LAS VEGAS — It is a little unknown fact that Las Vegas has a U.S. Navy component.
The Las Vegas Naval Operational Support Center, Reserve Center, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., has some 270 reserve sailors and 16 full time active duty support staff.
With 10 Naval units supporting the active duty component, the reservists are always filling in where active duty units need this support. It is vital that reservists are ready to deploy at any moment.
Lt. Cmdr. Raul A. Rojas spent two years running the command and is now working at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He worked to keep the high tempo and help his fellow shipmates keep the Las Vegas NOSC one of the top commands in the region.
Lt. Cmdr. Jessie L. Sanchez, a native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, is the new commanding officer. He comes direct from many years of sea and shore duty in Weapons Systems Command.
Sanchez rose up through the ranks from enlisted to a commanding officer, from the Navy’s Limited Duty Officer program to becoming an unrestricted naval line officer. He started his Navy career in the enlisted ranks back in 1989.
His career started as he worked in Close-In Weapons System and Harpoon, control fire, where he first went to sea on the USS Belknap. In 1993, he qualified as the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist and Officer of the Deck.
In November 2000, he volunteered for an individual augmentee tour in Saudi Arabia as the Air Defense Systems Integrator and Tactical Receive Segment NCO in charge for Joint Task Force, South West Asia.
Sanchez earned his commission via the Limited Duty Officer program in 2001, he was a petty officer 1st class when he was accepted into the program.
He was forward deployed on an Aegis Cruiser USS Cowpens as the systems test officer and electronics material officer, also serving on the USS Halyburton in Mayport, Fla.
His department head tours were on the forward deployed AEGIS Destroyer USS McCampbell as weapons officer and combat systems officer. During his shipboard assignments he qualified as Underway Officer of the Deck, Tactical Action Officer, Engineering Officer of the Watch, Force Air Defense Officer and Command Afloat.
He served ashore as commanding officer for Mobile Mine Assembly Unit 10 in Okinawa, OIC of Navy Munitions Command East Asia Division Det. Okinawa and OIC of Center for Surface Combat Systems Det. Mayport.
He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Duties from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.
Sanchez leads by three letters, he calls “AHA”: awareness; being self-aware of his command and his fellow shipmates, humility; remaining humble of one’s rank, and approachability; maintaining a balance of leading his shipmates and having an open door to allow people to come and speak to him freely.
Coming from the enlisted side gives him better awareness of what it’s like to be a member of the enlisted ranks.
Sanchez spoke of his new assignment in Las Vegas as a great chapter of his Navy career. He realizes the reservists under his command have full time jobs, families and a life after their drill weekends and deployments.
He knows reservists in all branches wear many hats and still give of themselves to serve their nation.
“We’re here to help our reservists and work toward making sure they have the proper training [to] find new ways to help our active duty Navy,” he said.
Sanchez also spoke about meeting with his Air Force counterpart at Nellis AFB and seeing where he and the reservist can work together making the Navy reservist accessible and helping each other as a “team”.
He knows this would help resources for both the Air Force and Navy, he said.
He said there are many places we can work together with the Air Force; places were the Air Force may need help, and reservist that can be placed in positions to give a helping hand.
The future is bright for the Navy’s NOSC, he said. Commanding a large NOSC is a challenge he welcomes and looks forward to making Las Vegas his new home.
Sanchez has already spoken very highly of his active duty support staff at the NOSC, and thanks them for all their help in making this transition a very easy one.
Editor’s Note: Airman 1st Class Jake Carter, Nellis Air Force Base photojournalist contributed to the writing of this article.