AFGHANISTAN - Staff Sgt. Jesus Yanez is the only member of his family to pursue a profession of arms and the only one to serve in four different military branches.
The security forces member who is currently deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, from the Texas Air National Guard’s 204th Security Forces Squadron in El Paso, Texas, has answered his nation’s call not just once but four times, first as a Marine, then a Sailor, Soldier and currently as an Airman.
“It sort of just happened being in all four branches,” said Yanez, 455th Expeditionary Base Defense Squadron defender. “I didn’t even think about it until one of my friends mentioned it. From the Marine Corps to the Air Force, every branch has taught me something different.”
Each branch of service has been a stepping stone for Yanez. He started his military career in 1993 as a Marine at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Yanez was a logistics Marine where he was in charge of storing, distributing equipment and moving personnel.
“The Marine Corps instilled discipline and has influenced the way I am now,” said Yanez. “What I learned there I have applied to every branch that I have served. But each branch has also given me an attribute that has made me the person I am today.”
Although Yanez enjoyed serving in the military, he left the Marines after completing his four years of service. Two years later, he joined the Navy Reserves in his hometown of El Paso, Texas. He served from 1999-2001 as a master of arms, where he performed force protection duties that would later help him with his Air Force career. After he completed his time in the Navy, Yanez looked for other opportunities to challenge him as an individual.
“I am the type of person who looks for challenges everyday,” added Yanez. “That is the reason why I joined the military.”
His next two opportunities were with the Army Reserves and Air Force. While serving from 2001-2006 in the Army Reserves in Fort Bliss, Texas, as a heavy wheel mechanic, Yanez learned about the Air Force’s 204th Security Forces Squadron.
“I was asked if I would be interested in an active guard reserve position with the Air Force,” said Yanez. “This is something I was really interested in and it would allow me to stay in my hometown. As a single father, this was a better option because it avoided moving my kids to another place.”
Throughout his service in all branches Yanez learned there are more similarities than differences.
“The camaraderie is the same,” said Yanez. “Regardless of branch of service, everyone always works together to get the job done. I have also learned that anywhere you go if you take care of the people below you, they will take care of you.”
As a non-commissioned officer with extensive life experiences, Yanez is able to help the younger Airmen in his unit.
“He brings ton of experience to the fight,” said Chief Master Sgt. Eric Soluri, 455th Expeditionary Base Defense Squadron chief enlisted manger. “Younger Airmen and NCO’s look up to him and he is the ‘Go to Guy’ in his sector.”
Yanez has instilled the skills he has learned to the Airmen below him as they often come to him to share his life experiences.
“I give them advice about the military and life,” added Yanez. “The military has given me so much, and I help them understand that if you give 100 percent to the military, it will give 100 percent back to you.”
While he’s had many opportunities while serving in the different branches, Yanez’s loves his current job in the Air Force.
“What I love about the Air Force is my job,” said Yanez. “As part of the combat readiness training center at my home station I am able to teach Airmen and Soldiers skills that will help them in the combat zone. Everything I have learned before, I now use to help everyone I train.”
Yanez has served with pride and dedication as a Marine, Soldier, Sailor and Airmen. He is able to pay forward his knowledge and experience by helping the younger Airmen and next leaders in line.
“I get to prepare the Airmen coming up in ranks,” said Yanez. “I would not change the choices and experiences I have been through because they have made me who I am today.”
||EL PASO, TX, US
This work, Branched out: From Marine, Soldier, Sailor to US Air Force Airman, by SSgt Evelyn Chavez, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.