Last Thursday I got a call from my Squad Leader, saying our Texas State Guard unit was being put on active duty. I got my gear and boogied down to the Armory, after dropping off my dogs at my mom's, and the bird going to the Ex's. (She was going to come by the house and check on the cats every few days.) (Aside: I made a mistake in thinking we were getting called up for relief of flood victims from the rains of Tropical Storm Erin, that had just plowed across central Texas.) We rode over to Camp Swift (between Bastrop and Elgin, outside of Austin) for more training and await further orders. Our "more training" was, no pun intended, a crash course in school bus driving. At the time, the plan seemed to be that we would be driving these buses full of evacuees back and forth between the Rio Grande valley area and points far north, like Austin and Dallas! Those of y'all watching Austin TV news (or Texas Cable News) on Saturday and Sunday may have seen the news story about us and our Special High-Intensity Training. Sunday afternoon about half of the troops there (including me) rode down to Raymondville, between Brownsville and McAllen, to prepare to drive those buses. We get there... and there's no buses, and apparently no evacuees yet either. Everybody's watching Hurricane Dean, and with every update, the projected storm track is turning further and further south, away from Texas. We continue training, using this time to run thru the evacuee processing center we and the National Guard had set up at the high school. After another day, we return to Camp Swift, discovering that most of our units' gear has traveled to Laredo with our other team members, when they deployed to there the day after we left. Personally, that meant my cell phone was dead, as I had left the charger in my duffel in the back of my Sergeant's truck since when we left for Raymondville, we were told to just pack for one night... which turned into three days. The rest of our troops returned that same night as we did, then we were demobilized the next morning (yesterday, Wednesday) and sent home.
I'm glad I've got my dogs back, I'm glad the storm didn't turn toward Texas (destroying folks' homes and such), and I loved the sense of camaraderie from the whole experience, working alongside units from all over this great state. We had only last been together two weeks before, for AT (Advanced Training), but this felt much better, because instead of just taking classes together, we knew we would have to rely on each other for the duration. The orders said the call-up was to last until the 30th of this month, altho I said to friends and family before leaving, that "They" reserved the right to keep my ass longer if they needed it. Looks like they decided we did a good job, didn't need us anymore, now go home! And as my chain of command said, wash your sh...tuff, pack it up again, and get ready in case they call us back tomorrow! Growing up along the Texas Gulf Coast, I'm already used to keeping an eye on the hurricanes, never thought it would be part of my job description too!
Oh! I also got a promotion, from E-1 to E-2. I am no longer Buck Private Mattexian, but Private, PV2, Mattexian! :D It's good to finally have some actual rank; before it just looked like I had forgotten to attach the rank pins to my uniform.
ETA: The "forgetting to put on my rank" kinda looked like this:
That little blank green square in the center of my chest is where the rank patch goes, along with one chevron pinned to the cap.