Fort Jackson's commander smiled brightly at his daughter, Sarah, as she placed a new two-star shoulder board on his Army Service Uniform during his promotion ceremony on Victory Field Monday.
Maj. Gen. John "Pete" Johnson, Fort Jackson's 49th commanding general, was promoted in front of his Family and friends.
Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, former First Army commander, who has known Johnson for years and presided over the ceremony, said "I'm excited. I am so glad Pete asked me come down and do this because Pete is a very special officer."
"He has done some tremendous things in the Army," Tucker said. "He's done all the tough jobs in the tough places. People out here that have worn Army boots, or any military service, understand what that's about."
Johnson served in the 1st Ranger Battalion and fought in Operation Just Cause in Panama, deployed with Special Operations Command, was a battalion commander and the operations officer for the 82nd Airborne Division, and a brigade commander with the 101st Infantry Division.
"Slackers don't get those jobs," said Tucker, who served in the Army for 44 years.
Tucker and Johnson's paths first crossed when they were in Afghanistan. Tucker was the chief of operations for the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul while Johnson led a brigade. They would meet again when Johnson became the executive officer to then-Lt. Gen. John F. Campbell, Army's Deputy Chief of Staff, G3/5/7 who Tucker called, "the busiest staff officer in the world."
"You can imagine the kind of hours," Tucker added. "I was General Campbell's deputy and it
was tough -- tough hours. Pete somehow kept a lid on it; it was unbelievable how much calm he generated."
Tucker said he was taken by how Johnson was dedicated to his Family even during hectic
periods at the Pentagon.
"Pete took time out for his Family," he said. "He would share stories with me about going up on the Appalachian Trail and going camping with his kids. I thought, 'how tremendous is that?' because you have every excuse to stay here and man the fort and catch up with that later. But, you put money
back in the bank and he achieved balance.
"Fort Jackson, you are so privileged to get an officer who has done the tough jobs; has served 10
operational assignments in his life in some pretty bad places: Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Panama, and I cannot be any more proud than I am today to promote" Johnson to two-star
A major general is the third highest rank an officer can have in the Army. Until the Civil War only George Washington permanently held a higher rank.
Tucker and Johnson's Family attached new shoulder boards to his uniform before his new two-star flag was unfurled and a cannonade of honors was rendered.
After being promoted Johnson spoke glowingly of Tucker.
Tucker's career started "as a private and getting after it. For the mission here at Fort Jackson it's very symbolic," Johnson said. "Private at Fort Jackson, drill sergeant at Fort Leonard Wood -- so he understands this mission from both sides of that equation."
"The passion he delivered to the Army on a day-to-day basis was exceptional," Johnson said. "Thanks for taking time out of your transition to the next phase of life to do this for Team Johnson. It means a whole heck of a lot."
The ceremony was Tucker's last act in uniform as he retires tomorrow.
Jackson's commander thanked the local community for its support as well.
He thanked "everyone from this great community -- it's a wonderful place to be and certainly a great place to be a Soldier for sure."
In a personal note the Johnson Family thanked Soldiers, non-commissioned officers, officers and Army civilians they were "lucky to be associated with.
"We are humbled by all and treasure the opportunity to continue our service in support
of the Army mission -- one that is much bigger than all of us."