New Soldier recruited at Operation Lone Star

The new mascot of the Texas Medical Command named "Stella", Italian for star stands ready with a new bandana sporting a K-9 patch and the Warrant Officer One rank. Stella is a black lab mix who was rescued while living outside in the heat at the Texas Guard Armory in Wesleco, Texas, during Operation Lone Star.  Operation Lone Star is a Joint Civilian/Military Medical mission offering free Medical and Dental care to the region. Weslaco,Texas, 28 July 2009.(USAF Photo by Master Sgt. Michael Lachman)

The new mascot of the Texas Medical Command named "Stella", Italian for star stands ready with a new bandana sporting a K-9 patch and the Warrant Officer One rank. Stella is a black lab mix who was rescued while living outside in the heat at the Texas Guard Armory in Wesleco, Texas, during Operation Lone Star. Operation Lone Star is a Joint Civilian/Military Medical mission offering free Medical and Dental care to the region. Weslaco,Texas, 28 July 2009.(USAF Photo by Master Sgt. Michael Lachman)

WESLACO, Texas, July 29, 2009 -- Outside of the Texas National Guard Armory in Weslaco, Texas, a citizen soldier with a friendly demeanor but performs security checks around the building.
Operation Stella is a unique mission derived from Operation Lone Star where this faithful guard was invited to be a new recruit into Texas National Guard. 

Army Warrant Officer Stella, a Labrador mix, has been officially enlisted as the mascot for the Texas Medical Command Monday afternoon. 

Some of the Texas Medical Command members arrived in Weslaco July 24, and immediately recognized how proficient Stella's military capabilities were when she initiated a security check of new personnel.
"When we came to the armory, she immediately made contact with us, and from there we knew she couldn't be left behind, and wanted her to be part of our team," said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Lotta J. Smagula, non-commissioned officer in charge, Texas Medical Command, Austin. 

Currently, our new solider is in the process of completing Phase IV of this operation, said Col. Marco Coppola, commander, Texas Medical Group. 

Phase I was to prepare for her enlistment and affiliation; Phase II was to obtain and swear-in Stella to the Texas Medical Command; Phase III, the important phase, was Stella's veterinary review and her "spa treatments"; and Phase IV, her current status, is TRADOC, a training and indoctrination phase where it is imperative for a canine to learn commands to be a successful part in our unit, said to Col. Coppola. 

"Upon completion of her training, Stella will be promoted to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer," said Smagula excitedly. 

"These past few days have been proud and historical moments in our command because Stella is the first warrant officer in the Texas Medical Command," said Col. Coppola proudly. 

"Army medical commands don't normally have any warrant officers," said Smagula.
The name Stella, for both the warrant offer herself and the operation to induct her into the Texas Medical Command, is Italian for "star" in which "star" comes from Operation Lone Star, said Col. Coppola. 

Warrant Officer Stella will relocate to her new home in Austin after Operation Lone Star and Operation Stella has been completed.