With hurricane season underway, many have already started preparing for the worst and it’s no wonder why. For those new to the area, the flood waters from Hurricane Ike ripped through Orange County with a force that no one was prepared for. Many lost everything.
As the recovery is almost behind us, we shouldn’t forget what happened and should start preparing for what could happen again.

The Texas State Guard, which all answer to the Governor, has already started preparing for a potentially busy hurricane season.

The Texas State Guard is a part of the Texas Military Forces. Along with the Air National Guard and National Guard, the Texas State Guard is recognized by the Pentagon and Department of Defense as a state military defense force.

While all who join do so as a volunteer, their main mission is shelter management during emergency situations. They provide their own equipment needed for their job with the sole focus being this: to serve the citizens of the state of Texas.

“We go to where the hurricane is coming ashore and set up shelters of last resort for individuals too poor or simply unable to get away  or get out of the danger zone,” Mike McNair, Sgt. 1st Class and personnel officer for the 3rd Battalion/8th Regiment of the Texas State Guard. “Our responsibility is to make sure people have food and water, a place to sleep and that they remain safe.”

The State Guard troops are trained in search and rescue, oil field disaster recovery, first aid, electronic tracking of evacuees (so that family/friends can keep up with family and pets that have been evacuated). Some are trained to use the Military HAM Radio in case all forms of communication have gone down.

“We are prepared for hurricane season, meaning our bags and equipment are ready to go when the governor gives the orders to deploy,” McNair said.

McNair explained that unlike the federal military, the 8th Regiment could have 250 or more soldiers with boots on the ground in less than two days. The regular Army could take up to a week to deploy.

The 3rd Battalion headquarters and training facilities are located at Lamar State College-Orange.

“Hopefully people can rest a little easier knowing their sons and daughters and other local citizens are ready to go at a moments notice during a crisis,” he said.

The Texas State Guard is not only deployed for the hurricanes that can and have affected the Southeast Texas region (Katrina, Rita, Eduard, Gustav, Ike and Alex) but also for any emergency, such as wildfires.

It’s not just emergencies that have these men and women at the ready. They provide assistance to the police forces at civic affairs, such as the Air Show in Houston, parades, etc. They help provide traffic control and security at the battle reenactments at the Battle of San Jacinto.

“The 8th Regiment actually dates back to the Battle of San Jacinto, it is the same regiment today as it was then,” McNair said. “The 8th Regiment also served in the Civil War as Terry’s Texas Rangers, which fought more battle for the Confederacy than any other military unit.”

The 8th Regiment of the Texas State Guard was also called up during World War II for the Beaumont Riots.

The Texas State Guard, which has just under 2,000 soldiers to serve the governor at any time, is the least known organization of its kind in the state. The 8th Regiment covers the Houston area, to the Texas/Louisiana border, to Nacogdoches while the local battalion covers the Golden Triangle Area.

Unlike the federal military or National Guard, the Texas State Guard, do not get paid for any of their service until they are deployed to an emergency.

“Whether a private or a general, we all get paid the same rate,” McNair said. “We train one weekend a month and have annual training in June for four or five days.”

Those interested must fit within a certain height and weight requirement and be reasonably physically fit. Prior military service is preferred but not required.

“We are always looking for individuals, from the age of 17 to 65, who would like to serve the citizens of Texas,” McNair said.

Those interested in Texas State Guard may contact Mike McNair at 409-779-8585 of e-mail at mtmcnair@gmail.com.

About Nicole Gibbs

Editor of The Record Newspapers