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Pittsburgh hosts PNGAS Conference

June 2010 --      Approximately 560 Pennsylvania Army and Air National Guard members attended the annual Pennsylvania National Guard Association, (PNGAS) 2010 Combined Leadership Development Workshop April 22-25 at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel.
     PNGAS kicked off with an 18-hole, four-man scramble golf tournament April 22 at the Highland Country Club, which was followed by several training workshops at the Sheraton.
     Attendees took part in several workshops depicting this year's theme on resiliency, courage and diversity.  PNGAS started with a combined ANG and ARNG honor guard, with Capt. Sarah Micklo, pilot, 171st Operations Group, singing the national anthem.
     There were several distinguished guest speakers including Congressman Tim Murphy, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstal, as well as a teleconference from the Pa. National Guard's commander-in-chief, Gov. Edward G. Rendell.
     Rendell spoke to the audience about their service regarding state and federal missions.
     "You are always answering the call; you are always ready and always there," said Rendell.
     Ravenstal added, "I want to thank everyone who provided residents with much needed assistance during the snowstorm, as well as keeping the city safe during the G-20 summit."
     "Your presence was appreciated, and it was the safest anyone felt in the city of Pittsburgh.  I am always amazed with eh work you do, especially in keeping us safe."
     Speaking on this year's theme of resiliency, Congressman Murphy wanted to encourage the Pennsylvania Guardsmen to focus on each other especially after a deployment when the soldier or airman is trying to reintegrate into his or her civilian life.  He stated missions or weapons can be changed but, "the mind of the soldier or airman can never be changed, and it is necessary to check up on each other all the time.  I would like all services to bring resilience."
     Maj. Gen. Jessica Wright, the adjutant general for Pa. National Guard, Joint Forces Headquarters, also spoke at the conference.  She voiced her concerns regarding training and medical requirements, and noted the positive accomplishments PNGAS has made for the Pennsylvania Army and Air National Guard.
     The workshops provided training or current information to the audience.  Social media, a new means of military communication to the public, was the topic of one workshop.
     "It's a great recruiting tool; cost effective, connects with the media, and draws attention to photos and video with increased availability access," said Staff Sgt. Ted Nichols, social media lead, Pa. ANG JFHQ.
     "Social media such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., is not a fad, it is hitting our younger generation," said Nichols.
     The conference was enjoyable to the audience.
     "One of the best things about this conference is the networking that goes on here, you get to place names with faces and know who you talk to when you pick up that phone or send an e-mail," said U.S. Army Maj. Steve Widnick, detachment commander, Pa. ANG JFHQ.  Some of the Younger troops were able to get a taste of the PNGAS conference.  They were able to see what the association is about, given the opportunity to meet military leaders as well as receive training.
     "I was amazed at this conference and all the workshops that were presented," said Senior Airman Monica Erlick, air traffic controller, 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron.  "I learned a lot about PNGAS and all the great things the association has done for our Guard."
     Erlick was awarded Pennsylvania's Airman of the Year.
     "It was a successful event and we all enjoyed Pittsburgh's hospitality," said Tech. Sgt. Joel Mutchler.  Mutchler was elected vice chairman of PNGAS and president of the Pa. National Guard Enlisted Association during the workshop.