A March Defender is Honored as Hometown Hero

  • Published
  • By Captain Jessica Gross
  • 452 AMW Public Affairs

At March Air Reserve Base, Citizen Airmen serve from other parts of the country and the world.  Technical Sergeant Jonathan Ortega, assigned to the 452nd Air Mobility Wing Security Forces Squadron, experienced a once in a lifetime event that brought light to March Air Reserve Base to a community outside the State of California.

Ortega currently serves at March ARB as an Active Guard Reserve (AGR) member.  Ortega has over 16 years of combined military service that has included service as a traditional reservist, active duty, and deployment in the wake of 11 September 2001.  Ortega has completed his entire service at March ARB, although he identifies Globe, Arizona as his hometown.

On 4 July 2018, Ortega was selected and honored as the “Grand Marshall” of Globe Arizona’s annual Fourth of July Parade.  It was communicated to Ortega that he was selected due to his extensive community serve and his status as a key role-model within his hometown community.  “It was a pretty awesome experience” said Ortega. “I had a lot of family there supporting me and friends that I actually served with.”

Ortega, along with two of his sons Marqus (18) and Jonathan Jr. (15), rode in a vintage Ford Mustang provided by a local car dealership along the parade route.  When asked how he believed the experience impacted his children who accompanied him in the parade, Ortega said “I was glad to show them that you can come from a small town and make something of yourself.”

Prior to the parade, Ortega and his two sons participated in the “Stop Drop and Push Campaign.”  The campaign originated in Corona, California and holds the mission of raising suicide awareness in the veteran community.  The campaign incorporates various social media outlets, where individuals are featured completing push-ups to raise awareness for on-going suicide that occurs amongst military service members and veterans.

Along with his sons, Ortega participated in the campaign and decided to use his selection as the Grand Marshall of his hometown’s parade as a platform for the cause.

After his first deployment, Ortega lost one of the unit members that he deployed with to suicide shortly after returning home.  “That always affected me” said Ortega, who explained that the loss of his close friend motivated him to serve as a suicide awareness ambassador in the community.

“As a veteran community, we should be here for each other” said Ortega.  “Us as a nation and a whole should come together to support our veterans [which] was the message I was trying to push out as the selected Grand Marshall.”