13th SC(E) Promotes 28 year Vet to CW5
Story and Photos by Pfc. Naveed Ali Shah
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
Manuel Vasquez, a native Spaniard and a US veteran of the Philippines and Solomon Islands campaign during World War II, used to wake his children up at the crack of dawn every morning to pick acres of onions, peanuts, and peaches. One day, he asked his second youngest son, Jimmy, if he wanted to continue to pick the fields or go to school. It was then that young Jimmy Vasquez realized how much his father cared about his well being. Jimmy chose to go to school, and it was the first step he took towards his career in the Army.
“Trouble had a way of finding me, though,” said Vasquez, “My family moved from my native San Antonio to Chicago and back, so I run the streets a little bit.”
Thanks to his father’s mentoring, over 30 years, five military occupational specialties, a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree later Jimmy Vasquez reached the pinnacle of his profession when he was promoted to a Chief Warrant Officer 5 during a ceremony at 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Headquarters September 5. His rank was pinned on by Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, commanding general, 13th SC(E), and Vasquez’s wife, Maria.
Vasquez is the Chief Logistical Advisor to the CG of the 13th SC(E), has raised two sons, Jimmy Jr., and Adam, with Maria, his wife of 27 years, and is now a proud grandfather to Jimmy’s son, Jacob.
He’s come a long way from living in a two bedroom house with seven siblings and no indoor plumbing.
“I didn’t actually flush a toilet that belonged to us until about 1973,” said Vasquez, “Although I shouldn’t complain. I was the first one my dad bought a TV for, a black and white set, but still pretty impressive to me.”
Vasquez joined the Army at the ripe old age of 17 as a tank crewman. He was reassigned to different MOS’s several times and had his share of fun along the way.
“Sometimes the people you work with become more than just associates, they become family,” said Vasquez, “Pvt. Lawrence McCullar was one of those guys.”
“We used to test the waters during our time in Germany, and our platoon sergeant said that we’d never understand the big picture. We’d play chicken and bumper cars with the jeeps, but we did our own bodywork thanks to paint and bodywork classes we took through the University of Maryland!”
It should be mentioned that Private McCullar is now Sergeant Major McCullar, and they both still consider each other like brothers.
However, there was a point relatively early in Vasquez’s military career when the prospect of entering the civilian sector looked more promising than staying in the Army.
“It was December 1986, I was a sergeant, and I was getting ready to [end my time in service],” said Vasquez, “I was talking to my dad, I told my dad that I wasn’t going to the staff sergeant promotion board because I was getting out. He told me that he was proud of me, that I had done very well for myself and that I should stick it out. My dad said he wanted me to go the board.”
So, at his father’s advice, Vasquez studied for the promotion board, which was three months away. The board was being held March 25, two days before his father’s 65th birthday.
“I called him beforehand and he wished me luck,” said Vasquez, “I called him afterward to tell him that I got it and I was ‘promotable’ and my dad told me that now he didn’t just want me to stay in for awhile, he wanted me to make the Army my career.”
Vasquez made plans with his family to celebrate his father’s birthday the next day, but it never happened. The man who had been so influential in Jimmy’s life passed away the following day.
“I decided then that I was not going to let him down,” said Vasquez, “Because the Army does give you an opportunity to make your life better and my dad is the one who influenced me to follow this path. He was my father, my disciplinarian, and my hero.”
A couple years later, Vasquez chose to become a warrant officer.
“Other Warrant officers I worked with taught me the lay of the land,” said Vasquez, “They taught me what a warrant officer was. I wanted to be a specialized expert.”
Since then, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jimmy Vasquez has served 28 years in the US Army, as a Soldier, a non-commissioned officer, and a warrant officer. He plans to continue to serve his nation and the Soldiers of his unit.
“I’ll stay in for a couple more years, but if I feel like my nation, and the Soldiers of my unit need me, who knows, I might stay longer,” said Vasquez.
Vasquez has an old school mentality that drives him to push himself and others around him to do better everyday.
“Soldier’s are the ones who make the unit, leader’s are made by Soldiers,” said Vasquez, “I’m a Soldier first, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the opportunities the Army gave me. I had the chance to go to school and expand myself thanks to Uncle Sam.”
Vasquez is proud of his service, but he’s even more proud of the service of the young Soldier’s he encounter’s today.
“I want them to know that if you think you can, you can achieve whatever you want,” said Vasquez, “Set a timeline, a goal, and a good plan to reach that goal. You can do it, be all you can be, I mean it.”
Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, commanding general, 13th SC(E), gives Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jimmy Vasquez, Chief Logistical Advisor, 13th SC(E), the Army officer appointment acceptance and oath of office by during his promotion ceremony September 5 at 13th SC(E) Headquarters while Vasquez's wife, Maria looks on.