NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va,– Perfectly situated between San Diego and the residentials of Orange County, lies Carlsbad, California. Easy access to the beach and scenic trails covers a seven-mile stretch of the Pacific coastline. This is where the U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Kimberly A. Johnson (retired), assistant chief of staff G-1 of Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, Marine Forces Command, Marine Forces Northern Command, spent her upbringing.
“The military wasn’t necessarily my childhood, but my dad served before I came into the family picture,” Johnson expressed.
During her junior year at Carlsbad High School, Johnson’s father mentioned the Reserve Officer Training School scholarship program as a potential career option.
ROTC is offered at select colleges and universities throughout the country. Once graduated, the midshipman is appointed a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.
With the ROTC scholarship, Johnson attended Tulane University, New Orleans. She graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.
“The scholarship program allowed me to fulfill college with a greater purpose in mind and my education,” Johnson said.
Following training requirements and graduation, Johnson was selected to fulfill the adjutant military occupational specialties. Adjutants ensure that every Marine in their command has administrative resources for day-to-day tasks and long-term career progression.
The Marine Corps offered unlimited opportunities within this occupational field. Johnson was fortunate to be the Aide-de-Camp for U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. R.E. Parker, the Commanding General for Marine Corps Base Hawaii, as her first duty station in 2000. The beautiful Oahu beaches offered a peace of mind, while the command offered a foundational basis and knowledge for her Marine Corps journey.
“I was very fortunate to have Hawaii as my first duty station, it was just the right amount of humidity,” she expressed.
In September 2001, Johnson checked into the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit as a Captain. This is when Johnson was really challenged. Her role at 11th MEU was far more operational than other adjutant billets.
“Traditionally, this position was for the rank of Major, so I was really thrown with the wolves, but in a good way,” Johnson reflected, “There was nothing like learning at this assignment.”
Johnson was deployed three times with the 11th MEU, which supported Operation Iraqi Freedom I and Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
The operational factor meant Johnson would have to act fast and efficiently. This included Noncombatant Evacuation Operations, exercise contingencies, and tracking casualties. Supervising and administrating tasks at the operational level challenged Johnson in a beneficial way and she excelled greatly during her time at the MEU.
“The MEU opened my eyes early on in my career to see just how beneficial naval integration is at the operational level. I was able to learn how to integrate and work together to accomplish the mission.”
The 11th MEU is a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF) capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations, to include enabling the introduction of follow-on forces and designated special operations to support the theater requirements of geographic combatant commanders.
Following her last deployment, Johnson served as the Aide-de-Camp for U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Walter Gaskin, Commanding General of Marine Corps Recruiting Command in 2005, and as an instructor and platoon commander at Officer Candidates School in 2006. Thereafter, Johnson was selected to serve as the Deputy Director of Protocol for the Commandant of the Marine Corps, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Robert H. Barrow, and selected for the Foreign Area Officer program in 2007.
The Foreign Area Officer program offered interpersonal communications and foreign language skills to Johnson, in return Johnson can provide time-sensitive situational awareness to leadership and improve Marine Corps integration with the Interagency. This also called for Johnson to spend one year in Beijing, China.
Additionally, Johnson spent time with the Wounded Warrior Battalion West, U.S. Marine Forces, Korea, 4th Law Enforcement Battalion, Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group, and lastly: Marine Forces Command in July 2019.
When asked what unit she would want to revisit, Johnson couldn’t decide.
“4th Law Enforcement Battalion offered a new challenge, unlike previous command roles. But the MEU offered operational challenges that I really enjoyed.” Johnson reflected. “My last nine-month deployment supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom taught me a lot about the mission set. It was enriching to work with interpreters and local nationals as well.”
Johnson foresees her military career ending, and that retirement is the next challenge to be accepted.
“I’ve accomplished all I can in the Marine Corps. This chapter is closing because there are more challenges outside of the military, and challenges will ensure growth.”
Goals after retirement include taking a year off to assist with the adjustment period. This includes travel and visiting with family and friends. Additionally, she looks forward to traveling anywhere she can scuba dive.
“Taking this time will allow me to define who I am outside of the uniform. I also plan on volunteering at the San Diego Humane Society.”
Serving 26 honorable years to the Corps, she feels heartened to encounter everyone she has ever met. She can confidently retire knowing that the Marines then and now will carry over to the future generations.
“I Trust them. I can confidently retire and pass the baton to the next generation of Marines. They are ready for it.”
|Date Posted:||08.21.2023 09:28|
|Location:||NORFOLK, VA, US|
|Hometown:||CARLSBAD, CA, US|