How One Marine Appreciates The Logistics In Life and The Corps
by 3rd Marine Logistics Group
was myself and doggone six other motivated devils just hauling ass
everywhere trying to get ammo back into the mags,” said Cpl. Patrick
Johnson with a thick southern twang. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by
Lance Cpl. Carla O)
“We had a purpose.”
Johnson, now an ammunition clerk with G-4, Combat Logistics
Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, was previously an
ammunition technician at an ammunition supply point in Camp
Pendleton, California. Camp Pendleton experiences several wild fires
every year, Johnson explained.
One summer, the fire reached a hill just before the ammunition
supply point, he said.
At the time, Johnson was certified to operate heavy equipment. He
also had a forklift license and an explosives handling certificate,
so the responsibility fell to him and some of his fellow Marines to
move the ammunition into earth-covered magazines and out of the path
of the blaze.
Johnson said that this day spent battling against the fire was
his favorite memory in the Marine Corps so far, but looking back,
Johnson was careful to clarify that that day was no better than any
other day – just different.
Johnson related his experience to something he had heard from
Sgt. Maj. Bradley Kasal, a Marine who received the Navy Cross for
his actions during a firefight in Fallujah, Iraq.
“Sgt. Maj. Kasal has this speech and he asks, ‘How many
ceremonies have you seen of somebody getting a good conduct medal?’”
Johnson said. “Zero! Nobody! Nobody gets one. But that takes three
years to get. But Kasal says it was three hours of his life for him
to get his award.”
Johnson said the hard work that is done every day is no less
important than what is done in those moments people tell stories
about. He added that it’s the little things that matter most,
because it’s the little things that make those special moments
This is a principle that has been with Johnson since his
childhood, he said.
Johnson is from Johnson City, Tennessee, where he says that
growing up was very simple. Discussing his favorite childhood
memories, Johnson spoke about the trees, the wildlife and the
pleasures of small town life instead of any extravagant events.
“My family owns a farm,” he said. “A small one. It’s just my
grandparents. Got a few cows, but it’s mostly just stuff you eat. We
grow corn, but we don’t sell a lot.”
Johnson said his family
has a history of military service and that it was his turn to serve.
“On my dad’s side it kind of alternates between going to prison
and serving,” he said, “So, my dad was in prison, my grandfather was
a soldier and then his father was a convict.”
his wire-rimmed glasses and rubbed his reddening blue eyes while
talking about his family.
“I hope they’re proud,” he said
with a shaking voice. “I hope so. I know my mom is.”
However, when Johnson chose to enlist after high school, it wasn’t
just to avoid an alternate fate. Johnson said he had always wanted
to be a Marine and joined to serve his country.
constitution!” he exclaimed. “It seems like everyone only really
wants to follow it when it’s convenient for them and I am not a big
fan of that, so I thought ... Hey! Might as well go to the place
that will protect it and preserve it.”
Johnson enlisted on an
infantry contract, but scored a low combat fitness score, which
resulted in him reclassing to become an ammunition technician.
Johnson said he doesn’t think he will change back to infantry,
“Maybe if a war popped off and they needed the extra
bodies, I’d love to,” Johnson said with a smile and eyes wide in
imagination of such a possibility.
Johnson said that, in the
meantime, he loves his job.
“I love ammo,” he said. “It’s
unique because it’s small, but it does a lot of work in terms of
moving parts,” said Johnson. “Everybody needs ammo and you can’t
find wild 5.56 [mm ammunition]”.
By Johnson’s assessment,
being part of the logistics combat element of the Marine Corps means
being part of what makes the Marine Corps the world’s finest
“There are 20 percent that get to hook, jab
and stab like everyone wants to,” he said. “But without the 80
percent that support them, that 20 percent ain’t gonna be as
Johnson said it would be a lie to say he doesn’t
sometimes wish that he were a part of that 20 percent, though –
especially when he first entered the job field.
really appreciate it until I looked at the big picture,” he said of
working in logistics.
Again, Johnson found context in the
words of a Marine he looks up to: the 27th Commandant of the Marine
Corps, General Robert H. Barrow.
“Back in 1980, the
Commandant of the Marine Corps was quoted saying ‘Amateurs talk
tactics, but professionals study logistics,’” Johnson said. “Because
logistics wins wars.”
Logistics is one of the little things,
Johnson said of being part of 3rd Marine Logistics
Group, “It feels nice being a cog in this clockwork that is very
keen on doing its job greatly.”
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