JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —
Ten service members from across Joint Base San Antonio were chosen to represent their respective military services as part of the 2018 Military Ambassadors program.
Throughout the year, they will represent their service and JBSA at events throughout South Texas, including nearly 50 activities associated with Fiesta San Antonio, according to Kathy Salazar, JBSA public affairs specialist.
Fiesta, which began in 1891, is one of the nation’s premier festivals, with an economic impact of more than $284 million for the Alamo City.
Taking part in the event not only allows the military ambassadors to play integral roles for JBSA’s community relations program, but it permits the continuation of a tradition that goes back to 1891 when the granddaddy of Fiesta events, the Battle of Flowers, began, Salazar said.
“During the event, the Army provided its band to lead the first parade in horse-drawn carriages and supplied a number of carriages for others participating in the parade,” Salazar said. “In the 1960s, both the Fiesta San Antonio Commission and local military commanders decided there should be a single point of contact – a military coordinator.”
2018 U.S. Army Military Ambassadors
Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas J. Weaver is the senior operations NCO for the Directorate of Training and Academic Affairs at the U.S. Army Medical Department Center & School, U.S. Army Health Readiness Center of Excellence at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and is responsible for the daily battle rhythm of the directorate as well as synchronizing support requirements between various medical and training commands within the Army.
Weaver said it is with “the deepest pride and greatest pleasure that I get to represent the U.S. Army as a 2018 Fiesta Ambassador. I am honored and ecstatic for the opportunity to partake in a multitude of activities with the citizens of San Antonio as the city enjoys its Tricentennial Celebration! Without a doubt, the people of San Antonio, including our military members, are the life of this culturally vibrant city and together we will move San Antonio forward through another 300 years.”
Staff Sgt. Latrise N. Flanigan is a religious affairs noncommissioned officer for U.S. Army South at JBSA-San Antonio. Flanigan said she is “truly honored to be selected and to serve as the 2018 U.S. Army Fiesta Ambassador and looks forward to representing the Army and continue the relationship established with the community of San Antonio. I look forward to having a positive impact not only in the community of San Antonio but to be a part of a culture that is rich in tradition and customs.”
2018 U.S. Marines Military Ambassadors
Sgt. Jonathan T. McFadden Jr. is with the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2009 and completed recruit training in February 2010. After graduating Marine Combat Training, McFadden attended Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School to become a cyber network specialist. In March 2014, McFadden joined the Active Reserve Program.
He said he is “honored to have been chosen for the 2018 Marine Corps Ambassador. It was a great honor to be given this opportunity and to represent my command and Military City USA San Antonio. This will be my last tour in San Antonio and I will always be proud to say this will be the most memorial experience in my career; being a part of this history and culture.”
Cpl. Emanuela Shehu is also from the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. She was born Vlora, Aalbania and later moved to New Jersey with her family. She enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 2008. She later went to intermediate administrative school, completed corporal’s course, became a Marine Corps martial arts instructor, attended a legal clerk course and completed the collateral duty career planner course.
“I’m delighted to be to have been selected as the 2018 Fiesta Military Ambassador representing the United States Marine Corps. As a new member to this community, I am thrilled to partake in this rich cultural tradition of San Antonio. I look forward to this experience and celebrating with you all. Semper Fi!”
2018 U.S. Navy Military Ambassadors
Petty Officer 1st Class Shannon Chatterton is assigned to Naval Technical Training Center Lackland, 341st Training Squadron Military Working Dog Handlers Course at JBSA-Lackland. She serves as the Non-Commissioned Officer-in-Charge, supervising 33 joint service instructors, overseeing the graduation of 450 students annually, supervising the safety and training of 150 Military Working Dogs and joint service Department of Defense students in a 440-hour, 11-week course.
“Fiesta is one of San Antonio’s oldest and most cherished celebrations and I’m truly honored to have been selected as the 2018 United States Navy Ambassador for the occasion,” Chatterton said. “It’s a privilege to be part of this time honored tradition rich in culture and history, while continuing to build on the relationships that San Antonio has with the military community.”
Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Mendoza De Saenz is assigned to the Navy Medicine Support Center at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, servings as an instructor for the Navy’s Hospital Corpsman “A” School which graduates 4,300 Corpsman annually.
“It is an honor to have the opportunity to be the 2017 San Antonio Fiesta Navy Ambassador. As a person that moved to San Antonio two years ago, I am excited to build roots here by being part of the culture and history of this great city. I am humbled to have been chosen to carry on the tradition with the utmost pride and respect.”
2018 U.S. Air Force Military Ambassadors
Tech. Sgt. Cristofer Mercado is the NCOIC of Student Affairs Flight Programs at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy at JBSA-Lackland, where he is responsible for the welfare, morale, counseling, safety, security, and health care of approximately 930 allied international students annually from 23 partner nations in support of the building partner capacity mission, directly supporting four combatant command theater objectives.
“I am incredibly honored and excited to be selected as the 2018 Air Force Ambassador! It is a privilege to be able to participate in bring our city to life and showcasing its rich history and culture all in the spirt of giving back,” Mercado-Wallace said. “I am humbled by this selection and hope to continue strengthening the militaries relationship with Military City USA.”
Tech. Sgt. Melissa M. Bennett is a Force Support Functional Area Manager for Expeditionary Support Division Force Support Readiness at the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center at JBSA-Lackland. Bennett said she is “truly honored to have been selected as a 2018 Air Force Military Ambassador of this amazing city. I am looking forward in representing the Air Force as well as the Armed Forces at various events throughout Fiesta and San Antonio’s Tricentennial.”
2018 U.S. Coast Guard Military Ambassadors
Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Long works with the Coast Guard Cryptologic Unit Texas at JBSA-Lackland. “I’m very thankful to get the chance to be the U.S. Coast Guard’s Ambassador for Fiesta 2018. This is something that I’ve looked forward to since I was stationed here in San Antonio,” Long said. “I can’t wait to dive into the cultural heritage of this wonderful city which provides such a positive impact on the community. I look forward to representing the U.S. Coast Guard in this year’s festivities.”
Petty Officer 1st Class Victoria Toth is also assigned to the Coast Guard Cryptologic Unit-Texas. A native of Central Texas, Toth provides support to Coast Guard assets by providing products that can assist to conduct drug interdictions, migrant interdictions, and provide search and rescue and coastal security.also works at the Coast Guard Cryptologic Unit Texas at JBSA-Lackland.
Toth said she is “delighted to have been given the opportunity to be a U.S. Coast Guard Ambassador for Fiesta 2018. It really is an honor to represent the U.S. Coast Guard since we have such a small footprint here in San Antonio. I’m looking forward to this year’s festivities as well as participating in the traditions of this memorable event.”
Photos by Olivia Mendoza