Tyler ISD board president, local pastor deploying with Texas State Guard for Hurricane Harvey relief

Published on Wednesday, 30 August 2017 19:16 - Written by EMILY GUEVARA, eguevara@tylerpaper.com

Tyler ISD School Board President Fritz Hager is deploying with the Texas State Guard to assist with the Hurricane Harvey response effort.

Hager, 50, is a chaplain in the 3rd Battalion, 19th Regiment. He is also the executive pastor at Bethel Bible Church in Tyler.

The Robert E. Lee High School graduate said he was called up on Tuesday and was heading to Austin on Wednesday morning, where he would get further instructions on his assignment.

Hager said he is being called up as an individual rather than deploying with his unit. He said he may be assigned to serve as a chaplain or to do other work related to the Harvey response effort.

The Texas State Guard only serves in the state and is under the governor’s command. Unlike the National Guard, they have a strictly civil affairs mission.

Hager, who joined the State Guard about two years ago, previously served on active duty in the U.S. Army during Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

He said he always loved solders and the opportunity to be a chaplain to soldiers was a ministry that appealed to him.

This is the first widespread deployment of the guard since Hurricane Ike in 2008, Hager said, adding that it is his first deployment with the guard.

Though he has previously left his family - Hager and his wife, Sarina, have six children - for mission trips, he said this time is a bit different because he doesn’t know how long he will be gone or whether he will have power or cell service to contact his family.

He said the open-endedness of this trip is certainly different than anything his family has been through before.

Another Hager family member affected by the storm is Hager’s oldest son, Jack. The 19-year-old Robert E. Lee High School graduate was slated to start his freshman year at the Texas A&M Maritime Academy at Texas A&M University at Galveston.

Jack, 19, safely evacuated back to Tyler before the storm and is scheduled to return to college and start classes Monday. He is a member of the academy’s Corps of Cadets.