By KP Palmer, Correspondent
As Veterans’ Day approaches, it is a good time to reflect on the veterans both past and present. The Journal took some time to catch up with one of Belton’s newest residents, recently retired Chief Warrant Officer Charles Johnson, who proudly served 33 total years in both the Navy and the Army.
Enlisting at age 17 in 1984, Johnson followed a long line of family members who had served their country.
“I remember many of my classmates were joining the Marines, but my Mom’s side of the family had a long standing Navy tradition to include my great Uncle who had served on a sub in World War II.”
Johnson’s family can date their military service back to the Civil War and he is proud to be a part of that longstanding tradition.
“I am so proud to be a part of my family’s legacy. To be a part of their belief in service to America.”
Johnson’s career with the Navy was heavily involved in Navy Special Warfare. The work was physically demanding and there was much time spend on mission and in training. After being injured, Johnson spent some time in the reserves and re-entered the military via an enlistment with the US Army as a military intelligence soldier.
In the course of his intel career with the Army, he spent time in many units ranging from the 82nd Airborne in North Carolina to V Corps in Wiesbaden Germany. In 2010, Johnson made his final career change by transitioning from an enlisted soldier to the Warrant Officer side of the house.
After such a diverse amount of jobs, seven deployments, and over 22 duty stations, Johnson had a hard time choosing his favorite job in the military.
“It is hard to choose. Two jobs that are neck and neck is the Navy special warfare time and working with the 95th Civil Affairs BDE. The comradery with my Navy peers was awesome. We had a great team and there is no greater thing in the world than respect of your your peers.”
Finally, in 2017, Johnson found his way to Fort Hood and Belton, Texas.
“We chose to live and retire in Belton mainly because of the schools. The reputation was excellent and we haven’t been disappointed. The teachers and staff have been incredible with our kids and it is a pleasure to have them in Belton ISD.”
After retiring in 2018, Johnson took on a new job as a Facilities Manager for Premiere Research Labs in Austin. Although he loves his job and the new challenges it brings, there is much about the military that he misses.
“There is nothing like the bonds you form with your military family. I miss the military everyday, the comradery and working with a team that was driven by a mission.”
As Johnson takes the time to reflect on his service and the people he served alongside, he is proud to be a part of this great nation.
“We are a strong nation and we are always getting better. We have come so far. I would stand up for this country against any enemy. I am proud to be an American.”
Johnson is also very proud of his family and appreciates the support they have given him over the years, especially his wife Lori.
“It is hard to put into words. For me to be able to leave and do what I had to do and come back to this loyal loving woman, words just can not describe.”
Lori feels the same way and being a military family has given all of them some resiliency skills.
“ I am so proud of Charles and his service to our country. We have all learned a lot, but I’d say the biggest lesson I learned as a military spouse is that people are more capable than they know. You never know how much you can do until you have to do it all. Deployments have made me and our kids resilient and self-sufficient. But my kids are grateful to have dad home now.”
As Johnson heads into a relaxing family weekend in Belton, he reflects on what being a veteran really means to him.
“It is something that is hard to summarize and it may sound corny, but it is true; I loved being a part of this great nation and contributing to freedom with some amazing comrades.”
Johnson explains how much there is still to do for our veterans.
“I think our country needs to continue to be appreciative of our vets. So many don’t have have success stories after service. We need to keeping reaching out to those who are struggling, and of course….always be grateful.”
A big thanks to Chief Johnson and his Family. Belton is grateful to call you neighbors!