History teacher shares experiences as former army sergeant
As a military police officer, Mrs. Anna Johnson served in the Army on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. for two years. She subsequently worked as a reservist in the chemical decontamination and supply units for five years.
“I needed a way to get out and start on my own,” said Mrs. Johnson. “Going to go college and working three jobs was killing me, so I decided to join the Army and get the college fund. Then when I came out, I would be able to get a job.”
Mrs. Johnson swore into service on July 4, 1984, in Greenville, S.C. During her previous year and a half of college, Mrs. Johnson studied criminal justice. Consequently, she decided to become a military police officer, or MP.
Three months later, she began One Station Unit training, a 16-week course including eight weeks of basic training and eight weeks of Advanced Individual Training, or AIT. She learned how to drive Jeeps, throw hand grenades and shoot an M60 machine gun. While on a road march at Fort McClellan, Al., she broke her knee cap and tore a few ligaments.
“The biggest challenge was getting through basic without having to restart all over again, which I was determined not to do,” said Mrs. Johnson. “I put a brace on it, kept going and used duct tape when I needed to. The pain was just something I endured.” AIT prepared Mrs. Johnson for the specific duties of an MP: law e n f o r c e m e n t within the jurisdiction of her military base and its members and reconnaissance, making sure roads were safe for the infantry units. She learned everything from the Uniform Code of Military Justice to how to direct traffic.
“I learned I could do a lot more than I gave myself credit for,” said Mrs. Johnson. “I set a goal, and I completed the goal. In my childhood, I didn’t see many goals because of the stress at home. Just being able to complete something was a huge victory for me. I saw that there’s nothing that can stop me.”
Mrs. Johnson arrived at Fort Shafter in Oahu, Hawaii in March 1985. One night, while she was patrolling Waikiki beach, she came across a Marine, who threatened to kill her.
“I had to think really quickly,” said Mrs. Johnson. “I handed him my nightstick. The minute he took possession of the nightstick, he had a deadly weapon, and I could draw my weapon on him. I drew my gun and put him in handcuffs.”
In 1986, Mrs. Johnson and her husband, who she met in Hawaii, returned to Greenville, S.C. and joined the Army Reserve. They worked in a decontamination unit for nuclear, chemical and biological warfare. Their job was to attempt to remove any remnants of the chemicals used on the soldiers, so the chemicals would not spread.
In 1988, her husband re-joined active duty, so they moved to Germany with their three very young sons. Mrs. Johnson continued to serve as a reservist in Frankfurt. Her supply unit was temporarily activated during Desert Shield, an oil conflict in the Middle East. Military supplies were flown into air force bases in Germany and shipped to Frankfurt where Mrs. Johnson’s unit would sort and prepare the supplies to be sent out again.
“I enjoyed the camaraderie and the closeness of the Army community,” said Mrs. Johnson. “I enjoyed the fact that we were all in it together, so you made really deep friendships quickly.” Mrs. Johnson and her family moved back to Savannah, Ga. in 1997.
Two years later, they moved to Atlanta, and her children started at The King’s Academy. She returned to Kennesaw State University and received her teaching degree in 2004.