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A Soldier's Story On Success
by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston - April 24, 2014

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Sgt. 1st Class Johnnie Horne, an Observer-Coach/Trainer for the 1-307th Infantry Battalion, shares a candid moment during a counter improvised explosive device class, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ on April 4, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – Knowledge and experience are inseparably linked; they set the stage for great character development. With a good attitude as a guide, one could gather countless valuable lessons from daily life.

Sgt. 1st Class Johnnie Horne (photo left), a Hattiesburg, Miss. native, is the embodiment of this principled cycle. He has a good attitude and consistently adds life lessons to his data bank of knowledge. He serves as an observer-coach/trainer in counter improvised explosive device lanes for the 1-307th Infantry Battalion, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

Horne's 13 years of active-duty service as a mortar man in the infantry has taken him on four combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. His real-world experience in handling an array of difficult situations has shaped him into a resilient Soldier and versatile O-C/T.

“You could say that I've had training in countering IED's if you call experience training,” Horne said with a chuckle. “I've had no structured training on IED's. I draw from experience from the field that I've gathered. It's become second nature to me.”

Horne's experience runs deeper than his deployments to the Middle East; his roots reveal a proud heritage. Horne is a third generation Soldier.

“We're all Army,” Horne said with a powerful, yet comforting Mississippi accent. “I'm a third generation Soldier. My grandfather served in World War II, my dad served in Vietnam, and I served three tours to Iraq, and one to Afghanistan.”

Horne's knowledge is not the only thing that makes him an exceptional Soldier. His friendly nature gives him an ability to create an environment to share his knowledge more effectively.

“He's a very knowledgeable person, someone you can turn to for advice because of the experiences he's accrued throughout his military career, which has built his knowledge base,” said Horne's supervisor, Capt. Peter McCain, 1-307th Inf. Bn. “Aside from that, he's a very affable and amiable person. His temperament makes him very easy to get along with.”

Horne attributes his charismatic persona to a special person who left an indelible influence in his life: his father.

“I get my motivation from my father, who passed away from cancer in May 2011. He always told me, ‘You've got do three things in life: within a day you've got be able to smile, you've got be able to laugh, and you've got be able to tell your wife you love her,' and that completes a day,” Horne said.

At 38, Horne has been with his wife Cassandra for 20 years. Their daughter Ty is 16 years old. Horne recounts his sentiment for his beloved wife with fondness.

“I started dating her almost 20 years ago,” Horne said, laughing in unbelief at the passage of time. “The number one thing that a married Soldier needs is the support of his wife. My wife is my best friend and when you're deployed that's all you need. You just need someone to talk to get away from what's going on.”

Horne's success as an exemplary person and noncommissioned officer, although well supported by his wife and father's example, comes from his own morals and decisions. It mimics Victor E. Frankl's philosophy on success in the preface to his book, Man's Search for Meaning: “For success, like happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself.”

Horne said when he wakes in the morning, he's happy to be alive. “When you've seen how bad things can be, it makes you feel blessed to be in the situation that you're in,” Horne said. “You've got a roof over your head, you've got food in your refrigerator and you're in the Army. Once you become thankful for life, the rest comes easy, no matter what comes your way.”

Article and photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2014

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