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    Arkansas, football and military working dogs

    Arkansas, football and military working dogs

    Photo By Cpl. Joshua Brown | U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Evan D. Johnson, a military police officer with the 26th Marine...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Joshua Brown 

    26th Marine Expeditionary Unit     

    USS KEARSARGE -- A small community of farmers occupies Fayetteville, Arkansas. Schools in the area, like Greenland High School, don’t boast large graduating classes; in fact, Lance Cpl. Evan D. Johnson was one of 56 students in his graduating class.

    Johnson is a military police officer with the law enforcement detachment assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is currently deployed to the 5th Fleet area of operations to maintain security in the region.

    This is his first deployment; placing him several thousands of miles away from the farm he was raised on.

    “I loved growing up on a farm,” said Johnson. “We worked hard, but in my free time I hunted and dirt-biked.”

    He still hunts when he goes home on leave. He cites deer hunting as his favorite sport in this field of recreation.

    “We had cattle, horses and chickens on our farm,” said Johnson. “It was a simple life. We had everything we needed; the entire family was there and we were able to spend most of our time together.”

    Local and college level sporting events, particularly football, were the major interests of the locals in Fayetteville, said Johnson. The family would eat together every Sunday and watch their beloved ‘razorbacks’ running the turf.

    “It was really easy-going,” said Johnson. “We’d go to ‘Nanna’ and Papa’s; usually the women would spend time together talking about whatever was going on at the time and the rest of us would watch the game.”

    Sometimes the Johnson family would take their gatherings to the local saloon to enjoy the game among the company of others, said Johnson.

    He was easily recognized by the people in his community and got along well with them because he played on his high school’s football team, said Johnson.

    The transition from local football player to active duty United States Marine wasn’t an easy one, said Johnson. He had to learn to see things from a different perspective than the one he was used to.

    “I had lived on the farm my entire life,” said Johnson. “I had to learn to be humble; I wasn’t the only good football player and I wasn’t the biggest fish anymore.”

    The motivations behind his enlistment were strongly influenced by his family, said Johnson.

    “I wanted to fight to prevent bad things from reaching our good old hometown,” said Johnson. “I didn’t want to let my dad down; I wanted to make him proud; exceed my family’s expectations, and I didn’t want to be the kid who got stuck in his hometown.”

    He enlisted and became a military police officer.

    “I still feel a close tie to family now that I’m here,” said Johnson. “Some of the guys and I have trained, worked and deployed together and we are essentially brothers.”

    Johnson conducts several duties as a military police officer. These include tactical site exploitation, battlefield forensics, investigations, security and the utilization of military working dogs in the prevention, identification and capture of bombs or aggressive suspects. Johnson is not a qualified working dog handler; however, he is currently receiving on-the-job training under the watch of his mentor Sgt. Michael L. Davis, a military working dog handler.

    Davis advises Johnson during his training with the dogs; supervises and documents the hours, and activities he performs.

    “My goal is to reenlist and become a dog handler,” said Johnson. “I wanted to be one when I enlisted initially, but it’s a small occupation in an already small job field. Sgt. Davis is logging all the work I’ve done with the dogs so I have something to improve my chances of getting approved when I reenlist.”

    Davis believes Johnson will succeed as long as he maintains his current momentum and stays focused, said Davis.

    “He has a strong work ethic,” said Davis. “When we need someone to step up and accept a challenge he takes it.”

    He worked with Johnson prior to the MEU’s deployment and has been in a supervisory role for him during the full length of their association.

    “He is an optimistic guy,” said Davis. “He doesn’t complain and gets the job done even if the work isn’t exciting, and that really stands out. He can turn bad situations into good memories and draws the positive pieces out of the situation.”

    One of Johnson’s major responsibilities is being a spotter for Davis. A spotter maintains his attention on surroundings and people whenever a handler is focused on work with his dog. Davis personally selected Johnson for the position.

    “I chose him because he works hard and shows a great interest in the dogs,” said Davis.

    Johnson plans on taking the wisdom instilled in him by Davis and using that to improve himself, said Johnson. Currently he’s got high hopes for his future in the military and his opportunity to become a working dog handler, but isn’t jumping to any conclusions.

    “I’m taking it one enlistment at a time for now,” said Johnson. “I don’t want to look to far ahead and forget to focus on getting my job done right now.”

    The Marine Corps is a good place to make a career though, he said.

    “You get out what you put into this organization,” said Johnson. “It’s a very straightforward occupation: be proactive and you will advance.”



    Date Taken: 02.16.2016
    Date Posted: 02.16.2016 12:31
    Story ID: 188939
    Hometown: FAYETTEVILLE, AR, US

    Web Views: 1,235
    Downloads: 2