Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Sharing stories of the USAF life

 

November 15, 2017



During the Monroe Intermediate School’s program on Friday, a local veteran shared with those in attendance what life was like in the Air Force.

Mary Johnson, retired United States Air Force Capt., said when she was a child all she knew about serving was that her grandpa had served in World War II.

As she grew up, she was trying to figure out what to do with her life. She had a strength and she knew what is was -- foreign language.

With her strength in mind, Johnson decided to visit a recruiters office. She explained to the recruiter what her strengths were and wanted to know if there was a place for her in the military.

There was. She became a linguist in the Air Force.

“I did what I loved,” she said.

With this new responsibility came travel. She lived in 15 out of the 50 states in the U.S. and traveled to more than 30 countries.

“Not too bad for a kid who grew up in Rock Springs, Wyo.,” Johnson said.

Some would jokingly tell her she basically got paid to take vacations, but the trips she was on were far from vacations.

Over the course of Johnson’s career, she saw and experienced many things.

“I witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall while in Germany,” Johnson said.

While she was in Saudi Arabia, she learned how a woman is supposed to dress while in that country.

Woman are required to wear an Abaya, which is a robe-like dress. She also had to wear a Hijab to cover her hair, neck and in some cases her face.

She wanted to let those in attendance know how blessed they are to live in a country where they can wear whatever they want. They live in a country that is based on freedom, however, freedom isn’t free.

Johnson wants people to think about veterans and servicemen and women year round. It’s common for those in the service to miss weddings, anniversaries, births, Christmases, New Years parties and other celebrations.

Sometimes those serving are wounded and other times one can’t see the wounds they carry with them.

Johnson gave an example. She said her friend Mike, who was also in the Air Force. The two would run into each other occasionally while they were serving. One day, after she retired, she got a call. It was about Mike.

She was told Mike’s leg had practically been torn off by an explosion near the Humvee he was about to enter. He had 27 surgeries and they were able to save his leg.

Even after that terrible incident, Mike wouldn’t retire. He went on to serve two more tours. He was in the military for more than 30 years.

“You never have a closer relationship than those you go to war with,” Johnson said.

Before Johnson was done, she encouraged those in attendance to do one thing for her. She wanted them to thank veterans and those who are currently serving. She said those who served or are serving need to be recognized every day not just on Veterans’ Day.

“It you see a person in uniform when traveling, I don’t care if you know them or not, go up and thank them,” Johnson said.

She said it will make a difference.

 

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