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  • By Sgt. 1st Class Garrett N. Ralston

    120th Infantry Brigade, Division West, Public Affairs 

    FORT HOOD, TEXAS – First Army Division West, will be hosting a competition to identify its best Observer Coach/Trainer for the quarter here from Feb. 2-5.

    Competitors from each of division four brigades, the 5 Armored Brigade, Fort Bliss, Texas, the 120th Infantry Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas, the 181st Infantry Brigade, Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and the 189th Infantry Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, will be tested both physically and mentally using a wide array of tasks conducted at various sites around the installation.

    Media representatives interested in covering this event should refer to the above listed contact information.    

     

Headlines

  • By Sgt. 1st Class Garrett N. Ralston

    120th Infantry Brigade, Division West, Public Affairs 

    FORT HOOD, TEXAS – First Army Division West, will be hosting a competition to identify its best Observer Coach/Trainer for the quarter here from Feb. 2-5.

    Competitors from each of division four brigades, the 5 Armored Brigade, Fort Bliss, Texas, the 120th Infantry Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas, the 181st Infantry Brigade, Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and the 189th Infantry Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, will be tested both physically and mentally using a wide array of tasks conducted at various sites around the installation.

    Media representatives interested in covering this event should refer to the above listed contact information.    

     

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    FORT HOOD, Texas – First Army Division West officials have released the name of a Soldier who died from an apparent gunshot wound Jan. 16 at his residence in Nolanville, Texas. He was pronounced deceased by Bell County Justice of the Peace, Bill Cooke, at 10:09 p.m.

    Maj. Troy Donn Wayman, 45, whose home of record is listed as Lincoln, Nebraska, entered military service in the Nebraska Army National Guard in August 1989 as an Armor Cannon Crewman and was commissioned as a second lieutenant entering active-duty military service on May 30, 1998. He was assigned to First Army Division West, Fort Hood, since Oct. 12, 2014. 

    "This is a terrible loss and we are grieving the loss of this valued teammate," said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, commanding general, First Army Division West. "We remain fully committed to supporting Maj. Wayman's family and friends and want to reinforce no one should ever feel like they're alone or without our support."

    Wayman served two tours in Saudi Arabia (including Desert Shield/ Desert Storm), two tours in Iraq, and one tour in Kosovo.

    Wayman's awards and decorations include four Meritorious Service Medals, eight Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, two Meritorious Unit Commendations, one Army Good Conduct Medal, one Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, two National Defense Service Medals, three Southwest Asia Service Medals, four Iraq Campaign Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korea Defense Service Medal, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon (Numeral 5), the Kuwait Liberation Medal, the Combat Action Badge, and the Army Parachutist Badge.  

    Circumstances surrounding this incident are under investigation.

     

  • Kyle Powell, a resident of Gatesville, Texas, plays "Santa Kyle" during a holiday party for Soldiers sponsored by the Peacock River Ranch and other local volunteers in Gatesville Dec. 17. The Soldiers, who are assigned to the North Carolina-based 518th Sustainment Brigade, are currently training with the 120th Infantry Brigade at North Fort Hood for an upcoming deployment. Gatesville is partnered with First Army Division West as part of the Fort Hood Community Partnership Program. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Sgt. 1st Class Garrett Ralston, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    GATESVILLE, Texas – Soldiers currently training on North Fort Hood took a break from operations Dec. 17 to attend a special holiday event provided by people from the local community.

    Members of the 518th Sustainment Brigade, an Army Reserve unit from Knightdale, North Carolina, were invited to the Peacock River Ranch here to enjoy some down time while away from home during the holidays.

    “These Soldiers are training during Christmas at North Fort Hood,” said Lisa Daschofsky, part owner of PRR and a native of Gatesville. “We want to make sure they get a real Christmas somewhere.”

    Fred Daschofsky (left), a native of Gatesville, Texas, and part owner of the Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville, shows authentic Texas longhorn cattle to Soldiers assigned to the 518th Sustainment Brigade during a holiday party held at the ranch Dec. 17. The event was sponsored by Gatesville residents for the North Carolina-based unit training with the 120th Infantry Brigade at North Fort Hood for an upcoming deployment. First Army Division West is partnered with the Gatesville community as part of the Fort Hood Community Partnership Program. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

     

    The Soldiers, who are training for an upcoming deployment, must undergo a series of exercises administered by the 120th Infantry Brigade, the unit that will prepare and certify them for their specific mission.

    “Things like this are a great morale booster for us,” said Sgt. Carlos Hernandez, a mechanic with the 518th SB who is originally from Brownsville, Texas. “It’s nice to get a break like this away from training.”

    Loretta Elledge (center), a resident of Gatesville, Texas, serves food to Soldiers assigned to the 518th Sustainment Brigade during a holiday party held at the Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville Dec. 17. The event was sponsored by Gatesville residents for the North Carolina-based unit training with the 120th Infantry Brigade at North Fort Hood for an upcoming deployment. First Army Division West is partnered with the Gatesville community as part of the Fort Hood Community Partnership Program. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

     

    Peacock River Ranch is located a few miles from North Fort Hood and is a popular venue for weddings and other social gatherings. A large hall on the property housed the main feature of the event: a Texas barbecue lunch. Soldiers feasted on brisket, sausage, potato salad and a variety of drinks and desserts.

    “I’m really impressed and thankful we were invited here,” said Maj. Larissa Coon, a staff member with the 3rd Brigade, 75th Southern Division Training Command, who is originally from Oklahoma City. “All this food, and the desserts are absolutely amazing.”

    After the meal, Soldiers were encouraged to explore the sprawling property where they could feed longhorn cattle, play horseshoes or relax by the large outdoor fireplace near the hall. They were also treated to a mini concert of Christmas songs performed by the Gatesville High School choir.

    Sgt. Carlos Hernandez (right), a native of Brownsville, Texas, and Spc. Kevyn Tak, left, originally from Snellville, Ga., both assigned to the 518th Sustainment Brigade, eat a barbeque lunch provided by Gatesville, Texas, residents and volunteers at the Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville Dec. 17. The event provided members of the North Carolina-based unit a Christmas party while they are away from home training with the 120th Infantry Brigade for an upcoming deployment. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

     

    The event was staffed by local volunteers who prepared the meal, ran the serving line and ensured that all the visitors had a place to sit and relax.

    “This is a day that a small town like Gatesville gets to give back just a small portion of what the rest of the nation would like to do,” said Kyle Powell, a local resident and volunteer at the event. “Today I can look these Soldiers in the eye and say, 'Thank you for what you’ve done in the defense of this country.'”

  • FORT HOOD, Texas — Photos and service data for the four Soldiers killed in a UH-60L Blackhawk helicopter crash here Nov. 23 are released. 

    The crash occurred sometime after 5:49 p.m. in the northeast portion of the Fort Hood training area. 

    All four crew members were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 291st Aviation Regiment, First Army Division West. The aircraft, assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment was on a routine training mission. 

    Service data on the Fallen Warriors:

    Sgt. 1st Class Toby A. Childers. (Enhanced photo courtesy of Fort Hood Visual Information Services)

     

    Sgt. 1st Class Toby A. Childers, 40, whose home of record is listed as Hays, Kansas, entered active-duty military service in September 1999 as a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter repairer and was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 291st Aviation Regiment, Division West, Fort Hood, since August 2014. 

    Childers deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from March 2010 to February 2011 and to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from August 2013 to April 2014. 

    Childers’ awards and decorations include a Meritorious Service Medal, two Air Medals, five Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, five Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, Iraq Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Expeditionary Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, three Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbons, Army Service Ribbon, four Overseas Service Ribbons, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, Multinational Force and Observers Medal, Aviation Badge, and Senior Aviation Badge.

    Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen B. Cooley. (Enhanced photo courtesy of Fort Hood Visual Information Services)

     

    Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen B. Cooley, 40, whose home of record is Cantonment, Florida, entered active-duty military service in January 2000 as a rotary wing aviator. In July 2007 he became a UH-60 (Blackhawk) pilot, and was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 291st Aviation Regiment, Division West, Fort Hood, since February 2014. 

    Cooley deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from August 2012 to March 2013, to Iraq from January 2008 to October 2008 and from January 2011 to November 2011.

    Cooley’s awards and decorations include three Air Medals, two Army Commendation Medals, three Navy Achievement Medals, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, two National Defense Service Medals, Iraq Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Marine Corps Security Ribbon, Navy Marine Corps Overseas Ribbon, Marine Corps Reserve Ribbon, Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, three Overseas Service Ribbons, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, Army Aviator Badge, and the Senior Army Aviator Badge.

    Sgt. 1st Class Jason M. Smith and his wife, Trisha M. Smith. (Photo courtesy of the Smith family)

     

    Sgt.1st Class Jason M. Smith, 35, whose home of record is Destrehan, Louisiana, entered active-duty service in June 2000 as a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter repairer, and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 291st Aviation Regiment, Division West, 1st Army, Fort Hood, since October 29. 

    Smith deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from August 2004 to March 2005, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from September 2011 to September 2012 and in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom's Sentinel from September 2014 to May 2015. 

    Smith's awards and decorations include a Bronze Star Medal, two Air Medals, two Army Commendation Medals, four Army Achievement Medals, five Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, two Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbons, Army Service Ribbon,  Overseas Service Ribbon, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, Aviation Badge, and Senior Aviation Badge.

     

    Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael F. Tharp. (Enhanced photo courtesy of Fort Hood Visual Information Services)

     

    Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael F. Tharp, 40, has been posthumously promoted Dec. 1, 2015. His home of record is listed as Katy, Texas, entered active-duty military service in September 1995 as a rotary wing aviator. In August 2009 he became a UH-60 (Blackhawk) pilot, and was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 291st Aviation Regiment, Division West, Fort Hood since September 2014. 

    Tharp deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from March 2010 to March 2011 and from September 2012 to April 2013. 

    Tharp’s awards and decorations include two Air Medals, Joint Service Commendation Medal, five Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, four Army Good Conduct Medals, two National Defense Service Medals, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, three Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, three Overseas Service Ribbons, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, Army Aviator Badge, Senior Aviator Badge, Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge, and Senior Parachutist Badge. 

    The cause of the crash at this time is unknown, pending an investigation by a team from the Army Combat Readiness Center, headquartered at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

  • FORT HOOD, Texas — Names of the four Soldiers killed in a UH-60L Blackhawk helicopter crash here Nov. 23 are released after next-of-kin notification.

    The crash occurred sometime after 5:49 p.m. in the northeast portion of the Fort Hood training area.

    All four crew members were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 291st Aviation Regiment, First Army Division West. The aircraft, assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment was on a routine training mission.

    The Fallen Warriors are:  Sgt. 1st Class Toby A. Childers, 40, a Hays, Kansas native; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen B. Cooley, 40, a Cantonment, Florida native; Sgt.1st Class Jason M. Smith, 35, a Destrehan, Louisiana native; and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael F. Tharp, 40, a Katy, Texas native.

    The cause of the crash at this time is unknown, pending an investigation by a team from the Army Combat Readiness Center, headquartered at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

  • FORT HOOD, Texas — First Army Division West, along with the III Corps and Fort Hood Equal Opportunity Office, will hold its National American Indian Heritage Month celebration here Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at Club Hood.

    Event guest speaker will be Dr. Lee Walters, chairman of Great Promise for American Indians and co-director of Austin Powwow — the largest one-day powwow in the nation. Dr. Walters has worked with American Indian communities for over 25 years.

    There will be Native American dancers and drummers performing from the Four Winds Intertribal Society, Inc.

    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 19,000 Soldiers annually.

    Division West’s four subordinate training brigades are the 120th Infantry Brigade here; the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; the 189th Infantry Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; and the 5th Armored Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas.

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

    Media representatives interested in attending the celebration should contact the Division West Public Affairs Office and arrive at the Fort Hood Visitor Center no later than 12:45 p.m. to be escorted to the event.

    For more information about the event, contact Michael Novogradac, Division West Public Affairs chief, at (254) 553-5010, or cell phone at (678) 767-7849, or email: michael.m.novogradac.civ@mail.mil.

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    Tech. Sgt. William Mack, (right) from Beecher, Illinois, and a member of the 204th Security Forces Squadron “Desert Defenders,” who works with 3rd Battalion, 362nd Armor Regiment, “Task Force Stallion,” 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West, discusses flight line security issues with Guardsmen from Puerto Rico’s 544th Military Police Company, headed for Honduras for the unit’s upcoming, humanitarian assistance mission. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Bruce Cobbeldick, 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West Public Affairs)

     

    By Sgt. 1st Class Bruce Cobbeldick, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT BLISS, Texas — Training brigade Soldiers here put the Puerto Rico National Guard’s 544th Military Police Company through its paces, evaluating skills that protect the safety of host-nation citizens and their battle buddies.

    Observer Coach/Trainers with 3rd Battalion “Desert Defenders,” 362nd Armor Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, ensure units receive the tactical and technical skills needed under the one force, one fight premise. 

    “Some of our training objectives out here with these Guardsmen are to certify these warriors in conducting Fly-Away Security Training in terms of aviation assets both on the ground and in the air,” said Sgt. 1st Class Javier Vara, an OPFOR member with the 204th Desert Defenders.

    The training package that the OC/Ts  and the 204th Desert Defenders led included telescopic baton training, managing a host of different situations with control and confidence, as well as aviation familiarization training, communication skills and techniques for de-escalating the public in safe and efficient ways.

    The Desert Defenders led the day’s training for the Guardsmen, where they learned how to listen and empathize with the citizenry, avoiding problems and run-ins if possible.

    Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brandon Mora, (right) from Cleveland, Ohio, an OPFOR role player with the 204th Security Squadron “Desert Defenders,” and Tech. Sgt. Sterling Wynn, (center) from Hackensack, New Jersey, (out of uniform to indicate he is an OPFOR team member), work as master trainers with Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 362nd Armor Regiment, “Task Force Stallion,” 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West, engage with a  Guardsman (left) from Puerto Rico’s 544th Military Police Company, which is slated for a humanitarian assistance mission in Honduras. The 3-362nd and 204th offer a variety of military police and flight line security training classes at Fort Bliss to deploying joint-service, Reserve and National Guard units. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Bruce Cobbeldick, 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West Public Affairs)

     

    “Our particular mission is to train military police units who are bound for orders in the continental United States and Overseas.  The topics we teach range from Post-Traumatic Stress to non-lethal weapons systems,” said Vara.

    “We have military policemen with the Puerto Rico National Guard out here who we will be attempting to certify with this unit to validate their abilities to apply the FAST  methods for properly securing flight lines, which will qualify them to be on fly missions for two years on any aircraft within this area of responsibility in order to protect aviation assets in the air or on the ground,” said Tech Sgt. William Mack, a member of the 204th Desert Defenders, who works with 3-362nd.

    “We have conducted communication skills training that emphasize both verbal and non-verbal skills which play a big factor in these Soldiers’ evaluations that we are doing today,” Mack said.

    “A little unknown fact is that our unit is comprised of both active duty and Reserve entities, within the 204th ourselves, so it brings a unique factor to the style of training that we do here that aligns with these Guard and Reserve Units,” Mack continued.

    FAST serves to protect aviation teams and aviation assets by giving learners the opportunity to hone their skills as military policemen, as the MP team members of 3-362nd with the Desert Defenders of the 204th join forces to pave the way for this Puerto Rico Guard unit to help the citizens of Honduras in the near future.

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    Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey R. Dillingham, left, First Army Division West command sergeant major, accepts the division colors from Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, First Army Division West commanding general, during a change of responsibility ceremony on Cameron Field near division headquarters at Fort Hood, Texas, Tuesday. Dillingham assumed responsibility of Division West from Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick K. Akuna, Jr., who will be departing for duty with Task Force Phantom Command of III Corps and Fort Hood. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Sgt. 1st Class Tony L. Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas — First Army Division West welcomed a new Command Sergeant Major today in a change of responsibility ceremony here at Cameron Field near Division West headquarters.

    Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey R. Dillingham arrives from United States Army Garrison, Bavaria, and will take over duties as standard bearer of the Longhorn division from Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick K. Akuna Jr.

    “Thank you all for attending today’s ceremony,” said Dillingham. “To all the Soldiers and civilians of Division West, I’m excited to be a part of your team.”

    Akuna will move on to become Command Sergeant Major of Task Force Phantom Command of III Corps and Fort Hood.

    “It has been such an honor and privilege to serve with each and every one of you the past two years here at Division West, and the past four years at the ‘Great Place’,” said Akuna. “My tenure at Division West has been very challenging, but also very fulfilling.

    “Here at Division West you learn, you live, and you truly understand Army total force policy, and I am proud of each and every Soldier in our formation,” added Akuna.

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, Division West commanding general, had great words of appreciation and admiration for his “Ranger buddy” and his wife, Kim.

    “On behalf of the division, we are sincerely grateful for your committed leadership, service and sacrifices that you’ve made these past 23 months,” said Colt. “It’s been extremely rewarding serving with both of you.

    “Command Sgt. Maj. Akuna, know that I am personally grateful for your loyal and sage-like guidance,” Colt added.

    Colt went on to speak about his new senior enlisted leader of Division West.

    “Today’s formation is very fortunate to welcome Command Sgt. Maj. Dillingham and his family,” said Colt. “He’s a leader of impeccable character and know that he has my full faith, trust, confidence and support.”

    As Dillingham stepped to the podium as the new DivWest command sergeant major, his remarks contained hopeful words.

    “I’m ready to assist you in training Soldiers for our great country and to make sure they’re taken care of the best we can,” he said.

    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 19,000 Soldiers annually.

    Division West’s four subordinate training brigades are the 120th Infantry Brigade here; the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; the 189th Infantry Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; and the 5th Armored Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas.

  • FORT HOOD, Texas — First Army Division West will welcome a new Command Sergeant Major in a change of responsibility ceremony here at Cameron Field near Division West headquarters Tuesday at 10 a.m.

    Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey R. Dillingham arrives from United States Army Garrison, Bavaria, and will take over duties as standard bearer of the Division from Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick K. Akuna Jr., who will move on to become Command Sergeant Major of Task Force Phantom Command at III Corps and Fort Hood.

    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 19,000 Soldiers annually.

    Division West’s four subordinate training brigades are the 120th Infantry Brigade here; the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; the 189th Infantry Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; and the 5th Armored Brigade 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 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 ceremony, contact Michael Novogradac, Division West Public Affairs chief, at, desk: (254) 553-5010, or cell: (678) 767-7849, or email: michael.m.novogradac.civ@mail.mil.

  • Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, left, First Army Division West commanding general, flipped the DivWest commander’s coin at the beginning of the Southwestern University Military Appreciation Day football game, recently, in Georgetown, Texas. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    GEORGETOWN, Texas — First Army Division West commanding general accepted an invite to do the coin toss at Southwestern University’s Military Appreciation football game here, Sept. 26.

    “It was absolutely awesome,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, Division West commanding general. “I value our relationship with Southwestern University.”

    The game kicked off on a sunny Saturday morning, with football players, coaches, cheerleaders and adoring fans and family members of the SU Pirates.

    Colt, accompanied by Col. Michael C. Kasales, former Division West chief of staff, and a SU volunteer strength coach, mingled with the coaching staff and players before big game’s start.

    “Coach Joe Austin has allowed me to come and participate on a level that I enjoy participating,” said Kasales. “All the players are great and have the right attitude — they have their heads on straight.”

    Division West and SU have a blooming partnership due to Kasales’ efforts and the team’s recent visit to Fort Hood.

    “After we brought the football team up to Fort Hood’s Leader’s Reaction Course, Coach Austin asked me if we wanted a bigger role in the Military Appreciation game,” said Kasales.

    That role manifested into Colt flipping the Division West commander’s coin at the beginning of the game.

     

    Col. Michael C. Kasales, left, former Division West chief of staff and a Southwestern University volunteer strength coach, received the Bob Kelly Guest Coach Award, named after the professional American football player, from Dr. Glada Munt, SU Athletic Director, after the first quarter of the Military Appreciation Day football game, recently, in Georgetown, Texas. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “Coach Austin approached Maj. Gen. Colt about doing the coin toss and talking in the locker room and he accepted,” said Kasales.

    Prior to the coin toss, Colt and Kasales gave words of encouragement to the Pirates.

    “We value you because you are a team of teams like the Army,” said Colt. “It’s about creating a sense of urgency.”

    “Have confidence in yourself, believe in your coaching staff, and trust in the brother next to you,” added Kasales.

    After the first quarter, Kasales received the Bob Kelly Guest Coach Award, named after the former professional American (look in the “Sports” section of the style book under “football,” then “League” to figure out how to do this.) football defensive back, from Dr. Glada Munt, SU Athletic Director.

    “It’s a pleasure working with them,” said Kasales.

    “It’s about the partnership between Division West and a great institution like Southwestern University,” said Colt.

  • An independent Dutch production company filmed a Dutch Special Forces team on Fort Hood, Texas, Sept 14, to aid in the recruiting for the Dutch SF. The film crew spent several days capturing images of the SF team training and reenacting combat scenarios for the recruiting video. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas — Fort Hood took center stage as an independent production team from the Netherlands traveled here to make a recruiting film.

    “We’re making a short movie for our Dutch Special Forces for their recruiting efforts,” said Robbie Bax, Dutch Ministry of Defense campaign manager. “I think the film will be extremely effective.”

    Bax and an 11-person film crew traveled to Fort Hood to use its vast training areas and facilities.

    “So far we’ve been able to accomplish everything we’ve needed to do and more,” said Bax.

    “We have a unit here, the 302nd Squadron, and the facilities here are awesome,” Bax continued. “They arranged everything from the helicopters to the materials.”

    The team arrived on post Sept 14, and have made the most of their short time on location.

    “We’ve been able to do air-to-air filming with Chinooks and Apache helicopters,” said Ronald Bavelaar, the film team’s head of production. “The weather has been great and everyone has been very helpful.”

    The film crew captured the realistic reenactments of the highly-decorated Dutch SF team. The combination of the SF team’s training and the film crew’s ability to re-create combat scenarios is the basis for the recruiting film.

    A Dutch independent production company filmed a Dutch Special Forces team on Fort Hood, Texas, Sept 14, to aid in the recruiting for the Dutch SF. The film crew filmed the SF team from 14-18 Sept during air-to-air filming to ground training and re-enacting combat scenarios for the recruiting video. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “The purpose of the campaign is to make a video which should result in giving the right perspective,” said Capt. Louis Wesselink, a Dutch army SF recruiting officer. “We want to depict a mission with flashbacks of previous training.  

    “So that people know, in order to become a Special Forces operator, you need to have these personal characteristics and training,” he added.

    For potential recruits, the film gives a small insight into Dutch special forces, he said.

    “I want people to see this video and say, ‘I would like to try that out,’ or ‘I would like to be a Special Forces operator,’” said Wesselink.

    One of Wesselink’s recruiting noncommissioned officers, Benny, an inactive operator himself, added his perspective to what was going on during filming.

    “Everything we film today is a reenactment of events from Afghanistan,” he said. “We’re going to show everything a person will need to know about becoming a Special Forces operator.

    “We choose elements of real executed missions from Afghanistan and re-enacted them,” he added.

    Both teams, after four days of filming, will travel back to the Netherlands to produce the short film.

    “I’m sure this film will be beneficial,” said Bavelaar. “Things like this make people more conscious and aware. Hopefully they like what they see and want to join.”

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

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, commanding general for First Army Division West, did the coin toss for the Copperas Cove vs. Round Rock High Schools football game, Sept. 11 at Bulldawg Stadium, Copperas Cove, Texas. Right before the national anthem, retired member of the U.S. Army's Special Forces and The Golden Knights, Dana Bowman, skydived on to the field to deliver the official game ball. The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs suffered a tough loss in the end but showed an impressive 357 rushing yards in the 33-21 loss to the Round Rock Red Dragons. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, commanding general for First Army Division West, right, greets Dana Bowman, a retired member of the U.S. Army's Special Forces and The Golden Knights before the Copperas Cove vs. Round Rock High Schools football game, Sept. 11 at Bulldawg Stadium, Copperas Cove, Texas. Colt tossed the coin to start the game while before the national anthem, Bowman skydived to the field to deliver the official game ball. The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs suffered a tough loss in the end but showed an impressive 357 rushing yards in the 33-21 loss to the Round Rock Red Dragons. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

  • Runners gathered together for a group photo at the conclusion of the 2015 Spurfest 5-K held Sept. 12 at Faunt Le Roy Park in Downtown Gatesville. First Army Division West Soldiers volunteered to assist in various roles for the annual event to include parking attendants and run route attendants. Gatesville is a partnership city for First Army Division West, aligning with the Fort Hood community partnership program. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    GATESVILLE, Texas — The city of Gatesville, Texas, starts off its annual Spurfest with a mad-dash to the finish line, Sept. 12.

    The community opened its arms, not only to First Army Division West, but to all the Soldiers and civilians of neighboring Fort Hood.

    The morning began with almost 50 individuals participating in a 5-K run. Upon completion, each age group winner was presented with a prize. One of the winners, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, Division West commanding general talked about the race.

    Capt. Michael K. Murrell, commander of Headquarters Headquarters Detachment, First Army Division West, sports this year’s Spurfest t-shirt. Division West Soldiers, volunteered to mark the run route for the 2015 Spurfest 5-K race held at Faunt Le Roy Park in Downtown Gatesville Sept. 12. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    “Today’s 5-K was an excellent opportunity to celebrate life,” said Colt. “It’s an awesome way to begin the day – with a little exercise.”

    The race director, Carly Latham, also shared her thoughts about the morning’s run.

    “This morning’s race turned out wonderful and the weather was ideal,” said Latham. “We are so grateful for the Soldiers of Division West being here.

    “It was a great way to kick off Spurfest,” she added.

    After the race, Spurfest opened its gates at the Faunt Le Roy Park in Downtown Gatesville, greeting guests with a variety of local vendors and family entertainment.

    Soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard’s 736th Maintenance Company, from Gatesville, Texas, supplied a variety of military vehicles as static displays for the 2015 Spurfest held Sept. 12 at Faunt Le Roy Park in Downtown Gatesville. The annual event greets guests with a variety of local vendors and family entertainment. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    Soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard’s 736th Maintenance Company, from Gatesville, supplied a variety of military vehicles as static displays for the festival participants to enjoy.

    “Having the Soldiers here is dear to our hearts,” said Latham. “Their participation means a lot to our community and it’s great to have them show up and volunteer.”

    “It was amazing,” said Jovita Thomas, executive assistant to the Division West commanding general. “The citizens of Gatesville have always opened there arms to the Soldiers and civilians of Division West and Fort Hood. They are truly hospitable.”

    Gatesville is a partnership city for First Army Division West, aligning with the Fort Hood community partnership program.

  • Southwestern University football team players attempt to recover equipment on one of the obstacles at the Leader’s Reaction Course, recently, while visiting Fort Hood, Texas, as part of their leadership training. The Pirate team split into groups and navigated each obstacle. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas – The Southwestern University football team used the Leader’s Reaction Course here to sharpen their team-building skills.

    “This is the fourth time we’ve brought our team to the leadership reaction course,” said Joe D. Austin, SU head coach and native of Des Moines, Iowa. “Doing the course is great team building and it’s great for us to analyze leadership and group work.”

    Austin said there was an advantage for his team training at Fort Hood with Soldiers.

    Niklis Kelly, a Southwestern University sophomore cornerback from League City, Texas, walked across a wooden beam to reach one of his teammates on an obstacle at the Leader’s Reaction Course, recently, while visiting Fort Hood, Texas, as part of their leadership training. The Pirate team split into groups and navigated each obstacle. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “I also think it is beneficial for the Soldiers to evaluate them and give us some feedback and for them to interact with the Soldiers,” said Austin.

    A few of the SU players shared their experiences and takeaways on the day’s events that they hoped would apply later.

    “This is my first time doing this,” said Niklis Kelly, an SU sophomore cornerback from League City, Texas. “It was challenging at first but once we started getting our routine and everyone fitted into their roles, it became pretty easy.”

    “We were fortunate enough to get to work in some different team building activities and obstacles,” said Nick Mask, SU Pirates senior defensive end and native of Highlands Ranch, Colorado. “There were definitely some things we wouldn’t get to see on the football field, but a lot of the same leadership skills and teamwork activities we used today would translate to having a successful football team.”

    Col. Michael C. Kasales, former First Army Division West Chief of Staff and volunteer strength coach for the Pirates, felt the players were adapting well to the military training environment.

    Southwestern University football team players (Pirates) split into groups and navigated each obstacle at the Leader’s Reaction Course, recently, while visiting Fort Hood, Texas, as part of their leadership training. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “They’ve been doing a good job out here and are really getting something out of this,” said Kasales. “They’re a relatively young team so this is a good event to gel that leadership and help them work together.”

    Kasales aided the coordination of training and facilities, as well as the use of 120th Infantry Brigade noncommissioned officers as observers and coaches.

    “Col. Kasales has been with us since last spring and we’re thankful to have the connections out here to help us coordinate,” said Austin.

    Austin reiterated the importance of the Soldiers and their interactions with his team.

    “I think the Division West, 120th Soldiers are quality people and I’m really proud that they would take time to work with our players,” said Austin. “I think the more we have our players around Soldiers, with their dedication and character, they become more poised and positive.”

  • Retiring Soldiers from throughout III Corps and Fort Hood gather and pose for a photo before the III Corps and Fort Hood Retiree Celebration Ceremony, Aug 28, at the Phantom Warrior Center on Fort Hood, Texas. (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 honored 14 Soldiers during a retiree celebration ceremony, Aug 28, here at the Phantom Warrior Center.

    “I’ve been looking forward to this,” said 1st Sgt. Brandon N. Heath, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, and a native of Goldsboro, North Carolina. “I’m ready to begin another chapter in my life, moving on and taking the experiences I learned in the Army and using them towards a new career.”

    Heath, alongside his family, and the other retirees and their families, gathered to receive their honors and awards for their years of selfless-service.

    Though the focus was primarily on the day’s ceremony, Staff Sgt. Tracie L. Dailey, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, First Army Division West, a native of Hampton, Virginia, shared her thoughts on a breakfast hosted the previous morning by Division West Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt.

    “It was interesting and very nice and personable,” said Dailey. “Maj. Gen. Colt was very relaxed and was just one of the Soldiers.”

    Staff Sgt. Omar A. Lopez-Martinez, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, a Silver Springs, Maryland, native, also told his experience at the retiree breakfast.

    “It was a good moment to talk, interact and share stories about how our transition is going and thoughts on the future,” said Lopez-Martinez.

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, First Army Division West commanding general, officiated and spoke at the recent III Corps and Fort Hood Retiree Celebration Ceremony, Aug 28, at the Phantom Warrior Center on Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    Colt, the ceremony’s host and ranking officer, conveyed his most sincere congratulations and hopes to the retiring Soldiers.

    “It’s a tremendous honor to officiate over retirement ceremonies,” said Colt. “Ceremonies like this and events like the breakfast lends a lot of context to the timing of their decision to make a transition and to their service life.”

    As the ceremony proceeded, each Soldier and their guest received their retirement awards, flags and accolades, with their families present for photos and admiration.

    John Banks, father of Staff Sgt. Dailey, and a retired U.S. Air Force senior noncommissioned officer, spoke about his daughter’s retirement.

    “I’m extremely proud of my daughter and her accomplishments. I’m glad she picked up where I left off by proudly serving our country,” said Banks.

    As the ceremony came to a close, some of the honored retirees gave words of advice for future retiring Soldiers and their plans for the future.

    “Start preparing for retirement early,” said Dailey, who plans to complete her Masters Degrees in Psychology and Human Resource Management.

    “Be prepared,” said Heath. “There are a lot of opportunities out there, and the Army is doing a better job of having programs out there for Soldiers to help the transition be a little smoother.

    “Take advantage of those programs that are out there,” he added.

    In a final congratulations to the retirees and their families, Colt said, “To put in context again, the selfless service and sacrifices the servicemembers and their families have made, is one of our highest honors,” said Colt.

  • Soldiers from the 716th (Vertical) Company, an Army Reserve unit from Somersworth, New Hampshire, treat a wounded team member after a simulated improvised explosive device explosion during the company’s Mission Readiness Exercise recently. The unit was enroute to their construction project in Karma’ Shah Village at McGregor Range, New Mexico. (Photo by Capt. John A. Brimley, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Capt. John A. Brimley, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

    McGregor Range, New Mexico — During a time of tight budget constraints and shrinking personnel resources, one Fort Bliss, Texas unit managed to do more with less while saving the installation and the Army money.

    The 3rd Battalion, 364th Engineer Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, which was recently inactivated, made a habit of using vertical and horizontal construction engineer units to help build and maintain the infrastructure here while preparing them for impending deployment rotations.

    “Conducting post-mobilization training at MTC (Mobilization Training Center) Bliss affords the 5th Armored Brigade and Fort Bliss a great opportunity to provide real world training while capitalizing on the opportunity to provide construction efforts to needed projects,” said Lt. Col. David Woodruff, former commander, 3-364th Engineer Battalion.

    Over a two-year span, it’s estimated that the 3-364th and the engineer rotational training units have saved a substantial amount of money.

    “The units 5th Armored has trained have been able to save the government and the Army almost $3 million in troop construction for Fort Bliss, McGregor Range and Contingency Operating Location Westbrook,” said Woodruff.

    The construction units have built sunshades and gazebos, repaired levees, refurbished ranges, replaced culverts, repaved roads, constructed landing zones and rebuilt villages. Range 37 has been a particular problem area for McGregor because of its location and propensity to sustain water damage rolling off the hills. During the rainy season of 2013, the storms caused a levee to break, causing damage to many of the other lower ranges.  

    “One of the most important projects the unit’s assisted us in was the buildup of Range 37,” said Salvador Hernandez, McGregor Range Operations Supervisor. “With all of that damage, the unit that came in was able to build up that levee and blocked off certain areas with their development plan.”

    It was a large project for 5th AR to take part in, but the resources were available with a training unit scheduled to share the load. The repair work helped to stave off damages in Ranges 13-24 that would have continued if the attention were not given to Range 37.

    However, for the Directorate of Personnel, Training Management, and Security, the project was just too much to bear, as DPTMS did not have the resources.

    “For me to attempt to do something as big as what they did at Range 37, our heavy equipment is minimal,” Hernandez said. “We don’t have as many trucks, dump trucks, front end loaders, graders … so what the Army or engineers were able to do in one week, it would have taken our heavy equipment a longer time.”

    Spc. Albert Platerotti, a carpenter with the 716th (Vertical) Company, an Army Reserve unit from Somersworth, New Hampshire, cuts plywood during the construction of a sunshade at Range 11 at McGregor Range, New Mexico. (Photo by Capt. John A. Brimley, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    Currently, there is only one heavy equipment section of DPTMS at McGregor and it is comprised of six personnel responsible for Dona Ana, New Mexico, Oro Grande, New Mexico, McGregor Range and Westbrook. The use of Soldier labor allowed more focus to be placed on other areas around the installation and outside of McGregor Range by McGregor Range staff.

    “Any help that the engineers do here also assists our heavy equipment section because now they can concentrate on the other complexes,” Hernandez said.

    The 716th Engineer (Vertical) Company, an Army Reserve unit from Somersworth, New Hampshire, recently completed their Mission Readiness Exercise here before deploying. With four platoons, the unit constructed a sun shade at Range 10 and tore down and reconstructed several building structures at Karma’ shah Village. The construction work was conducted within the framework of their Mission Readiness Exercise, which takes place over five to seven days and incorporates full-scale convoy and construction operations.

    “The intent is to get the team leadership and company leadership to consider the entire project,” said Capt. Evan Wolf, operations officer for 3rd Battalion, 410th Engineer Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade. “The idea is that they have to understand project management while thinking tactics at the same time.”

    The construction project itself was only a portion of the unit’s planning. They had to account for transporting material, tactical convoy operations, and then construction.

    “It makes the planning a little more rigorous to try and consider how you’re going to move tactically but get all of your equipment and materials to the jobsite, and then you’re working in an unsecured jobsite, so you have to figure that out,” said Wolf.

    Along those same lines, the incorporation of real world construction projects and convoy tactics prepares the unit in a way many have not experienced before.

    “This type of training is good for the Soldier, so they can experience this type of training and all of the motions you go through training here,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daryle Lamonica, lead engineer planner 716th EN CO, “and how real world missions overseas work and give them a perspective of how everything operates.”

    The partnership between the RTU, 5th AR and DPTMS is a symbiotic relationship where everyone leaves satisfied.

    “It is really a win-win for both the unit mobilizing and Team Bliss,” said Woodruff. “Units needed to train for their wartime mission in order to deploy and the 5th Armor had to provide real world construction projects in order for them to train.”

  • Chap. (Lt. Col.) Kenneth R. Sorenson, left, former First Army Division West command chaplain, and his wife, Patrice, pose for a photo with actor and martial artist, Chuck Norris, and his wife, Gena, after the Texas State Prayer Breakfast, April 24. Sorenson is currently attending the Air War College at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs

    FORT HOOD, Texas — A Division West officer becomes the first Army chaplain to attend the United States Air Force Air War College at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama.

    Chap. (Lt. Col.) Kenneth R. Sorenson, former First Army Division West command chaplain, went through a thorough selection process to gain a seat in this esteemed course.

    “It’s an amazing opportunity for him. He’s certainly earned his place in a very prestigious professional development environment,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, Division West commanding general. “Resident attendance to Senior Service College is highly selective, and it’s even more selective to go to a sister Service College.”

    Sorenson further commented on the rarity of his selection to the course.

    “I’m the first Army chaplain to attend the Air War College,” said Sorenson. “Only five chaplains from the Army are allowed to attend the Army War College in residency per class, so I’m triply grateful for this rare opportunity.

    “I’m also overwhelmed by the goodness of God that I can go and represent the Army and the chaplaincy,” Sorenson added.

    The Air War College is the senior professional military education school of the Air Force. A part of the Air Force's Air University, AWC emphasizes the employment of air, space, and cyberspace in joint operations. The AWC resident program at Maxwell AFB consists of 10 months of graduate level courses for a total of 36 credit hours. Graduates receive a Masters of Strategic Studies.

    “My gratitude level for being selected is way off the charts,” said Sorenson. “I’m still simply just in awe.”

    AWC is one of six war colleges within the Department of Defense's Joint Professional Military Education. The U.S. military emphasizes and encourages joint efforts between the five services; an outlook also shared by Sorenson.

    “I’ve been praying for years to go to a school that is mixed with all services and components,” said Sorenson. “It’s a place to glean wisdom, knowledge and experience from everyone.”

    It was difficult for Sorenson’s wife, Patrice, to contain her excitement while sharing her thoughts on her husband’s selection for this joint professional environment.

    “I’m really excited for him,” she said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for him as an officer and to represent the chaplains corps while there.

    “It will be good to see what he can bring to the table as an Army chaplain,” she added.

    The Sorensons also thank those who cultivated the chaplain before his departure to the AWC.

    “Division West is a community and family that helps people to thrive,” said the chaplain.

    “I believe that Ken was selected because of the people in Division West that have trained him and brought him to a place where he can go and represent the Army well,” added Patrice.

    This is a shared mindset from Division West personnel, especially those who have worked closely with the chaplain.

    “He’s a pioneer to the Army chaplaincy by attending this course,” said Master Sgt. Felix Ramos, Division West master religious affairs noncommissioned officer and Sorenson’s chaplain’s assistant.

    “He’s truly missed around the division,” added Ramos. “Not only for his humanity, but also his passion to take care of Soldiers.”

    Soldiers of the division and those mobilizing under Division West profited from Sorenson’s knowledge and heart. Colt spoke on how others may glean from his life as well.

    “I think a lot of other people in that program will benefit from his presence,” said Colt.

    Sorenson also gives a forecast for what he expects from the training.

    “Personally, I think it’s going to be an environment to grow in my appreciation for the military – all components and services, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard,” said Sorenson. “We’ll all serve the military well.”

    It suggests a great future for Chap. Sorenson, said Colt.

    “It’s about joint exposure,” said Colt. “Future operational environments mandate jointness and this requires an understanding these perspectives and the challenges of other services will stretch him and help him better understand how he can assist, not just Army forces and families, but sister service forces that he’ll be dealing with in the future.”

  • FORT HOOD, Texas — The 302nd Squadron of the Royal Netherlands Air Force will hold a change of command ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday at Robert Gray Army Airfield here. 

    Lt. Col. Peter Grijspaardt will assume command from Lt. Col. IJmke Jellema, who has been in command of the 302nd under various unit designations since May 2008. 

    The 302nd Squadron’s origin at Fort Hood, Texas began during 1996. Then, the 301st Squadron, arrived for the Apache AH-64A Unit Fielding Training Program (UFTP). In 1999, the first of eight AH-64D Longbows were introduced to the Dutch fleet and the 301st Squadron’s training continued. During this time, it was decided that eight aircraft would remain behind at Fort Hood for continuation training, thus forming the Netherlands Apache Training Detachment (NATD). On 25 November 2013, the 302 Squadron was activated and assigned to the 21st Cavalry Brigade. 

    To date, 108 training classes have been conducted resulting in over 3,300 infantry and 1,250 aviation personnel trained. The 302 Squadron has flown a total of 19,571 flight hours, conducted 62 separate gunneries, fired in excess of 13,000 rockets, 125,000 rounds of 30mm ammunition, and countless totals of small arms training ammunition. 

    The 302 Squadron was reassigned to First Army Division West’s 120th Infantry Brigade, upon deactivation of the 21st Cavalry Brigade during June of 2015. 

    Media representatives interested in covering the event should contact Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West’s public affairs noncommissioned officer, at 254-553-5010, or email thomas.w.wheeler.mil@mail.mil no later than 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. 

    Media should arrive at the West Fort Hood Gate at Clark Road and Highway 190 Friday at 9:15 a.m., to be escorted to the event.

  • Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Navarro, outgoing senior enlisted advisor, 1st Battalion, 362nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, makes his final remarks during the battalion’s change of responsibility ceremony June 25. (Photo by Capt. John Brimley, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    By Lt. Col. Thomas Genter and Capt. David Bogert, 1st Battalion, 362nd Air Defense Artillery, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West

    FORT BLISS, Texas — 1st Battalion, 362nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade welcomed a new command team and said farewell to the old one here, June 25-26.

    1-362nd held a change of command and responsibility ceremony June 25 that represented the changing of leadership between the outgoing command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Navarro, and incoming command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Philip Stewart followed by a change of command ceremony June 26 between outgoing commander, Lt. Col. Clay Goff and incoming the commander, Lt. Col. Thomas Genter.

    “The unit performed magnificently and I am proud to serve with the Soldiers you see standing in front of you,” Navarro said during the change of responsibility.  

    He thanked the noncommissioned officers and officers for their support, professionalism and dedication to duty as they accomplished the unit’s “no fail” mission preparing National Guard Soldiers to provide integrated ground-based air defense of the National Capital Region. 

    Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip Stewart, incoming senior enlisted advisor, 1st Battalion, 362nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, stands in front of his battalion for the first time after assuming responsibility June 25. (Photo by Capt. John Brimley, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    Stewart expressed his gratitude for the assistance he received from Navarro and Goff. 

    “They invited me to Washington D.C., to visit Soldiers they recently helped train and prepare for the mission,” said Stewart. “The trip was an eye-opening experience and helped me gain a comprehensive understanding of our mission.”

    Prior to the official ceremony on June 26, Col. James Gallivan, commander, 5th Armored Brigade, presented Goff with the Meritorious Service Medal and Goff’s wife, Janet, with the Yellow Rose of Texas award. 

    “With the caring and supporting network offered by spouses and Family members, our Soldiers are able to fully commit themselves to the profession of arms and defense of this great nation,” said Gallivan.

    Lt. Col. Thomas Genter, incoming commander, 1st Battalion, 362nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, receives the unit colors from Col. James Gallivan, commander, 5th Armored Brigade, during a change of command ceremony at Fort Bliss, Texas, to officially signify him as the commander of 1-362nd. (Photo by Capt. John Brimley, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    Gallivan went on to recognize Goff for his contributions and the importance of 1-362nd, TF Renegade. 

    “For the ‘Renegade Battalion’ this mission is unique,” said Gallivan. “They not only train units for deployment overseas in support of our national objectives, they are also the only First Army unit with the mission of training air defense artillery units for Operation Noble Eagle – air defense in support of the homeland,” he added.    

    Goff accepted Gallivan’s comments and proceeded to thank the brigade leadership, as well as the officers and Soldiers of the battalion. 

    “A battalion that is rich in history, but more importantly one that is tasked to train and certify Soldiers, crews, and units to protect the Nation’s capital,” said Goff. “I’m proud of the unit’s many accomplishments and the professionalism of the soldiers who bore the burden of mission accomplishment on a daily basis.”

  • An unnamed military firefighter climbs a ladder to rescue one of three simulated victims caught in a live fire during a mission readiness exercise held recently at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. (Photo by Capt. John A. Brimley, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

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

    HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico — A Division West unit here recently wrapped up a four-day training exercise to prepare firefighting detachments for deployment to Romania.

    The 3rd Battalion, 364th Engineer Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade’s mission readiness exercise offered members of four Washington State firefighting detachments, the 907th, 702nd, 582nd, and 306th, a taste of live-firefighting while building unit cohesion and teamwork.

    “This place built a lot of camaraderie amongst the firefighters,” said Staff Sgt. Everard Lewis, assistant fire chief, 907th Firefighting Headquarters Detachment.

    On the last day of the mission readiness exercise, the detachments, with the 907th running command and control, worked in unison to tackle a two-story structure fire as well as search and rescue and ventilation operations.

    Sgt. 1st Class Jason Piercy, military fire chief, 3rd Battalion, 364th Engineer Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, ignites a fire to begin Day 4 of a mission readiness exercise for the 907th, 702nd, 582nd, and 306th Firefighting Detachments at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. (Photo by Capt. Jennie Armstrong, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West)

    Staff Sgt. Andrew Hayden, fire chief for the 907th, and his team, along with Lewis, was responsible for coordinating their response to each situation using radio communications amongst the other three detachments.

    “This just gave them an opportunity to work together and work on their SOPs (standard operating procedures) and figure out anything they might need to improve upon and figure what works for them,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Piercy, fire chief for 3-364th Engineer Regiment.

    Piercy is one of three firefighters in 5th Armored Brigade and because of the irregularity of firefighting units mobilizing through Mobilization Training Center Bliss, he and his fellow firefighters rarely get to use their skills. With that irregularity also comes increased resource coordination requirements.

    “Holloman Air Force Base, their fire department was a great asset to us,” Piercy said. “They were able to accommodate all of our training in one location with the ARFF (aircraft rescue and fire fighter) training.”

    Firefighters from 306th Firefighting Detachment provide ventilation through a roof during the units mission readiness exercise held recently at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. (Photo by Capt. Jennie Armstrong, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West) 

    Infrequent resources and training not only affect the trainers, but also those receiving the training.

    “The availability of live fire burns is not easy to get, so having the chance to do that before you go downrange is really important,” said 1st Lt. Christopher Stell, detachment commander for the 907th.

    This will be the first deployment for many assigned to these detachments, but for Lewis, this will be his third, and he couldn’t be happier that his team is getting comfortable during training before they have to execute the real thing downrange.

    “Without a doubt there’s something that’s going to happen down range, and I want them to be the most comfortable that they can be,” said Lewis. “Being in a situation like this where there’s high tensions and lots of fire, some smoke and rescue, a lot of climbing and a lot of hard work when you get down there, it’s going to make it a heck of a lot easier to do their job effectively and efficiently.”

  • Col. Randall Wickman, outgoing commander for the Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord, Washington-based 189th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division West, passes the brigade colors to Maj. Gen Jeffrey N. Colt, commanding general, First Army Division West, during a traditional change of command ceremony July 22. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, First Army Division West Public Affairs)

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

    JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Washington — The 189th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division West, welcomed a new command team here, July 22 in a traditional ceremony to the music of the 34th Infantry Division’s “Red Bull” band.

    After more than two years, both Col. Randall Wickman and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas C. Reitmeier transferred command and responsibility for the 189th to Col. James P. Isenhower III and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas C. Kenny.

    “It’s an honor to come back to JBLM,” said Isenhower, who most recently served as Director, Chairman's Office of Reintegration, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    “I was here twice as a kid, and again as a major with 1-25 Stryker Brigade back 2005 and 2006,” said Isenhower. “It’s an honor to come back and join the 189th. They’ve got a terrific mission with a significant and profound impact across the total Army.”

    Kenny, whose most recent assignments included a short six months in the III Corp Equal Opportunity office at Fort Hood, Texas, and a tour as the Area Support Group Kuwait command sergeant major, echoed the sentiment.

    ”It’s a great team and I’m very excited about training other units for their wartime mission,” said Kenny, a native of Quantico, Virginia. “The family is excited to be here. It’s truly amazing and beautiful and we’ll hopefully get the chance to get out and explore.”

    Locations aside, both leaders emphasized their goals for the organization’s future.

    “I think partnership is primary in my mind in terms of the units with which we’ll work most, as well as partnerships with tenant’s here at JBLM,” said Isenhower. “We all share the same installation and it’s always fun to see old friends and work with them and find material for progress, and move on it.”

    “I want to maintain what the previous chain of command did,” said Kenny. “Keep moving them moving forward staying motivated, agile, and adaptive.”

    While welcoming the brigade’s new command team to the Division West Family, the ceremony’s reviewing officer, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, Division West commanding general, led the field house floor to a round of applause in saying goodbye to the brigade’s former command team.

    Col. James P. Isenhower III (left), incoming commander for the Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord, Washington, based 189th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division West, receives the brigade colors from Maj. Gen Jeffrey N. Colt, commanding general, First Army Division West, during a traditional change of command ceremony July 22. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, First Army Division West Public Affairs)

    “Today we farewell one of our division’s most innovative and committed leaders in Col. Randall Wickman, and his wife Lisa of 22 years, as Randall moves on to his next assignment as Assistant Director of Training for the Army,” said Colt.

    “We also say good-bye to Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas C. Reitmeier, the 189th’s command sergeant major, and his wife of Wendy of 28 years,” added Colt. “The command sergeant major’s follow-on assignment is as the Sergeant Major for the Mission Command Center of Excellence, Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.”

    Colt went on to characterize the team’s accomplishments during their time at the wheel.

    “During the tour of leadership of Col. Wickman and Command Sgt. Maj. Reitmeier, the 189th Infantry Brigade changed mission from post-mobilization support of the Army Guard and Reserve towards training readiness; supporting other peer partner brigades as they sharpened their conventional war fighting skills’” said Colt. “The ‘Cold Steel’ Brigade fostered in this new evolution with their standing unofficial motto, ‘Any mission, anytime, anywhere.’”

    Colt went on to show his confidence in the new command team.

    “I have no doubt James will bring an enormous set of unique experiences and perspectives to lead the 189th Infantry Brigade into the future,” said Colt. “James, the mission here is critical; the units we train are motivated and skilled; the trainers you will lead are competent, confident, and committed to the training mission. I have little doubt you will find this position both challenging as well as rewarding.” 

    During his last time at the 189th podium, Wickman, had both words of praise for his former command and their families, but also words of wisdom.

    “On behalf of myself and Command Sgt. Maj. and Wendy Reitmeier we are humbled and grateful for the absolute privilege of being part of the ‘Cold Steel’ family,” said Wickman. “Command Sgt. Maj. Reitmeier and I hope we have served you well and that you don’t rest on what is now, but seek out what lies ahead. Eager to pursue any mission anytime, anywhere.

    “Jim and Sheryl, Command Sgt. Maj. and Lori Kenny, best of luck to you going forward with this incredible team of teams. The ‘Cold Steel’ family is proud, distinguished, and your precious two years go very quickly,” Wickman added.

    Wickman ended his time at the microphone with special words for the ones who make it all possible — the families.

    “Families of the ‘Cold Steel’ Brigade, a special thanks to you for letting your Soldiers do what they love and spend as much time as they need to train others,” he said. “It is vital that they do so and we are forever in your debt and an Army Strong Family. Cold Steel Brigade, continue your mission — carry on, Cold Steel Six out.”

  • Sgt. 1st Class Edward Fourquet, center, of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and member of the 2015 All-Army Taekwondo team, scores a head shot on his opponent during a match at the 2015 USA Taekwondo National Championships held in Austin, Texas, July 8. Team members from all over the world traveled to represent the U.S. Army against the nation’s best for the title of "National Champion." (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

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

    AUSTIN, Texas — The All-Army Taekwondo team joined hundreds of the Nation’s best to compete for top honors at the 2015 USA Taekwondo National Championships here July 8.

    “It’s awesome!” said Spc. Albert Lee, of Tucson, Arizona, a signal specialist assigned to the 207th Signal Company, 1st Cavalry Sustainment Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas. “I really don’t know what else to say. It’s an honor, and I’m really glad I got this opportunity to compete with the Army team.”

    Lee, along with seven of his fellow team mates, just finished the All-Army Taekwondo Team trials held at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, where active duty, Army National Guard and Reserve taekwondo athletes from all over the world were invited to showcase their skills for a chance to represent their unit, and the Army, in national and international competition.

    “They did well,” said head coach, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Fennell, referring to the team’s nationals performance.   

    Sgt. Kelly Lamonte Jr., 2015 All-Army Taekwondo Team member, Florida Army National Guard, scores an on-head shot to his opponent during a match at the 2015 USA Taekwondo National Championships held in Austin, Texas, July 8. Team members from all over the world traveled to represent the U.S. Army against the nation’s best for the title of "National Champion." (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    “They got out there, they were able to compete, they were able to defend themselves, and they were able to score,” added the mobilized Reservist from Savannah, Georgia. “So essentially what we trained for over the past two weeks, we made happen.”

    Results notwithstanding, being a Soldier-athlete is unique and comes with its own distinct challenges and pressure.

    “It’s a little overwhelming at times,” said Lee, a first time All-Army team member and first time nationals competitor. “There’s a lot of pressure because the Army has such a long history of competing at such high levels, so people expect a lot out of you so it’s a little over whelming at times.”

    1st Lt. Joshua Fletcher, an intelligence officer from Wayman, Michigan, by way of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, added time and funding challenges to the equation.

    “I think the biggest challenge is not being able to get to these international competitions and also these large competitions within the United States, whether its because of a lack of ability to travel, leave, or just funds or time,” said Fletcher.

    “Being in a sustainment brigade, we’re really busy so it’s hard,” said Lee. “You’re tired from work and PT and all that so it’s rough. At the end of the day you don’t want to practice but you just have to push yourself to do it.”

    2015 USA Taekwondo Silver medalist Staff Sgt. Ashley Sadlowski, 2015 All-Army Taekwondo Team member, from Oakland, California, drives a kick into her opponent’s mid-section during her finals match at the 2015 USA Taekwondo National Championships held in Austin, Texas, July 8. Team members from all over the world traveled to represent the U.S. Army against the nation’s best for the title of "National Champion." (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    The athletes aren’t the only ones on the team that face significant challenges.

    “Being in the military is a unique challenge,” said Fennell. “Instead of having my athletes year round, they’re in the Army. They may be deployed at times, they have their own jobs, and they have to train a lot of times on their own throughout the year unlike other athletes. When we finally get them, we only have them for two or three weeks.”

    Although Lee didn’t medal, the rookie appreciates the opportunity, and has shown he has learned from the experience.

    “I’m not as experienced as some of the other guys on the team,” said Lee.  I could have been more aggressive and engaged more. This is the first time I actually had the opportunity to fight someone my size so I think I should’ve taken advantage of that and been more aggressive.

    I’m just glad I got the chance to experience nationals for the first time and hopefully I’ll grow from it,” he added.

    Members of the U.S. Army Taekwondo Team gather for a team photo at the conclusion of the 2015 USA Taekwondo National Championships held in Austin, Texas, July 8. Team members from all over the world traveled to represent the U.S. Army against the Nation’s best for the title of "National Champion." (Left to right) Sgt. Kelly Lamonte Jr., Florida Army National Guard, Spc. Albert Lee, Fort Hood, Texas, Spc. Jin Choe, Fort Drum, New York, Tech. Sgt. Quinton Beach, U.S. Air Force, Assistant Coach Maj. Punnarin Koy, U.S. Army Reserve, Minnesota, Sgt. Michael Warner, Fort Richardson, Alaska, 1st Lt. Joshua Fletcher, U.S. Army Garrison, Hawaii, Head Coach Staff Sgt. Jonathan Fennell, USAR, Savannah, Ga., Sports Spc. Claudia A. Berwager, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, Sgt. 1st Class Edward Fourquet, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Master Sgt. Charity Beyer, U.S. Army Reserve, Virginia, and Trainer Lt. Col. David Skelley, Pennsylvania Army National Guard. Not pictured is USAR, and 2015 USA Taekwondo National Championship Silver Medalist Staff Sgt. Ashley Sadlowski, of Oakland, California. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    Fennell, a former Army and Armed Forces team member and world medalist himself, went on to say that they have high hopes for the team this year but it’s more about rebuilding the team and securing its future.

    “We have a good plan set in place for next year but this could be a growth year,” said Fennell. “It’s a brand new team. A lot of veterans left two years ago, so pretty much everyone on the team this year — this is their first time on the team.

    “I want to grow the program over the next couple of years. I want to have Soldier athletes in the U.S. team trials and I want some world medals over the next two to three years,” he said.

    “For me personally when it comes to the All-Army Taekwondo team I just want to see it get back to its former state,” said Fletcher. “A lot of older generation of taekwondo athletes and Army taekwondo athletes that I’d spoken to today talked about how it used to be a dynasty and how they used to crush everyone here and they were a threat to be reckoned with. I’d just like to see it get back to its former state.”

    The team’s next stop is the world military games in the Republic of Korea during October, where they will face national and Olympic champions from more than 100 nations.

    “We fight towards the end of the games so hopefully we’ll be able to watch some of the other sports compete,” said Fennell. “But towards the end of the games it will be time to put the game face back on and represent the U.S.A.”

  • All-Army Taekwondo team Head Coach Staff Sgt. Jonathan Fennell, left, a U.S. Army Reservist from Savannah, Georgia, gives advice to 2015 All-Army Taekwondo team member Spc. Albert Lee, of Tucson, Arizona, by way of Fort Hood, Texas, during a rest period in his match at the 2015 USA Taekwondo National Championships held in Austin, Texas, July 8. Team members from all over the world traveled to represent the U.S. Army against the nation’s best for the title of "National Champion." (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

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

    AUSTIN, Texas — As hundreds of the nation’s top taekwondo athletes gathered here to compete for the title of “National Champion” July 8, one competitor stood tall with the weight of Fort Hood and the U.S. Army on his shoulders.

    Spc. Albert Lee, a signal support specialist with the 207th Signal Company, 1st Cavalry Sustainment Brigade, and native of Tucson, Arizona, was the sole representative from Fort Hood on the All-Army Taekwondo Team, competing at the 2015 United States of America Taekwondo national championships.

    “It’s awesome!” said Lee. “I really don’t know what else to say. It’s an honor and I’m really glad I got this opportunity to compete with the Army team.”

    Lee, along with seven of his fellow team mates, just finished the All-Army Taekwondo Team trials held at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, where active duty, Army National Guard and Reserve taekwondo athletes from all over the world were invited to showcase their skills for a chance to represent their unit, and the Army, in national and international competition.

    “They did well,” said head coach, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Fennell, referring to the team’s national’s performance.

    “They got out there, they were able to compete, they were able to defend themselves, and they were able to score,” added the mobilized reservist from Savannah, Georgia. “So essentially what we trained for over the past two weeks, we made happen.”

    Results notwithstanding, being a Soldier-athlete is unique and comes with its own distinct challenges and pressure.

    “It’s a little overwhelming at times,” said Lee, a first time All-Army team member and first time nationals competitor. “There’s a lot of pressure because the Army has such a long history of competing at such high levels, so people expect a lot out of you. It’s a little over whelming at times.

     

    Spc. Albert Lee, of Tucson, Arizona, by way of Fort Hood, Texas, attempts to score against his opponent in the blue gear during the 2015 USA Taekwondo National Championships held in Austin, Texas, July 8. Lee’s team members, from all over the world, travelled to represent the U.S. Army against the nation’s best for the title of "National Champion." (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    “Being in a sustainment brigade we’re really busy so it’s hard. You’re tired from work and PT and all that, so it’s rough,” added Lee. “At the end of the day you don’t want to practice but you just have to push yourself to do it.”

    Those challenges aren’t restricted to just the athletes.

    “Being in the military is a unique challenge,” said Fennell. “Instead of having my athletes year round, they’re in the Army. They may be deployed at times, they have their own jobs, and they have to train a lot of times on their own throughout the year, unlike other athletes. When we finally get them, we only have them for two or three weeks.”

    Although Lee didn’t medal, the rookie appreciates the opportunity, and has shown he has learned from the experience.

    “I’m not as experienced as some of the other guys on the team,” said Lee. “I could have been more aggressive and engaged more. This is the first time I actually had the opportunity to fight someone my size so I think I should’ve taken advantage of that and been more aggressive.

    “I’m just glad I got the chance to experience nationals for the first time and hopefully I’ll grow from it,” he added.

    Fennell, a former Army and Armed Forces team member and world medalist himself, went on to say that they have high hopes for the team this year but it’s more about rebuilding the team and securing its future.

    “We have a good plan set in place for next year but this could be a growth year,” said Fennell. “It’s a brand new team. A lot of veterans left two years ago, so pretty much everyone on the team this year — this is their first time on the team.

    “I want to grow the program over the next couple of years. I want to have Soldier athletes in the U.S. team trials and I want some world medals over the next two to three years,” he said.

    The team’s next stop is the world military games in the Republic of Korea during October, where they will face national and Olympic champions from more than 100 nations.

    “We fight towards the end of the games so hopefully we’ll be able to watch some of the other sports compete,” said Fennell. “But towards the end of the games, it will be time to put the game face back on and represent the U.S.A.”

  • The 402nd Field Artillery command team, Command Sgt. Maj. Ernest Bowen Jr., center, and Col. James Gallivan, left, along with Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Colt, Division West commander, cases the colors of the 402nd FA signifying the deactivation of the unit. (Photo by Capt. Jennie Armstrong, 5th Armored Brigade Division West)

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

    FORT BLISS, Texas — For nearly a decade, 5th Armored and 402nd Field Artillery Brigades worked side by side as both units served as training and operations brigades respectively to provide ready forces to combatant commanders throughout the world.

    On June 10th, the two units became one in a ceremony where 402nd FA bid farewell to its senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Ernest Bowen and cased its colors to merge with 5th AR.

    The command team of 5th AR, Col. Raul Gonzalez, and Command Sgt. Maj. Neil McKinley, relinquished command and responsibility to the incoming command team, Col. James Gallivan, former commander 402nd FA, and Command Sgt. Maj. Oscar Arroyo.

    “Today, we recognize some of the finest leaders I ever had the privilege to serve with,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Colt, Division West commander. “They are committed, inspiring, adaptive, confident, dedicated and perhaps most of all they are all trusted and respected leaders.”

    Bowen and McKinley represent the senior enlisted leaders of the old 5th AR and 402nd FA that was responsible for mobilizing, training and demobilizing more than 20,000 service members during their two-year tenures.

    “I’d be remised if I didn’t recognize the Soldiers of the 5th Armored and 402nd,” said Colt. “I extend my pride and gratitude to the exemplary manner in which you trained units to assume the critical combat and noncombat missions tied to our nation’s security around the world, a mission that few truly appreciate and fewer truly understand.”

    The two brigades existed as separate parts, but their success and failure rest on each other. One unit could not function without the other and vice versa. The 402nd FA built the long range training plan for deploying units and 5th AR executed the plan as they trained units and Soldiers to deploy.

    “As a career cavalryman, the merge of two brigades is natural and a responsible change to enable maximum effectiveness in support of our Army,” Gallivan said.

    And June 10th represented the official merge of the two brigades, combined meetings, briefings and training indicates that the brigades have been one for quite a while.

    “Both of these commanders have prepared their respective formations for a complex but a relatively seamless transition while taking no pause in execution of our vital mission,” said Colt. “I have never seen more selfless teamwork that have been exhibited by these leaders and their Soldiers.”

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Colt, Division West commander, pins the Legion of Merit on Col. Raul Gonzalez, outgoing commander 5th Armored Brigade, Division West, June 10, during an awards ceremony here at Noel Field, Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Parish, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

    After a year into Gonzalez’s and McKinley’s tenure and days into Gallivan’s, the leaders looked at their respective formations to figure the most responsible way to combine the two brigades without missing a beat.

    “We could not have asked for a more comprehensive transition,” said Gallivan.

    With Gallivan being the enduring commander, Gonzalez had no problems letting Gallivan take the lead.

    “Raul, thank you for your authentic leadership and genuine friendship,” said Gallivan.

    The seamless transition from two brigades to one, as noted by Colt, took adaptive and confident leadership.

    On Gonzalez’s way out, not only did Gallivan recognize his effectiveness as a commander, but Gonzalez praised his subordinates.

    “The brigade is not only blessed with an outstanding NCO Corps, but it is just as rich in the leadership amongst the officers,” said Gonzalez. “As OC/Ts, the officers within the Dagger Brigade demonstrated disciplined initiative, and versatility as they engaged and trained members across the total Army force and our sister services.”

    In the rarest of forms with four ceremonies taking place at once, many of the Soldiers of the new 5th AR witnessed a changing of the guard at Noel Field.

    However, in the same spirit of which Gonzalez and Colt recognized the professionalism of the Daggers, Gonzalez, Gallivan, Bowen and McKinley trained the focus of the day’s traditions on the Soldiers in the formation and the Soldiers out training at McGregor Range, New Mexico as the primary mission does not stop.

    The 402nd FA maintained active duty units here and Reserve component units across the Southwest, but with the deactivation and merge, some of those units were transferred to 5th AR and some were transferred to other places.

    “The legacy of the 402nd brigade lives on in our brigade, the 5th Armored Brigade,” said Gallivan.

    The merge is a part of larger transformation, Operation Bold Shift, which restructures First Army assets to better provide pre-and post-mobilization to meet Reserve Component and National Guard unit readiness.

  • Spec. Allante Gay, center left, a Fort Bliss CONUS Replacement Center Soldier, poses for a picture with First Army Division West commanding general Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, left, Division West NCO of the Year Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Haag, center right, and Division West senior enlisted advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick Akuna, at the conclusion of the award ceremony held at Division West Chapel, Fort Hood, Texas, May 29. Gay finished first in the E-4 and below category and advances to the First Army Best Warrior Competition scheduled for later this summer. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, First Army Division West Public Affairs)

    By Capt. Asa Leveaux, CONUS Replacement Center

    FORT HOOD, Texas — A CONUS Replacement Center Soldier competed and won the First Army Division West Soldier of the Year competition here May 26-29, 2015.

    After four days of physical and mental tests that measured the strength of the Division West’s best, Spec. Allante Gay, a Soldier assigned to the CONUS Replacement Center Soldier, Fort Bliss, Texas, won first place in the E-4 and below category the division’s Best Warrior Competition.

    The competition consisted of the Army Physical Fitness Test, a written exam, individual weapons qualification, an obstacle course, a 12-mile foot march, combative drills, day and night land navigation, and an appearance before a senior enlisted review board.

    Spec. Allante Gay, a Fort Bliss CONUS Replacement Center Soldier, acquires an azimuth during the day land navigation task of the First Army Division West Best Warrior competition held at Fort Hood, Texas, May 26-29. Gay finished first in the E-4 and below category and advances to the First Army Best Warrior Competition scheduled for later this summer. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, First Army Division West Public Affairs)

    “Knowing that other people believed in me enough to send me to compete was an honor in itself,” said Gay. “Internally I wanted to be successful at the competition. There was an added pressure to do well because I was representing something greater than myself. I am absolutely proud of all that I have accomplished but for me it is ’business as usual’.”

    Gay mobilized with the CRC as a Movement Specialist and since mobilizing he’s represented himself and the CRC with pride.

    “I have an obligation to myself and my fellow Soldiers to remain tactically and technically proficient,” added Gay. “I take that obligation very seriously, in garrison it’s shown through competition in an operational environment it could mean someone’s life. Win or lose my performance was in line with my personal expectations. Winning was just an affirmation for those who believe in me,” said Gay.

    Gay will move on to compete in the First Army Best Warrior Competition later this summer with the full support of his battalion leadership.

    “Specialist Gay is a great representative of the Soldiers of the 95th Training Division,” said Lt. Col. Brian Warnock, CRC commander. “In his first two months mobilized with Task Force Viper, CONUS Replacement Center mission, he has graduated from the Fort Bliss Air Assault Course and won the First Army Division West Best Warrior Competition. Simply outstanding.”

  • Col. Christopher E. Albus, left, former 166th Aviation Brigade commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Scott A. Bailey, former 166th senior enlisted advisor, fold the brigade colors before casing them in the aviator’s Consolidated Inactivation ceremony on Cameron Field near Division West headquarters on Fort Hood, Texas, June 24. (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 deactivated the 166th Aviation and 479th Field Artillery Brigades on Cameron Field here, June 24-25.

    As part of the color-casing, the 166th and 479th leave the 120th Infantry Brigade as the lone Division West brigade on Fort Hood.

    “Over the past five months, Division West has undergone great change,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, commanding general for Division West. “We witnessed history once again as we deactivated the 166th Aviation Brigade.

    The 479th Field Artillery Brigade deactivation is our next to last major organization change. It solidifies the new foundation of Division West’s Bold Shift,” added Colt.

    With Division West down to four brigades, it continues on with its lead focus by providing more in depth and comprehensive training support to the Army National Guard and Reserve components.

    “We’re re-shaping,” said Colt. “The purpose of that is to provide more observer coach/trainers at a lower level, battalion level and below, that will allow us to generate more readiness at that level.”

    In both ceremonies, Colt spoke about each brigade’s proud history and lineage. He also praised the leadership of the “GreyWings” and “Strike Hard” brigades on their units training records and stellar transitions during Bold Shift.

    “Change is often hard and success is rarely guaranteed, but great leaders translate concepts into action,” said Colt.

    Col. John W. Leffers, left, former 479th Field Artillery Brigade commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. James R. Higgins, former 479th senior enlisted advisor, fold the brigade colors before casing them in the artillerymen’s Consolidated Inactivation ceremony on Cameron Field near Division West headquarters on Fort Hood, Texas, June 24. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    Each commander shares Colt’s commitment to Department of the Army directives as well as his view that the mission must go on.

    “Under the transformation of First Army and my brigade, we’ve reallocated units and drawn down in certain areas,” said Col. Christopher E. Albus, former 166th commander. “Understanding the importance that this unit had in the training, advising, assisting and validating of Reserve component aviation forces, we’ll still remain a battalion which will continue doing that same mission here at Fort Hood.”

    “This has been unquestionably the best team that I have ever had the privilege of serving with,” said Col. John W. Leffers, former 479th commander.  “I have little doubt that one day our Nation will reconstitute the brigade headquarters to active duty service to once again answer our Nation’s call.”

    Colt went on to comment about the path ahead and how confident he is that those who remain, remain mission first.

    “I know all of you will continue to place the mission first and needs of the Nation before all else,” said Colt.

    “This is an important step. These have been historic moments for Division West. The service, sacrifices and contributions that everybody has made along the way, will live on in the 120th,” he added. “We’ve got a great mission to do, and we’re just the unit ready to do it.”

    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 city of Gatesville gathered to salute Soldiers training and assigned to North Fort Hood, Texas, during the 2015 Heart of Texas Salute to Warrior Citizens, June 28, in Gatesville, Texas. Approximately 200 volunteers from throughout the Gatesville community came out to show a little Texas hospitality to an estimated 900 Soldiers with activities ranging from horseback riding and calf-roping to a barbeque. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

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

    NORTH FORT HOOD, Texas — Approximately 200 volunteers from throughout the Gatesville community came out to show some Texas hospitality to an estimated 900 Soldiers here at the 2015 Heart of Texas Salute to Warrior-Citizens, June 28.

    "We see the sounds of freedom and sights of freedom every day from our golf courses and our back porches,” said event coordinator Diana Fincher.

    “This is our way of bringing our Families to the deploying Soldiers who are away from theirs,” she added.

    With activities ranging from horseback riding to barbeque, the fourth annual salute provided a much-needed break from the rigors of mobilization training for citizen Soldiers who, until recently, were back home with their Family and friends.

    "They have a full-time career and a Family of their own,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, Division West commanding general.  “They put that aside in order to come out here and do our nation's bidding in a variety of roles.”

    Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory J. Clancy, senior enlisted advisor, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, said that although it was originally billed as “mandatory fun time,” much to his Soldiers surprise, after a few minutes they all seemed to feel right at home.

    “The folks of Gatesville set this up and it gets billed as mandatory fun but they [Soldiers] love it,” said Clancy. “I think it was a great stress reliever outside of the normal training to just kind of let your hair down and relax a little bit and have some fun.”

    The city of Gatesville gathered to salute Soldiers training and assigned to North Fort Hood, Texas, during the 2015 Heart of Texas Salute to Warrior Citizens, June 28, in Gatesville, Texas. Approximately 200 volunteers from throughout the Gatesville community came out to show a little Texas hospitality to an estimated 900 Soldiers with activities ranging from horseback riding and calf-roping to a barbeque. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wheeler, Division West Public Affairs)

    Colt also talked about how important communities like Gatesville are to supporting an Army that is vital to national security.

    "It's their communities, it's their employers, it's their Families,” said Colt.  “Everybody sacrificing to get these people out to go do instrumental jobs for national security either to defend freedom or extend freedom.”

    Both Colt and Clancy expressed their gratitude for all that the Gatesville community has done for their Soldiers.

    “We are very grateful to the community of Gatesville,” said Colt. “I think it’s important to remind everybody here that everybody wants to attend a great party but it takes something special to put it on, and to pick up after it. Especially for people you don’t even know.

    This community has a tradition of taking care of Soldiers year after year,” he added.

    “It’s awesome,” said Clancy. “Anytime you get folks who just, on their own, decide to come together to show their support and gratitude and put on a big shindig like this, it’s just awesome.”

    Donna Sweaney of Gatesville, Texas, stressed the importance of recognizing sacrifice.

    “They’re away from their families. So important for us to recognize those sacrifices. We hope that our Soldiers enjoy it and we hope that the Soldiers know we love and respect them here in Texas, especially right here in Gatesville,” said Sweaney. “We just want them to have a day where they don’t have to think about anything and just have a good time.”

  • FORT HOOD, Texas — First Army Division West will deactivate its 479th Field Artillery Brigade here at Cameron Field near its headquarters Thursday at 9 a.m.

    Since July 2013, the 479th trained and validated 9,142 Soldiers and nearly 150 units mobilizing in support of overseas contingency operations.

    Units trained have varied, to include sustainment, infantry, cavalrym combat service support, transportation, movement, signal, intelligence and medical. Training included Counter-IED, medical training, Close Quarters Combat, driver’s training, logistics, small arms and crew-served weapons ranges, engagement skills training, language and cultural training, and mounted gunnery.

    The 479th will merge with the 120th Infantry Brigade as part of First Army’s Operation Bold Shift, leaving the 120th to continue the tradition of multi-composition training support on Fort Hood.

    Under Operation Bold Shift, Division West is reducing force structure in accordance with First Army’s concept plan, which calls for consolidating and converting eight brigades to four brigades. The process began at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, when DIVWEST’s 191st Infantry Brigade deactivated Jan. 8, and merged with the 189th Infantry Brigade (Combined Arms Training Brigade), assuming the role as DIVWEST’s sole training representative on the west coast.

    On June 10, DIVWEST’s 402nd Field Artillery Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas deactivated and merged with the 5th Armored Brigade there.

    On Wednesday, the Division’s 166th Aviation Brigade was also deactivated and merged with the 120th Infantry Brigade.

    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.

    Media representatives interested in attending the 479th deactivation ceremony should contact the Division West Public Affairs Office and arrive at the Fort Hood Visitor Center no later than 8:15 a.m. Thursday to be escorted to Cameron Field.

    For more information about the 479th deactivation ceremony, contact Michael Novogradac, Division West Public Affairs chief, or Sgt. First Class Thomas Wheeler at (254) 553-5003. Email: michael.m.novogradac.civ@mail.mil

  • Lt. Col. Damar K. Jones, Division West Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention program manager, speaks to Soldiers assembled on Cameron Field for the “Run/Walk a Mile in Their Shoes” event held on Fort Hood, Texas, to raise SHARP awareness. (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 conducted a “Run/ Walk a Mile in Their Shoes” event here Friday to show that Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention isn’t restricted to a given month on the calendar.

    Almost 250 Soldiers and civilians assembled on Cameron Field near the division headquarters to run or walk on Battalion Ave., for SHARP.

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, First Army Division West commanding general, leads a run for the division’s “Run/Walk a Mile in Their Shoes” event held on Fort Hood, Texas, for Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention (SHARP). (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “The purpose of this morning’s run is to place emphasis on the fact of what good teams do,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, Division West commanding general. “Good teams take care of teammates and they won’t let anything happen to them. It’s good professionalism and it’s the right way to treat people; with dignity and respect.”

    The Divisions command sergeant major said events like this prove that every day is a good day to observe and reflect on SHARP.

    “There’s a lot of problems within our Army just based off of upbringing personnel,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick K. Akuna, Jr., Division West’s senior enlisted leader. “What we want to do is show that our division is really focused on showing that we educate all our NCOs, our leaders and our Soldiers on the prevention of this act.”

    First Army Division West held its “Run/Walk a Mile in Their Shoes” event held on Fort Hood, Texas, to raise Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention awareness. Shoes of the brigade’s SHARP representatives line the parade stand on Cameron Field representing victims of sexual assault and harassment. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    The severity of the issue requires both education and awareness at all levels.

    “The awareness and education like today with our ‘Run/Walk a Mile in Their Shoes,’ shows the victims that we are here, we have your back, and we’re standing with you side-by-side,” said Lt. Col. Damar K. Jones, Division West SHARP program manager. “We will prevent this within our ranks.”

    For Soldiers assigned to Division West, it’s understood that sexual harassment and assault are not acceptable.

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, First Army Division West commanding general, speaks to Division West Soldiers gathered on Cameron Field after the “Run/ Walk a Mile in Their Shoes” event held on Fort Hood, Texas, to raise Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention awareness. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

    “If our Soldiers come here, raise their right hand to fight for this country, but we can’t even protect ourselves within our own organization, it tears up the essence of the organization,” said Akuna. “We want to make sure that all Soldiers, both male and female, understand that we’re not going to have it in our Army. We’re going to fight it and make this an organization that they can be proud of.”

    Division West and its subordinate units continue on in the fight to raise its Soldiers consciousness on SHARP.

    “Not in my Army,” said Colt, quoting Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey on sexual harassment and sexual assault in our ranks.

    “Not in our division, not in our brigades, not in our battalions,” said Colt to the gathered Division West troops.

  • FORT HOOD, Texas — First Army Division West will deactivate its 166th Aviation Brigade here at Cameron Field near its headquarters Wednesday at 9 a.m.

    Since 2013, the 166th validated 30 units for deployment, including two combat aviation brigade headquarters, totaling over 3,400 Soldiers and over 100 aircraft deploying to Kuwait. The 166th is the only unit in the Army with the authority to validate the post-mobilization training of Reserve component aviation units, which make up 48 percent of the Army's total aviation force.

    The 166th’s 2nd Aviation Battalion, 291st Regiment will merge into the 120th Infantry Brigade, allowing DIVWEST to retain the capability to train, deploy, and redeploy Army Aviation elements.

    Under Operation Bold Shift, Division West is reducing force structure in accordance with First Army’s concept plan, which calls for consolidating and converting eight brigades to four brigades. The process began at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, when DIVWEST’s 191st Infantry Brigade deactivated Jan. 8, and merged with the 189th Infantry Brigade (Combined Arms Training Brigade), assuming the role as DIVWEST’s sole training representative on the west coast.

    On June 10, DIVWEST’s 402nd Field Artillery Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas deactivated and merged with the 5th Armored Brigade there.

    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.

    Media representatives interested in attending the 166th deactivation ceremony should contact the Division West Public Affairs Office and arrive at the Fort Hood Visitor Center no later than 8:15 a.m. Wednesday to be escorted to Cameron Field.

    For more information about the 166th deactivation ceremony, contact Michael Novogradac, Division West Public Affairs chief, or Sgt. First Class Thomas Wheeler at (254) 553-5003. Email: michael.m.novogradac.civ@mail.mil

  • FORT HOOD, Texas — First Army Division West will hold a "Walk and Run a Mile in Their Shoes" here at Cameron Field near its headquarters Friday at 6:30 a.m., just moments after Reveille.

    The SHARP (Sexual Harrasment/Assault Response and Prevention) event is to open the door for a better understanding of what victims experience. To educate and advocate for this event, “A Walk and Run a Mile in Their Shoes” was developed to put all Soldiers on the road to demonstrate their support for the SHARP program.

    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.

    Media representatives interested in attending the "Walk and Run a Mile in Their Shoes," should contact the Division West Public Affairs Office and arrive at the Fort Hood Visitor Center no later than 5:45 a.m. to be escorted to Cameron Field.

    For more information about the "Walk and Run a Mile in Their Shoes" event, contact Michael Novogradac, Division West Public Affairs chief, or Sgt. First Class Thomas Wheeler at (254) 553-5003. Email: michael.m.novogradac.civ@mail.mil

  •  

    Staff Sgt. Becky Schneider, a combat medic with the 1163rd Area Support Medical Company, receives a simulated emergency call during a pre-mobilization training exercise at North Fort Hood, Texas, May 30. The unit is scheduled to deploy to in support of contingency operations and will work as an emergency response team. (Photo by Sgt. Kayla F. Benson, 96th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)

    By Sgt. Kayla F. Benson, 96th Sustainment Brigade

    NORTH FORT HOOD, Texas — A female Soldier sits on a bench along the inside of a green Army ambulance. Even though it’s mid-day, it is almost pitch black in the confined space of the ambulance.

    Light from a small window between the front seat and the trunk silhouettes her enough to make out short blond hair framing her round face. She is wearing an Army combat helmet, eye protection, and has a large, red emergency response bag at her side.

    Staff Sgt. Becky Schneider, with the Kentucky National Guard’s 1163rd Area Support Medical Company, and native of Frankfort, Kentucky, has been a combat medic for over seven years.

    She calls up to the driver, a fellow medic, through the small window. They go back and forth, discussing possible injuries and best practices before the vehicle comes to an abrupt stop. The back door opens and she is on the ground and assessing the scene in only seconds.

    Schneider and her team member, Sgt. Duncan Wooster, also a combat medic with the 1163rd ASMC, were participating in a pre-mobilization training exercise here, May 30, in preparation for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

      Staff Sgt. Becky Schneider, a combat medic with the 1163rd Area Support Medical Company, evaluates and treats a simulated casualty during a pre-mobilization training exercise at North Fort Hood, Texas, May 30. The unit is scheduled to deploy to in support of contingency operations and will work as an emergency response team. (Photo by Sgt. Kayla F. Benson, 96th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)

    The team received its order: load into the ambulances and treat role players as if they were real-world casualties.

    “It’s hectic and it’s crazy and you kind of come out at the end of it like, ‘I just forgot to breath for 40 minutes,’” said Schneider.

    After assessing the scene, Schneider quickly approaches a role player on the ground with simulated burns and possible shrapnel wounds, surrounded by tall grass and a coiled metal fence. Wooster rushes to another role player with similar injuries underneath an observation tower. They call back up to address additional casualties.

    “It’s problem solving,” explained Schneider. “At the end of the day, you’re helping people and that’s what I really like to do. I like the puzzle of, ‘How do I put this back together again?’”

    The scene is chaotic and loud. Several role players surround the medics, attempting to use their medical gear and bombarding them with questions.

      Staff Sgt. Becky Schneider, a combat medic with the 1163rd Area Support Medical Company, awaits movement of simulated casualties during a pre-mobilization training exercise at North Fort Hood, Texas, May 30. The unit is scheduled to deploy to in support of contingency operations and will work as an emergency response team. (Photo by Sgt. Kayla F. Benson, 96th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)

    Backup arrives and the casualties are moved onto stretchers and into the ambulances. Schneider jumps back into the ambulance next to her patients. As they speed back to the emergency response treatment area, she continues to assess and care for the two Soldiers on either side of her, pulling various medical gear from the many pockets of her bag and verbalizing each action.

    Moments later, the ambulance stops: end exercise. She removes her helmet to reveal hair drenched in sweat. Once deployed, this scenario would only make up one hour of her 24-hour shift.

    “The training itself had very realistic patients, very realistic situations,” Schneider said. “It gives me a very real understanding of, ‘OK, in a 24-hour shift what am I going to have to do? How can I better take care of my people?’”

    Her face looks tired and she allows her shoulders to sink a little as she listens to feedback from the observer coach/trainer regarding her team’s actions in the day’s exercise. Overall, her team did well and the event was a success.

    “You’re constantly evolving, constantly learning, trying to build on every single run you make,” said Schneider. “You’re always trying to get just a little bit better.”

  • Observer coach/trainers with 2nd Battalion, 362nd Field Artillery Regiment, 402nd Field Artillery Brigade and members of U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Delta Battery, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment pose for a photograph with New Hampshire National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery Regiment during a Mission Readiness Exercise at McGregor Range, New Mexico, recently. (Photo by Capt. John Brimley, Mobilization Training Center Bliss, Division West Public Affairs)

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

    FORT BLISS, Texas — After seven months of planning and training, a Division West field artillery unit completed its final phase of transformation to a training support battalion.

    “It’s been a remarkable seven months,” said Lt. Col. Cobb Laslie, commander of 2nd Battalion, 362nd Field Artillery Regiment, 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, as he reflected back to when he received the mission in July 2014.

    The transformation was conducted in two phases. Phase One included the support of the 1st Armored Division artillery during Exercise Iron Strike, and Phase Two with the Mission Readiness Exercise for New Hampshire National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery Regiment.

    “We have a lot of experience in the battalion, but we had never done this before,” said Laslie. “We didn’t know what we didn’t know.”

    The 2-362nd carried this training mission from the initial joint assessment more than a year ago. While they prepared and coordinated for the training plan for the 3-197th, they also were in the midst of their own transformation.

    They were venturing into unknown territory.

    The unit previously operated as a Plans, Exercise Movement Control battalion, which served as the initial contact for training units going to Fort Bliss for post mobilization, and also functioned as the battalion that provided long-range planning for those units.

     

    Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Rawls, operations noncommissioned officer-in-charge, 2nd Battalion, 362nd Field Artillery Regiment, 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, gives a hot wash to the New Hampshire National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery Regiment, for their final partnership event with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Delta Battery, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, during the Mission Readiness Exercise at McGregor Range, New Mexico, recently. (Photo by Capt. John Brimley, Mobilization Training Center Bliss, Division West Public Affairs)

    However, this time they were the executors of the long-range training plan that they once planned for other units to execute.

    “Not only was this a great opportunity for us to run ourselves through the exercise, but also helping the brigade establish some start points for additional standards to be developed,” said Laslie.

    This operation was different from the traditional way the 402nd and 5th Armored Brigade typically prepare and train units. The 2-362nd led the way for how the 5th AR plans to operate in the future.

    “We knew that in order to give this HIMARS battalion from New Hampshire a true workout, we weren’t going to be able go on the cheap,” said Laslie.

    There were not many stones Laslie and his team left unturned in preparation for their first CTE as observer coach/trainers. He sought resources far and wide to complement the robust training plan the unit built in anticipation of the 3-197’s arrival.

    “The only thing we let ourselves be limited by was our ability to coordinate and plan,” he said.

    In Laslie’s mind, he wanted to give the unit as realistic a training plan and MRX as possible, so he reached out to the Air Force Air National Guard and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. The D-Battery, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, located in El Paso, Texas, which is one of the few High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) batteries in the Marine Corps, provided a partnership with the National Guard unit similar to the relationship they will cultivate during their deployment.

    “The Marines were able to replicate future engagement techniques, tactics and practices with their host nation partnership military force,” said Capt. DeCarlos Ware, observer coach/trainer for 2-362nd.

     

    Soldiers from New Hampshire National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery Regiment, rehearse load preparation of their High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) during the Mission Readiness Exercise recently at Biggs Army Air Field, Texas. (Photo by Capt. John Brimley, Mobilization Training Center Bliss, Division West Public Affairs)

    The Air Guard provided air transportation via C-17 aircraft for the 3-197th during their MRX, which also gave them an opportunity to forge relationships across services.

    “The C-17 training with the Air Force gave the Soldiers and command teams confidence and assurance that they could load, unload and deliver long range munitions during decisive operations,” said Ware.

    “All of our external support in terms of the other services was great,” said Laslie.

    The transition and transformation turned out to be an exercise of the Army Total Force Policy, which integrates the Army's active and reserve components and represents the realization of the Total Force Concept.

    “This was truly a total force exercise,” Laslie said. “We used the Army Reserve Soldiers from our other task forces. Obviously, we’re an active duty battalion and we trained a National Guard battalion.”

    In the big picture, the 2-362nd’s transformation is a part of Operation Bold Shift, which restructures the First Army assets to better provide pre-and post-mobilization to meet Reserve Component and National Guard unit readiness.

    “There are a lot of other task forces who have been doing this a lot longer than us, but we have the opportunity to come in and do things with a fresh perspective with a lot of latitude to establish things for what I think is Col. (Jay) Gallivan’s vision,” Laslie said.

    The 402nd and 5th Armored officially merged with a 5th Armored Brigade change of command ceremony, June 10, as part of Operation Bold Shift.

  • Sgt. Nicholas Sencey, Division West honor sergeant, stands behind a wreath at the 4th ID memorial during a Memorial Day remembrance ceremony May 20 on Fort Hood, Texas. Sencey, along with Division West and 4th Infantry Division commanding generals, would lay the wreath at the the Battlefield Cross at 4th ID memorial to honor the nation’s fallen heroes. (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, alongside the 4th Infantry Division, held a Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at the 4th ID Memorial, here May 20.

    The ceremony was not only to honor the Ivy Division’s fallen, but to all those who gave their full measure for the country.

    “It’s a great honor to pay tribute to those men and women who willingly gave their dreams to preserve the hope and ideals of not only our nation, but that of their comrades and those they never knew,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, Division West commanding general.

    This was the third year for DIVWEST to hold the ceremony, since its transition in 2009 from Fort Carson, Colorado, to take up ownership of the 4th ID’s former headquarters and stand watch over its pivotal memorial site.

    “Let this day remind us that there is a terribly exacting price for freedom,” said Colt.

     

    Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt (right), First Army Division West commanding general, and Maj. Gen. Ryan F. Gonsalves, 4th Infantry Division commanding general, stand ready to salute after laying a wreath at the base of the Battlefield Cross at the 4th ID memorial during a Memorial Day remembrance ceremony May 20 on Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

     

    Many of Colt’s sentiments were shared by his counterpart, Maj. Gen. Ryan F. Gonsalves, 4th ID commanding general, and the first 4th ID commanding general to attend the remembrance ceremony since Division West began hosting it.

    “Having been a battalion commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom I, a couple of my Soldiers are represented here. It meant a lot to me to come here and pay me respects,” said Gonsalves.

    Command Sgt. Maj. Michael A. Crosby, 4th ID senior enlisted leader, said, “Ceremonies like these do two things. It reminds us of those that sacrificed and paid the ultimate price for this country. Also, we bring in the Gold Star families to establish those relationships with them and we remember your loved one provided the ultimate sacrifice.”

    As taps played, Colt and Gonsalves, along with Sgt. Nicholas Sencey, with DIVWEST’s honor sergeant, placed a wreath at the base of the memorial statue – a Soldier kneeling in front of a rifle, boots and a helmet (the Battlefield Cross), with a young girl standing near, consoling him.

    Maj. Gen. Ryan F. Gonsalves (right), 4th Infantry Division commanding general, and Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, First Army Division West commanding general, pose for a photo with Carolyn Bright, widow and Gold Star spouse of 3rd Armored Cavalry Staff Sgt. Scottie Bright, after a Memorial Day remembrance ceremony May 20 on Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Division West Public Affairs)

     

    “I always look forward to honoring my late-husband for his selfless sacrifice,” said Carolyn Bright, widow and Gold Star spouse of 3rd Armored Cavalry Staff Sgt. Scottie Bright. “I really love that man. We must always recognize our fallen Soldiers.”

    After the wreath-laying, participants rendered a salute to the fallen 4th ID and U.S. Army heroes.

    “During this Memorial Day weekend, I hope every takes the time to remember those that sacrificed their lives,” said Gonsalves.

  •  

      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.

  •  

    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.”

  •  

    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.

Events

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