FORT HOOD, Texas – Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy will visit Fort Hood on Aug. 5 and 6 in order to engage with local civilian and military leadership and to conduct sensing sessions with enlisted soldiers and junior officers.
The secretary will hold a press conference with the media at 12:00 p.m. Aug. 6 to discuss the Army’s efforts to address the recent events at Fort Hood.
FORT HOOD, Texas — Fort Hood officials have released the name of a Soldier whose body was recovered after a boating incident on Stillhouse Hollow Lake Aug. 2.
Spc. Francisco Gilberto Hernandezvargas, 24, whose home of record is listed as Woodside, NY, entered the army in May 2017, as an Automatic Rifleman, and has been assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division since December 2017.
Hernandezvargas’ awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon and the Army Service Ribbon.
“The Black Knight family is heartbroken by the loss of Specialist Francisco Hernandezvargas. Our hearts go out to his family and friends during this difficult time,” said Lt. Col. Neil Armstrong, commander of 1st Bn. 5th Cav. Regt. “Specialist Hernandezvargas served his country honorably both stateside while at Fort Hood and abroad in Korea and Romania and this tragic loss is felt by every member within our formation.”
The unit is cooperating with local authorities as this incident is currently under investigation.
By Michael M. Novogradac, U.S. Army Operational Test Command
WEST FORT HOOD, Texas — Senior leaders, friends and family social-distanced during a ceremony welcoming the 30th commander to the unit responsible for testing all new and modernized Army equipment here Friday.
Col. David W. Gardner arrives to the U.S. Army Operational Test Command from the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) Operations Group at Fort Polk, Louisiana, where he ran all the Army’s Infantry Brigade Combat Teams through training rotations as close to real combat as possible for two years.
Broadcast via Facebook live-stream, ceremony host Brig. Gen. James J. Gallivan, commander of OTC’s higher headquarters U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC), rattled off the likes of previous OTC Commanders such as current Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Joseph M. Martin; Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson at U.S. Army North, Maj. Gen Kenneth R. Kamper at Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence; and Maj. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon of the Army Corps of Engineers.
“Dave, you are following in some amazing footsteps,” Gallivan said. “This is a real testament to the Army senior leaders choosing you for this command.
“Importantly, for all of us and for you, Dave, and the Gardner family, time is of the essence as the Army bolsters the focus on people, readiness and modernization.”
With a Texas “Howdy,” Gallivan recognized Gardner’s extended family, including his mother and father, brothers, aunts and uncles across the country from New Jersey to Florida who were watching the ceremony live-stream.
He highlighted Gardner’s most recent assignments as 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team commander with the 1st Infantry Division; JRTC Operations Group Commander; and now commander of OTC.
“That speaks volumes,” Gallivan said. “The Army has entrusted this leader who values people, excellence, passion, honesty and balance with command over and over again.
“What a beautiful thing for our Army,” he continued. “Dave is a seasoned operator with service in light and mechanized formations — both training and deployed. From Company through Brigade level, he’s prepared formations for combat and deployed those formations in support of our national interests.”
Gallivan said Gardner is both an operator and a thinker.
“He has served as a strategist, a senior military assistant and as an instructor,” said Gallivan, describing Gardner’s talents. “He’s got not one master’s degree; not two master’s degrees, but three. Wow!.”
He proclaimed Gardner as the perfect commander at the perfect time for OTC.
“Dave brings the perfect blend of experience, judgment and authentic devotion to ensuring our Soldiers train, deploy and fight with confidence and competence to prevail in uncertain environments.”
Gallivan said Gardner’s leadership blend is what is necessary for OTC’s equipment testing mission.
“It’s about ensuring that the equipment we place into the hands of Soldiers works the way that it’s supposed to work, to provide our Solders the confidence and competitive advantage they need in future missions,” he said.
When Gardner stepped to the podium, he first promised Soldiers bearing the Nation’s and unit’s colors they would not have much longer to stand.
He thanked Gallivan for the confidence he has entrusted in him and said, “I look forward to working with you and the rest of the ATEC team.”
He thanked his wife Evee of 26 years, and his two children for sticking with him.
To former OTC Commanders, he said, “Thank you to all of the former commanders of OTC who have generously given their time over the past few weeks to share lessons and advice for my command of OTC.
“(They) loved this organization and could not speak more highly of the people of U.S. Army Operational Test Command.”
He reminded everyone of OTC’s existence to test equipment since 1969 and said, “Our motivation is simple — our final customer — the Soldier who is the end user of the equipment that we test.”
FORT HOOD, Texas – Wagonmaster and First Team leaders, friends and fellow Soldiers gathered for the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade unit memorial ceremony July 30 in honor of Pvt. Gregory Morales at the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel on Fort Hood, Texas.
Lt. Col. Justin Redfern, commander, 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB), 1st Cav. Div. Sust. Bde., spoke at the unit memorial.
“As the 553 CSSB moves forward in the absence of PV2 Morales, we can take comfort in knowing that the spirit of service and the ability to be a Soldier is something we should never take for granted,” said Redfern. “Greg Morales will always be a part of the U.S. Army and the First Team and his service to the nation will not be forgotten.”
Morales was laid to rest hours earlier near his hometown of Sepulpa, Oklahoma, at the Fort Gibson National Cemetery with his mother, wife, family and friends beside him. Hundreds more joined online to watch his service through a Facebook live stream.
The unit remains in contact with the civilian authorities as they continue to work to solve this crime.
This incident remains under investigation by the Killeen Police Department.
FORT HOOD, Texas — Fort Hood officials have released the name of a Soldier who was found unresponsive July 17 in the vicinity of Stillhouse Lake.
Pvt. Mejhor Morta, 26, whose home of record is listed as Pensacola, Florida, entered the Army in in September 2019, as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle mechanic, and has been assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, since May 2020.
Morta’s awards and decorations include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.
“The Black Knight family is truly heartbroken by the tragic loss of Private Mejhor Morta. I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and loved ones,” said Lt. Col. Neil Armstrong, commander of 1st Bn. 5th Cav. Regt. “My thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time. Private Morta was a great Trooper and this loss is felt by every member within our formation.”
The incident is currently under investigation by Bell County Sheriff’s Department. For more information contact, Bob Reinhard, Bell Country public information officer, at (254) 933-5530.
ARMY & AIR FORCE EXCHANGE SERVICE
EXCHANGE MEDIA CONTACT: Trey Williams, email@example.com
FORT HOOD – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is helping Soldiers or Airmen earn an A+ in savings as the 2020-21 school year kicks off.
Because shopping at the Fort Hood Exchange is always tax-free, Soldiers or Airmen and military shoppers can save even more during Texas’s Tax-Free Weekend on back-to-school shopping. During the tax holidays, the Fort Hood Exchange will match your 8% to offer an additional discount or you can save 10% if you use your Military Star card for your purchase (on eligible items only).
This year, 16 states are hosting tax-free sales on select back-to-school items, such as clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks. In some states, computers and other qualifying electronic devices can be purchased tax-free. Eligible items vary by state.
“At the Fort Hood Exchange, every day is a sales tax holiday, and starting off on the right foot for a new school year shouldn’t break the bank,” said Fort Hood Exchange General Manager Samantha Davis. “Families can make their tax-free Exchange benefit even more valuable by saving extra on school supplies during state tax holiday weekends.”
The sales-tax holiday kicks off Aug. 7 in Texas. Exchange discounts are valid in stores only.
Since 1895, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) has gone where Soldiers, Airmen and their families go to improve the quality of their lives by providing valued goods and services at exclusive military pricing. The Exchange is the 62nd-largest retailer in the United States. Its earnings provided $2.2 billion in dividends to support military morale, welfare and recreation programs over the last 10 years. The Exchange is a non-appropriated fund entity of the Department of Defense and is directed by a Board of Directors. The Exchange is a 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemorative Partner, planning and conducting events and activities that recognize the service, valor and sacrifice of Vietnam Veterans and their families in conjunction with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. To find out more about the Exchange history and mission or to view recent press releases please visit our website at http://www.shopmyexchange.com or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ExchangePAO.
For more information or to schedule an interview with an Exchange representative please contact Loyd Brumfield, (214) 312-6514 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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FORT HOOD, Texas–Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center’s commander hosted a virtual meeting with CEOs from local Central Texas Health Systems July 10 to provide an update on the health community’s efforts to combat COVID-19.
Karen Percell-deShong from Advent Health moderated the discussion between Col. Richard Malish, CRDAMC commander; David Byrom, CEO Coryell Health; Zach Dietze, CEO Seton Medical Center Harker Heights; Shahin Motakef, President of Temple and Central Region-Baylor, Scott & White; and Parker Pridgen, Advent Health.
The roundtable began with each hospital giving a quick snapshot as to what their current experience is as they continue to battle COVID-19. All participants reported plenty of capacity and available resources and equipment.
Coryell Health reported that currently they have no COVID-19 active patients in their hospital. Seton reported a recent uptick in the number of COVID patients presenting to its emergency department and an increase on the inpatient side. Advent reported that 20 percent of their patients are COVID positive and Baylor reported less than 15 percent
So while all participants stated they weren’t necessarily worried about capacity or equipment, they all expressed a concern about their staff and keeping them safe.
“We count on staff to be able to take care of our patients. COVID is so prevalent in communities all around the country, and staff members, who are also part of those communities, are getting sick. We need to be able to protect our staff so they can take care of our infected patients,” said Motakef.
When asked about testing, all hospitals noted an increase in testing yet none reported any concerns in managing the demand.
“We’re seeing a great deal of outpatient testing going on in our facility and certainly a spike in the number of positives being identified,” Byrom said. “We recognized early on that testing was a major issue due to the limited availability of testing kits. We already had the ability for rapid testing so today we have our own testing platform for COVID-19. We also have contingency plans for different levels of testing across the system besides our own should we need to outsource.”
CRDAMC’s respiratory drive through facility tests anywhere from 400 up to 800 patients a day with more and more of those turning out to be positive, Malish said.
The roundtable concluded with a final take home message from each hospital.
“We know COVID is here to stay and we must be prepared to deal with it,” Pridgen said. “You are your own best healthcare advocate. So protect yourself, protect your family when you’re out and about. It’s the simple things you can do that are proven to work. Wear your masks and wear them appropriately, wash your hands, practice social distancing.”
Dietz agreed, and added caution about avoiding large gatherings in public, even family gatherings, if possible to minimize potential spread and exposure to loved ones, friends or coworkers.
“I want to emphasize that testing is hugely important when dealing with COVID. It’s so easy for folks to misdiagnose the sub-symptoms thinking they have a small allergy situation going on. These days, people who have such symptoms should assume they have been infected. Let us help you by getting tested. Keep your daily activities functioning as you go forward but exercise extreme caution till you get that done,” Byrom said.
Motakef echoed his colleagues’ comments. “I just want to point out that no one is immune from this. There is a false belief that this is only impacting old people, yet right now, my number one demographic is a white female 25 to 34 years old. Looking at the all the patients who have been admitted to our hospital, it’s impressive as to how evenly distributed the virus actually is by age, race and sex,” Motakef said. “Again, everyone needs to be careful.”
Malish closed out the roundtable by expressing some of his immediate and future concerns about the pandemic, and shared his optimism about how we’re working together as a healthcare team to combat the virus.
“It’s important for us not to confuse relaxation of public health measures, which we need for the health of our company or our economy, with relaxation of personal protective measures which we need for the health of our community. Go out and enjoy your different activities, but don’t go out without a mask on or engage in activities engaging large attendance in close quarters, Malish said.
Malish said that the strength of all the community healthcare partners united with one purpose will make positive changes.
“I’m grateful that we have a team that looks out for the entire community, not just the agenda of one particular hospital. I think that we’re networked well together. We have a good understanding about what’s happening in each other’s footprint and help each other as we make various decisions in our hospitals’ operations,” he said. “There are a lot of reasons for optimism. Our staff is well trained and we have had months of experience with COVID-19. We don’t have any shortages of anything right now. We have a healthy population and have been fortunate to have good outcomes with our COVID-19 patients do well.”
FORT HOOD, TEXAS—“You asked, we listened. You want the best medical care, and you want it when you need it. Your Community Based Medical Home and primary care clinic at the main hospital are now your ‘go to’ urgent care centers with a renewed commitment to see you when you’re ill or injured,” Col. Richard Malish, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center commander, announced to beneficiaries during a recent virtual Town Hall.
All the CBMHs and primary care clinics such as Pediatrics, Internal Medicine and Family Medicine are now providing same-day or walk-in appointments for acutely ill or injured patients.
The medical homes and primary care clinics have changed the way they manage appointments—better accessing their patients’ medical needs and maximizing virtual health assets in the delivery of healthcare. This allows the medical homes and clinics to deliver care more efficiently, plus makes the medical teams more accessible, which translates into a better patient experience and better health.
With the addition of acute and urgent care, the medical homes and clinics truly are now full-service care centers delivering care through virtual, traditional, and walk-in appointments. Some of the services provided at all the CRDAMC medical homes and clinics include routine and follow-up care, COVID-19 testing, preventive care screenings and vaccines.
Beneficiaries can still expect the same patient-centered, trusted care they’ve always received, Malish stated, and now they will notice an immediate benefit from the more personalized and proactive approach in managing their healthcare needs.
For more information contact Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center Public Affairs Office
FORT HOOD, Texas — Several hundred people — family, friends and fellow Soldiers — attended the 3rd Cavalry Regiment unit memorial ceremony July 17 in honor of Spc. Vanessa Guillen inside the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel at Fort Hood, Texas.
Lt. Col. Edward Gavin, commander Regimental Engineer Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, spoke at the unit memorial.
“This is difficult,” Gavin said. “This is difficult to discuss because the tragedy of her loss has forever changed our squadron and it has forever changed her family. We wrestle with feelings of anger, depression, anxiety, fear, frustration and sadness. And, we have so many questions, some of which may never be answered.”
(Click on the photos for the higher resolution versions.)
FORT HOOD, Texas – III Corps and Fort Hood bid farewell to Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Hendrex, while also welcoming the newest edition to the Phantom Warrior team, Command Sgt. Maj. Cliff Burgoyne, during a change of responsibility ceremony inside the East Atrium of III Corps Headquarters Wednesday.
Hendrex was hand-selected in March to join Gen. Paul E. Funk II, to serve as the command sergeant major of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command. Hendrex, who has been at Fort Hood for 18 months, said he is humbled by the opportunity and looks forward to serving alongside Funk again.
“I wasn’t expecting it because I was expecting three years here. I think what’s interesting about getting the opportunity to serve in TRADOC is that the vast majority of my career has been in the operational force,” Hendrex revealed. “So all those lessons learned – subordinate commanders, units, sergeants major and Soldiers – to be able to take those experiences and integrate them into training and doctrine for long-term success, it’s a humbling opportunity to be able to do that. You truly have impact on the Army much longer than I’ll continue to stay in.”
The 30-year veteran, who has multiple deployments under his belt, last deployed to the Middle East in September with III Corps to lead Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, a coalition of nations partnering together to defeat the terrorist organizations known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant. According to U.S. Central Command, the operation name reflects the unwavering resolve and commitment of the U.S. and partner nations from around the world.
Returning back to the Great Place early for his change of responsibility, Hendrex said the mission overseas was complicated by all the turbulence in the Middle East, but it was interesting to see III Corps become the central command for the joint force, which is comprised of every branch of the U.S. military alongside more than 80 coalition forces from NATO.
“I was just in awe of Lt. Gen. (Pat) White’s leadership to steady that ship, maintain calmer heads,” Hendrex said about the III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general as he commanded CJTF – OIR.
Transferring his duties to his predecessor, Hendrex passed the noncommissioned officer saber to Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, III Corps and Fort Hood deputy commander, who in turn, passed the saber to Burgoyne, symbolizing his willingness to accept the role of command sergeant major of III Corps and Fort Hood.
“We look forward to serving the Soldiers and troopers of the III Corps and Fort Hood,” Burgoyne said.
The Louisiana native said he joined the Louisiana National Guard in 1986 before entering active duty in 1992.
III Corps’ newest senior enlisted advisor comes to Fort Hood from the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“Twenty-eight years ago, I loaded everything I had into the back of a Ford Ranger pickup truck and drove to Fort Hood, Texas, where I started my Army career,” Burgoyne said, revealing he has come full circle since he entered active duty.