Problem solving and critical thinking skills are important in today’s business world and just as important in the modern military. Army Capt. James Anthony Johnson of Lancaster puts those skills to work while on deployment in Iraq.

“I am a operation research systems analyst. I basically solve problems mathematically. They give me different problems and I look for solutions on how to do this and how to do that. This is a little different than what I used to do. On this deployment I’m on staff and not in charge of soldiers like I normally used to be,” Johnson said during a phone interview from Iraq.

“In 2003, I was a platoon leader in charge of 55 personnel. We came in the second wave into Iraq after the Third Infantry Division came over. I was stationed in Baghdad and I was part of a unit that was looking for the weapons of mass destruction and provided security. In the second tour in 2006-2007, I was a company commander in charge of 176 and worked with the Iraq police training police,” he said.

Anthony, who has served 12 years in the military, is not the first in his family to do so. His father, Maj. (ret.) James Johnson, served as an artillery officer 20 years and one of his uncles served in Vietnam. Along with his father and uncle there is one representative serving in every branch except for the Marines that is serving in the military from his family. When not serving in uniform as a member of the Texas Army National Guard, Johnson is a teacher for Lancaster ISD.

“When I come back this fall I’m looking forward to getting back with the kids. I teach fourth and fifth grade. I’m ready to get back to the classroom to make kids successful for a better tomorrow,” he said.

“The biggest challenge on deployment is not being with my children. I am really trying to stay involved and get a conference call here with my kids’ teachers and things like that. But I really like to be home and make sure that I work with them. They are doing fine, they make straight A’s but I would really like to be there.”

What has made being stationed overseas a little less stressful is being involved with a men’s Bible study, singing in a gospel choir and running five miles three days a week with a group. Johnson wants to encourage people that every time they see a soldier to thank them for their service – because having that recognition helps to lift spirits and boost morale along with daily prayers. 

“When soldiers go away we are taken away from our families for a year and everything keeps moving. When you come home your kids and your parents have aged so much that you can never catch up on,” he said. “So, when you get that one person out of 100 that comes and says, ‘I really appreciate what you did for us,’ that just makes it worthwhile.”

Johnson wants to commend members of the Texas National Guard 36th Infantry Division for a “great job” they are doing while on deployment as well as other soldiers in the area.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1458.