defense Mission," said Master Sgt. Nathaniel Knox, Renegade senior observer-coach/trainer.

    The 1-174th ADA will soon have the mission of defending our nation’s capital against attack. They understand that the training they received here does not stop as the mission continues to evolve.

    They have a solid foundation to continue to grow and maximize the potential of every Soldier within the unit.

     

    Soldiers of the Ohio National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, fire a Stinger Missile from an Avenger Missile System during the unit’s Live Fire Exercise at  Oro Grande, N.M. on Range 91, recently. (Photo by Master Sgt. Donald Keith, 1st Battalion, 362nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment)

    The battalion's leadership understands that it will be important to take advantage of their location within the NCR. By conducting professional development training with all members of the battalion and learning about their area of operations, they will achieve this goal.

    Many members of the battalion have never been to the NCR, and will enjoy the opportunities they have to visit monuments and learn about the history of the Nation's capital.

    "Even in deployed locations such as Afghanistan or Iraq, we as the active component Army, understand that it is important to learn about the history of our deployed locations and take advantage of what we can see while we are deployed," said Sgt. 1st Class Marlon Miguel, Renegade master gunner. “I am happy to see that the 1-174th ADA Bn. has a plan for that while they are performing this mission."

  • Second Lt. Pavel Anisimov, Alpha Team member with 1st Battalion, 363rd Regiment, 189th Infantry Brigade, Division West, gathers information before calling in a nine line medical evacuation report for a severely wounded victim during the extraction and medical section of the Gunslinger Gallop, held at Parks Reserve Training Area, Dublin, California, Jan. 11. Alpha Team narrowly beat out Bravo and Charlie team to win the Gunslinger Gallop. (Photo by Sgt. First Class Victor L. Gardner, 189th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Sgt. First Class Victor Gardner, 189th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    DUBLIN, Calif. – First Battalion, 363rd Regiment, 189th Infantry Brigade, Division West Soldiers competed against each other during the first ever “Gunslinger Gallop” challenge during January’s battle assemble at Parks Reserve Training Area here, recently.

    For three months, November through January, Soldiers from the 363rd experienced training designed to improve their understanding of troop leading procedures, the military decision making process, and honing their craft as observer-coach/trainers.

    The unit is filled with different levels of knowledge. The more experienced Soldiers took on an additional duty of mentoring the younger troops during training. Staff Sgt. Rosetta Little, the unit’s Nuclear Biological Chemical Staff noncommissioned officer, acknowledged the difference in the knowledge base between the least seasoned to the more affluent members of the unit.

    “There are a lot of people at various levels of understanding in the unit,” Little said. “You should train to the lowest knowledge base to achieve results that stick in the Soldiers’ head.”   

    Second Lt. Joshua Cantu and Sgt. Danny Li, Charlie team members at 1st Battalion, 363rd Regiment, 189th Infantry Brigade, Division West, attempt to figure out how to transverse obstacle number two of the Leaders Reaction Course during the Gunslinger Gallop, held at Parks Reserve Training Area, Dublin, California, Jan. 11.  Charlie Team had the least amount of members but managed to finish second in the competition.  (Photo by Sgt. First Class Victor L. Gardner, 189th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    When asked about the training, Little said, “In November and December we were in the crawl walk phases. We are at the run phase now with the Gallop and I think we all have improved overall.”

    The Gallop consisted of events such as vehicle recovery, reacting to a chemical attack, call in a medical evacuation while providing aide to a downed pilot, a portion of the Leaders Reaction Course, and several other stations. Each event was designed to test a team’s military knowledge, teamwork, and their ability to think “outside the box.”

    One young NCO, Sgt. Ricardo Bareng, 1-363rd’s Unit Military Pay Sergeant, liked the intensity of the competition.

    “The Gallop was fun and we [my teammates] found it more physically challenging than expected,” Bareng said. “Personally I enjoy when you throw in the spirit of competition during training.”

    That’s exactly what Sgt. 1st Class Robert Edwa, the unit’s Operations and Plans NCO, wanted to achieve when his section developed the “Gunslinger Gallop” concept.

    Members of Alpha Team, assigned to at 1st Battalion, 363rd Regiment, 189th Infantry Brigade, Division West, work together to scale a wall at the Leaders Reaction Course during the Gunslinger Gallop, held at Parks Reserve Training Area, Dublin, California, Jan. 11. Alpha Team narrowly beat out Bravo and Charlie to win the competition. (Photo by Sgt. First Class Victor L. Gardner, 189th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    “We wanted to break the cycle of training and make things fun for the Soldiers,” Edwa said. “Some Soldiers are saying it’s like the Amazing Race and it is to the extent of having fun while competing and achieving our training mission.”

    According to Edwa, the bottom line was to have the Soldiers act as independent thinkers within their teams and use lessons learned from previous training exercises as a reference to complete the competition. One of the final aspects of the training was to build Esprit De Corps among the teams.

    “I think the teams are doing a lot of bonding and building motivation within their groups in order to complete each challenge,” Edwa said. “The course isn’t easy and they’ll have to keep each other motivated in order to finish and still beat the other teams.”

    In the end Alpha Team narrowly beat out Bravo and Charlie teams to win the competition. As a complete unit, Alpha, Bravo and Charlie voted 2nd Lt. Patrick Vu, Bravo team member, as the most outstanding and motivated Soldier throughout the competition.

    The 363rd Training Support Battalion, 189th Infantry Brigade, Division West, supports units throughout the complete training cycle to achieve collective training readiness in accordance with United States Armed Forces Command, First Army, and 189th Infantry Brigade directives in building competent and capable units able to meet the Army Force Generation requirements.

  • Col. James W. Danna III, right, commander, 191st Infantry Brigade (Training Support), and Command Sgt. Major Michael J. Mingle, left, case the 191st colors during the brigade’s deactivation ceremony held here Thursday at Soldier Field House at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The 191st is the first First Army training brigade to case its colors during the multi-year force reduction initiative known as Operation Bold Shift. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs

    JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Washington — As part of the Army’s required drawdown, First Army Division West’s 191st Infantry Brigade cased its colors during a deactivation ceremony here Thursday at Soldier Field House.

    As the 191st Infantry Brigade (Training Support) cased its colors, its sister brigade, the 189th Infantry Brigade (Combined Arms Training Brigade), assumed the role as Division West’ sole training representative on the West coast.

    “The inactivation of the 191st headquarters becomes the first significant act and event in Division and First Army’s multi-year reorganizational effort called Bold Shift,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, commanding general, First Army Division West.

    In accordance with Operation Bold Shift, First Army’s Department of the Army directed plan to reduce force structure, First Army will reduce its training brigades from 16 to nine by 2016.

    “At an institutional level, our Army must constantly assess the strategic and operational environments and make the adjustments as appropriate, force design and force structure in order to best address the security needs of the nation,” said Colt.

    Col. James W. Danna III, right, commander, 191st Infantry Brigade (Training Support), and Command Sgt. Major Michael J. Mingle, left, case the 191st colors during the brigade’s deactivation ceremony held here Thursday at Soldier Field House at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The 191st is the first First Army training brigade to case its colors during the multi-year force reduction initiative known as Operation Bold Shift. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    Colt went on to say that consolidation under Bold Shift is a nested effort that will ultimately enhance First Army resources and training capabilities.

    "We'll also standardize — to the highest degree possible — our training formations that are essential to the enhancement of the Army's collective readiness," he said. "This is a multi-component effort with a concerted shift to pre-mobilization focus, rather than post. Our support will be focused on the total Army's readiness."

    “Today marked, as General Colt mentioned, the transition and inactivation of the 191st Brigade and our transition to the 189th Combined Arms Training Brigade as part of First Army’ Operation Bold Shift,” said Col. James W. Danna III, commander, 191st Infantry Brigade (Training Support).

    “Today gives us a chance to look at the brigade, the 191st that stands in front of you here, as it merges with the 189th and we mark another year and another milestone in the 42-year history of mutli-component AC/RC training here at Joint Base Lewis-McChord,” added Danna.

    Danna went on to compliment the Soldiers of the 191st and applauded their hard work and dedication to their mission.

    Col. James W. Danna III, left, commander, 191st Infantry Brigade (Training Support), passes the 191st cased colors to First Army Division West commanding general, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, during the brigade’s deactivation ceremony held here Thursday at Soldier Field House at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The 191st is the first First Army training brigade to case its colors during the multi-year force reduction initiative known as Operation Bold Shift. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    “You are the proud standard bearers today of all those that came before you,” he said.

    “It has been my honor to serve as your commander over the past 20 months. Your professionalism, excellence, and dedication to duty, which you do every day, comes through. I cannot think of a better way to go out than to lead the great outfit that you see here,” he added.

    In the absence of its sister brigade, the 189th Combined Arms Training Brigade will continue its mission of mobilizing, and demobilizing RC units while shifting its primary focus to providing pre-mobilization support and training to RC units.

    First Army will refocus its capabilities to advise, assist, and train Reserve Component units during pre-mobilization all while improving and maintaining its ability to support RC unit readiness, maintain the necessary structure and know-how to support unit mobilization and post-mobilization training, and ensure First Army remains qualified in accordance with the 1993 National Defense Authorization Act.

    The 191st Infantry Brigade was established Jun. 24, 1921 in the Organized Reserves as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 96th Division. The 191st Infantry Brigade was organized in December 1921 in Portland, Oregon and on Mar. 23, 1925, was re-designated as HHC, 191st Brigade. On Aug. 24, 1936, they were re-designated as HHC, 191st Infantry Brigade.  Through multiple re-designations, inactivations, and reactivations over the years, the 191st was activated Dec. 1, 2006 at Fort Lewis, Washington, receiving a change of mission to assist in the activation of the Fort Lewis Mobilization and Force Generation Installation. From 2006 to 2011, the 191st mobilized and demobilized more than 25,000 Soldiers, receiving the Army Superior Unit Award.

  • Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, left, First Army commanding general, and Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, Division West commanding general, render a salute to the nation’s colors during an assumption of command ceremony on Fort Hood’s Cameron Field Tuesday. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas – First Army Division West welcomed its seventh commanding general in an assumption of command ceremony on Cameron Field here Tuesday.

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, and his wife, Nancy, come to “The Great Place” from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he was deputy commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps.

    Colt’s most recent assignment was as commander of the U.S. National Support Element Command-Afghanistan, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom.

    “Command is always considered the epitome of all leadership assignments, and we all are delighted to have the superb talents that Maj. Gen. Colt brings in support of our critical training mission,” said Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, First Army commanding general.

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, Division West commanding general receives the division guidon from Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, First Army commanding general, during an assumption of command ceremony on Fort Hood’s Cameron Field Tuesday. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    Tucker explained the role of Division West in the total Army, and how it’s unique mission aids in the training of the Army National Guard and Reserve components.

    Also, with the transition of Division West and her down-trace units, Tucker commented on how it would take an exceptional leader to accommodate such a task.

    “It is only befitting that the senior leadership of the Department of the Army, likewise selected another outstanding leader when they selected Maj. Gen. Jeff Colt to lead this Division West formation,” said Tucker.

    The assumption ceremony commenced with formations of uniformed, synchronized Soldiers, marching to the 1st Cavalry Division Band.

    Besides the time-honored tradition of passing of the Division West colors to Colt, the day’s events included a horseback, mounted Soldier — courtesy of the 1st Cavalry Division —assisting in the presentation of flowers to Colt’s wife, Nancy. A cannon salute and a formation pass and review completed the ceremony.

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, First Army Division West commanding general, gives his remarks after taking command of the division during an assumption of command ceremony on Fort Hood’s Cameron Field Tuesday. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “Thank you all, again for attending our ceremony this morning,” said Colt. “Even as the new guy, I can assure you that your personal and professional relationships with First Army Division West and your time are highly respected, valued and much appreciated.”

    Colt expressed his gratitude to all the special guests, Families, civilians and Soldiers that attended and participated in the day’s ceremony.

    He reflected on the privilege of leadership.

    “Command at any level is an incredible honor,” he said. “I believe command represents a special trust for the care and accomplishment of the unit mission, but as importantly, the care, confidence and trust of our Soldiers and Families.”

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, First Army Division West commanding general, alongside his wife, Nancy, and son, Sam, watch the pass and review of the division formation, which assembled for the day’s assumption of command ceremony on Fort Hood’s Cameron Field Tuesday. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    He also paused to thank his wife, Nancy, and sons, Hunter and Sam, for their love and unwavering support during their Army journey.

    “I’m proud beyond adequate expression to be a member of Division West, this First Army team, and this Fort Hood community,” said Colt.

    Division West, a subordinate unit of First Army, trains and validates Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers for deployment to combat or other contingency operations. The division also trains units of the active Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and United States partner nations, for a total of nearly 40,000 service members every year.

    Division West’s eight subordinate training brigades are the 120th Infantry, 479th Field Artillery and 166th Aviation Brigades at Fort Hood, Texas; the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.; the 189th and 191st Infantry Brigades at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.; and the 402nd Field Artillery and 5th Armored Brigades at Fort Bliss, Texas.

  • Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt will assume command as the seventh commanding general of First Army Division West in a ceremony here Tuesday at 10 a.m. on Cameron Field. (U.S. Army photo)

    FORT HOOD, Texas — Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt will assume command as the seventh commanding general of First Army Division West in a ceremony here Tuesday at 10 a.m. on Cameron Field.

    Colt, who most recently served as deputy commander, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and commander, U.S. National Support Element Command-Afghanistan, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, replaces Maj. Gen. Warren E. Phipps Jr. who relinquished command on Dec. 4, 2014.

    Division West, a subordinate unit of First Army headquarters at Rock Island, Illinois, trains and validates Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers for deployment to combat or other contingency operations. The division also trains units of the active Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and United States partner nations, for nearly 40,000 service members every year.

    Division West’s eight subordinate training brigades are the 120th Infantry, 479th Field Artillery and 166th Aviation Brigades at Fort Hood, Texas; the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; the 189th and 191st Infantry Brigades at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; and the 402nd Field Artillery and 5th Armored Brigades at Fort Bliss, Texas.

    Visitors may obtain a one-day special event pass and directions to Cameron Field at the Marvin Leath Visitors Center on T.J. Mills Boulevard.

    Media representatives interested in attending the relinquishment of command ceremony should contact the Division West Public Affairs Office and arrive at the Fort Hood Visitor Center no later than 9:15 a.m. to be escorted to the event.

    For more information about the change of command, contact Michael Novogradac, Division West Public Affairs chief, at (254) 553-5003 or email michael.m.novogradac.civ@mail.mil.

  • Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 393rd Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade help Gatesville Elementary School students and teachers work carry boxes of food to the trucks for a local food bank in Gatesville, Texas, recently. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Benny Campbell, 2nd Battalion 395th Field Artillery Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West)

    By Maj. Tomas Moore, 2nd Battalion, 395th Field Artillery Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West

    GATESVILLE, Texas – Three noncommissioned officers from the 2nd Battalion, 395th Field Artillery Regiment, with other 120th Infantry Brigade Soldiers, recently gave a helping hand to Gatesville Elementary School students to stock a local food bank. 

    Sgt. 1st Class Benny Campbell of Corpus Christy, Texas, Sgt. 1st Class Ray Maiava of the American Samoa, and Sgt. 1st Class Franklyn Zenon of the Bronx, New York, all three with the -2-393rd Battalion were busy packaging and loading non-perishable food donations for delivery to the Gatesville Food Bank, just in time for the holidays.  

    Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 393rd Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade pose for a photo with Gatesville Elementary School students and teachers after loading trucks with food boxes for a local food bank in Gatesville, Texas, recently. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Benny Campbell, 2nd Battalion 395th Field Artillery Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West)

    All three Steel NCOs agreed that it was time well-spent, and they were happy to have helped out.

    “Children are the future leaders of our communities and I believe that if we teach them early to give more than they receive and set the example for others to follow,” said Campbell. “We can change society for the better, one community at a time.” 

    Community members and Gatesville Intermediate School students loaded and unloaded trucks with food items. Everything was donated by military Families and people from the local community.

    “Never doubt a small group of thoughtful, committed people. The Gatesville community came together for a greater cause with their food drive,” said Zenon. “It was truly a gratifying experience being part of their team for this great cause.”

  • By Sgt. 1st Class Victor Gardner, 189th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    DUBLIN, California – Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 363rd Regiment, 189th Infantry Brigade, Division West, continue with close mentorship of Dublin High School students here.

    Since the 2013 school year, 363rd Soldiers partner with Dublin High transition instructor Bree LeMoine to help students develop job and “soft” skills to be more successful in the working world.

    The 363rd continues its partnership during the 2014-2015 school year, focusing on confidence building, leadership, and values. Based on student feedback, these three items are most important to them and their development.

    “I felt like the Army guys, you guys, help build confidence in me,” Sean Pitts, a transition student, said. “I like that you guys weren’t mean and loud and just believed in us.”

    With each year’s change in program focus, those who participate also change. During the summer months, some students move on while others return for the new year. This means new students like Kenichi Masaki.

    “The transition program is ok for me,” Masaki said. “When I was coming here to visit I was nervous and not sure what to expect but now, this year, I’m more open to learning and helping.”

    LeMoine emphasized that it’s also important to instruct her students outside the classroom rather than sitting behind a school desk all day.

     “I like being community based because that’s where they learn the best, opposed to sitting in a classroom,” she said. “It’s hard to teach students with special needs in one setting and having them then go out and do it in the real world. It’s hard to do for me as well.”

    One 363rd Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Adolfo Cancino, a senior human resource sergeant, feels that providing the students with tools Soldiers are equipped with will help them achieve things most people are afraid to try. He says that non-commissioned officer courses like the Warriors Leaders Course and the Advanced Leaders Course are solid foundations when you are trying to build up someone.

    “WLC and ALC create the confidence needed to become a solid leader,” Cancino said. “Teaching these kids drill and ceremony helps to instill discipline and focuses on attention to detail and placing them all in a leadership position helps to reinforce the values they have created.”

    LeMoine stressed that even with a change in location or student participation, the students from last year are a big help and now lead the class along with the new students like Kenichi, who are looking to make that transition.

    The partnership with the Soldiers of the 363rd during the 2013-2014 school years earned the unit the California Legislature’ 2014 Make a Difference Award.

     

  • By Capt. John A. Brimley, Mission Training Center Bliss Public Affairs

    EL PASO, Texas – Col. Raul Gonzalez and Command Sgt. Maj. Neil McKinley, 5th Armored Brigade commander and command sergeant major, ate Thanksgiving dinner recently here with the fellow Soldiers, Families and Friends of the cadets at the University of Texas at El Paso Reserve Officer Training Corps.

    Col. Raul Gonzalez, 5th Armored Brigade commander, converses with Jesus Sanchez, cadet with University of Texas at El Paso Reserve Officer Training Corps, during a Thanksgiving dinner at UTEP recently at UTEP’s Miner Village. Gonzalez offered advice to Sanchez about him working hard and taking advantage of all educational opportunities. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David A. Parish, Mission Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    Col. Raul Gonzalez, 5th Armored Brigade commander, discusses the tools for success with a cadet at the University of Texas at El Paso Reserve Officer Training Corps recently at UTEP’s Miner Village. The 5th AR command team was invited to UTEP for Thanksgiving dinner along with several Fort Bliss Soldiers. Keeping in line with Army tradition, the UTEP ROTC leadership served the cadets as well as the other attendees. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David A. Parish, Mission Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    Capt. John Brimley, left, Mission Training Center Bliss Public Affairs Officer, Command Sgt. Maj. Neil McKinley, right, 5th Armored Brigade command sergeant major and Col. Raul Gonzalez, 5th Armored Brigade commander pose for a picture with two cadets from the University of Texas at El Paso Reserve Officer Training Corps program during a Thanksgiving dinner recently at UTEP’s Miner Village. The 5th Armored Brigade command team was invited by the UTEP ROTC leadership to show their appreciation for the mentorship that Gonzalez and McKinley have shown the cadets and ROTC staff. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David A. Parish, Mission Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

  •  

    Col. Raul Gonzalez, 5th Armored Brigade commander, participated in the combined 5th Armored and 402nd Field Artillery Brigades’ Senior Leader Sexual Harassment and Response Program training recently at Fort Bliss, Texas. Several questions arose concerning leaders’ left and right limits during an investigation to include duties and responsibilities during an investigation. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Parish, Mission Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    By Sgt. 1st Class Oscar Romero, 5th Armored Brigade Sexual Assault Response Coordinator

    FORT BLISS, Texas – Two First Army Division West brigades conducted Senior Leader Sexual Harassment and Response Program training here recently to provide the most up-to-date information to the brigades.

    The 5th Armored and 402nd Field Artillery brigades, which are comprised of Active Component and Reserve Component units, are in a transition process that will allow them to continue supporting the Army Chief of Staff’s Army Total Force Policy. This was the first time for the brigades’ SHARP program to start movement toward the combining of forces.

    Leaders were updated with policy changes within the Army SHARP program and Fort Bliss policies. The SHARP leaders coordinated with the Fort Bliss Special Victim Counsel and Garrison SHARP program to provide information at the senior leader level on SHARP.

    “It was interesting to see what the higher ranking senior leaders did and didn’t know, for example, brigade commanders down to the company level,” said Capt. Jaime Rodriguez, 5th AR observer-coach/trainer.

    Guest speakers included Kimberly Cook-McDaniel, Fort Bliss Garrison SHARP Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, who helped implement Sexual Assault procedures when SHARP was first introduced in Fort Bliss. She provided valuable feedback and insight to all the Senior Leaders and SHARP/VA’s in attendance.

    “It was interesting to see what the higher ranking senior leaders did and didn’t know, for example, brigade commanders down to the company level,” said Capt. Jaime Rodriguez, 5th AR observer-coach/trainer.

     

    Kimberly Cook-McDaniel, Fort Bliss Garrison Sexual Harassment and Response Program Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, stuck around to answer questions from leaders after the formal period of the 5th Armored and 402nd Field Artillery Brigades’ Senior Leader Sexual Harassment and Response Program training recently at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Parish, Mission Training Center Bliss Public Affairs)

    Guest speakers included Kimberly Cook-McDaniel, Fort Bliss Garrison SHARP Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, who helped implement Sexual Assault procedures when SHARP was first introduced in Fort Bliss. She provided valuable feedback and insight to all the Senior Leaders and SHARP/VA’s in attendance. 

     “We should remember that alleged offenders are still our Soldiers, they are still Soldiers who also have rights and should be treated fairly.” said Cook-McDaniel.

    Other individuals complimented on Cook-McDaniel’s value and knowledge of SHARP and other aligned programs.

    “Ms. Cook-McDaniel is one of the most valuable assets Fort Bliss leaders and Soldiers currently have,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gina Nieto, 5th AR SARC.

    Capt. Marlena Ragland and Capt. Sophia Hildreth, Fort Bliss Special Victim Counsels, were among other post assets that were included in the day’s training. Ragland took the opportunity to introduce them, and explain their role when responding to a sexual assault case.

    “We’re here to ensure the process is less painful and work hand-in-hand with the victim advocates,” said Ragland.

    The leaders provided input and asked detailed questions on the latest changes. With the guest speakers having a full schedule, the leaders were grateful they could take some time to visit our units and speak to the senior leaders.  

    “The training was an eye opener for senior leaders on current policies and procedures dealing with the SHARP Program,” said Master Sgt. Ernest Gonzalez, incoming 5th AR Headquarters and Headquarters Company first sergeant.

  • Maj. Gen. Warren E. Phipps Jr., outgoing Division West commanding general, stands at the position of parade rest as the First Army commanding general gives his remarks during a relinquishment of command ceremony on Cameron Field at Fort Hood, Texas, Dec. 4. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas – First Army Division West said farewell to its sixth commanding general in a relinquishment of command ceremony on Cameron Field near Division West headquarters here Dec. 4.

    Maj. Gen. Warren E. Phipps Jr., and his wife, Sylvia, leave the Division West team after successfully leading it since January 2013.

    “Warren, your skillful leadership during the last two years has been absolutely masterful. I just want to personally thank you for a job well-done,” said Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, First Army commanding general. “It’s important to know that mastering any process entails accomplishing a myriad of routine duties or tasks to the highest of standards, and Warren, and the Longhorns of Division West have done exactly that during his command.”

    Tucker went on to explain the role of Division West in the total Army, and how it’s unique mission aids in the training of the Army National Guard and Reserve components.

    Maj. Gen. Warren E. Phipps Jr., outgoing Division West commanding general, addresses the division formation and visiting crowd during a relinquishment of command ceremony on Cameron Field at Fort Hood, Texas, Dec. 4. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    The day’s ceremony began, as most do, with a formation of Soldiers standing tall and uniform. The ceremony included a presentation of flowers to Sylvia Phipps, a cannon salute, a pass and review of the formation, and the time-honored passing of the Division West colors.

    Phipps took to the division’s longhorn-adorned podium for the last time, to honor and show gratitude to the leaders, Families and Soldiers he led for the past two years.

    “Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick Akuna, and his wife, Kim — I could not ask for a better sergeant major and spouse to be a part of the command team to lead this division,” said Phipps. “Sergeant major, you are a Soldier’s Soldier and the epitome of a Sergeant Major, and Kim, what a great partner you’ve been for Sylvia.”

    Phipps went on to comment about his brigade and division leadership in the formation and throughout the western United States.

    “To my brigade commanders and their sergeant majors — you’ve been true all-stars,” he said. “It’s been easy for me to express a vision, and much tougher for you to translate and execute, and I thank you for your standards of excellence.

    Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, left, First Army commanding general, and Maj. Gen. Warren E. Phipps Jr., outgoing Division West commanding general, walk back to the pavilion after reviewing the formation during a relinquishment of command ceremony on Cameron Field at Fort Hood, Texas, Dec. 4. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “I challenged the brigades when I took command to be greater than the sum of our parts. The battalions have moved from one brigade task force to another, and you’ve done so admirably,” Phipps added.

    Phipps also spoke on how the strength of the Soldier, is the Families that remain while they train, re-train and deploy. As a division of trainers, coaches and mentors, we collaborate and coordinate to accomplish the mission, and you’ve done so admirably, said Phipps.

    “The National Guard, Reserves and their Families demand the very best and that’s what you’ve given them. I thank you for the personal sacrifice and the pride you take in your missions,” he said.

    Before closing remarks, Phipps paused to thank his wife and confidant, Sylvia.

    “To my girlfriend of 32 years, I fully recognize, truly appreciate and for ever will be grateful for what you’ve done for the Soldiers and Families of Division West,” he said. “You’re my sharpest critic but my greatest supporter. Thank you for embracing this journey of our Army life and I love you with all of my heart.”

    Lastly, Phipps offered up words of adoration for our brothers- and sisters-at-arms and their sacrifices.

    Col. Michael C. Kasales, First Army Division West Chief of Staff, along with the division’s eight brigade commanders, command sergeants major and the Division West headquarters and headquarters command team, salutes the First Army and Division West commanding generals during a relinquishment of command ceremony on Cameron Field at Fort Hood, Texas, Dec. 4. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “Let’s continue to remember them in our thoughts and prayers as they are continually in harm’s way each day to preserve our freedoms,” said Phipps. “May God for ever keep our nation the land of the free and the home of the brave. First in the West, First in Deed, Army Strong, this is Longhorn 6, signing out.”

    Phipps will go on to be the senior advisor Afghan Ministry of Defense, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan.

    Scheduled to replace Phipps during January 2015 is Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, whose most recent assignments include commander, U.S. National Support Element Command-Afghanistan, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as deputy commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

    Division West, a subordinate unit of First Army, trains and validates Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers for deployment to combat or other contingency operations. The division also trains units of the active Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and United States partner nations, for a total of nearly 40,000 service members every year.

    Division West’s eight subordinate training brigades are the 120th Infantry, 479th Field Artillery and 166th Aviation Brigades at Fort Hood, Texas; the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, Wis.; the 189th and 191st Infantry Brigades at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; and the 402nd Field Artillery and 5th Armored Brigades at Fort Bliss, Texas.

  •   Maj. Gen. Warren E. Phipps Jr., First Army Division West commanding general, listens as battalion commanders from the 189th Infantry Brigade’s Task Force Cold Steel discuss experiences with the training units during the Warrior Exercise at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., March 19, 2012. (Photo by Sgt. Jeran Placke, 189th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

     

    FORT HOOD, Texas — Maj. Gen. Warren E. Phipps Jr. will relinquish command of First Army Division West in a ceremony here Thursday at 10 a.m. on Cameron Field.

    Phipps will move on to serve as Senior Advisor to the Afghan Ministry of Defense, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. He has served as Division West commander since January 2013.

    Scheduled to replace Phipps during January 2015 is Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, whose most recent assignments include commander, U.S. National Support Element Command-Afghanistan, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as deputy commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

    Division West, a subordinate unit of First Army headquarters at Rock Island, Illinois, trains and validates Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers for deployment to combat or other contingency operations. The division also trains units of the active Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and United States partner nations, for nearly 40,000 service members every year.

    Division West’s eight subordinate training brigades are the 120th Infantry, 479th Field Artillery and 166th Aviation Brigades at Fort Hood, Texas; the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; the 189th and 191st Infantry Brigades at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; and the 402nd Field Artillery and 5th Armored Brigades at Fort Bliss, Texas.

    Visitors may obtain a one-day special event pass and directions to Cameron Field at the Marvin Leath Visitors Center on T.J. Mills Boulevard.

    Media representatives interested in attending the relinquishment of command ceremony should contact the Division West Public Affairs Office and arrive at the Fort Hood Visitor Center no later than 9:15 a.m. to be escorted to the event.

    For more information about the change of command, contact Michael Novogradac, Division West Public Affairs chief, at (254) 553-5003 or email michael.m.novogradac.civ@mail.mil.

  • Lt. Col. Scott Ward, right, commander of the Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West posed for a photo receiving a certificate of appreciation from Amy Mortar, of Killeen, Texas, Toy Buyer and Vice President of Fort Hood’s Santa’s Workshop, recently. (Photo by Capt. Ruby Hurd, Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Capt. Ruby Hurd, Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas – The Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West partnered with several organizations throughout Texas, and as far away as Illinois, in support of Fort Hood’s Santa’s Workshop.

    The local Santa’s Workshop conducted its own “OPERATION:  BALLS and BOARD GAMES.”  This operation is the first of what is planned to be an annual specific toy drive to collect balls and board games, of which the Fort Hood non-profit organization generally lacks.  

    Santa’s Workshop supports financially struggling Families of Fort Hood and specifically their children during the holiday season. In 2013, the workshop was able to provide for approximately 4,100 children, ensuring they experienced a happier holiday. The goal for Santa’s Workshop this year is to be able to service over 5,000 military children.  

    MTTF greatly aided in that goal by collecting nearly 700 balls and over 1,000 board games over a two-month period.  Recently the MTTF, with partnered members, conducted a vehicle-road march from its headquarters at North Fort Hood to Santa’s Workshop on main post. Soldiers and civilians assembled in a linear fashion to pass the toys from the vehicles into Santa’s Workshop for an hour and a half.

     

    Volunteers of Santa’s Workshop diligently inventory the balls and board games received from the Medical Training Task Force’s OPERATION: BALLS and BOARD GAMES, on Fort Hood, Texas, recently. (Photo by Capt. Ruby Hurd, Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    “Staff at the Fort Hood Santa’s Workshop shared with me that the donation we presented to them was the single largest non-monetary (toy) donation ever received,” said Maj. William Craig, from Salado, Texas, operations officer-in-charge, Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West. “I felt the results of this endeavor were a great reflection of our leadership as well as our Soldiers’ willingness to volunteer to help children during the holiday season.”

    The success of Santa’s Workshop is a direct result of the generous support received from the military community and from the many individuals, private organizations and businesses throughout Texas. With their help, the workshop’s typical annual inventory consists of more than 6,400 toys, 3,200 books and 3,200 games. The approximate monetary value of gifts distributed for each child is $50, but the non-monetary value is immeasurable.

    “They’re going to be excited,” said Amy Mortar, of Killeen, Texas, Toy Buyer and Vice President, Santa’s Workshop. “They’re going to see presents under the tree and it might not have been that way if we weren’t here, if we weren’t doing this.”

    “We just want them to have that excitement and joy that comes on Christmas morning,” she added.

    The goal of the MTTF’s OPERATION: BALLS and BOARD GAMES is to reliably support Santa’s Workshop annually, sustaining an appreciable Christmas spirit for our military children and Families.

     

  • Soldiers of the Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West pose for a photo receiving a $500 donation check to Santa’s Workshop from the proceeds of the American Veterans 2nd Annual Golf Scramble in Mineral Wells, Texas, recently. (Photo by Mr. Larry Ward, Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Capt. Ruby Hurd, Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    MINERAL WELLS, Texas – Soldiers of the Medical Training Task Force joined the American Veterans Post 133’s 2nd Annual Veteran’s Day Golf Scramble here, recently.

    The AMVETS is one of America’s foremost Veterans service organizations that have a proud history of assisting veterans and sponsoring numerous programs that serve our country, and its citizens. The helping hand that AMVETS extends to veterans and their Families takes many forms. They are dedicated to supporting veterans and active military, providing community services and preserving freedom.

    “I could see it in their eyes as they granted us an intimate inside look at the horrors they witnessed together in Vietnam. As they painted the picture for us, I came to know one tried and true fact, that we are all brothers and sisters in the fight for freedom both at home and abroad,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Mitchell, from Excelsior Springs, Missouri, training exercise noncommissioned officer, Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West.

    Pictured are Vietnam Veterans assigned to Company C, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment “Manchu”, 25th Infantry Division searching for the names of their fellow company members on a replica of the Vietnam Memorial before playing in the American Veterans 2nd Annual Golf Scramble in Mineral Wells, Texas, recently. (Photo by Lt. Col. Scott Ward, Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    “I felt like one of them and it was a privilege to spend those two days in remembrance of the price that all veterans have paid no matter how big or small in the name of America,” he added.

    The AMVETS hosted our Soldiers to a preparatory round of golf and dinner with various Vietnam-era veterans the day prior to the scramble. After the golf scramble and ceremonial dinner, the AMVETS donated a portion of their proceeds to Fort Hood’s Santa’s Workshop, a non-profit organization that the MTTF has partnered collecting balls and board games for Fort Hood’s military children during the holiday season.

    “The opportunity that we were afforded to participate in was such an eye opener. I got to see firsthand the camaraderie of a generation of Soldiers who were not appreciated by their country for their sacrifice. I felt very fortunate,” said Sgt. 1st Class Pablo Garza, from Eagle Pass, Texas, training exercise noncommissioned officer, Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West.

    The golf scramble attendees were veterans and people from across the nation as far away as New York, Iowa, Arizona and Florida.

  • Chief Warrant Officer 3 Wayne Ming, 2nd Battalion, 291st Aviation Regiment standardization pilot participates in the regiment-hosted blood drive at First Army Division West headquarters on Fort Hood, Texas, recently. (Photo by Capt. Tania Hummel, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West)

    By Capt. Tania Hummel, 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West

    FORT HOOD, Texas – The 2nd Battalion, 291st Aviation Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade, recently hosted a blood drive at First Army Division West headquarters, here, in honor of one of their own. 

    “We became aware of the need for blood when one of our family members was diagnosed with leukemia and had to get blood transfusions,” said Lt. Col. Phil Graham, commander of the 2-291st Aviation regiment commander.  “We wanted to find a way to help, to do our part and give back.”

    Fort Hood’s Robertson Blood Clinic brought their mobile blood collection team to Headquarters, First Army Division West, and setup a mobile collection site where donors quickly applied, were screened, and donated blood.

    Long-time blood donor, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Wayne Ming, the regiment’s Standardization Pilot, enjoyed the experience. 

    “I thought it was well put together and organized,” said Ming. “They had stations to go through, it was quick and the nurses were professional.” 

    As a token of appreciation, every donor picked from an array of t-shirts, as well as the requisite cookies and juice. By the end of the day, more than 50 Soldiers and civilians participated and overall more than 30 units of blood were donated. 

    Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Marshall, the regiment’s CH-47 Chinook flight instructor observer-coach/trainer, organized the blood drive. 

    “It was very easy,” said Marshall.  “Robertson blood clinic did everything.  All you need is a date and they take care of everything else.” 

    While the regiment sponsored the event to help bring awareness to leukemia, the blood will actually be used for Soldiers, and will end up in theater within 4-5 days of donation. 

    “That’s why this is important; it’s Soldiers helping Soldiers,” added Marshall.

    The 2-291st mission is to train and validate National Guard and Army Reserve Aviation units, including brigade, battalion, company, and theater to unit level maintenance formations.  The battalions concentrate on lift, heavy-lift, and medical evacuation post-mobilization training as part of 166th Aviation Brigade, Division West and First Army.

  • Sgt. Robert Benskin, with 732nd Maintenance Company, share military service stories with Manny Widner and Amador Charo "AC" Guajardo, both of Gatesville, after eating breakfast during the Gatesville Community Veteran's Day Ceremony, Nov. 11. (Photo by Capt. Ryan Fritz, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Capt. Ryan Fritz, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    Gatesville, Texas – Gatesville Independent School District hosted a special Veteran’s Day recognition ceremony for its community veterans both active duty and past serving here, Nov. 11.

    The 120th Infantry Brigade commander, Col. Daniel S. Hurlbut was the guest speaker. Hurlbut thanked the city of Gatesville for their continued support and recognition of military veterans.

    He also thanked the veterans present and across the world who continue to sacrifice for the continued needs of our Nation.  “It is your selfless service and commitment to the nation and your community that is an inspiration to us all,” said Hurlbut.

    The main message Hurlbut gave was to the students directly. Hurlbut said Veteran’s Day “was about President George Washington insisting the citizens of our country take on the ‘debt of honor’ to replay and pay homage to the Continental Army Soldiers’ service by dedicating themselves to making their communities better.”

    To pay back this debt of honor, not just for the Continental Army Soldiers but for all veterans, Hurlbut urged each student, “you must serve a cause greater than yourself” through “education, service to others, and to never forget.”

    “For you to serve our Nation in the future and to pay your debt to these veterans you will need a quality education and skills beyond what you can earn through completing high school,” said Hurlbut.

    Col. Daniel Hurlbut gives his Veteran's Day speech to veterans and students at the Gatesville Community Veteran's Day Ceremony at the Gatesville High School's McKamie Stadium, Nov. 11. (Photo by Capt. Ryan Fritz, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    Hurlbut encouraged the students to serve in civic activities at any level and to never forget those who are serving in 150 countries around the world. Not everyone will serve in the military but we can serve our country by serving “our church, community, veterans organizations, retirement community, or nation; just get after it,” said Hurlbut.  

    Gatesville students recognized the visiting veterans and the active duty members with a thunderous standing ovation at the school’s McKamie Stadium. .

    Gatesville High School culinary arts students partnered with the Gatesville Exchange Club to start off the morning with a Veteran’s Day breakfast free for all veterans and their families.

    The breakfast was well received and had a large showing of veterans from around the Gatesville community. Many reminisced with old friends and others shared their story with the younger generation of veterans; the active duty Soldiers who attended.

    The food was prepared by the high school’s culinary arts students and member of the Gatesville Exchange Club. Members of the high school football team served the food. The students were honored to do this for the veterans. Mariah Stidham, 10th grader at Gatesville High School said, “I loved making the muffins. My grandfather was a vet. He was in Vietnam.”

    Although it was a cold brisk day elementary to high school students packed McKamie Stadium for the ceremony. The Gatesville High School Band performed the Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force songs exceptionally well despite the cold winds.

    The City of Gatesville is very supportive of its troops and has a long tradition of welcoming them into their community. Capt. (retired) William Rosser of Gatesville said, “In this town it is an awesome thing. The City of Gatesville has an affinity and love for their vets.” Rosser served twice in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, and Bosnia as a helicopter pilot. 

    The Gatesville Exchange Club is a national organization to support American values, prevent child abuse, support youth activities, and promote community service. Larry Kennedy, of Gatesville, the club’s president said the club has been hosting the Veteran’s Day breakfast and ceremony for seven years.

  • First Army Division West Soldiers pose for a photo after a ceremony in which ten Soldiers were awarded the Order of St. Maurice during a ceremony at the Zum Edelweiss restaurant in Killeen, Texas, recently. The ceremony was hosted by the 2nd Battalion, 393th Infantry Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade. (Photo by Capt. Ryan Fritz, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Capt. Ryan Fritz, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas – Ten First Army Division West Soldiers were recently awarded the Order of St. Maurice during a ceremony at the Zum Edelweiss restaurant in Killeen, Texas.

    The ceremony was hosted by the 2nd Battalion, 393th Infantry Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade.

    Soldiers awarded the honor included Maj. Grant Flynn, Capt. Robert Jones, Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Walton, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Davis, Maj. Gen. Warren Phipps Jr., Lt. Col. William Duvall IV, Lt. Col. Thomas Wilson Jr., Maj. Anthony Kazor, Maj. Daniel Hewerdine, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Moses.

    The Soldiers were nominated by existing awardees and were selected by the Order of Saint Maurice board at the National Infantry Association using a vigorous vetting process ensuring the future integrity of the honor.

    The Order of Saint Maurice is given to Soldiers and Civilians who have served the infantry community with distinction, made a significant contribution in support of the infantry, and represent the highest standards of integrity, moral character, professional competence, and dedication to duty.

    Lt. Col. William Duvall, a native of South Carolina and commander of 1st Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade said, “23 years ago I started out as an infantryman. To finally get this award as an armor officer is very special. This is the most special honor I have received in my career.”

    The award was named in honor of Saint Maurice, who was the Primicerius of the Theban Legion in the Roman Army during the 3rd century. Saint Maurice and his men, all Christians, refused orders from Augustus Maximus Hercules to makes sacrifices to the Roman gods and to kill innocent civilians during a campaign. Eventually he and all of his men were massacred. 

    The United States Army created the Order of Saint Maurice in 1995 to honor those who display the virtues of Saint Maurice and who support the infantry. To date more than 14,000 Soldiers and civilians have been awarded the honor.

    “The infantryman is always there. He is always stickin-it to the enemy,” said Col. Daniel Hurlbut, 120th Brigade commander, during his impromptu speech.

    Being awarded the Order of Saint Maurice puts the individual into an elite group of people who have served in or supported the infantry. Notable awardees include Gen. Colin Powell, U.S. Army; Ross Perot, U.S. Navy; Command Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley, U.S. Army; and Lt. Gen. Harold Moore Jr., U.S. Army.

     

     

  • Sgt. 1st Class Audra Edelen, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, clinical team noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West reading to a first grade student of Gatesville Primary School in Gatesville, Texas, recently. (Photo by Maj. William Brown, Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Capt. Ruby Hurd, Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    GATESVILLE, Texas – Soldiers of the Medical Training Task Force partnered with Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 393rd Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West began volunteering at the Gatesville Primary School in Gatesville, Texas, recently.

    Volunteers participate in one-on-one reading sessions with students in support of the O.T.T.E.R (Our Time to Enjoy Reading) Program.

    “While this program is designed for the students at Gatesville Primary, I have a blast being involved,” said Lt. Col. Scott Ward, MTTF commander and native of Killeen, Texas. “The simple task of reading to these children may seem menial, but I am always quickly reminded how they sometimes lack that one-on-one reading time at home or at school. Our efforts invaluably help the students and teachers. It’s just plain fun!”

    Staff Sgt. Tesha Crawford, from New York, N.Y., administrative noncommissioned officer-in-charge with Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West shares a story with a young first grader at Gatesville Primary School in Gatesville, Texas, recently. (Photo by Maj. William Brown, Medical Training Task Force, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    Oct. 14 kicked off the MTTF Eagle Strike Soldiers’ community outreach program to support 479th adopted school by spending time modeling fluency and growing a love for literature in a small group setting. O.T.T.E.R. is a reading program designed to refine students’ reading skills and comprehension.

    Each Soldier serves as a reading mentor for three children and spends approximately 20 minutes reading with their student. The program is done monthly in addition to the weekly support provided by Soldiers of the MTTF in the school’s reading development lab.

    “It’s always an incredible opportunity to help enrich young lives and foster a relationship with the students and staff of Gatesville Primary School,” said Maj. William Brown, MTTF executive officer from Copperas Cove, Texas.

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