Chaplain of 1st LAR Bn. Helps Marines Stay Semper Fidelis
(December 28, 2008)
Lt. Cmdr. James L. Johnson, chaplain for 1st Light
Armored Reconnaissance Battalion kneels before a lighted cross
before an evening prayer service here.
Photo by Cpl. Dean Davis
December 21, 2008
SAHL SINJAR, Iraq – Always faithful; a saying by which Marines and sailors of
1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion fight and one by which their chaplain
shapes a deeper meaning, exemplifying a way to live a life.
“The honor, privilege and challenge of serving with the Marines are things that
truly make for an amazing occupation, and I am here to assist them and be a
counsel for them wherever they may go,” said Lt. Cmdr. James L. Johnson,
chaplain for 1st LAR Bn. “This battalion is filled with Marines that have all
different types of jobs, bringing their skills to the mission we have here. It's
The Marines of 1st LAR Bn. are currently operating near the city of Mosul in
northern Iraq, interdicting smuggling from Syria.
Johnson's original job was one that could have been useful to the Highlanders
when he was in the Navy years ago.
“I wouldn't say years ago, more like decades. I was a corpsman and I wanted
to serve with the Marines, but I ended up working in a hospital instead. So this
is a sort of second opportunity,“ said Johnson, now 50. “It was always my dream
to serve with the Marines. Though I never thought I would be here, God is full
of surprises, and this is where he has guided me.”
|As Marines and sailors of 1st LAR Bn. approach the half-way point in their
deployment from family and friends, having someone to talk to can be a welcomed
relief, especially during the holiday season, explained Johnson.
“This job isn't like any other. When we say we take care of each other that
isn't some sentimental cozy remark. We take it seriously as matter of life and
death and no one person can do this mission alone,” said Johnson. “With that, I
think there is a tendency to focus on the service member, so I hope families
know how much they are missed and that we really appreciate what they do.”
And, though Marines may be missing home, their mission is one that requires
them to continue to be the professionals both the American and Iraqi people need
them to be, said Johnson.
Caption Lt. Cmdr. James L. Johnson, chaplain for 1st Light Armored
Reconnaissance Battalion delivers a service to Marines of Company C, 1st LAR Bn.
in the field in a area south of Mosul.
Photo by RP2 Antonio Valenzuela Jr.
“When I served in Japan, there was a sign posted at the gate as you left.
‘You are an ambassador of the United States of America.' That really stuck with
me,” said Johnson. “You may be the only American that some of the people here
ever have contact with, and that comes with a responsibility. I think more is
expected of our warriors than before in that way.”
With the spiritual guidance and mentorship around them, Marines of 1st LAR
Bn. can carry out their mission, which at times may just be taking care of one
another, said Johnson.
“The Marine Corps motto is not 'always running' or 'always bull's-eye'- it's
'always faithful,'” said Johnson. “Marines have been Marines even when they have
run out of ammunition- when all they had left was their own strength and guile.”
By Marine Cpl. Dean Davis
Multi National Force - West
from U.S. Marines Website
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