As Southern Vanguard 24 comes to an end, one New York Army National Guard (NYARNG) Soldier will leave with more than heavier bags filled with souvenirs and memories of his time in Brazil. He is also leaving with a heavier emblem of achievement – the coveted rank of sergeant first class and the military occupation specialty of 46Z, Chief Public Affairs noncommissioned officer (NCO).
Sgt. First Class Jonathan Pietrantoni, the 138th Public Affairs Detachment (PAD) readiness NCO, was promoted at the 34th Jungle Infantry Battalion (34º Batalhão de Infantaria de Selva) headquarters, here, Nov. 16.
“This is our second time this year supporting an exercise in Brazil,” said Capt. Stephanie Fernandez, the commander of the 138th PAD. “It only felt right to promote in a country that we grew a bond with, trained alongside our Brazilian partners and made lifelong friends.”
Pietrantoni was originally against the idea of promoting in Brazil for the sole reason that his Family would not be in attendance. But after some convincing, he agreed to the promotion ceremony.
“The opportunity to promote in one of our partner nations was something I couldn’t pass on,” said Pietrantoni. “The Brazilians have been great hosts to us, and it was honor to promote among new friends.”
Always thinking of “People First,” Fernandez did what any commander would do and accepted the challenge of making such a momentous day as memorable as possible.
“I know what it’s like to be away from Family for extended periods of time and what it means to share special moments with the people you love,” said Fernandez. “It was only right to make sure his Family could still be a part of his promotion, even from over 3,100 miles away.”
In front of the company formation of fellow NYARNG Soldiers, Pietrantoni watched as his Family and colleagues sent him well wishes from New York.
“I was confused when they brought a laptop and then when I saw my wife and kids pop up on the screen I was in disbelief and so happy,” smiled Pietrantoni. “It’s always tough to be away from Family but to see them on the screen for this moment is a gift I could never repay.”
As the tears filled his eyes, Pietrantoni watched a series of prerecorded videos featuring his wife Ariadna, his kids, 2-year-old Luca and 5-month-old Mia, his parents and the G1 staff congratulating him on his accomplishment.
“We heard really great news and wanted to celebrate it with you,” Ariadna said while holding Mia and comforting Luca. “Luca is upset that he cannot be there physically to pin you today, but as soon as you get back home, he wants you to take him to work so he can pin you himself.”
Pietrantoni’s return flight will be more than a transition from Brazil to the United States; it’s a transformation from a seasoned staff sergeant to a sergeant first class, carrying the weight of enhanced responsibilities.
“Sgt. 1st Class Pietrantoni is passionate about his craft and highly skilled in his MOS. This promotion was earned and not given.” Fernandez said with assurance. “Watching Sgt. 1st Class Pietrantoni mentor and go out of his way to help our PAD Soldiers and other Soldiers in our formation is a quality that leaders should follow.”
As his plane ascends into the skies, the journey is not just geographical but symbolic, marking a shift in Pietrantoni’s role within the ranks. The heavier luggage, filled with Brazilian mementos, is a tangible reminder of the experiences gained, but the heavier responsibilities on his shoulders signify a commitment to the continued excellence and leadership expected at this elevated rank.
“This experience training with the Brazilian Army has been special. It was tough at first with the language barrier, but we worked through it and really had a successful exercise,” Pietrantoni proclaimed. “The promotion was the cherry on the top to this whole experience!”