BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Air Force Staff Sgt. Jesus Yanez is the only member of his family to pursue the profession of arms. That’s not unusual.
But Yanez, deployed here 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 as a sailor, then as a soldier, and now as an airman.
“It sort of just happened, being in all four branches,” said Yanez, a 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 steppingstone for Yanez. He started his military career in 1993 as a Marine at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, as a logistics Marine in charge of storing, distributing equipment and moving personnel.
“The Marine Corps instilled discipline and has influenced the way I am now. 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 he enjoyed serving in the military he left the Marines after completing his four years of service. Two years later, he joined the Navy Reserve in his hometown of El Paso. He served from 1999 to 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, he looked for other opportunities to challenge him as an individual.
“I am the type of person who looks for challenges every day That is the reason why I joined the military.”
His next two opportunities were with the Army Reserve and the Air Force. While serving from 2001 to 2006 in the Army Reserve 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,” he said. “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. 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 noncommissioned officer with extensive life experiences, Yanez said, he is able to help the younger airmen in his unit.
“He brings ton of experience to the fight,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Eric Soluri, 455th Expeditionary Base Defense Squadron chief enlisted manger. “Younger airmen and NCOs look up to him, and he is the ‘go-to guy’ in his sector.”
Yanez said the airmen he leads often come to him to seek the perspectives he has gained. “I give them advice about the military and life. 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, he loves his current job in the Air Force.
“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 enjoys the opportunity to prepare airmen coming up through the ranks. “I would not change the choices and experiences I have been through,” he added, “because they have made me who I am today.”