Hendriks Vanags is a Tier One operator of the Baltic Union. Ranking Captain, he is the commanding officer of the 1st Company, 2nd Special Tasks Battalion.
Hendriks Vanags hails from a long lineage of military men dating back to before World War I, every generation of his family having served in the military in some capacity since then. A native of Aizkraukle district, Vanags serves as one of his military district's leading special forces operators.
Born in 2097, Hendriks Vanags would witness the full extent of the brutalities of the Second Mecharussian invasion as a boy, his father perishing during the Mecharussian occupation. The atrocities witnessed during his childhood left him with a lifelong hatred towards the Mecharussians, further reinforced after the Baltic-Mecharussian war of 2132
His military career started rather unexceptionally, for a Balt anyway, and while proving himself sufficiently capable for Tier Two service, Vanags wasn't generally noted for any exceptional skill by his instructors besides being unusually stubborn and unyielding. On one occasion, he is recorded to have won an unarmed sparring bout against a superior opponent by dislocating his own arm to break a hold. It was perhaps these qualities and sound if not overt leadership skills displayed later in his service that prompted his superiors to select him for Tier One training.
In the following years, Vanags would participate in a number of domestic and extraterritorial operations including a number of deep cross-border raids. The tactical cunning, unorthodox thinking and level-headedness displayed by him on these difficult and dangerous missions saw Vanags fast-tracked to promotion, especially after the ill-fated raid on Chernobyl that resulted in the demise of a number of Tier One operators including his former captain, whose place Vanags was promoted to assume.
Like many Balts, Vanags and his kin makes a living by working his family farm. His position as an officer and a Tier One operator doesn't leave him with much down-time, effectively leaving his farm under supervision of his wife Gloria. As can be expected, he spends much of his time on missions or training with his men.
To those who know him, Vanags is known first and foremost as a loving husband and father devoted to his family. He spends much of his off-time with his young son Mareks, doing his best to prepare the boy for the tough, brutish and often unpredictably-short life that a Balt must typically contend with.
Vanags is an honest, straightforward man who detests mind games and demands that those who work with him be up-straight with him. He detests small talk and flattery, and can be blunt to the point of rudeness, though isn't exactly without tact or diplomatic savvy either. Even though he is readily willing to use deception and underhanded methods to get the job done in the line of work, he never allows his duties as a soldier to define himself as a man and maintains a rough sense of chivalry and honour, expecting the same of his men.
Although regarded as a fine soldier and an all-around decent and upstanding man and family father by his peers, like any man Vanags is not without his flaws. One of them is his rabid hatred for raiders and wastelanders in general, evidently fueled by his numerous combat experiences against them. He personally recounts having summarily executed a group of captured raiders by necklacing, although it is unclear whether the method of choice was his own idea or suggested by one of his men. He does, however, seem to be willing to give at least some of them the benefit of doubt, as is evidenced by at least one of his farmhands being a reformed raider, whom Vanags seems to trust sufficiently to task with protecting his wife and son when called off to war.
Enemies often believe him to be constantly angry, due to his near-constant state of grizzledness when dealing with them. This is perhaps just his way of dealing with the stress of being on the battlefield. In interactions with his fellow servicemen and superiors, however, Vanags strikes more as sarcastic and borderline-irreverent.
Vanags seems to share a special bond with his son, sometimes referring to him as the "only good thing he's brought upon this world". He often takes Marek along on individual training, including dangerous exercises like "roof-hopping" (essentially parkour runs in powered exoskeleton) much to the chagrin of his wife.