DVIDS – News – D.C. National Guard Sergeant Major Reflects on Journey from Immigrant to Leader

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U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Carlos Vacquerano Jr., operations sergeant major, District of Columbia Army National Guard was born in El Salvador. His early life was forever shaped by the violent backdrop of the Salvadoran Civil War, a conflict that brought uncertainty to the country. Growing up amid conflict, young Carlos witnessed the difficulties and challenges faced by his family and numerous others.

His family made an important and life-changing decision during the war’s bloodshed and upheaval: to seek safety, stability, and opportunity in the United States. When Carlos was three, the Vacquerano family made the journey to America, motivated by the fundamental human desire for a better life, that would change the path of his life forever.

When the Vacquerano family arrived in the United States, they faced new challenges. Unfamiliar with the English language, one significant difficulty was navigating the language barriers as they started to connect with the services in their community, but, their determination and resilience knew no limitations. They recognized that flexibility and perseverance were the keys to unlocking America’s opportunities.

The virtues of perseverance, commitment, and going for one’s goals were ingrained in Carlos during his youth in a family that was part of the first generation of immigrants in their country.

Vacquerano’s early years in America were marked by a great sense of gratitude and a desire to give back to the country that had provided safety to his family. As he grew older, a profound desire to serve his newfound homeland began to grow. Despite his family’s concerns about his military ambitions Vacquerano’s sense of duty and love for the United States led him to pursue a career in the United States Army. He acknowledged the military’s special responsibility in defending the liberties and principles that had attracted his family to America.

For aspiring leaders, particularly young Latinos within the armed forces, Vacquerano offers invaluable advice. “Anything is possible. From coming to this country as an immigrant, becoming a citizen, and then just moving up the chain,” he said.

Vacquerano exemplifies what it means to celebrate Hispanic and Latino Heritage. His narrative illustrates the significant contributions of immigrants to the United States, from building communities and engaging across industries to enriching its culture. As a senior enlisted member in the D.C. Army National Guard, he demonstrates that the variety of our experiences is what gives us our strength.







Date Taken: 09.09.2023
Date Posted: 10.11.2023 13:56
Story ID: 455527
Location: DC, US






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