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Home | Tag Archives: fort bliss

Tag Archives: fort bliss

‘Bulldog Brigade’ conducts Change of Command Ceremony at Fort Bliss

FORT BLISS – Col. Marc A. Cloutier relinquished command of 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team “Bulldog”, 1st Armored Division to Col. Jabari M. Miller at Fort Bliss, Texas, July 9.

Battalion command teams and guidons of Bulldog Brigade stood tall, the band played flawlessly, and the battery salute echoed across the Fort Bliss footprint during the change of command ceremony between Cloutier and Miller as the majority of the ceremony’s viewership witnessed this momentous occasion virtually to lower the risk of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spread transmission.

“I could not be more proud of the way Marc and his leadership executed missions across the entire two-year period, said Maj. Gen. Patrick E. Matlock, commander of the 1st Armored Division, III Armored Corps. “Welcome to the family (Col. Miller and his family), it’s great to have you here, you guys are going to have a great two years with all the things the Army is going to bring to you, the challenges, opportunities and just wonderful people, and we hope you enjoy every single minute of it.”

Goodbyes are a bitter sweet occasion, and it was apparent Cloutier felt he was leaving a part of himself behind with the Bulldog Family.

“I leave this Brigade knowing somethings are undisputable,” said Cloutier, commander (outgoing) of 3rd ABCT, 1st AD. “The Brigade is in good hands because we have Soldiers who are here that joined to win. I look back on these two years and feel nothing but pride. I will forever refer to myself, not as someone who served in the 3rd Brigade, or who served in the Bulldog Brigade. I will always refer to myself as a Bulldog and as an Iron Soldier, and I hope you will too.”

Cloutier will report to the Pentagon to take on an assignment with the Department of the Army G8, the Army’s lead for matching available resources to the defense strategy and the Army plan. Miller, comes to Fort Bliss from the National War College, on Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., and is ready for the challenge to come and is humbled for the opportunity to lead the Bulldog Brigade.

“The Army is a team sport and no one progresses alone; therefore, I owe many thanks to many people that shaped and enabled me to serve as Bulldog 6,” said Miller, commander of 3rd ABCT, 1st AD. “Today’s environment presents multiple challenges to our Brigade, our Army, and our Nation. The task at hand can seem daunting, but I have faith the American Soldiers, and especially the Soldiers of Bulldog Brigade, cannot only weather the storm, but eventually be stronger once it has passed. If we maintain standards and discipline, master the fundamentals, and focus on our people, this Bulldog Family will continue to thrive as an organization, and will be prepared to close with and destroy any enemy in multi-domain combat on any battlefield.”

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

White Sands Missile Range celebrates 75th Anniversary

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. – White Sands Missile Range leaders celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the range during a small ceremony July 9 in front of Headquarters Building 100.

The range was originally established as the White Sands Proving Ground on July 9, 1945. For the past 75 years, thousands of military personnel and civilian employees have made White Sands Missile Range a focal point for scientific and engineering excellence.

During the ceremony, WSMR Commander Brig. Gen. David Trybula welcomed state and local leaders and community members to the event marking 75 years of excellence.

“Thank you for joining us to recognize the 75th anniversary of White Sands Missile Range – the birthplace of America’s missile and space activity.  And thank you for your support over the past 75 years, and for continuing to strengthen our relationship now and into the future in support of national security,” Trybula said.

“We also appreciate the support that this state has given us, having 3,000 square miles and residing in five different New Mexico counties, we continuously work towards a valued partnership. We are grateful to be one of the installations that creates a three part contiguous military space here in the Southwest and are proud of the synergetic work we have been able to accomplish alongside Fort Bliss and Holloman Air Force Base as we simultaneously produce readiness for the Warfighter today and for the future.”

White Sands Missile Range, DoD’s largest, fully-instrumented, open air range, provides America’s Armed Forces, allies, partners, and defense technology innovators with the world’s premier research, development, test, evaluation, experimentation, and training facilities to ensure our nation’s defense readiness.

Unable to attend, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) delivered his remarks via a prerecorded video.

“It’s my honor to recognize all of the patriotic Americans who have contributed to 75 years of accomplishments in history at White Sands Missile Range. On July 9, 1945, the U.S. Army established White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin. Seven days later the detonation of the first atomic bomb at Trinity Site, ushered in the nuclear era. And for three quarters of a century, White Sands has been home to major scientific breakthroughs, critical weapons testing and evaluation, and military technology advances. Today’s White Sands Missile Range is the Department of Defense’s largest fully instrumented open air test range. It continues to offer unrivaled terrain and resources to our armed services, our allies and defense technology partners,” Heinrich said.

“Through my role on the senate armed services committee, I’ve been proud to support White Sands as it stays on the forefront of testing new technologies that will be critical for our defense readiness. In the years ahead White Sands will test emerging technologies like directed energy systems, autonomous and unmanned systems and hypersonic and long range precision fires. I want to extend my sincere appreciation and congratulations to everyone who continues to work hard every single day at White Sands Missile Range to keep all of us safe.”

U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) also delivered his remarks via a prerecorded video.

“I’m glad to join with you to celebrate the 75th anniversary of White Sands Missile Range. For the past 75 years, White Sands has been a focal point for scientific and engineering success. Thanks to the work of our dedicated military and civilian personnel White Sands became the premier testing range for our country’s very first defensive missile systems and White Sands has played a major role in our exploration of space beginning with rocket pioneer Robert Goddard and continuing today in partnership with NASA and commercial space programs. The range has enabled crewed space flight supporting the Apollo mission and all of the Space Shuttle missions. The range also served as a backup shuttle landing location when the Columbia returned to earth in 1982,” Udall said.

“Looking ahead, White Sands will continue to play a pivotal role in this new era of space exploration as a landing location and as a hub for new technologies. It’s my honor to congratulate all of the hard working personnel at White Sands for truly making it a birthplace of America’s missile and space activity.”

Trybula continued the celebration by talking about the history at WSMR.

“We all know that missile and rocket testing began with the V2s in 1945. What is not as well-known is the vast number and types of systems tested at WSMR over the years.  The names are fascinating.  These include many from Greek mythology – Ajax, Athena, Hermes, Nike, – and Roman mythology – Jupiter, Mercury, Saturn,” Trybula said.

“One of the hidden names is the Hound Dog.  The Hound Dog was a missile that was air launched from B52s near Del Rio Texas into WSMR in the early-1960s. It was the pre-cursor to today’s cruise missiles.”

Trybula went on to say that WSMR is also the birthplace of America’s space activity.

“While this is often tied to the early rocket research, it is much more than that.  WSMR was integral to the testing of the Apollo missions, hosted the landing of the space shuttle at the White Sands Space Harbor, and continues to test the Commercial Crew Transport that will ferry astronauts to the international space station and return them to WSMR.  Indeed WSMR was so important to getting a U.S. astronaut on the moon that President Kennedy personally visited to understand the activities ongoing.  WSMR’s tie to space is firmly entrenched with long-standing NASA tenant organizations and now an element of the U.S. Space Force,” he said. “As with missiles, for space, WSMR is testing the future, changing the world.”

Speaking on the importance of the environment at WSMR, Trybula went on to say that throughout the years, WSMR has been a leader in environmental stewardship, understanding the imperative to sustain the environment that is critical to what we do and where we live.

“We are thrilled that the fiscal year 2021 budget request included funding to provide water resiliency for main post with the addition of solar power with battery backup for our wells.  This is great step forward for the future.”

Trybula then focused his attention to the dedicated workforce at WSMR.

“White Sands Missile Range was what it was, and is what it is, and will be what it will be, because of the efforts of the dedicated workforce. Theworkforce, which through the years has consisted of thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airman, Marines, Civil Servants and Contractors, who have pushed the bounds of science and technology to provide for our nation’s security. Our workforce has and continues to test the future, change the world. Thank you!”

“How many individuals have served as a proud member of the WSMR workforce over the past 75 years? The exact number doesn’t matter, it’s the collective achievement of the group that has made this great installation what it is today, and what it will be in the future. Professionals who did everything from security to accounting, from maintenance to laboratory activities, from engineering to science, and everything in between.”

Trybula then highlighted a few examples of professional employees from across the years.

From 1977 he highlighted Airline Steuwer, a handicapped woman who worked in the engineering department of the Facilities Engineering Directorate. He went on to say that from her wheelchair, she performed her duties as a draftsman doing civil, mechanical, building and road drawings. She came to WSMR in 1970, but being a draftsman wasn’t new to her since she had previous experience working for a defense contractor during WWII. Shortly after the war, she contracted Polio, but she was determined to further develop her career in drafting. When she came to the range, she was supposed to go to the Tech area, but physical barriers in the area made it impossible for her to work there. She soon found her draftsman position within the Facilities Engineering Directorate. Steuwer was the WSMR coordinator for the handicapped and the installation representative to the governor’s committee for the removal of barriers for the physically handicapped. This committee worked with businesses to make buildings and offices accessible to people on crutches, canes and wheelchairs.

From 1985 he highlighted Sgt. Gabriel Galos, an Army radar operator who tracked the first rocket ever fired at White Sands Proving Ground. After the completion of his military service, Galos returned to White Sands in 1953 and embarked on a 24 year career here, first as a physicist, and then in positions in the electro-mechanical laboratory where he established the electro-magnetic radiation effects test program and was responsible for the advancement in the development of radars. At his retirement party in 1977, an associate said “the effects of his work on this range, which he helped to establish, will be apparent and will be beneficial to us and to his country for years to come.” He was inducted into the WSMR hall of fame in 1985.

From 1989 he highlighted Eldon “Huck” Hale, who began his career at the range in 1958 as a telephone cable splicer and over the year worked his way up to be the deputy director of the U.S. Army information system command -White Sands. During his career, Huck was involved in computer automation programs and network management. In a first for WSMR, he centralized the master control for the fiber-optic communication network on the range. The network allowed all 3,000 miles of fiber optics cable at WSMR to be centrally monitored to detect problems and direct repairs.  Huck retired in 1989 having completed 32 years of federal service.

From 2005 he highlighted Joy Arthur. Arthur was born in Manila, Philippines, on Dec. 2, 1935. She earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1956. She began working at WSMR in May 1958, developing instrumentation and was the first woman engineer to work at White Sands. In 1962, she transferred to what is now known as the Army Research Laboratory’s Survivability and Lethality Analysis Directorate, Information Electronic Protection Division.

There, she evolved as a national leader in supporting Army systems to determine their vulnerabilities to electronic warfare countermeasures. Joy innovated techniques to increase the dispersion efficiency of chaff and demonstrated absorbing chaff, environmentally degradable chaff, illuminated chaff, chaff rockets and rounds. She designed, developed and demonstrated jamming technology. This included a missile-borne X-band jammer with a hydrazine-driven power supply. A multi-spectral jammer Joy devised used explosively-detonated inert gases.

Her numerous other projects included determining the vulnerabilities of Army weapons such as the Patriot and MLRS, protecting sensors against frequency-agile laser threats, developing non-lethal weaponry, creating radio-frequency decoys that simulate helicopters, and detecting the unintentional radiated emissions from electronic systems and underground facilities. Joy retired in February 2005 after 46 years of inventive and proactive service to the country.

“To professional employees like Airline Steuwer, Gabriel Galos, Huck Hale and Joy Arthur – thank you!” Trybula said. “To the thousands of members of the workforce who have contributed to WSMR over the years – thank you.”

Speaking to the current workforce, Trybula said “You are truly the essence of WSMR today and you are mine and the Army’s top priority. Your professionalism is appreciated and your knowledge is what gets us through trying times such as these.”

“We hope that our future workforce is listening today and learning from your example. As we continue to work in our communities with outreach endeavors like our internships programs and the Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science (GEMS), we want to continue to be a part of shaping young people’s minds,” Trybula said. “As our local universities graduate new classes into a world of uncertainty, we hope that WSMR can be a beacon of hope for these young minds – as a place where they can come and be a part of our team.  We want the leaders of tomorrow to start their futures here today.”

“Thank you for your dedication, professionalism and devotion to duty. Each one of you contributed to the 75 years of success here at WSMR and are building upon that foundation for the future.”

For updates on all news from around Las Cruces and Southern New Mexico, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NCOLCoE at Fort Bliss holds virtual hall of honor ceremony

FORT BLISS —The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence held a virtual ceremony on June 17, for two individuals inducted into the NCOLCoE Hall of Honor.

Since May 2006, the NCOLCoE selects only those rare individuals whose unique and extraordinary accomplishments, separate them from all others as they have left a significant lasting positive impact on the training, education and development of NCOs.

Retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey and retired Command Sgt. Maj., and former NCOLCoE director of Policy and Governance, Charles E. Guyette are recognized for their contributions to the lineage of the noncommissioned officer corps and the NCO Professional Development System.

To date, there have been 36 individuals inducted into the HoH, who served meritoriously in positions of great responsibility and made significant contributions to the education of Soldiers and the NCO Corps.

The ceremony, though virtual, is no different than the events in the past.

The purpose and intent of the HoH remain the same. To welcome two more outstanding individuals into the HoH to join the ranks of those who provided distinguished meritorious service before them.

The first inductee, SMA (R) Daniel Daily, enlisted in the Army in 1989 and retired in 2019.

Over the last three decades, Dailey held numerous positions in the Army. He completed his tenure as the 15th Sergeant Major of the United States Army.

His influence in the NCO Corps improved the structure of the self-development program and he focused on making the call to the American Soldier more valuable to serving the soldiers’ educational self-development needs.

Daily, opened his remarks by commenting on not being physically present to experience the induction due to the recent pandemic.

“We have all had to adjust the way we do things slightly, but as they say. We are all in this together,” he said.

Daily added, “when you take a look at those who have been inducted in the past. There’s a reminder of the incredible contributions made by so many over the years to advance the professional education of our noncommissioned officer corps.”

Daily also made incredible contributions by improving the NCO development timeline and synchronized the relationship between professional military education promotions and assignments in a way that is delivered continuous, sequential, and progressive.

“The true value of all the hard work by so many is the product you have and will continue to produce for years to come. The Army will benefit from the world-class professional education it provides its NCOs,” he said.

Daily explained how the U.S. Army NCOPDS also benefits our allies and partners.

“Over the past several years, our noncommissioned officer professional development NCOPDS has been the envy of every professional army around the world, many of which have molded or adapted their education system to mirror that of the work accomplished by all of you,” he said.

During his remarks, Daily emphasized the importance of the accrediting the NCO education system.

“Accrediting our NCO education system is a monumental mark in our history, that will not only keep us in the forefront of enlisted education but change the lives of thousands of noncommissioned officers and provide them with well-deserved opportunities, well beyond their service in the army,” he said.

The 15th SMA, both humbled and honored to be inducted in the HoH, concluded his speech with a final thank you.

“I’m truly grateful to be part of that. And for all the things that we did to make our NCO Corps, a little bit better than we found,” he said. Daily added, “thank you to everyone at the noncommissioned officer Leadership Center of Excellence for this incredible honor. And thank you for all you do every day.”

The second HoH inductee is Mr. Charles Guyette.

CSM (R) Charles Guyette served on active duty army from 1975 to 2005 and retired as a brigade Command Sergeant Major, and served 30 years.

After his active duty ended, Guyette served as a civilian in the federal service and retired a second time in 2019.

He served in positions of great responsibility with his final position as the director of Policy and Governance for the NCOLCoE.

During his tenure at the NCOLCoE, he led innovative and revolutionary change to the entire U.S. Army NCO Professional Development System.

In his opening remarks, Guyette thanked everyone responsible for supporting him throughout his career and paid homage to the great leaders he encountered along the way.

“I mentioned these exceptional people because they were leaders who gave their young leaders the flexibility to take risks, to innovate, to create the creative thinkers, and to solve the difficult problems,” he said. “And were certainly your leaders long before we started using these buzzwords in our lexicon in developing our leaders today.”

Guyette added, “I often use examples of their character as the best examples of what leadership should be.”

He led the change in NCO education by leading the institution’s effort to seek and achieve the Higher Learning Commission accreditation of the Sergeants Major Academy to grant a Bachelor’s of Arts in leadership and workforce development.

“You’ve heard the accolades spoken to my accomplishments, but none of this would have happened if it was not for the great team,” Guyette said. “Who really, where the cohesion that helped accomplish these lofty achievements.”

During his remarks, Guyette spoke to the evolutionary changes throughout the NCO Corps.

“Like any soldier. It was our responsibility to improve the foxhole. Many may ask why this business was important to me.”

“I was the product of the primary leadership course in 1977, and Advanced Leadership Course in 1987, in the Sergeant Major Course in 1997,” he said. “I witnessed an insignificant change in our NCO leadership development. Change that was not doing justice to our NCO’s.”

He further explained how the Soldier of today is smart, agile, and adaptive.

“The young noncommissioned officer of today challenged us to give them the tools to be creative, innovative, critical thinking, and solve the complex leadership problems of today.”

Guyette closed by charging the NCOLCoE to continue to be champions of change and to take NCO leadership development to new heights.

“That is our responsibility, our legacy, to allow those leaders to make those tough decisions in the heat of a fight to those present today,” he said.

Hall of Honor inductees includes former officers, enlisted and Department of the Army civilians who have made a lasting and positive impact on the way the NCOLCoE develops, integrates, and delivers training and education readiness to the U.S. Army.

For more information, the past and present Hall of Honor inductees, click here.

Author: Danielle ODonnell – The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence 

1st Armored Division marks Ninth Anniversary at Fort Bliss

FORT BLISS, Texas – America’s Tank Division marks the nine year anniversary of its historic return to U.S. soil after serving four decades abroad on May 13th.

After 1st Armored Division cased the colors on May 13, 2011 at Wiesbaden Army Airfield in Germany, the division command team uncased the colors to the booms of howitzer cannon fire echoing off El Paso’s Franklin Mountains on May 24, 2011, as an official welcome to Fort Bliss.

The occasion marked the first time the division colors were unfurled in the U.S. since 1971 and the homecoming of the last U.S. Army division to leave Germany.

It was also the start of the special bond and rapid growth of Fort Bliss and the City of El Paso. With the relocation of the 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss grew from 9,000 soldiers in 2005 to more than 34,000 in 2011.

Acting senior commander Brig. Gen. Matthew Eichburg previously served with 1AD from 2006-2009 when it was headquartered in Germany, as well as during two deployments with the division.

During that time, Eichburg initially served as the Executive Officer for 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade in 2006 and then transitioned to serve as the Brigade S-3 Operations Officer in 2007.

“To be a part of the division’s history across multiple continents is incredible. The increased opportunities for training here at Fort Bliss demonstrate that this was absolutely the right place for us to be, not to mention the welcome we received in becoming a part of the City of El Paso,” said Eichburg.

“If someone told me 11 years ago I would be a part of the Old Ironsides history at this level, I would never have believed it. It is an honor beyond belief,” he added.

The start of the division’s move to El Paso began in 2005, when the Pentagon determined that the division should move in accordance with the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission’s recommendations.

The commission recommended developing Fort Bliss from an institutional training post to a major mounted maneuver training installation with the capacity for heavy armored units. With a vast 1.12 million acres of training area available, there was more than enough real estate to accommodate the 1st Armored Division’s 11,500 incoming troops.

The division did not move as a whole, as it was tasked with several deployments at the time, according to Kari Atkinson, Director of the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Museum.

“From 2003 to 2011, 1AD units were deployed to different countries at different times,” said Atkinson. “The physical move took about six years to complete because various units were moving back and forth, in and out. It was like moving a house one bedroom at a time.”

According to Master Sgt. Albert Apodaca, the Chief Ammunition NCO of G4 Plans & Operations, his unit – 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division – was the first to stand up in 2006 (which was later reflagged to 4/1AD in March 2008). Apodaca was able to experience the Fort Bliss growth firsthand as a platoon sergeant.

“Before my first deployment from Bliss in 2006, it was a ghost town,” said Apodaca. “There was hardly any infrastructure, roads or buildings.”

“It got much busier after I returned from my second deployment in 2010, but now after nine years, it’s become a full blown working division,” he added. “It’s like night and day.”

By the end of 2010, all the major brigades had relocated to Fort Bliss. Division headquarters joined the subordinate brigades the following year in May 2011.

Major construction projects went underway at Fort Bliss as a part of the expansion, which transformed the post on several fronts including operations facilities, training areas and Soldier quality of life functions.

New facilities included the battalion, brigade and division headquarters, company operations facilities, barracks and motor pools. Training areas and ranges also had to be updated to accommodate armored vehicles such as tanks, Abrams, Bradleys, and aircraft.

On top of orchestrating the move of thousands of troops, the division had to transport thousands of pieces of equipment such as bayonets, humvees and generators, all of which required carefully planned logistics and coordination.

Fort Bliss is considered to be one of the largest continental U.S. expansions of any installation in the last several decades in terms of population size, construction size and end state growth. It is the largest Forces Command installation in the Army, the second-largest in the Department of Defense overall. With the growth of Fort Bliss, so came the growth of the city of El Paso.

“The city of El Paso has grown a lot too. It’s become a great place for Soldiers and families to live,” said Apodaca. “There is a city right outside the gate and it’s more accommodating compared to other bases across America.”

On top of fueling the local economy, Fort Bliss directly employs more than 48,000 and supports more than 136,000 Texas jobs.

Due to the special relationship that Fort Bliss has with the city, the community worked with Fort Bliss to accommodate the influx of Soldiers and family members by building loops to connect the post to El Paso’s freeways and expanded transportation projects throughout the city.

Before saying Auf Wiedersehen, 1st Armored Division made Germany its home as part of the Army’s post-Vietnam reorganization in 1971. For the next 40 years, the division played a tremendous role as part of the American forces committed to a NATO defense of Europe.

1AD deployed to the Middle East in the early 90s to serve in major support operations including Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Storm in Iraq.

The late 90s saw Iron Soldiers deploying to the Balkans for peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo. The new millennium saw the division deploy multiple times to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom.

While the division’s move to El Paso and the opportunities for expansion at Fort Bliss are just shy of a decade, 2020 brings with it another major milestone later this summer. On July 15, the division, also known by the moniker Old Ironsides, will be turning the ripe old age of 80.

Author:  Jean Han – 1st Armored Division

WBAMC launches new Curbside Pharmacy Service

Fort Bliss has stepped up its preventative measures to keep pharmacy services safe for its Soldiers, families and the El Paso Veteran community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measures took effect across William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC) pharmacies in an effort to increase the safety and health of both beneficiaries and health care staff.

These changes come as CDC and Army Public Health Nursing guidelines call for the minimizing of foot traffic and the limiting of large gatherings of people in medical center lobbies and waiting rooms.

The new curbside drop-off and pickup pharmacy service is only available at the Mendoza Clinic and William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC) main campus between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

TRICARE beneficiaries can drop off their prescriptions and return for them in about four hours to pick up. Any prescriptions dropped off after 1 p.m. will be ready for pick-up the next business day. This applies to any new prescriptions, refills, non-acute medications, and electronic prescription renewals.

Patients are encouraged to phone in their refills by calling (915) 742-1200 and use TRICARE Online as much as possible to manage all of their refill needs such as reviewing their prescription status or submitting refill requests. There is a four-day turnaround time for requesting refills over the phone or online.

For patients that are acutely ill, a specific location for services will be provided to them by their provider. To protect patient health information, WBAMC discourages discussing medical matters or questions on social media and strongly recommends talking to the pharmacy or provider directly.

A U.S. Army Pharmacy Specialist prepares to dispense patient’s prescriptions at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC) curbside pharmacy service on Fort Bliss, Texas, April 6, 2020. | U.S. Army photo by: Staff Sgt. Michael L. K. West

 

The Freedom’s Crossing pharmacy is still open for refill requests submitted by phone or Tricare Online only and will remain open until otherwise announced.

The Soldier Family Medical Center Pharmacy has been closed since March 27 and any prescriptions there have been rerouted as needed. Contact 915-742-6094 for any questions.

“When you come for pick-up at the refill pharmacy, remember to exercise social distancing and to wear the proper masks or cloth face coverings when entering any facility on the installation in accordance with the recent “Stay Home, Stay Safe” directive,” said Maj. Eric Mies, deputy surgeon, 1st Armored Division.

“We are extremely proud of our medical professionals across the installation for their hard work and tireless efforts to keep the community safe in the wake of this pandemic. Please make sure you confirm your items are ready for pick-up before coming to either service and be patient with our staff on site.”

Another option beneficiaries may use is the Tricare Express Scripts home delivery service. You can order online, via phone, mobile app, and snail mail.

Author: Jean Han  – 1st Armored Division

Senior NCO feels well prepared for retirement after stint at Joint Modernization Command

Master Sgt. Rochelle Cofield’s career in the Army has been longer and more rewarding than he expected when he first enlisted just a few days after graduating from high school in Georgia. And now as he prepares to retire from the Army, he is secure that his service has him well prepared for his next stage.

Cofield is the senior enlisted advisor to the Field Experiments Division chief of the U.S. Army Joint Modernization Command. As the Division NCOIC, he assists with coordinating, planning, and sustainment operations during JMC’s Joint Warfighting Assessments. He is also responsible for tracking and monitoring personnel readiness, mandatory training, and daily administrative matters in his division.

Cofield will soon be retiring from the Army after more than 25 years of service. But when he first enlisted, he thought he would serve three years then pursue a college education. He found instead that he enjoyed serving in the Army and staying in allowed him to support his family.

“I love serving alongside my brothers and sisters as we make a difference here at home, in Iraq and or any given place where we are needed,” Cofield said. “I love the cohesion and the brother/sisterhood of working together to accomplish any mission or task that is brought before us. It’s been rewarding, whether it’s deploying to Iraq, volunteering and helping in the community or traveling to many places and meeting new people as we experience different cultures.”

Cofield said his time at JMC has made him a better leader and has taught him a lot about how the Army modernizes. He has constantly volunteered in the community, especially in helping judge science fairs in the El Paso community.

“You are always improving your craft as a leader to be well rounded,” he said. “I’ve learned how things work as we bring new equipment to the fight or the battlefield. It must go through a significant number of assessments and testing from us and other agencies to be vetted for safety requirements and does it benefit the Army Soldier to defeat our adversaries.”

Cofield said he was especially impressed to see how Soldier feedback is incorporated into the JMC assessment process.

“During Joint Warfighting Assessments, I like going out to the field to see the Soldiers experimenting and using these new concepts and capabilities,” he said. “I want to hear their feedback about these new gadgets because Soldiers’ opinions are the real reason why we should either keep, make changes or get rid of something.”

Cofield and his wife, Dolly, have enjoyed their time in El Paso, and especially enjoy attending UTEP football and basketball games, hiking and spending time with friends.

“El Paso has incredible mountains to see, and the people are great and friendly,” Cofield said. “I like the weather even though it gets hot. The area is not too small and not too big. They have awesome hiking trails, mountain views and Mexican culture to learn.”

Cofield has spent his time at JMC well: Volunteering, learning and spending time with his family. The attributes that make him an excellent NCO have him well positioned for a successful retirement from the Army, as well.

Master Sgt. Rochelle S. Cofield, Field Experiments Division NCOIC at the U.S. Army Joint Modernization Command, and his wife, Dolly, judge a student’s robot project during the Five Star Innovation STEM Cup and Robotics Competition on March 7 at Western Technical College in El Paso. | photo by Jonathan Koester
Joint Modernization Command

Author:  Jonathan Koester  – Joint Modernization Command

A Little Bit of Bliss: A Crafty Solution to Spouse Employment

FORT BLISS, Texas – Tucked away in a nondescript brown building on Chaffee Road is a little gem of a gift shop bursting with color and charm.

Cleverly named A Little Bit of Bliss, the Fort Bliss Spouses’ Association (FBSA)-operated store is a brick-and-mortar solution to something that 1st Armored Division and U.S. Army leaders care about very much- spouse employment and quality of life. Since reopening in October 2019 with a new look, the gift shop has become a haven for military spouses looking for a creative outlet, hobby, comradery or to promote a side business and make some extra cash.

“It’s our service that we want to give to our spouses,” said Angelina Edwards, manager of the gift shop and a military spouse herself. “We want to give them that platform to be able to not only make a little extra money but to keep them busy and have something for them to do.”

While employment challenges are not unique to military spouses, they face additional obstacles due to the transient nature of military life. Deployments, frequent moves, remote locations of military bases, and child care needs are just some of the many challenges that military spouses deal with on a regular basis.

This is the case for one of the gift shop’s vendors, Misty Hofmann, a native of Mount Dora, Florida, whose husband is assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion,1AD.

Hofmann is an Air Force veteran with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and several years working as a DoD-contracted satellite imagery analyst under her belt.

Yet due to frequent relocations and having to become the primary child caregiver, she has not had a job since 2011. “It just became too difficult to find a job that correlates to my skill set at those different locations and for that small amount of time that we’d actually be there,” said Hofmann. When Hofmann discovered A Little Bit of Bliss, she was overjoyed. She had found a way to occupy her time and feel a sense of accomplishment.

“It’s rewarding for me, because as a homemaker, there are a whole lot of things that I do that never actually get finished. I don’t feel that sense of completion that I found when I was working, but my side business gave me something to focus on and feel that sense of completion,” said Hofmann.

Many military bases are located in rural or remote areas, leading to fierce competition in the job market. Living in an area like El Paso brings the additional challenge of a job market that often expects employees to be bilingual.

“I’ve had a hard time finding a job because I don’t speak Spanish, and it’s kind of required to work at a hospital in this area. I’ve been looking off and on for three years,” said Little Bit of Bliss vendor Meagan McCullough, whose husband is assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1AD.

Despite having career experience and an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology, the Suwanee, Georgia, native said she has found the job hunt to be difficult.

According to Edwards, this is par for the course. “It’s really hard to get jobs here because we live in a place that is highly populated,” said Edwards. “About half of the spouses that sell their crafts here can’t find jobs and are just trying to make ends meet the best way they can.”

The store features many items with military, patriotic, Texas and El Paso among its popular themes. A percentage of the price of each item goes to the FBSA for its programming, and the rest the vendors keep.

The FBSA provides the opportunity for members to participate in social and creative activities while supporting worthwhile service and community activities. The FBSA also operates the Fort Bliss Thrift Shop, with proceeds providing community non-profits with grants and members and their local family members with merit-based scholarships.

Aside from independent opportunities like A Little Bit of Bliss, the Army is improving career and employment opportunities for military spouses through new programs and existing partnerships.

In a bid to support military families, the Army is taking an active approach to help military spouses find jobs, build careers and improve their quality of life.

Supporting Army spouses in continuing their work in a new place of residence with minimal delay and additional expense is important.

Spouses in professionally licensed fields face challenges resulting from delays and the cost of transferring licenses to a new state.

Many spouses may qualify for help in covering the costs of transferring those credentials when they experience a permanent-change-of-station move with their service member spouse.

Under the National Defense Authorization Act 2020, civilian spouses can now receive up to $1,000 in reimbursements for relicensing costs during permanent change-of-station relocations.

Policy details and reimbursement procedures vary by service branch. Spouses are eligible for reimbursement after getting their new license or certification.

Information for each service branch is available on the Military OneSource website.

For those who are interested in joining the A Little Bit of Bliss team for a more local, personal start to employment at Fort Bliss, Edwards encourages spouses to try their hand at crafting.

The shop currently has 23 spouses and service members that are selling their goods there, although typically the average is 50.

“Anyone who might be crafty or wants to try it should come on down, because we have plenty of space for more crafts!” said Edwards.

Useful Links:
A Little Bit of Bliss gift shop  |   Fort Bliss Spouse Association (FBSA)   |   Employment Readiness Program (ERP) 
Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO)   |   Military One Source

Author: Jean Han  – 1st Armored Division

Army leaders inspire JMC officer to become a leader in modernization

As a young enlisted Solider, Maj. Wesley Ward saw both good and bad commanders. Seeing both led him to want to become an officer himself.

“I had one company commander when I was enlisted that would fight as hard as any other soldier and place himself at risk alongside of his soldiers,” Ward said. “That truly inspired me. I have also served under a few battalion commanders who have taught and demonstrated that the Army — when run correctly — is a job of service.”

However …

“I also had a company commander who I wasn’t that thrilled with,” Ward said. “I think soldiers deserve a warfighter, someone willing to lead them in front of danger, and that’s what inspired me to go and do the transition to become an officer.”

Ward is now the lead planner in the Field Experiments Division at the U.S. Army Joint Modernization Command at Fort Bliss, Texas. Ward’s desire to be at Fort Bliss is how he first learned of JMC.

“I learned about JMC through my assignments officer as a way to get here to Bliss,” Ward said. “It was a good transition back into the real Army. I had been working for four years at the Captain’s Career Course. I saw this as an opportunity to, one, look at the Army from a different angle than your typical company to battalion to brigade type of thing. To learn more about the larger picture. And two, it was a good way to get to a duty station that I really wanted to come to.”

Maj. Wesley Ward (fourth row, far left) with B Company, 1-5 Infantry soon after he first enlisted in the Army. | Photo courtesy Maj. Wesley Ward

JMC has tasked Ward with integrating Multi-Domain Operations-focused future concepts, capabilities, and formations into JointWarfighting Assessment 20 and Defender 20. In Army Futures Command, concepts are pre-doctrine ideas on how the Army will fight in the future, and capabilities are the equipment needed to fight in the future. JMC is a subordinate command of AFC.

JWA 20, planned for April 25 to May 15, 2020, in Germany and Poland, is the Army’s largest annual live, multinational experiment, focused on MDO.

JWAs focus on refining concepts, capabilities and formations through soldier and leader feedback at live experiments.

JWA 20 is nested with the 37,000-strong Defender 20 exercise. About 20,000 U.S. service members will deploy from the continental U.S. to Europe for the exercises, including active-duty units from multiple Army divisions, National Guard units from 11 states, and seven U.S. Army Reserve units, making Defender 20 the largest deployment of U.S.-based Army forces to Europe in 25 years.

Then-Capt. Wesley Ward (center) with the command team for B Troop, 6-4 Cavalry. | Photo courtesy Maj. Wesley Ward

Ward will spend the coming months assisting JMC Field Experiments Division system managers and team leaders, who are responsible for managing individual systems, with information requests to and from U.S. Army Europe to prepare for JWA 20 and Defender 20. He will also conduct general staff functions and answer information requests from the various system’s sponsors.

Ward said he originally enlisted in the Army go find some direction in his life, and his time at JMC has helped propel his Army career forward.

“My time at JMC has made me a better leader by enabling me to work in a non-standard environment and apply problem solving skills at a larger level,” Ward said. “I have been able to further my ability to solve complex problems and help, in at least a small part, the direction the Army will go in the future.”

Ward and his wife, Regina, have been married for 16 years, and they have two children. Ward said they are enjoying the culture of El Paso and love the sunny weather, which allows them to spend time playing baseball and driving in their JEEP.

Author: Jonathan Koester – Joint Modernization Command

New year brings new access, privileges to millions of military veterans

Fort Bliss access control points and lines at some on-post retail locations could be longer the first few weeks of the new year as part of a new policy implementation.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security are expanding commissary, Exchange, and certain Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation retail privileges to veterans who are Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, those with service-connected disabilities, and individuals approved and designated as primary family caretakers of eligible veterans.

The change is part of the the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law in August.

To access their new privileges, Fort Bliss Military Personnel Division Chief Amy Rodick said eligible veterans must obtain a Veterans Health Identification Card from the Veterans Administration. The VHIC must display the veteran’s eligibility status as Purple Heart, former POW, or service connected.

“They can apply for the VHIC online, or by calling, 1-877-222-VETS,” she said. “The Fort Bliss ID card office does not issue these ID cards. It is through the VA, not the installation.”

Eligible veterans can also visit the El Paso VA Health Care System main campus to initiate the VHIC process. Current card holders do not need to obtain a new VHIC unless their card was issued prior to 2016, according to El Paso VA Public Affairs Officer Ginette Bocanegra.

She said if veterans have an older version of the card, they can update their information in the VA system on a walk-in basis at the El Paso VA main medical center located at 5001 North Piedras St., Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

“The cards are printed in Saint Louis, Missouri and mailed to the veteran’s home within three to four weeks,” Bocanegra said.

The VHIC can not be used to gain access to the installation upon first use. Before the veteran can visit participating facilities, they must first register their card at one of the Fort Bliss Visitor Control Centers.

In addition to the VHIC, veterans who drive will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license and proof of insurance, as well as be able to pass a basic, on-the-spot background check. Additionally, designated primary family caregivers must present an eligibility letter from the VA’s Office of Community Care.

If an eligible veteran is not eligible to obtain a VHIC, the DoD will temporarily accept the VA Health Eligibility Center Form H623A, indicating placement in Priority Group 8E, paired with an acceptable credential, such as a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or a U.S. passport, until the DoD and the VA identify a scannable, secure acceptable credential. These documents should be taken to the Fort Bliss VCC upon first use.

Veterans eligible solely under this act, who are not enrolled in VA health care, or who are enrolled in VA health care, but do not possess a VHIC will not have access to DoD or Coast Guard installations for in-person commissary, Exchange, and FMWR retail privileges.

More information about VHIC eligibility is available at online.

Not all FMWR facilities are included with the new eligibility, only those classified as self-sustaining, or category C, activities, which do not rely on government appropriations to operate will be available; participating Fort Bliss facilities are listed below.

Only the eligible veterans and designated caregivers will have access to the privileges at participating facilities. Privileges do not extend to the veteran’s family members, unless the family member is designated as the primary family caregiver of the eligible veteran under the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.

Participating Fort Bliss facilities include:

All Exchange facilities
Fort Bliss Commissary
Centennial Banquet and Conference Center
Desert Strike Lanes Bowling Center
Funky Rooster Coffee
Java Cafe Express
Pershing Pub
Rod and Gun Club
RV Storage Office
Underwood Golf Complex, Pro Shop and The Golden Tee Restaurant

Fort Bliss Garrison Commander Col. Stuart James said the first few days after launching such a complex effort could be challenging for some until all of the bugs are worked out of the process, but he is excited about the eligibility expansion.

“Team Bliss is ready to welcome back this portion of our veteran community,” he said. “They earned these privileges with their service and sacrifice, and it is our duty to ensure they are able to smoothly access the installation and show them why we offer the best quality-of-life program in the DoD.”

Author: Michelle Gordon  –  Fort Bliss Public Affairs Office 

Bliss housing town hall focuses on improvements, safety

Fort Bliss senior leaders, along with the installation housing partner, Balfour Beatty Communities, recently held a housing town hall, to provide an update on improvements and progress, as well as gather resident input.

“Senior Army and Fort Bliss leadership are proactive when it comes to engaging residents of privatized housing directly to ensure their concerns are captured and provided to our housing partner,” said Guy Volb, director of Fort Bliss Garrison public affairs. “In addition to resident town halls, they also visit individual homes and conduct drive-arounds throughout the housing areas to identify community deficiencies.”

Fort Bliss Garrison Commander Col. Stuart James opened the forum with brief remarks and then immediately turned the floor over to BBC Project Director Brian Beauregard and Community Manager Jessica Holston.

Holston said BBC is currently focused on reducing call wait times and increasing the overall phone experience for residents. She said now when a resident calls BBC, a person answers the phone, rather than an automated redirect. This change ensures residents do not get lost in a phone tree and they get answers to their questions.

“The ball was being dropped and we definitely saw it,” she said.

For routine maintenance requests, Holston encourages residents to use the Rentcafe.com online portal to submit work orders rather than calling. During the month of October, only 45 percent of total work orders were placed through the online portal and BBC representatives would like that number to increase over the next few months.

“It’s a great convenience factor for our families,” she said. “You can put as many details as you want and then someone will call you to schedule the work order. We’re always looking for ways to make things easier and better for our families.”

Holston added that the online portal for routine work orders frees up the phone line for residents with emergency work orders and urgent matters.

Beauregard provided an update on outstanding issues. He said all of the issues identified at the first housing town hall in February fall into five categories: policy changes, safety, customer service focus, standards, and health.

He spoke about two of the main safety concerns, animal control and playgrounds.

Now that the installation animal control contract is expanded to include the housing areas, residents can call (915) 642-5477 for animal control. Beauregard said between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. the response time is within one hour, and after hours, weekends and holidays, the response time is two hours.

James told the audience that the animal control issue gained command visibility because of an Interactive Customer Evaluation comment. ICE sites allow DoD customers to rate products and services provided by DoD offices and facilities worldwide. The Fort Bliss ICE site is https://ice.disa.mil/index.cfm?fa=site&site_id=435.

“Your ICE comments matter,” he said. “We got feedback from the community about an animal eager to get into the housing area, so we were able to rectify that issue. Keep your ICE comments coming because they allow us to see issues that we may not otherwise see.”

The on-post playgrounds are all receiving some much needed love and attention.

Beauregard said during 2019 his team invested more than $700,000 in playground upgrades, including: repairing and replacing equipment, replacing and replenishing fall protection materials, and providing shade structures.

“In 2019 we addressed a total of 16 playgrounds across six housing areas,” he said. “And for 2020, we’ve earmarked a million dollars for playgrounds. If approved, that will address between 20 and 26 playgrounds across nine different housing areas. It’s not going to address everything, because there are 60 playgrounds across Fort Bliss, but we are hoping that over the next two years we’ll be able to get to all of them.”

Ongoing BBC actions include: pre-clearing inspections, street lights, playgrounds, quality and completeness of work orders, and timeliness of work orders in historic homes.

“Our BBC partner has heard your concerns and they put their money where their mouth is by hiring additional people to take care of the issues on the installation,” James said. “The Army has also funded 11 more Army housing inspectors to assist in making sure our partners are held accountable and to ensure we are correcting the problems that have been identified in the Fort Bliss housing areas.”

One of the main concerns brought up during the forum had nothing to do with the quality of housing. Many of the attendees, as well as recent ICE comments, identified speeding as the biggest concern in the housing areas and near the elementary schools. Beauregard said while BBC is doing what they can with signs and speed cushions, they are working with the installation leadership to address the problem as a whole.

Fort Bliss Police Chief Mike Barnes was part of the town hall panel. He addressed the concerns of the attendees and assured them that his team is aware of the most prevalent speeding areas, and they are taking action.

“Speeding is a community effort,” James said. “We’ve had a speeding problem on Fort Bliss and we are addressing it through several means. We are strictly enforcing the speed limit and correcting the bad habit that has perpetuated across the installation.”

As part of the Army-wide focus on housing, Fort Bliss housing town halls are held quarterly at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center. The time of the event alternates between day and evening to provide an opportunity for all residents to attend. The September town hall was held at 6 p.m. to accommodate those who work during the day, while the most recent one started at 10 a.m. on December 4th, to allow parents with school-age children to attend during the school day.

The next town hall will be held in the spring.

Author: Michelle Gordon – Fort Bliss Public Affairs Office

Meet the Gallardos: Younger sister outranks older sister on deployment

Imagine being the younger sister, in a traditional Mexican house, where your older sister is the boss while mom works a night job. Now imagine, many years later, you outrank your older sister. Let payback begin.

Meet the Gallardo sisters, Master Sgt. Eliana Y. Gallardo, operations noncommissioned officer in charge, and Capt. Carla J. Gallardo, operations officer, 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade Resolute Sustainment Support Brigade, (1AD RSSB), who are now deployed together to Afghanistan supporting Operation Resolute Support.

They were born in Mexico but raised in Stockton, Calif., from 1990 to 2001. Both have been in the Army for over 11 years, but this is their first opportunity to serve together. Deploying with a sibling is not uncommon but a younger sister outranking the older sister, there has to be some karma in that.

“Being from a traditional Mexican family, the older siblings take care of the younger siblings,” said Carla. “With our mom working at night, that left the job for the older sisters to act as mom for the younger kids. We didn’t form a bond until later in life as she (Eliana) was very mean to me growing up, very bossy.”

They were raised with strong Mexican culture. Both parents worked to provide a better life for their six children. Their father worked as a farmer during the day and their mom worked a night job to make ends meet. The Gallardo sisters are five years apart in age and while they are close today, this was not the case growing up.

“My job was to take care of Carla and our youngest sister Eunice,” said Eliana. “Did I enjoy the power? What big sister doesn’t?”

During the early years, their relationship was more of a “mother/daughter” dynamic. This proved to be impactful when Carla watched her older sister Eliana graduate high school and join the Army.

“Everyone was still at home and never left; that was our culture,” said Eliana. “I just wanted to get away and see the world. I had no idea Carla would follow in my footsteps many years later.”

Carla did carve her own path. After high school, she decided to go to college first and become the first in her family to graduate with a college degree. After graduation, she was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army and with that, the power shifted.

“I decided I wanted to be the first in my family to graduate college and then join the military as an officer,” said Carla. “The thought did cross my mind many times that one day Eliana might have to salute me and do what I say.”

Today they laugh about the older sister saluting the younger, but military customs and courtesies do not distinguish or give credit for being the older sister. Enlisted must pay respect to the officer ranks by rendering a salute and using “Sir” and “Ma’am.”

“I remember saluting her for the first time,” said Eliana. It was in Fort Bragg and I just thought, oh, I can’t believe years ago I changed her diaper and now I’m saluting her. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.”

When they are not deployed , they live two blocks away from each other outside Fort Bliss, Texas where they are both stationed. They have formed a bond through the years as the age difference became less relevant and the thing they have most in common, their Army careers, helped solidify their friendship.

“We live two blocks away from each other which is pretty cool,” said Eliana. “We do a lot of things together, hiking, CrossFit, running and we love binge watching Game of Thrones.”

The deployment for the 1AD RSSB to support operations in Afghanistan meant both sisters would have to leave Texas to support their unit. Deployments for Soldiers are nothing new but deploying with a sister brings some unique benefits for the Gallardo sisters.

“I love being deployed with my sister; I can have conversations about military stuff and she understands,” said Eliana. “With other family members, that don’t serve, it’s more difficult because they don’t know the culture. She understands the burdens you sometimes have in the military.”

“Having a family member here, a friend, to experience everything that is going on in real time is amazing,” said Carla. “It’s also nice having each other during holidays when it can sometimes be lonely.”

Both sisters work in the logistics field which puts them right in the middle of the action for this deployment. The mission for the 1AD RSSB is to provide logistical support and sustainment for warfighters operating in Afghanistan. Support includes, but is not limited to, all classes of supplies, equipment, maintenance, transportation and anything else a warfighter needs to conduct combat operations. Sustainment brigade’s also coordinate how the supplies are delivered; airdrops, convoy’s, helicopters and boats.

“For 18 years I have been perfecting my trade as a logistician,” said Eliana. “To have the opportunity to use those skills for a mission that relies completely on logistics is rewarding.”

The Gallardo’s said they are appreciative of the support they’ve received from the leadership of the 1AD RSSB and said they were grateful for the opportunity to serve on this deployment together.

Author: Sgt. Briaira Tolbert – 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade

1st Armored Division’s Torch Week 2019: Honoring legacy, building camaraderie

FORT BLISS, Texas – Cheers of excitement and waves of applause cut through the crisp autumn air as 1st Armored Division Soldiers and veterans were recognized and celebrated at a ceremony closing the annual Torch Week commemoration.

Iron Soldiers from across 1AD participated in the division’s annual Torch Week event from November 4-7, participating in sporting competitions, demonstrations and celebrations designed to build morale across the unit, strengthen family readiness and fortify unit cohesion.

“Torch week is a planned event each year where we can bring in Soldiers, families, veterans and the community to come support and celebrate the division,” said Maj. Devin Henry, a native of Newport, Rhode Island, an operations officer for 1AD and the action officer for Torch Week. “Soldiers have the opportunity to have sporting competitions and events, spend time with family and also build morale within their units.”

The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1AD, won the 2019 Torch Week Award, an honor which was presented to the brigade that won the most sports competitions during the week. The sports events included combatives, basketball, flag football, softball and ultimate frisbee tournaments as well as 10k and 5k races, a golf scramble event and a bowling challenge.

“This week’s events and competitions are primarily tailored towards building espirit de corps and having fun,” said Henry. “Families can come and watch their Soldiers compete in sporting events, as we have gyms and facilities open for visitors. It’s usually difficult for families to come see competitions such as the best ranger, best tank or best warrior which are inaccessible to guests, so a lot of the sporting events were tailored to each brigade’s capabilities and facilities to allow for maximum participation.”

Torch Week is named for 1AD’s participation in Operation Torch, a World War II campaign focused on the invasion of North Africa in 1942.

“We took a memorable event for the Division, 1AD’s participation in Operation Torch, and we made it into an event for the week,” said Henry. “It’s not just about the sports or bringing units together, it’s also about the remembrance of the veterans who came before us and to commemorate them through the events that we have throughout the week, finishing with the Veterans Day ceremony and parade. It brings it all together in a culminating event to share that moment and remember all of their sacrifices.”

Six 1AD veterans and participating members of the 1st Armored Division Association, an organization composed of veterans and family members committed to preserving and honoring the legacy of the division, also participated in Torch Week by attending demonstrations, receiving tours and meeting Iron Soldiers. 1AD honored two World War II veterans who participated in Operation Torch, George Weese Jr., a native of St. Louis and retired private first class with the 16th Engineer Battalion, Horace Carratelli, a native of New York City and retired first sergeant with the 123rd Armored Ordnance Battalion, Vietnam War veteran John Lessick, a native of Chicago and retired specialist 4 with the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, Gulf War veteran Joseph Theriot, a retired first sergeant with 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment and former 1AD command sergeants majors Roger Blackwood and David Davenport.

“I think events like Torch Week are great. It allows for Soldiers to take a break from training,” said Theriot. “Taking a break from training allows Soldiers to relax a little bit and to stand down. Relaxation time is needed, because if you’re constantly stressed, you lose that fighting edge.”

Soldiers had the opportunity to meet the veterans, listen to their stories and share their experiences with 1AD and the Army, learning and understanding about the division’s past.

“Most of the time, people ask what you did back then, and people talk about what went well. But it’s important to know what happened incorrectly or poorly too, so that we can learn from those mistakes in the past,” said Theriot. “The rank and file Soldier should talk with the veterans so they can learn what went wrong and what to avoid. You can always find something to take back when you talk with a veteran.”

Torch Week provides the opportunity for Soldiers to build morale within their units and to further solidify the bonds and partnerships that bind them, ensuring that 1AD remains a committed and capable force ready to meet any mission goals.

“Building morale for the unit is important, as happy soldiers can spread the word and be good spokesmen for the division,” said Henry. “What’s most important with our morale is that we take this spirit forward as we prepare for deployments and any rotational missions. Soldiers will bring these ideas and this ‘winning is everything’ competitive attitude towards their future in with the division.”

Author:  Pvt. Matthew Marcellus – 1st Armored Division

Gallery+Story: Fort Bliss soldiers receive new Expert Soldier Badge

In April 2017, 56 Soldiers from U.S. Army I Corps were selected to test the new Expert Soldier Badge test pilot program at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Among the candidates, ranging from privates to lieutenants, Spc. Tyler Lewis, a field artillery firefinder radar operator and Moore, Oklahoma, native, with only three years of active duty service and Staff Sgt. Anthony Lodiong, an automated logistical specialist and New Orleans native, stood out among the rest.

Lewis earned the trust of his leadership and was selected by his division sergeant major to fly from Hawaii to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to compete.

“My platoon sergeant at the time, Sgt. 1st Class Quintanilla, gave me the opportunity to volunteer,” said Lewis. “He had faith that I would pass. He mentored me since the time he took over as my platoon sergeant.”

Two and a half years later, now a staff sergeant with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Lewis became one of 11 top-performing Soldiers to receive the first-ever ESB during the Eisenhower Luncheon at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition at Washington D.C., Oct. 15.

“Soldiers are the real asset the Army uses to accomplish missions,” said Lewis. “Everything else as far as equipment is just to aid us to complete the task. This course altogether is going to help improve the ultimate asset the army uses for lethality.”

Lodiong, currently a special operations recruiter assigned to Fort Bliss, says the ESB testing is challenging, but rewarding.

“The ESB is definitely not a participation trophy! The 9-line MEDVAC challenged me the most,” said Lodiong. “Earning the ESB means everything a Soldier should be for me! The knowledge I gained from the ESB will not only help me in my military career, but also in my entire life after the military.”

The ESB is a special skills badge designed to recognize a Soldier’s combat proficiency outside of the infantry, by measuring their “mastery of physical fitness, marksmanship, and other critical soldering skills necessary for combat readiness,” said Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Moore, the noncommissioned officer in charge of validating ESB testing at the Army Center for Initial Military Training.

The pilot test, in which Lewis and Lodiong participated, consisted of multiple events: the Army Physical Fitness Test, day and night land navigation courses, medical, weapons, and combat lanes, with each one having 10 testing stations, and a final 12-mile foot march.

Only 12 out of the 56 Soldiers passed the test, making the pass-fail rate similar to the Expert Infantryman and Expert Field Medical Badges.

Station after station, Lewis saw the number of participants decline with each passing challenge. But he never once doubted himself.

Lewis focused only on himself to have a clear mind, rehearsing each event while waiting for his turn. Fear of possible failure was present in his mind, but he was so focused on passing that he did not let it control him.

“The satellite communications were challenging, but not to the extent of being difficult,” said Lewis. “They are all simple tasks, but it’s crucial to perform them in the right sequence and timely manner. The most challenging part of the whole event was learning the standards in sequence and performing them with a short amount of time in training.”

Despite the challenges that Lewis and Lodiong faced, their determination to succeed was evident in their success. Lodiong offers some positive advice to future candidates interested in earning the badge.

“Go for it! It’s the best training I ever had in my entire military career,” said Lodiong. “If you earn it, excellent! If you don’t, you will still leave with a life-time of military skills from the five days of preparation training,” he continued.

Future testing will include the Army Combat Fitness Test and may also include five additional tasks selected by the brigade commander from the unit’s mission essential task list.

Example tasks include: react to an improvised explosive device (IED) attack, construct individual fighting positions, searching an individual in a tactical environment, employing progressive levels of individual force, and marking chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear (CBRN)-contaminated areas.

“The ESB gives units a baseline and ability to measure their Soldiers’ physical fitness and ensure they perform to standard all the critical tasks they’re supposed to have knowledge of,” said Master Sgt. Norbert Neumeyer, a U.S. Forces Command master gunner and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native, who oversaw the first ESB test. “It recognizes the next generation of competent, committed leaders who thrive in chaos, adapt, and win in a complex world. All the tasks can be a challenge for Soldiers that do not routinely train on basic army skills.”

Accomplishing an Army mission is a collective task, but challenges like the ESB, EIB and physical fitness tests are all about individual skills. With the ESB now ‘official,’ units can conduct testing annually just as they do with the EFMB and EIB.

Story by Master Sgt. Vin Stevens & Staff Sgt. Kris Bonet  – 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division

Season of giving: Fort Bliss CFC season underway

With almost 200 campaigns underway across the country and around the world this fall, the Combined Federal Campaign, the world’s largest and most successful workforce charitable program, kicked off at Fort Bliss October 9 and will run until December 20.

Approximately 40,000 Team Bliss troops and civilians can choose from more than 20,000 charitable organizations to give monetary donations or volunteer time via the CFC website or through a traditional pledge form from their office or unit CFC project officer.

Last year, CFC donors contributed more than $93 million in funds and volunteer time. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, CFC pledges will be electronic-only after the 2021 campaign.

Retirees who receive an annuity can now also contribute through an allotment, or by credit card. Retirees accounted for $1.8 million worth of monetary and volunteer-hour contributions in 2018.

According to Marion Walker, a manager with the Fort Bliss Financial Readiness Program at Army Community Service, as well as this year’s installation CFC coordinator, CFC is a convenient way to help others, but, historically, it wasn’t always that way.

Yesterday’s federal charity drives

Although fundraising for charitable organizations in the federal workplace goes back to the 1940s, the authority to do so wasn’t established until 1961 when President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10927, which authorized the U.S. Civil Service Commission to lay the groundwork for fundraising within the ranks of federal service.

Because of multiple campaigns for various non-profit organizations throughout the year, many of which collected cash only through complicated envelope systems, in 1964, a pilot “combined” program was rolled out in six U.S. cities, consolidating all of the drives into one.

As a result, contributions went up, in some places by 125 percent, and the new once-a-year effort was well-received by managers and employees alike, leading to a formal adoption of today’s CFC during the Nixon Administration in 1971.

A barometer for success, donations swelled from $12.9 million in 1964 to $82.8 million in 1979.

Today’s CFC

Since 1961, the CFC has raised $8.2 billion for nonprofits, ranging from large organizations like the American Red Cross to less-visible local organizations, several of which reside in the Borderland, with 30 in El Paso alone.

Other than Army Emergency Relief, the CFC is the only effort that allows solicitation of troops and federal employees for donations. Project officers are volunteers within the federal workforce who oversee program communication and transparent facilitation of pledges from their organizations.

Fort Bliss is located in CFC’s zone nine, named “Desert Southwest,” which covers West Texas and all of New Mexico, one of 36 zones designated by the program. In 2018, donations from Bliss added up to almost $125,000, as well as 85 pledged volunteer hours.

With so many nonprofits to choose from, Walker said she encourages potential givers to check out the website or look through the printed listing of charities to find organizations they wish to support.

“We can choose something that is close to our hearts, that personally moved us at one point and now we want to support that cause,” Walker said. “If it is military families, veterans services, or if you are not sure who to donate to, consider your local charities that serve Fort Bliss or our El Paso community.”

She added that whether Team Bliss members donate money or time, regardless of the amounts they can spare, participating in CFC can have residual benefits.

“Volunteering your time at a local shelter or cause can give you a chance to meet new people and you will see the visible impact,” she said. “However, if you don’t think you can make the time, then consider a monetary contribution. A little time or money goes a long way.”

Author: David Poe – Fort Bliss Public Affairs Office

Gallery+Story: Field hospital returns to Bliss after first deployment

FORT BLISS, Texas – Smiles, laughter and jubilation danced across a crowd of family and friends as Fort Bliss welcomed home 88 Soldiers from Iraq, October 22.

The Soldiers were deployed in support of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) last February.

Soldiers of the 528th Hospital Center, 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, III Corps, U.S. Forces Command, served as the medical task force for CJTF-OIR, providing mission command for medical units across the area.

The 528th HC also provided role 3 hospitalization support to the theater, implementing a facility which is staffed and equipped to provide care to all categories of patients including resuscitation, specialty surgery and post-operative care.

This is the first deployment for the 528th HC since its activation in April 2018, as well as the first deployment of a hospital center since the Hospital Force Design Update was implemented by the Army in 2017 to reorganize and restructure combat support hospitals to better align battlefield healthcare with commander needs.

The 528th HC will be continue to train their skills and readiness in order to ensure that they are always prepared to deploy and meet any future mission requirements.

Author: Pvt. Matthew Marcellus  – 1st Armored Division

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