Steve Tanelli

Steve Tanelli

Bergen County Veteran of the Week: Christopher Illescas

Christopher Illescas is from Lodi, New Jersey. Since an early age, Christopher knew that he wanted to serve his country.  He joined the New Jersey Army National Guard in March 2013. Currently, he has two military occupational specialties and holds the rank of Sergeant. Sgt. Illescas is an 88M (Motor Transport Operator) and 92W (Water Treatment Specialist). He has one deployment with the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to Kuwait in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS). OFS is the official name used by the U.S. Government for the mission succeeding Operation Enduring Freedom and refers to the shift from major military operations to a smaller role of force protection, logistical support, and counterterrorism activities in the Global War on Terrorism.

When Sgt. Illescas first started his Army National Guard career, he utilized his training to save the life of a female car crash victim on December 8, 2013. On that evening, then Pvt. Illescas and Spc. Reyes were driving in separate cars to their unit’s holiday party when they saw a horrific crash on the Garden State Parkway. Both of them pulled over and rushed over to the flipped car in their blue dress uniforms. They assumed control of the scene by directing traffic, instructing a bystander to call 911, and extracting the driver to a safe location until help arrived. By the time, emergency vehicles arrived the car had caught fire. 

Christopher credited his training for helping him react to the situation. As stated by him, “National Guard training is exactly what helped me do what I needed to do. It helped me give commands to other people without hesitating; helped me keep my cool and think about what I needed to do before I did it. The Combat Life Saver training taught me how to position the driver to avoid further injuries.” For their efforts, the police commended them and their unit, the 154th Quartermaster (Water Purification) Company, awarded them the prestigious Army Commendation medal for their heroic actions.

For his full-time job, Christopher is a Medical Supply Technician employed by the Department of Veteran Affairs in Manhattan. He is currently serving at the Meadowlands Mega site, along with 60 other soldiers, to assist with vaccination efforts and ensure that all New Jersey residents are able to get the vaccine. The site currently administers 400 doses per hour and as of March 20, 2021 had administered its 100,000th dose.

Sgt. Illescas is also involved with the American Legion Post 136 in Lodi.  He has impressed the leadership there with his commitment to the veterans in community.

Thank you for your service, Christopher! 

Nominate a Veteran for #BergenCountyVeteranOfTheWeek

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you?

The #BergenCountyVeteranOfTheWeek social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Bergen County Division of Veteran Services

The Division of Veterans Services was established in 1977 to provide resident veterans and their dependents with information and assistance in obtaining earned entitlements from federal, state, and local governments, as well as any that are available from the private sector.

Through a quarterly newsletter and direct client contact, the division provides Bergen’s veterans organizations and their auxiliaries and individual residents with up-to-date benefit information.

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Commissioner Steve Tanelli

Commissioner Steve Tanelli

Steven A. Tanelli was elected to the Bergen County Board of Commissioners on November 6, 2012. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners. He has previously served as both Chairman in 2016 and Chair Pro Tempore in 2020.

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