News: Alamo and Texas Guard tie past to present
Story by Capt. Martha Nigrelle
SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG) presented a commemorative bell to Alamo officials in a gesture that tied together past and present Texas military history, at the Alamo, Nov. 8, 2013. Maj. Philip A. Kost, a TXARNG strategic planner, oversaw the transfer. He previously served in Afghanistan, at Camp Alamo, as a military adviser to the Afghan National Army (ANA) during 2012.
“People worldwide continue to remember the Alamo as a heroic struggle against impossible odds — a place where men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom,” according to the Alamo’s official website. “For this reason, the Alamo remains hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty.”
One-hundred-sixty-eight years after the Battle of the Alamo, many Texan soldiers carried these same ideals of freedom and a struggle against impossible odds, across 8,000 miles of ocean, desert, and mountains to Kabul, Afghanistan.
Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, members of the U.S. military, along with their coalition partners, established a Training Advisory Group to assist and train the ANA at the Kabul Military Training Center in Kabul, Afghanistan. The advisory group was part of an effort to help re-establish ANA. Co-located to this training center, was an old Soviet built complex that the advisory group used as a defensive location in case of attack while coalition forces were at the training center. This complex was nicknamed “the Alamo.”
The nickname stuck and the following year, when members of the Texas Army National Guard’s 136th Regional Training Institute were deployed to the training center, the complex was turned into a base of operations and dubbed “Camp Alamo.”
“From 2004 until 2013, Camp Alamo was the home of various rotations of advisers and trainers from all over the world,” said Kost, “including personnel from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Turkey, Jordan, Australia and France.”
Kost said on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, a group of New York City police officers sent a bell with “NYPD 23” and “FDNY 343” inscribed on either side, to the soldiers at Camp Alamo. The numbers signify the number of emergency responders who gave their life while responding to the attacks in 2001. Rumor has it, that the post the bell is mounted to, came from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. The bell was placed under the flag poles at Camp Alamo, a place of honor, and a symbol, for many, of the price of freedom.
In 2013, it was decided that Camp Alamo would be transferred to the ANA. Soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard’s 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, whose home station is in Round Rock, Texas, were given this task. Kost was one of these soldiers.
The decision was made for Kost to bring the bell home and offer it as a gift to the Alamo and the people of Texas.
“In April 2013, the U.S. flag was lowered and the location was transferred, but the legacy and memory of the Alamo remains at Camp Alamo and is fondly remembered by all those who lived there,” said Kost.
Alamo and state officials were excited to receive the bell.
“The history (of Camp Alamo) aligned so well, it mirrored the history of the Alamo,” said Kaye Tucker, a special projects executive for the Texas General Land Office, the custodian of the Alamo. “It just made sense to have [the bell] here.”
The bell was placed near the main entrance next to a Spanish cannon that was said to have been used during the siege of the Alamo.
“We are so excited to have this (bell),” Tucker said.