Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Christian Vanegas, a native of Miami and Homestead, Florida, is one of more than 800 service members assigned to Joint Task Force-National Capital Region.
JTF-NCR is a joint service command charged with coordinating all military ceremonial support for the 59th Presidential Inauguration. As a joint command, JTF-NCR includes members from all branches of the United States armed forces operating under the auspices of Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region.
Vanegas has 16 years of military service and is currently assigned to Joint Task Force -Special Events.
In 2003, he graduated from South Dade Senior High School in Homestead, Florida. He went on to graduate from Central Texas College in 2016, earning an associate degree in general studies. He is currently working on his bachelor’s degree in the same field.
Vanegas knew he wanted to be a Marine from a young age because he viewed the Marine Corps as the toughest service.
“It challenged me physically and mentally,” he said. “It also gave me a sense of pride and belonging. A lot of people will say, ‘I want to be a cop, a doctor, or a lawyer,’ but I wanted to be a United States Marine.
“The most rewarding experience in my military career so far has been having the opportunity to be stationed in the Pentagon,” he continued. “I’ve been able to visit different countries. I’ve also had the privilege of visiting the White House and taking a picture in the Oval Office with the president, and now I have the opportunity to support the Presidential Inauguration.”
Vanegas is the second member of his family to join the military.
“I have a cousin who joined the Marines a few years before me, and just recently a second cousin has joined the Marines,” he said. “We hope to continue serving for generations to come.”
He credits his hometown and upbringing for helping shape who he is today, specifically his four years of junior ROTC in high school.
“I had all types of mentors growing up, from my family to my junior ROTC instructors,” he said. “One that comes to mind right now is Master Gunnery Sgt. Blanset. He’s someone that I’ve always looked up to. His positive attitude, the way he presents himself, is someone I strive to be. He’s like a big brother.”