Santa Paula Times

Above, Amanda Johnson, a 2003 graduate of Santa Paula High School, served in Iraq and is now heading to Afghanistan. She was home visiting and before she left Santa Paula she stopped by the Veterans Memorial to have her picture taken with photos of her father and grandfather both Navy veterans.

2003 SPHS graduate served in Iraq and now heading to Afghanistan

September 28, 2012
Santa Paula News

Amanda Johnson, a 2003 graduate of Santa Paula High School, and the daughter of  Richard A. Johnson and Juliette Johnson of Santa Paula, served in Iraq and is now heading to Afghanistan.

Johnson enlisted in the Marines before she finished high school and went to boot camp after graduation. She was selected for Officer Candidate School, but choose to remain in the enlisted ranks. 

After her four-year stint as a Marine she joined the Virginia Army National Guard. Her unit was deployed to Iraq in April of 2010 and came home in December of that year.  

Johnson is a truck driver and was deployed as a radio-telecommunications operator. “I ended up taking the responsibility of a machine gunner on gun trucks, as well as an electronic warfare specialist,” she said. “It was 10 females in support roles in an all-male cavalry unit.”  

She said the women definitely proved themselves in training before they were deployed. “When we got overseas and started running missions the females were no longer just in support roles. They were put into the trucks in gunner positions and sole responsibilities in those convoys. Convoy security is what we ran and there was no difference in gender. You are a CAV Scout in this deployment.”

Johnson says she finds military life immensely fulfilling in serving my country. “It goes to a more basic fulfillment when you’re over there. It goes to your brother and your sister on your left and on your right. The people that you eat, sleep and work with every day. It’s really about them and whether we get along or not, we know we want each other to come home. So we work our hardest just to make sure we’re safe and conducting the mission as it needs to be conducted.”

She notes she saw a lot of action in Iraq, which kind of shocked her. Johnson said the news at home was that things were peaceful and going well. “Over there we were getting blown up with IEDs and taking mortars when back at our base. It’s very intense, very fast paced. We were supposed to be there a year, but our deployment got cut short because the President said we were coming home. Nobody believed it until we were home, but he had us home before Christmas.”

Johnson said she’s a “lifer.” She added, “I had an incredible first sergeant when I was overseas. He told me when we got back home, if I have to keep a female in the CAV unit it would be you and get 10 more just like you.”  

The military is in her blood. Her father served 10 years in the U.S. Navy. She said her parents have always supported her decision.

She said she was scared every day she was deployed. “I just didn’t have time to show it.”  

She’s a sergeant now, and added that her mentality is to train, train, train. And, she added, “to make sure my guys and my girls are ready for this.” After her Afghanistan deployment she’s hoping she can get more humanitarian missions.