By Diane Walker, Fort Leavenworth LampDecember 10, 2009
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Dec. 10, 2009) - For recently promoted Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Johnson, serving in the military - specifically as a noncommissioned officer - is a family tradition. Johnson, his father and brothers have a combined 140 years with the military, more than 100 of those years as noncommissioned officers.
Johnson, who joined the U.S. Army in 1987 as an Armor crewman, has worked in a variety of Armor positions during his military career.
"I definitely wanted combat arms, and I decided I would rather ride than walk," he said.
A graduate of the Abrams Tank Master Gunner School, Johnson served during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Iraq and also in Korea, Kuwait and at Fort Hood, Texas. While in Kuwait, he supervised the construction and operation of the Udari Range Complex to help prepare units deploying to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
During his 22 years with the Army, Johnson has received a variety of honors, among them the Bronze Star and three Meritorious Service Medals. He's also a member of the Order of Saint George, the highest honor for mounted Soldiers, and the Order of the Spur, recognizing Cavalry members who have served in combat; and a recipient of the General Fredrick M. Franks Award, honoring individuals who make long-term contributions to the Army's ground warfighting capabilities.
Johnson believes his experience with the operational Army made him a more effective operations NCO for the Combined Arms Center-Training, his most recent assignment.
"It helped me set priorities on what the Soldier needs," he said of the CAC-T position.
Similarly, Johnson said he believes his year of institutional Army work with CAC-T has given him a broader perspective that will help in his new role as command sergeant major for the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, at Fort Stewart, Ga.
"You get to see how the big Army operates and what it takes to get from concept to finished product," he said. "A lot of people are involved in making it happen."
Johnson's upbringing provided excellent preparation as well. The eighth of 15 children, Johnson developed a knack for counseling at a young age. He was the go-to person for his seven older brothers and sisters and the seven younger ones, too. That early training has helped him adjust and adapt throughout his military career.
Johnson is looking forward to his new Fort Stewart role, which begins in mid-January.
"I'm very excited to be going back to the operational Army and to be moving someplace new," he said, adding that he's honored by his new responsibilities. "It's very sobering to be trusted as the advocate for all these enlisted Soldiers and their family members."