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Tag Archives: fort bliss

Iron Soldiers Pave the Way in Army Footwear

Every Soldier understands the importance of their feet to complete Army missions and rely on their boots to remain sturdy, comfortable and flexible, which is why the U.S. Army is completing a test to eventually issue new hot weather combat boots.

At the beginning of 2019, the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) kicked off testing four different prototypes of Army hot weather combat boots to receive feedback from Soldiers and ultimately improve the issued combat boots, said Anita Perkins, the technical lead for the boot evaluation with NSRDEC.

Perkins went on to say that a Congressional survey showed “over half of the Soldiers who participated noted they purchased commercial boots once the initial entry phase was complete. That is how we knew that there was some needed improvements. This, then, became an opportunity for us to now take advantage of the current technology and manufacturing footwear industry processes.”

“We started off in a study that compiled the ten most liked boots, which then led us to the four prototypes that we have now,” said Jay McNamara, another footwear research engineer at NSRDEC. “They are meant to be more lightweight, flexible and comfortable. It’s meant to really improve a Soldier’s quality of life.”

Last week, NSRDEC gave out the prototyped boots to approximately 800 Soldiers of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, to initiate a four-month long study with the Iron Soldiers.

“I understand why the Army chose the Iron Brigade to conduct this test,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael C. Williams, senior enlisted advisor to 2 ABCT. “Our Soldier’s mission is extremely diverse and will provide a wide array of feedback for the Army’s research and development of new combat boots. I’m glad we can help the Army figure this out while we train on combined arms maneuver. The tough, realistic training we are conducting in very rugged terrain and austere conditions will certainly give the Army plenty of data to facilitate the best decision being made. The deserts and mountains of Fort Bliss will test this equipment to the fullest and will ensure it is capable of meeting the needs of today’s Soldiers.”

With the training posture of 2 ABCT, NSRDEC hopes “to come back after four months to collect the data, which will then go on to make real improvements to the hot weather combat boots for all future Soldiers,” says McNamara.

This team has a personal tie with this mission to create a new way to maneuver- which is one of comfort.

“One of the best feelings I have is being able to see a Soldier put their foot in a boot and look at me wanting to hug me,” explained Perkins. “Just in the initial issuing of the boots, the Soldiers are giving great feedback; but, nothing’s official yet until we complete the entire study.”

Pfc. Austin Tryon, an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, says, “I am definitely excited about the new boots that we may be getting. The old ones, even though they were the right size felt like they were too long. Well, the inside fit too tight, but the outsides were very big.”

Tryon goes on to say, “I had to purchase my own boots, but that was starting to get really expensive. This is definitely a step up as far as Army issued boots go.”

“A study like this goes to show that Soldier’s voices are being listened to and steps are being made to mitigate their grievances,” said Capt. Lucas Makens, an assistance planner with 2 ABCT. “As we move forward, we hope that Soldiers continue to speak out their opinion in these surveys to improve the future of the Army.”

Author: Staff Sgt. Felicia Jagdatt  – 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division

1-1 CAV Tests New Active Protection System for Tanks

OROGRANDE, N.M. – Soldiers assigned to Company D, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, tested a tank protection system at Fort Bliss that engages threats in the air.

The Trophy Active Protection System for tanks eliminates enemy threats, such as rocket propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles, said Lt. Col. James Edwards, test officer with the Army Evaluation Center, Army Test and Evaluation Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

“Pretty much what it does is it engages the threat before it hits the tank,” said Edwards, present for the Fort Bliss testing. “We’re trying to determine whether or not this capability will be applicable to the Abrams (tank) platform.”

To do this, testers had Soldiers assigned to Co. D, 1st Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt., execute tank gunnery Tables III through VI. They used live rounds at Table VI, on both regular M1A2 SEPv2 Abrams tanks and then with tanks outfitted with the Trophy system, Edwards said.

In addition, the Soldiers conducted a force-on-force exercise with both types of tanks.
Civilian mechanics installed the Trophy system on the hulls of tanks, Edwards said, and since it is heavy – about 5,000 pounds – the idea is to compare the tanks’ performances with and without the weight.

“It’s a considerable amount of weight, which is why we’re concerned,” Edwards said. “We’re concerned about components like turret drives and turret breaks, and all the mechanics involved in traversing the turret.”

When tank crews train, computer systems record everything they do so crewmembers can review their performances and that information also helps evaluators of the Trophy system.

The testing culminated with a simulated threat shot near, but not directly at, a tank, to see if the system would engage the threat, Edwards said. Civilians, not Soldiers, were in the tank during the testing.

Multiple U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command entities collaborated jointly in the combined test team event. Testing personnel from the Operational Test Command, Fort Hood, Texas; the Aberdeen Test Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland; the Yuma Test Center, Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona; and the Redstone Test Center, Huntsville, Alabama, participated in the testing, Edwards said.

The Israeli government first developed the Trophy technology, Edwards said, and the U.S. Army began developing the system for the Abrams about two years ago.

Production of the system would be a collaboration between General Dynamics Land Systems, Leonardo DRS and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. General Dynamics Land Systems is the Abrams tank Original Equipment Manufacturer; Rafael is the Original Equipment Manufacturer of the Trophy Active Protection System and is in partnership with Leonardo DRS.

Soldiers assigned to its Co. D said they are proud to test the system.

Capt. Chris Scott, commander, Co. D, 1st Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt., said the company’s 72 Soldiers participating in the testing were excited to be the first in the Army to test the technology.

“We’re taking advantage of a pretty unique opportunity to get to do something that no one else is getting to do …” Scott said. “It feels great to help develop a new technology.”

The company’s Soldiers worked hard to get all the tanks ready for the testing, Scott said, and he is proud of them.

“Being a part of this and seeing guys I work with everyday getting to affect the rest of the Army is a fun experience for sure,” Scott said.
In addition, the testing provided a great opportunity for training, Scott said.

In addition, 1st Sgt. Joseph Elkins, first sergeant, Co. D, 1st Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt., brought an advantage with him when he switched jobs from the brigade’s master gunner to the company’s first sergeant October 3, 2018.

Elkins, as brigade master gunner, helped design the testing range and has been working with the testers since they arrived in May.
“When they found out (the testing would include) this company and knew I was already coming here, well, I thought, ‘This works out a lot easier.’ There was continuity between all the organizers. I just came right in and continued with the mission,” Elkins said.

The tests were held late last year, for over two weeks, from Dec. 1-13, 2018,

Author: Wendy Brown – Fort Bliss Garrison Public Affairs

210th RSG Holds Memorial ‘Race Against Cancer’ Walk, Run Event at Fort Bliss

During a cool, brisk Saturday morning, a group of Army Reserve Soldiers from the 210th Regional Support Group, Mobilization and Deployment Brigade, out of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico and Tatitlek civilians stood by the finish line in eager anticipation during the Race against Cancer memorial walk and run event in Fort Bliss, Texas, January 12, 2019.

Suddenly, the crowd erupted in cheer as Lt. Col. Angel Vega, deputy commander of the 210th RSG/MaD BDE, and his son Angel Jr. ran in unison toward the finish line. When the pair came to a halt, both gasped in astonishment at the sight of the commemorative banner displayed before them.

Sgt. Kristina Larson, noncommissioned officer in charge of the tactical operations center for the 210th RSG/MaD BDE, and another Soldier held this banner that depicted Vega and his late wife Irma walking alongside each other.

Almost immediately, Angel Jr. reached out and caught Larson in an emotional embrace, grateful for her and everyone else’s contributions and participation in the event.

“Honestly, the best moment of this whole thing was when we were standing at the finish line, waiting for him and his son to come across and their reaction was they realized what was on the banner that we were holding,” Larson said. “Vega and his son both thanked me about a hundred times over for everything that I put into the event. At the end of it, I just came out of it feeling really glad that they didn’t feel like that they were alone. You know, that kind of feel-good stuff was unmatchable, and it gave me a sense that I was finally able to give back to somebody, and just show support in a bit of an unconventional way to help bring people together and lift him up specifically.”

Since early November, Larson planned and orchestrated the memorial event with other 210th RSG Soldiers as a way to showcase the unit’s solidarity and cohesion for their deputy commander and fellow comrade.

“This event (coincided) with the three-month anniversary of my wife’s death,” Vega said. When I talked to my son about it, he told me that he wanted to go (to Fort Bliss) to be with other Soldiers. My son has always been around Soldiers, and he understands that Soldiers are a part of our family. He came here and he was very proud, as he saw a lot of people going to this event. You can imagine how much he and I have supported that.”

Larson said that he talked with Vega after his return from Puerto Rico, noting his distressed anguish from the tragedy.

“I had a conversation with Vega right after he got back from emergency leave when his wife passed away,” Larson said. “He shared with me some of the obstacles he faced, and the logistics of everything that he dealt with…and it just tugged on my heart strings. So it was really cool that day when he sat down and talked with me, as he was vulnerable, open and really honest. He thanked me later on for being willing to listen to him, because he really needed that at that point.”

Drawing upon her own personal experiences with loss, Larson proposed the idea for Irma’s dedicatory event to Vega.

“Sometimes, I do not know what to say or do when dealing with loss and death, even though I’ve dealt with it myself,” Larson said. “So I figured that everybody can put on a T-shirt and do a five-kilometer walk and run, because that’s my way in coping with that kind of stuff and honoring people since I’ve done a lot of that in the past. I had a lot of support within the unit, and people encouraged me to just do this for Irma, for Vega and his family.”

According to Vega, he grapples with the painful loss with the same perseverance and resilience that he had following Irma’s cancer prognosis.

“I remember that the first time when we went to the oncologist and they discovered her disease, he told us: ‘This is a marathon. You need to be ready to run this marathon for a long time.’ So that’s we did together,” Vega said. “I was with her every single appointment…and I conducted Facetime with her and the doctors just to be with her through the process. Every single day in the mornings, I was doing Facetime with her, just to eat breakfast and talk with her like a couple. We used to do this in Puerto Rico every single morning, and that’s one of the things that I miss most.”

In spite of the enduring hardship left in the wake of this tragedy, Vega said that the event was a great way to celebrate Irma’s life and the joy that she brought to everyone that she knew.

“I had a lot of Soldiers that I’ve known for a long time, and she knew these Soldiers, their families, and they were all very close to her during our mobilization process,” Vega said. “She was involved very heavily with family support programs, and she had that type of charisma and people skills where she talked to everybody. Knowing that she was sick, it was that more impressive to the people around her. That was the kind of person that she was.”

Although Larson was the foremost event organizer, she conceded that the other Soldiers’ volunteer endeavors were crucial to the overall effort.

“I was really excited and honored that Vega was open to my idea and concept, and the rest of the unit supported it from Col. Javier Rivera, the 210th RSG/MaD BDE commander, my section leadership, the people that I work beside with every single day, my peers, and everyone else in the other sections who were open to volunteer and were really supportive of the whole thing. I couldn’t have done of it without all of their help, because it really took a lot of the burden off of my shoulders.”

By uniting together to make this event happen, the 210th RSG/MaD BDE Soldiers have exemplified the Army Values of Loyalty, Selfless Service, and Honor. Regardless of their mission, these Army Reserve Soldiers strive to support and care for one another in times of crisis.

Story by Sgt. Christopher Hernandez – Mobilization and Deployment, DPTMS Fort Bliss

WBAMC Labor and Delivery’s Quick Reaction Saves Newborn’s Life

For most women, pregnancy is an incredible 40-week journey ending with the delivery of baby. But it’s not always that easy or predictable with possible complications threatening the health of mother, baby or both.

Recently, medical professionals at William Beaumont Army Medical Center’s Labor and Delivery section skillfully dealt with a rare complication when a laboring mom experienced an umbilical cord prolapse, leading staff to quickly respond to the obstetrical emergency via an emergency cesarean section.

A cord prolapse occurs when the umbilical cord prolapses, or drops, through the open cervix into the vagina ahead of the baby which may block fetal-placental circulation resulting in loss of oxygen to the fetus and possible stillbirth if not treated immediately.

“(The patient) was already here and admitted because we were inducing labor,” said Diana Ortiz, charge nurse during the shift of the incident. “The doctor went in there to (rupture) the membrane and the cord came out, he was trying to make her go into labor.”

Although the artificial rupture of membranes is a common procedure performed to accelerate or induce labor, there are always risks involved. According to studies by the Cleveland Clinic, about one in every 500 pregnancies may result in an umbilical cord prolapse, increasing the importance of staff readiness.

“Rupturing of the amniotic sack is just part of the process to help a mom who’s not going into labor any other way, and there are risks associated with that,” said Maj. Michael Swift, the obstetrician-gynecologist performing the procedure.

Obstetrical emergencies, such as cord prolapse, are routinely simulated at WBAMC’s L&D section through the use of medical manikins to evaluate staff communication during emergencies, and improve interdisciplinary and clinical performance.

“We do practice simulations but this was beyond simulations, it was just a really, really, solid team,” said Swift. “It was fast, it was extremely fast. Everyone was well organized it was like an absolute perfect orchestra.”

According to the staff, as Swift called for assistance after the prolapse, a team of nurses quickly prepared the operating room for the emergency cesarean section, while another nurse jumped on the gurney with the patient to assist with alleviating pressure on the umbilical cord due to the baby dropping.

“The teamwork was dynamic, and worked out so well,” said Ortiz, a seven-year L&D nursing veteran. “Everybody ran and did something, it synchronized really well, and right at change of shift.”

According to Ortiz, shift changes are usually a more chaotic time during care as outgoing staff are occupied with the transfer of patient information to incoming staff and other activities.

“I’m still catching my breath because everything just fell into place from (umbilical cord prolapse) to (emergency cesarean section),” said Ortiz.

For Swift, who is only two years out of his medical residency, the only other real-world experience with an umbilical cord prolapse was during his residency. He credits the team of nurses for their quick reaction, turning a potentially fatal situation to an otherwise successful delivery.

“These nurses are extremely experienced and have been doing this for years, but it does demonstrate the importance of simulations, because these are practiced routinely,” said swift.

As a result of their actions, staff members were presented commander’s coins following the incident. Staff members include: Santa Ware, Maria Martell, Lisa Obermeyer, Yesenia Ruelas and Jennifer Ruelas.

Within six minutes, the team’s actions went from the umbilical cord prolapse to delivery of the baby with no further complications. Two weeks following discharge, during a follow up appointment the family were content and thankful for the rapid response and teamwork at WBAMC.

“There’s always great crew work, if something happens everybody knows what to do,” said Ortiz.

Author: Marcy Sanchez  – William Beaumont Army Medical Center Public Affairs Office

1-147th Field Artillery Battalion Conducts Live-Fire Rocket Exercises

OROGRANDE RANGE COMPLEX, N.M. – In the vast expanse of the Orogrande Range Complex, an assemblage of uniformed personnel and military tactical vehicles comprise of the scene.

Despite the frigid climate on the morning of January 4, 2019, Army National Guardsmen of Bravo Battery and Forward Support Company, 1-147th Field Artillery Battalion, Watertown, South Dakota, stood outside in eager anticipation to witness an awe-inspiring spectacle.

Suddenly, a deafening roar temporarily disrupts the stillness of the desert landscape. Volleys of rockets have been launched from a group of M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, propelling in convergence toward the sun-drenched sky.

This training event was one of the 1-147th FAB’s pre-mobilization exercises conducted to strengthen their readiness and lethality postures.

“We are here for mobilization validation,” said 1st Lt. Jessie Park, operations officer for Bravo Battery, 1-147th FAB. “The South Dakota Army National Guard is one of two MLRS battalions in the United States, so it’s really important that we keep up on our platforms and training.”

The above-mentioned volley of rockets is called Time on Target (ToT), a critical artillery technique in which an area or target is completely saturated by munitions. ToT is one of several tasks performed by the 1-147th FAB, under direct scrutiny and evaluation by Observer Controller/Trainers of the 5th Armored Brigade, Fort Bliss, Texas.

“We did three types of fire missions: Fire When Ready, At My Command…and then ToT,” said Sgt. Dillyn Thompson, MLRS crewmember and seven-year veteran of 1-147th FAB. “It’s a little different this year, the way they have us doing this live fire. We have (the MLRS vehicles) all lined up, with four to eight rockets in a row.”

According to Sgt. 1st Class James Meyer, master gunner for Bravo Battery, 1-147th FAB, the M270A1 MLRS can launch over a dozen types of disparate munitions.

“We can shoot multiple rockets from the MLRS, depending on the setup and whatever mission requirements are, such as M28/M28A1 training rounds, M30/M31 guided rockets, and ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) guided missiles,” Meyer said.

Thompson further elaborated on the destructive power of the MLRS, touching upon the weapon platform’s moniker: “Grid Square Removal System.”

“The maximum load is 12 rockets or two missiles total,” Thompson said. “If we have a full load of rockets, we can take out an entire grid square on a map.”

These validation and military rehearsal exercises (MRXs) have been vital to the preparation for the 1-147th FAB’s upcoming mobilization.

“Under Operation Atlantic Resolve, we’re going to participate in exercises in Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, and Latvia,” said 1st Sgt. Dusty Kiner, First Sergeant for Bravo Battery, 1-147th FAB. “Whoever wants assistance or wants artillery support for their exercise, they will call us, and we go out to that location.”

Taken into consideration the joint nature of this deployment, Kiner asserts that mission requirements principally depend on multinational collaboration.

“The way we understand it for our first exercise, we will be falling under a Canadian DIVARTY (Division Artillery),” Kiner said. “We’ll be acting as the DIVARTY support for the Canadian division. It’s kind of a new experience for us, as we will be functioning multi-national and multi-echelon all the way through the entire phase.”

For junior enlisted Soldiers like Spc. Micah Miller, an automated logistical specialist for the FSC, 1-147th FAB, these training exercises have ventured outside the proverbial comfort zone.

“One of the biggest challenges is this different climate and terrain here,” Miller said. “There’s a lot more mountains here than there back in South Dakota, which is a lot flatter.”

Nevertheless, Thompson stated that he and his unit have been primed and ready for this occasion.

“I was in Saber Guardian in Romania, where I was able to jump in with Alpha Battery out of Aberdeen, South Dakota, and go over there with them,” Thompson said. “But with this mobilization, I think that we can get a little more in-depth, which will be nice in being able to train with other countries. It’s all pretty new to me, and I’m excited about it.”

Bravo Battery/FSC elements of the 1-147th FAB will sustain their pre-mobilization training scenarios until their eventual flight to Eastern Europe.

“We’re looking forward to moving out to Eastern Europe and making this stuff happen and get some rockets downrange in Europe,” Kiner said. “Supposedly, we are going to be the first heavy MLRS unit in Eastern Europe since 9/11. We’re going to help write new doctrine as to how heavy artillery operates in Europe. This is a cool mission for us.”

Author:  Sgt. Christopher Hernandez –  Mobilization and Deployment, DPTMS Fort Bliss 

Meet the Leaders: British Brig. Gen. Leigh R. Tingey -“El Paso is an Amazing Place.”

After just a few short months, British Brig. Gen. Leigh R. Tingey and his family have fallen in love with El Paso and Fort Bliss.

The 48-year-old Cambridge native took over as the new deputy commanding general for maneuver for the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss in late August.

“In 28 years in the British Army, I have never seen a relationship as close with the local community as there is between El Paso and Fort Bliss,” he said.

“El Paso is an amazing place. My wife (Kerry) and I have fallen in love with it,” Tingey continued. “The people are so friendly. The weather is glorious. The weather, the culture, the food, the environment and the mountains you have here. We have traveled a bit into the local area – three, four hours away – and it is quite amazing.”

Tingey is just the second general from the United Kingdom to serve as a deputy commanding general for the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss. He succeeds British Brig. Gen. Frazer Lawrence, who served as a deputy commanding general for three years.

Tingey’s three children – Ben, 17; Olivia, 15; and William, 13 – are attending boarding school back home in the United Kingdom, but the family reunites every six weeks or so.

It is not uncommon for military children to stay behind and continue attending their same school so they have some sort of continuity in their education, Tingey said.

“From my perspective, my three children love it,” he said. “They thrive in that environment, so it is not that difficult for us.”

The kids also love El Paso, Tingey said. The family is making it a tradition to have dinner at iconic L & J Café either the first or second night after the children fly in for a visit during their breaks in their schooling, Tingey said.

Tingey has also been quite impressed with Fort Bliss and all it offers in terms of training and professional development.

The 1st Armored Division’s professionalism and motivation, its fighting power and the installation’s ability to serve as a platform for training and mobilization all stand out, he said.

He is part of an exchange program between the United Kingdom and the United States.

“It is an important part of building that trust, building that military relationship with what is our primary strategic partner,” Tingey said.

Tingey said he would like to “consolidate this job” and make it a permanent feature that the division always has a general from the United Kingdom serving as a deputy commander.

“I am only the second deputy commanding general in the 1st Armored Division from the United Kingdom,” Tingey said. “I would like to make sure I am succeeded and that this continues for many years to go.”

The division headquarters recently went through its Warfighter exercise at Fort Bliss. This is the headquarters’ version of a National Training Center rotation.

Tingey said it is crucial for the division and all its brigades to transition from a counter-insurgency fight – which has been going on in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past 17 years – to being able to relearn their army-on-army or combined arms skills.

“It is easy to sometimes to concentrate on the threat posed by extreme terrorism and it is a big threat, and I’m not underplaying it in anyway,” Tingey said. “But there are significant other threats we need to be prepared for and deter.”

Tingey’s final goal for his two-year tenure at Fort Bliss is to set the “conditions for future success for the division.”

“As the M — the maneuver deputy commanding general — my primary responsibility to the commanding general is for the long-term planning within the division,” Tingey said. “It is making sure myself and my team are looking 18 months into the future.”

Tingey is a combat engineer by trade and has served in a wide range of units over his career. He also has a background as a trainer.

He has been an instructor for the British version of NTC – called the British Army Training Unit Suffield which is near Calgary, Canada.

There, he helped to teach brigades and battle groups to do armored maneuver.

He also served as an instructor at the British Defence Academy, teaching majors and lieutenant colonels how to conduct division-level operations.

Most recently, Tingey attended the Royal College of Defence Studies for a year. That program is affiliated with King’s College London.

“It is an honor to be here,” Tingey said. “This is such a well-known division – America’s tank division.”


Author: David Burge/Special to the El Paso Herald-Post

David Burge is a news producer at ABC-7 in El Paso. He has more than three decades of experience working at newspapers in California, New Mexico and Texas. Covering the military is a particular passion.

Watch for more “Meet the Leaders” profiles in upcoming issues of the El Paso Herald-Post.

Op-Ed: Hurd on the Hill – Supporting our Military Families

When South and West Texas come to mind, folks might think of mouthwatering breakfast tacos, breathtaking sunsets and a good worn-in pair of cowboy boots. And they’re not wrong.

However, what is also synonymous with the 23rd District of Texas is the presence of our military bases.

With Fort Bliss to the West, Joint Base San Antonio to the East and Laughlin Air Force Base in between, our congressional district has a uniquely special relationship with our servicemembers, veterans and their families. It is a continuous source of pride to represent in Congress over 4,600 active-duty military and 45,000 military veterans across 29 counties and two time zones of TX-23.

November marks Military Family Appreciation Month, a time to honor the tremendous sacrifices made by the families of the men and women who choose to serve in our nation’s military.

From the moment our men and women in uniform head off to train, they put their lives on the line to protect our nation’s freedoms, and no one bears the weight of this sacrifice more than their loved ones back home.

Each year around Thanksgiving, I am again reminded of this sacrifice. During my nearly ten-year career as an undercover officer in the CIA, I served shoulder to shoulder with our service men and women and witnessed their love for their country, their fellow servicemembers and their loved ones back home. We were often in the same situation around this time of year, unable to return home to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with our family and friends.

Over the past few years serving TX-23 in Congress, my team and I have been glad to provide helping hands by serving Thanksgiving meals to the troops at Camp Bullis and Joint Base San Antonio. The least we can do is be friendly faces to those stationed away from home and thank them for their selfless, dedicated service to our nation.

This year, the sacrifices that military families make were undeniable. I spent this Thanksgiving in Del Rio with the Laughlin Air Force Base community, as we mourn the recent loss of Captain John Graziano, who lost his life in a tragic training accident. My heart is still heavy for his mom and dad, sisters and brother, and his fellow brothers and sisters in arms at Laughlin.

It was clear listening to the words of his loved ones at the memorial service what a wonderful, noble man Capt. Graziano was, and he will be sorely missed across the community.

We all know someone who has put their life on the line to protect our nation’s freedoms, and it is important to tell them that you are grateful for and will never forget their service and sacrifice. It is equally important to offer the same gratitude to their families. Hug your loved ones close always, and as the holiday season continues, I encourage you to find ways to give back to others and recognize the entire military and veteran community.


A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Meet the Leaders: Maj. Gen. Patrick Matlock “Fort Bliss is Awesome from Top to Bottom.”

When Maj. Gen. Patrick Matlock found out he and his family would be returning to Fort Bliss, it was “like a dream come true.”

That’s how Matlock described how he felt when he learned about his latest assignment — as the new commander of the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss.

The 53-year-old from Willows, California, had previously served at Fort Bliss as the 1st Armored Division’s chief of staff from July 2012 to February 2014.

He returned this summer and took command of both the division and installation on July 12.

“It was such a great surprise to learn we were coming back here,” Matlock said.

“We were so pleased. It was definitely the first choice of what we wanted to do.”

Matlock, his wife and their children enjoyed their previous time here and grew to really love both Fort Bliss and El Paso.

“We feel very comfortable here in El Paso and at Fort Bliss,” Matlock said. “It is such a great town and such a great community. Fort Bliss is awesome from top to bottom.”

Most recently, Matlock served as the director of training for the Army staff at the Pentagon.

When he was at Fort Bliss previously, he was instrumental in helping to get the 1st Armored Division established after it moved from Germany under the Base Realignment and Closure process.

He served under commanding generals Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard and then under Lt. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, who was promoted to a three-star general after leaving Fort Bliss. Both Pittard and MacFarland are now retired.

Matlock expects his latest assignment at Fort Bliss to be just as busy if not busier.

The division’s 3rd Brigade recently deployed to South Korea. Its 1st Brigade finished up a rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, and will convert from a Stryker infantry brigade to an armored brigade during the next 18 to 24 months.

The 2nd Brigade returned from a nine-month deployment to Kuwait this summer, and the Combat Aviation Brigade is gearing up to deploy to Afghanistan next year.

The division headquarters deployed to Iraq under Matlock’s predecessor,  Maj. Gen. Robert “Pat” White, and returned in March. The headquarters is ramping up its training again and recently went through a Warfighter exercise at Fort Bliss. It is the division headquarters’ version of a National Training Center rotation.

The Sustainment Brigade will continue to train and will have a mission announced in the next few months.

“There is no unit in the division that doesn’t have an announced mission or an anticipated mission,” Matlock said.

Fort Bliss is also providing troops, equipment and support for the controversial border operation ordered by President Donald Trump.

President Trump ordered up to 5,000 troops to provide support to the Border Patrol and other civilian authorities along the border in response to a caravan of migrants traveling through Mexico to the United States.

Matlock said his number one priority is to build readiness and make sure the division and all its units are ready for any mission that may lie ahead.

“We are singularly focused on making sure our personnel is ready, we have the right equipment in the right place to perform our missions, that our equipment is well maintained, operational, all the maintenance is complete and soldiers are trained  — everything from individual weapon qualifications through our collective training, whether company, battalion or division level,” Matlock said.

“That is it,” he added. “There isn’t any other priority we have.”

Of course, Matlock wants to make sure that military families are taken care, that the installation is run smoothly and that Fort Bliss remains a good neighbor to El Paso.

“El Paso can expect the division and all the units to be busy and stay busy,” Matlock said. “They will see units coming and going for the foreseeable future. It means a lot to us that we leave our families here in this community and they are well cared for, that they are in safe patriotic community that supports the military.”

“We always want to thank them for that and we will work as hard as we can to make sure that relationship stays strong,” Matlock continued.

By David Burge/Special for the Herald-Post

Burge is a producer at ABC-7 in El Paso. He has more than three decades of experience working in newspapers in California, New Mexico and Texas

Keep an eye out for more “Meet the Leader” profiles in future editions of the Herald-Post. To read previous profiles, click here.

Germans Continue Vital Training Operations at Fort Bliss

German Air Force 1st Lt. Jessica Maass describes doing Patriot air-defense training at Fort Bliss as part of a “good adventure.”

Maass is one of eight German officers going through coursework and training on all aspects of the Patriot system.

“The biggest advantage is we can learn our (Patriot) weapons system out in the field in the desert and we have enough space and enough time to learn it,” Maass said.

The Germans, who have had a presence at Fort Bliss since 1956, quietly continue to operate their Air Defense Center, despite downsizing in recent years.

At one time, they had their North American command center at Fort Bliss, but deactivated that in 2013.

Shortly after that, they quit running their annual Oktoberfest event, which had become legendary in Fort Bliss circles, and handed over responsibility for that to the Fort Bliss Morale, Welfare and Recreation agency.

The Germans will keep the Air Defense Center at Fort Bliss to at least 2022, but eventually they will move it to Germany.

Maass and her classmates started out at Fort Sill (Oklahoma) where they did four months of training. They did a portion of the U.S. Army’s Basic Leadership Course for officers and learned the basics of Patriot.

They then moved on to Fort Bliss where they are doing 4 ½ months of advanced coursework and training. That includes plenty of time out in the vast Fort Bliss training area — setting up and running all aspects of the Patriot.

They are training to become tactical control officers and run a Patriot crew of their own one day.

One of the most important things they are doing is learning all the jobs within a Patriot crew. That way when they take one over, they have an idea of what everyone has to do, Maass said.

First Lt. Deniz Wintermeyer, also a student in the Germans’ officer course, said Fort Bliss has several big advantages that make it a great place to train.

The wide-open training area allows you do virtually all aspects of the Patriot, including turning on its radar system, he said.

“When you radiate, you have to have a big area,” he said. “You have this big desert, no hazards, no people disturbing your training.”

Master Sgt. Juergen Ladich has been stationed at Fort Bliss many times during his career and is currently a trainer at the Air Defense Center.

He said that the large training area provides a world of possibilities.

“Fort Bliss is unbelievable,” he said. “It opens up all the possibilities and you can use (the Patriot) system to its best.”

At the Air Defense Center, anywhere from 350 to 400 German officers and noncommissioned officers come to Fort Bliss each year and train on the Patriot air defense system. The Germans also offer their soldiers a series of advanced courses in integrated missile defense.

The Germans have about 90 soldiers and 20 civilian employees at Fort Bliss, manning the Air Defense Center.

German officers use jacks to level out the Patriot equipment out in the field.
German officers use an aiming circle to determine the position of their radar unit.
German officers string fiber optic cable that is needed to run the Patriot air defense system.


By David Burge/Special for the Herald-Post

David Burge is a producer at ABC-7 in El Paso. He has more than three decades of experience working in newspapers in California, New Mexico and Texas

7413th Troop Medical Clinic Cares for, Prevents Harm of Fort Bliss Soldiers

Within the assortment of buildings that have uniform structural design, a painted Red Cross prominently signifies the aid station of the MacGregor Range Complex at Fort Bliss.

Manned by Army Reserve Soldiers of the 7413th Troop Medical Clinic, El Paso, Texas, the aid station manages and facilitates medical care and prevention for Soldiers training and rotating through here.

According to Maj. John Bricker, a medical-surgical nurse for the 7413th TMC and officer in charge of the MacGregor Range Aid Station, the unit has been working steadily since their activation in the beginning of March here.

“We’ve seen over 2,600 Soldiers since March, for various things such as colds, flus, and 224 musculoskeletal injuries,” said Bricker. “For MacGregor alone, we’ve also seen 252 cases in the respiratory category, such as asthma and cold-related issues.”

The 7413th TMC, consisting of El Paso local Soldiers and out-of-state augmentees, were spread out to multiple sites in Fort Bliss in support of the Mobilization and Deployment Brigade, Directorate of Planning, Training, Mobilization and Security and its mission.

“There are 37 of us right now, but we don’t all work here at the MacGregor Range Aid Station,” said Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Ortiz, a licensed vocational nurse for the 7413th TMC and detachment noncommissioned officer in charge for the MacGregor Range Aid Station. “Besides here, we have Soldiers working with Fort Bliss dental, in preventative medicine, providing assistance in the Soldier Resiliency and Readiness Center, and working in the Soldier Family Health Clinic.”

In addition to its rudimentary services and provisions, the MacGregor Range Aid Station harbors additional capabilities to augment its functions.

“We’re considered a Role +1 clinic because of the addition of our X-ray machine and lab capabilities,” said Staff Sgt. Luis Flores, a radiology specialist for the 7413th TMC. “I take a lot of radiological exam requests here, and they pertain mainly to upper and lower extremities, as well as chest X-rays.”

Seven months into their own mobilization, Soldiers of the 7413th TMC adapted to their multifaceted operation by regularly cross-training with each other.

“We do a lot of ‘left seat, right seat’ training with each other,” said Flores. “That is, everyone here has an idea what to do even though it’s not their Military Occupational Specialty, and they’re able to jump in to assist. It really streamlines our health and patient care.

Everyone knows their roles, and everyone steps up when they need to,” Flores said.

The 7413th TMC not only provides medical care, but also prevent diseases and other illnesses with their preventive medicine group. Maj. Jeff Finley, an environmental science/engineering officer for the 7413th TMC, said he and his Soldiers operate in tandem with their active-duty counterparts to maintain scrutiny of the Fort Bliss training ranges.

“At least once a week, we go and collect water samples through several places at Fort Bliss, and at the water and distribution points at Doña Ana, MacGregor, and Orogrande,” Finley said. “We also put out weekly mosquito traps in suspected problem areas, such as golf courses and areas with stagnant areas, and conduct monthly inspections of dining facilities and Mobile Kitchen Trailers to ensure they’re following proper sanitation procedures.”

Finley emphasized the importance of periodic inspections, citing an incident that occurred earlier this year.

“During a routine inspection at the MacGregor Dining Facility, we found that the ice was contaminated with E. coli bacteria,” Finley said. “First, we told the staff to immediately stop serving ice so we can figure out the problem. We then decontaminated the ice machine and the drink service areas, and then it was no longer a problem anymore after that.”

According to Lt. Col. Francisco Crespin, a family medicine physician for the 7413th TMC and the medical director of the MacGregor Range aid station, the unit’s bevy of functions tie into their main objective – to enhance readiness and reduce detriment of Soldiers in deploying units.

“We try to keep Soldiers healthy, and ensure that their minor issues don’t escalate into major ones that would keep them from being deployed,” said Crespin. “Also, it’s so Soldiers don’t have to drive an hour and a half to main post and back, which can cause them to lose significant training for their deployments. Just having this easy access for them gets them back quicker to their jobs.”

The 7413th TMC remain steadfast in their mission until their successors, the 7412th TMC, arrive in March 2019 to take their place.

“I really want to give credit to my team out here, as this is the best unit that I ever had the opportunity to serve with,” said Flores. “They’re a great group, and I give them kudos for that.”

Story by Sgt. Christopher Hernandez – Mobilization and Deployment, DPTMS Fort Bliss 

Meet the Leaders: Alaska to EP, Brig. Gen. Scott Naumann Now Calls Bliss Home

From the Canadian border to the Mexican border.  From the frozen climate of Alaska to the high desert of El Paso and Fort Bliss.

That is the career pathway of Brig. Gen. Scott Naumann in a nutshell.

Naumann, a 44-year-old native of Anchorage, Alaska, is the new deputy commanding general for support for the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss.

“I love this place,” Naumann said.

He arrived in early August, after a three-year stint at Fort Drum, N.Y. There, he served as the commander of the 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division and then as chief of staff for the division.

He is excited to be at Fort Bliss with all its opportunities to train and grow as a soldier.

He did a brief training exercise at the Dona Ana Range Complex in 2002 when he was part of the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Fort Lewis, Wash.

But besides that, this is all new for Naumann and his family.

“Most of my background is light infantry, Ranger, airborne,” Naumann said. “I am here in this armored division and never thought I’d have the opportunity to serve in. I am just tickled I am learning so much every day.”

“If you are not learning every day, regardless of where you are at in your career, then there is probably something wrong,” Naumann said.

He is particularly excited to be serving with Maj. Gen. Patrick Matlock, the new commanding general for the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss. Matlock took command in July.

“I am really enjoying this and really consider myself fortunate to have this opportunity,” Naumann said.

His family is also enjoying being at Fort Bliss. He is married to Sherri. His two youngest children – Erik, who turned 18 on October 24, and Emma-Grace, 14 – are students at Chapin High School. Erik is a senior and Emma-Grace a freshman.

Oldest son, 19-year-old Kurt, is a sophomore at the Virginia Military Institute.

“I am so proud of my kids, but also military kids,” Naumann said. “A lot of people don’t appreciate the demands. We volunteer to do this. Our families don’t. As much as we have volunteered, our kids are sacrificing just as much, as do our spouses.”

“I’m really proud how they have been able to rapidly fit right in,” Naumann said of his kids. “I think back. I went to the same school, with the same kids, for 18 years. I was kind of introverted and shy. I look at my kids and see how they can go to a new place, fit in and make friends.”

As the deputy commanding general for support, Naumann said his job is to help lead the personnel and materiel readiness for the division and make sure it is ready for whatever mission lies ahead.

“I want to leave this place better than I found it,” Naumann said. “One of the things I want to be able to do … people come and go. I will only be here so long. I want to codify a system that will outlive people.”

Naumann is amazed at how busy Fort Bliss truly is.

The division’s 3rd Brigade recently deployed to South Korea. Its 2nd Brigade returned this summer from a deployment to Kuwait, and 1st Brigade recently wrapped up a rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

The division headquarters returned from a deployment to Iraq this spring and will soon be going through a Warfighter exercise here at Fort Bliss – its version of an NTC rotation.

“The ability to train here is unparalleled,” Naumann said. “Someone told me from pistol to missile. You can do anything here. And when you add White Sands … it is fantastic. There is a lot of opportunity here.”


Author: David Burge/Special to the El Paso Herald-Post

David Burge is a news producer at ABC-7 in El Paso. He has more than three decades of experience working at newspapers in California, New Mexico and Texas. Covering the military is a particular passion.

Watch for more “Meet the Leaders” profiles in upcoming issues of the El Paso Herald-Post.

Rain or Shine, 1-1 CAV ‘Goes Live’ for Table IV Gunnery Training

DOÑA ANA RANGE, N.M. – One after the other, 16 gunners scanned the range for targets from the turrets of Bradley Fighting Vehicles. When one popped up, their eyes locked on it with one intention: to make a solid hit with the best means available.

In this case, that meant the M242 Bushmaster 25mm Chain Gun, loaded with M910 TPDS-T or M793 TP-T rounds, or the M240 machine gun, loaded with 7.62mm rounds.

This was Table IV gunnery training with Troop C, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, at Range 66B Oct. 12, 2018. Sgt. 1st Class Ty Tyner, 1st Platoon platoon sergeant and troop Bradley master gunner, said the aim was to increase the troop’s lethality.

“This is important because ultimately we are training to be able to fight wars, so this is the basics of learning how to operate your Bradley and work as a crew to efficiently use equipment to take it to the enemy,” Tyner said.

Lt. Col. Jon Genge, commander, 1st Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt., was on site for the training and said the unit’s gunnery tables are designed to bring Soldiers basic, fundamental training that will make them proficient for war.

“We’re seeing if all the springs and all the levers, if they’re all lubricated and they all work,” Genge said. “We’re seeing if you can you make it actually get the 25mm rounds into the feed shoot up into the weapon.”

Table IV is the first table where Soldiers use live rounds to prepare them for Table VI, their qualification table, Genge said, and the targets for Table IV are actually smaller than they are for Table VI.

The half-scale targets work well for training Soldiers to identify vehicles and targets, and Tyner designed it that way so Soldiers would be fully prepared for the rigors of Table VI, Genge said.

In addition, the training builds the troop’s strength as a whole, said Capt. Kevin Graham, commander, Troop C, 1st Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt.
“Along with our crew lethality, we’re also building our maintenance processes to get (the troop’s Bradleys) back up and operational. So that way when we go shoot in January, we can be successful,” Graham said. “A lot of maintenance is happening.”

First Lt. Greg Walker, Troop C executive officer, said the purpose of cavalry units such as 1st Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt. is to conduct reconnaissance so brigade leaders can develop well informed plans.

Bradley crews consist of a commander, driver and gunner, but they also carry cavalry scouts who can dismount and gather information, Walker said.

“The way it works is the Bradleys will pull up to what’s called the ‘stream line’ and they’ll start to gather information on what they see and engage if necessary,” Walker said. “If not, depending on the type of reconnaissance we’re performing, we’ll push out the dismounts and the dismounts will go establish ops even further forward.”

Spc. Gavin Tomeny, who has been assigned to Troop C for two years and has been through gunneries and deployments with the unit, said gunnery training allows Soldiers to work through unexpected issues.

“I think the biggest thing is getting the guys the hands-on experience with actually shooting the Bradleys and knowing how the weapon works, how the weapon shoots, knowing what happens and what they need to do when there is a malfunction,” Tomeny said. “There are a lot of things that until you’re actually in the middle of something, and it happens while you’re trying to engage a target, (you don’t know how to fix). You get a better learning experience from all that.”

Author+Photographer: Wendy Brown – Fort Bliss Garrison Public Affairs

Fort Bliss WTB Physical Therapist Awarded DOD’s Spirt of Hope

Fort Bliss’ own, Louis Cortez, a physical therapist with the Fort Bliss Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB), was honored with the Spirit of Hope Award at the Pentagon, by Col. Erik Rude, commander, William Beaumont Army Medical Center.

The award, named after the late comedian Bob Hope, is presented to one individual or an organization selected by each branch of service as well as an honoree from the Office of the Secretary of Defense who characterize the values Hope embodied: duty, honor, courage, loyalty, commitment, integrity, and selfless dedication.

“Today’s honorees embody that commitment, they embody that spirit, and they embody the best attributes of (Hope),” said Michael Rhodes, Director of Administration and Management, Office of the Secretary of Defense. “You serve those who protect this nation, you serve those who protect the freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis, so it is an honor to publicly thank and recognize these patriots for what they do for our nation to improve the lives of our troops.”

Cortez, an El Paso native who studied physical therapy in the Netherlands, has worked alongside hundreds of wounded, ill and injured Soldiers with the WTB for the past three years, providing Soldiers an innovative and individual-based approach to physical therapy, resulting in many making full recoveries from debilitating injuries and physical combat-related trauma.

Louis Cortez, physical therapist, Fort Bliss Warrior Transition Battalion, assists Staff Sgt. Franklin Beardsley, a California National Guardsman assigned to the WTB recovering from knee surgery, with proper form during the rehabilitative strength and conditioning program at the WTB, Oct. 2. | U.S. Army photo by Marcy Sanchez

“My mission is to help any ill or wounded Soldiers to recuperate or return to the fight, and if they can’t I help them recuperate as much as they can to become productive veterans,” said Cortez. “I show them that they may not be the same person they were before but there’s many more things they are able to do.”

For almost a year and a half, Cortez’ commitment to Soldiers has helped one Soldier’s return to duty, after suffering multiple injuries and surgeries to his shoulder in addition to being diagnosed with asthma.

“(My unit) sent me to the Warrior Transition Battalion, and I met (Cortez) and from day one we started working on the shoulder which only had about two to three percent range of motion,” said Spc. Ricardo Cabrera-Murphy, a Soldier in transition with the WTB. “I couldn’t even do anything (due to his injuries) not even wash myself, my wife had to help.

“When I got here that’s when everything started changing, (the physical therapy team) started rebuilding me to get me back to where I was,” said Cabrera-Murphy, a native of Carolina, Puerto Rico.

While doubting a successful recovery, Cabrera-Murphy and his family began to plan for his separation from the Army, despite his desire to continue service.

“After the first surgery I was still confident, after the second I thought ‘that’s it for me, I won’t be able to go back to work’,” said Cabrera-Murphy. “As time went on, the shoulder got better and eventually got 85 percent range of motion, I passed my (physical fitness test) and getting back in the fight.”

Cabrera-Murphy credits Cortez and the Fort Bliss WTB for his return to the Force, stating the command continuously emphasized proper recovery and determination.

“I’m so excited because if it wasn’t for (Cortez), I wouldn’t be going back to work,” said Cabrera-Murphy. “(Cortez) is dedicated to the Soldiers, giving them that personal care and not letting anything get by him.”

For Cortez, who has been practicing physical therapy for 20 years, the award was unexpected and came as a surprise after he was selected, but Cortez gives full credit to the Fort Bliss WTB and his coworkers who share a common objective: to make a difference.

“I think the whole WTB deserves recognition because we all do a great job and have a part in taking care of the Soldier,” said Cortez. “This award was unexpected but what gives me the greatest pleasure in my job is making a difference in the Soldiers’ lives and that’s what’s most important to me.”

According to the award citation, Cortez’ reputation as a competent, passionate and effective physical therapist gained the attention of installation leaders and was sought after by the 1st Armored Division to assist with improving the rehabilitative strength and conditioning programs across Fort Bliss, significantly increasing the readiness posture of 1st Armored Division and the U.S. Army as a whole.

“I push the Soldiers to better themselves physically, but when I see them bettering themselves and working harder, it motivates me to work harder for them, it’s back and forth with me,” said Cortez. “The best part of my job is when a Soldier says ‘Thank you. You have helped me through this hard time and you gave me some sort of hope that I can do something with myself’.”

The Spirit of Hope Award was established in 1997 and has been presented to various service members, civilians, organizations and even celebrities such as Kelly Pickler, Toby Keith and Gary Sinise.

“In the past, our honorees have been national or international organizations, possibly world recognized. They’ve been regional or local organizations that maybe only those around them know by name. But, what they all had in common is the fact that they recognize the critical importance of supporting the quality of life of our military personnel and their families,” said Rhodes, during the awards ceremony. “(Hope) and his family will always hold a special place in this Nation and especially in the hearts of the men and women who wear the uniform, who are willing to risk their lives for whatever the Nation may require of them.”

The Department of Defense awarded five individuals and one organization with the Spirit of Hope Award during an awards ceremony at the Pentagon, September 28.

Author: Marcy Sanchez–  William Beaumont Army Medical Center Public Affairs Office

Staff Sgt. Joshua M. Mills Commando Competition: 12 Teams Give it Their All for Fallen Service Members

Each year, retired Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tommy Mills of El Paso asks himself how the organizers of the competition in his son’s name could possibly do better, but each year, they find a way.

This year was no exception for the Staff Sgt. Joshua M. Mills Commando Competition, with the largest number of teams ever participating in the fifth annual competition that honors our nation’s fallen.

The competition is named after an El Paso native and Green Beret who was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, when he died Sept. 16, 2009, after his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

“To say that we are honored and we appreciate what you do for our fallen, with our son’s name on it, I can’t thank you any more,” said Tommy Mills, as he spoke at the competition’s closing ceremony at 1st Lt. Paul A. Noel Parade Field at Fort Bliss Saturday.

Other family members in attendance included Joshua’s mother Celeste and his son Malaki, 9, who attended for the first time this year and not only got to hand out coins to the winners, but also visited with participants throughout the competition and received a tour at the 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade.

Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Dean, a Special Operations recruiter and organizer of the competition, said 12 teams of four competed this year, with new categories that included law enforcement and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets.

The competition, which took place Friday (September 28) and Saturday (September 29) at Fort Bliss, included a set of difficult exercises that had to be completed in 80 minutes; a five-mile run that had to be completed in fewer than 40 minutes; a stress shoot with five events at McGregor Range, N.M.; all the obstacles at the Air Assault Obstacle Course (timed); and a six-mile ruck march with a minimum 40-pound ruck that included carrying water cans, ammo crates and litters, Dean said.

It ended with four Soldiers assigned to the Black Daggers Parachute Demonstration Team parachuting onto the parade field before the closing ceremony.

This year’s winners included Joint Task Force-North, the top Fort Bliss team; 19th Special Forces Group, the number one Special Forces unit; Team One from the University of Texas at El Paso ROTC, the best ROTC team; and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, the best law enforcement team.

In addition, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Ricardo Luna, assigned to JTF-N, won the upper body round robin individual competition for the second year in a row. Derek Nepo, assigned to the 19th SF Group, was the top shot in the stress shoot.

Maj. Adam Antonini, a member of the JTF-N team, said the turnout from all the Fort Bliss units was impressive.

“Competing in the JMCC was a great opportunity to spend two days honoring an NCO who gave his life in defense of the American people,” Antonini said. “Seeing the Mills family in attendance at every event really motivated us to do our best.”

It’s important that the Fort Bliss community continues to support the event year after year, Antonini said.

Several 1st Armored Division units also participated, and Sgt. Armand Spencer, assigned to 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st AD, said the competition made him a better Soldier.

“I just love competitions and showing what you’re made of,” Spencer said. “It gives you that gut check and it’s a good way to represent our battalion.”

Author & Photographer: Wendy Brown – Fort Bliss Public Affairs Office  

‘Soldier Dolls’ Shortens Distance for Dakota Squadron at Fort Bliss

Deployment readiness does not fall solely on the shoulders of a Soldier alone. Family members of deployed Soldiers also have to prepare for the emotional strain at home while they’re separated from their Soldiers for an extended period of time.

One tactic being used by Dakota Squadron is the distribution of Soldier dolls to Families of Soldiers preparing for the unit’s upcoming deployment.

Chaplain (Capt.) Brian Funk and his assistant Spc. Monroig, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry “Dakota,” 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division facilitated the Soldier Doll distribution, Sept. 27, which is designed to shorten the distance between Families and their Soldiers during the unit’s deployment to the Republic of Korea this fall.

“The idea behind it (Soldier Doll Program) is for the dolls to be picked up by the parents and then the photo is inserted into the doll (for their children) to shorten the distance a little for the Soldiers while they’re deployed,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Brian Funk, chaplain for 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.

Sgt. Christopher Smith, cavalry scout with 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division and father of a one-year old son and six-year old daughter, is grateful for the program.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone that worked on getting the dolls,” said Smith.

Smith also discusses other events orchestrated by the unit’s family readiness group and ministry team for Families.

“We’ve had a lot of family events that have been going on throughout the Squadron. We had the Spouse Spur Ride a couple weeks ago, and we got to go on a (Strong Bonds) couples retreat, about a month or so ago,” Smith added.

Katie Lubischer, family readiness group leader for Damage Troop, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment is also very excited about the Soldier Doll program and adds insight from an expecting mother’s perspective.

“I think it’s great. We have a lot of wives that are expecting to give birth, including myself, while they’re gone,” said Lubischer. “I think it’s a great thing to put the picture in so they (the children) can get used to the face.”

A strong support network is important during times of separation and Lubischer and the rest of the Squadron’s Families are ready for the task.

“We’ve built up such a great support network and we also have a lot of events coming up including our Trunk or Treat, I’m so excited,” said Lubischer. “There’s so many things to look forward to and so many things that we’re providing the families with, so I think it’s going to be a great deployment.”

Author: Maj. Anthony Clas – 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Public Affairs

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