TYR Tactical

War Hero Recounts Lives Saved in Afghanistan

November 30th, 2022

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Sitting inside one of the many buildings around Fort Leavenworth that belong to the Mission Command Training Program, is Sgt. Maj. Antonio Gonzalez. He an ardent believer in the Army values and by all definition, a war hero. His actions in Afghanistan in 2007 would result in the Silver Star, the third-highest award for valor in the U.S. Army.

Gonzalez grew up in Boyel Heights in East Los Angeles, an area known for drug and gang wars and also high unemployment.

“Despite what was happening where I grew up, I met some outstanding friends at Bishop Mora Salesian High School,” said Gonzalez. “I graduated in 1987 and to this day, I still keep in touch with them. That’s the loyalty we have within that bond.”

Sports were also an escape for him.

“I grew up loving the Raiders, Dodgers, Magic Johnson and the [Showtime-era] Lakers, Kirk Gibson hitting that home run in the World Series, all of that,” he said.

His passion and skill in sports eventually led him to a football scholarship at Kansas State University playing for Bill Snyder, who won more than 200 games in his college football coaching career.

After his playing days ended and he earned his college degree in 1994, Gonzalez walked into an Army recruiter’s office in 1996, following through on his desire since childhood to serve in the military.

“The recruiter was a little surprised when I walked in,” said Gonzalez. “I was like ‘you don’t have to give me a whole speech, you don’t have to sell me on anything, I want to be an infantryman, where do I sign?’ I wanted to serve my country. I wanted to be out there in the woods, shooting guns and all that good stuff that comes with being an infantryman in the Army.”

Gonzalez said he came into the recruiter’s office so abruptly they asked if he was running from the police.

“I had grown up in a community where a lot of folks joined the military and it was something I had always wanted to do, I just wanted to get my education first,” said Gonzalez.

In 1996, Gonzalez arrived at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, his first duty station. Six years later he went to try out for Special Forces, eventually joined the 7th Special Forces Group out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Now a member of the Green Berets, Gonzalez trained, advised and assisted numerous times in South and Central America.

Like many in the combat arms and special forces community, there were multiple deployments to Afghanistan during two decades of war. The events of June 11, 2007, remain clear in Gonzalez’s head like it just happened.

At the time, Gonzalez was part of the Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 732. He and the others were ambushed by Taliban fighters following a routine patrol in the Uruzgan Province. Throughout the fight, he exposed himself to Taliban snipers and machine gunners three times, eventually saving the lives of four Afghan security forces that had been trapped. Gonzalez almost died in the process.

“A sniper bullet just whispered right by my head,” he said. “I could have kissed it, that’s how close it was. But if I had to do it again, I would. That’s just the type of person I am. Loyalty is one of the Army values. You have that in sports as well, the whole team concept. You don’t want to be the reason why the other team scored a touchdown and you lost the game. In war or combat, you don’t want to be the reason why your teammates are shot or killed.”

The Special Forces motto is “De Oppreso Liber” which translates from Latin as “to free the oppressed.”

“That’s truly what I felt we were doing over there,” said Gonzalez. “They were being oppressed by the Taliban and all these enemy folks and you just know innocent people are being killed when they were just trying to live their lives. In the states, you see kids running around and you see the kids in Afghanistan, they can’t even be kids because they’re being oppressed. It makes you appreciate it more when you come back to the states, so you hug your kids a little tighter and a little longer and you tell them you love them.”

Gonzalez had another brush with death in 2013 when he received news that his son, serving in the Army himself as a combat medic specialist, has been injured in combat and almost died in Afghanistan.

“I literally could not move when I received that call, “said Gonzalez. “I was paralyzed and scared for my son but thank God he eventually recovered.”

As he approaches 30 years in uniform, there is another event in his career that continues to shape him to this day. One he must hold back tears when talking about.

“There was a guy, Travis, who was on my team, just a good person and his parents are beautiful human beings, and Travis was killed in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device on a deployment before the one I received the Silver Star for,” he said. “When I made the rank of master sergeant and then I was a team sergeant, I told myself that if you’re on my team, no one is going to die on my watch. When we came back from Afghanistan, the wives thanked me for bringing their husbands home.”

Gonzalez added that Travis Hunsberger was an “18E,” a Special Forces Communications Sergeant on ODA 732, and he is the real hero.

“He sacrificed it all,” said Gonzalez. “Some gave some, but he gave all. He is the hero along with all of our fallen heroes. I’m no hero compared to them.”

Gonzalez’s two-decade-plus military career has gone full circle as he finished out his undergraduate degree serving an internship at the United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth. These days, Gonzalez is the operations sergeant major for Mission Command Training Program. He oversees administrative requirements for Soldiers in the unit, not a combat role but still making sure Soldiers and their families are taken care of.

“I met a lot of great people in this business and if I was to change any of it, I would never have met those great people because the good people that I have met outweigh the bad.”

He credits his parents and his wife Alyson for supporting him through the highs and lows.

“I have to thank my parents for sacrificing everything for us and raising us with love and discipline,” said Gonzalez. “They encouraged us to always strive to do better and give it 100% every time. Always respect others and especially your elders. I’m the oldest of four boys and we all are doing well because of our parents.”

“My wife Alyson has been my bedrock and support pillar. She is a school counselor at Edgerton Elementary and I guess she tends to give me some counseling from time to time. We both graduated from Kansas State and love being alumni and continuing to support the school.”

Gonzalez was honored before a September 2022 football game at the university. He was awarded the Medal of Military Excellence and a President Emeritus Myers coin. The university’s president, Dr. Richard Linton, presented the awards to Gonzalez to recognize his Army career.

“I’ve been most proud of what Tony has done since leaving Kansas State University and getting invested in the service, and it just goes along with his nature and wanting to do what is right and provide guidance for his fellow teammates and his country,” said coach Snyder in an interview before the game.

By Russell Toof, Fort Leavenworth

New CROWS Capabilities from KONGSBERG

November 29th, 2022

KONGSBERG and CROWS have become almost synonymous. CROWS of course, stands for Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station and KONGSBERG manufactures it. In early November, the US Army awarded KONGSBERG a five year contract for $1.5B.

Over 18,000 systems have been in service for over a decade and KONGSBERG has been working with the Army to upgrade the systems. A big push has been in software where they’ve developed the ability to upgrade yet maintain a single software baseline. The new system is also backward compatible with existing CROWS.

This CROWS Tech Refresh, which adds Javelin, has already been fielded to the first Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Carson. The new version of CROWS offers a high-definition screen for the operator along with a situational awareness strip across the top to maintain a wide field of view even while zooming in on a target.

Under development is the ability to go after Group 1 and 2 sUAS.

These slides come from PEO Soldier’s PM for Soldier Lethality’s briefing during the National Defense Industrial Association’s recent Future Force Capabilities Conference in Austin, Texas.

Tier One Special Operators-Turned-Entrepreneurs to Launch Daring Skydiving Mission – 7 Continents / 7 Skydives in 7 Days for Charity

November 29th, 2022

Record-breaking expedition to fund 1400 scholarships for

Folds of Honor Foundation

Legacy Expeditions launches the Triple 7 Expedition in early January (2023), but these Tier One special operators are training now like high-performance athletes to go after a world skydiving record – 7 Continents // 7 Skydives // 7 Days to fund educational scholarships for Gold Star children.

If you are looking for a great Giving Tuesday story of perseverance, renewal, and honor – look no further. Talking with any of these guests will leave your audience inspired.

Mission Matters – these entrepreneurs have built their businesses and lives on that very premise. Long retired from active duty, their work has changed, but not the mission to remember the legacy of the fallen by taking care of the children left behind.

VS-17 Type Signaling Panels from WTF

November 29th, 2022

WTF are pleased to introduce two VS-17 inspired signaling panels.  The first is a square Red Cross & VS-17 Type Signaling Panel at 4.0 oz / 114g and 27″ x 27″ (68xm x 68cm).  Red Cross on white background on one side, orange/pink rectangles on the other side.

The second is a more traditional rectangle at 4.9oz / 140g and 28″ x 34″ (71cm x 86cm).  Neon pink on side and blaze orange on the other.

Both panels have a total of four (4) 3/4″ 5038 nylon tie downs, one on each corner, ready to lash it down securely.  Panels are lightweight 200D fade and abrasion resistant nylon and stitched entirely with milspec, bonded nylon thread.  Panels are made in the USA with Berry compliant textiles.


Smith & Wesson Releases New Performance Center Pistol: Introducing the Competitor

November 29th, 2022

?SPRINGFIELD, MA., (11/29/2022) – Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ Global Select: SWBI), a leader in firearm manufacturing and design is excited to introduce a new member of the M&P metal-framed series, the Performance Center® M&P®9 M2.0® Competitor®.

Built for competition right out of the box, this metal-framed 9mm pistol is designed to give competitive shooters the edge. The Competitor comes with a 5-inch barrel, has an enhanced sear for lighter, crisper trigger let-off, and includes a flared magazine well for fast and efficient reloads. Boasting a new look, the aggressive lightening cuts on both the top and sides of the slide ultimately reduce the amount of weight in front of the chamber and, in return, help improve the recoil balance point. The slide is cut for optics, includes a fiber optic front sight, and blacked out serrated rear sight. The Competitor comes with an oversized mag release that is reversible for both right and left-handed users and ships with a total of four magazines. Choose from models available in 10+1 or 17+1 round capacities with a Tungsten Gray Cerakote® or black Armornite® slide finish. Smith & Wesson is proud to introduce the Performance Center M&P9 M2.0 Competitor.

The Competitor has an MSRP of $999.00

Check out the new Competitor and all Smith & Wesson products at www.smith-wesson.com.

5.11 Holiday Gift Guide – Ellis Short Sleeve Shirt

November 29th, 2022

This is day two of our week-long gift guide featuring items from 5.11 Tactical. When putting this guide together, my goal was to find items that most everyone could use and offered good value. Meet the Ellis Short Sleeve Shirt.

I just moved to Florida and it’s still in the mid-80s as we move into December. That’s why I selected a short sleeve shirt for this gift guide, due to its versatility. It can be worn comfortably year-round, no matter where you live and looks great tucked in or out.

It’s made from a comfortable 100% polyester fabric with Vent-Tac properties and a wicking finish. Additionally, it features 5.11’s RAPIDraw front placket that reduces printing and allows quick access to a concealed firearm.

The Ellis is offered in four different colors in sizes XS – XXL.


Crye Precision HALFJAK 2.0 Now Available in MultiCam Alpine

November 29th, 2022

The new HALFJAK 2.0 combines your favorite features from its predecessor and some upgrades, to deliver a tried and true design concept that helps you stay warm and dry while granting access to critical gear on the plate carrier.

Enhancements include jump-tested shoulder pass through pockets that give access to underlayers and thumb loop cuffs that keep sleeves in place and fit over and under gloves.

A new J Hook offers secure attachment to plate carriers and chest rigs.

The HALFJAK 2.0 is available in MultiCam, MultiCam Alpine, Black, and Ranger Green.


Mehler Vario System Group Opens Second Plant at FULDA Production Site

November 29th, 2022

FULDA, GERMANY (November 28, 2022)—Mehler Vario System, European market leader in ballistic protection and carrying systems with five subsidiaries worldwide, today announced the opening of a 26,000-square-meter production facility, now the second such plant at its Fulda site.

The company said its new plant—which represents a significant expansion of the company’s production capacity—was opened in response to increased global demand for ballistic protection equipment.

Construction of the new facility and outfitting it with state-of-the-art production systems required a capital investment in the eight-figure range, Mehler Vario System revealed.

The new plant is expected to introduce 200 new jobs to the Fulda area, bringing to 500 the total number of local Mehler Vario System employees. Earlier this year, a recruitment campaign called “Guaranteed Secure Jobs” was initiated by the company. Many positions were filled but others remain vacant; those still available include production assistants, machine and warehouse operators, supervisors, administrators, and more—with the added enticement of opportunities aplenty for career development and advancement.

Another enticement is the location itself. Mehler Vario System is situated a short distance from thriving downtown Fulda, served by an excellent public transportation system and other attractive amenities that contribute to making it a desirable environment for workers.

“The opening of the new plant is an important milestone on the growth path along which our group of companies is journeying,” said Thomas Homberg, CEO of Mehler Vario System Group.

Homberg—who also serves as managing director of Mehler Vario System GmbH, which he heads together with Dr. Mario Amschlinger—added that the entire group is committed to production capacity expansion in order to “further strengthen our position as a leading supplier of ballistic protection systems and at the same time, as a member of the Fulda community, to create new jobs that help make our local economy more sustainable.”