By Air Force 1st Lt. Nicholas Mercurio
Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, May 9, 2011 – Army 1st Lt. Anthony S. Goble is relatively new to his life as a commissioned officer, but he was reminded of his days as an enlisted soldier when he ran into Army Sgt. Patrick Johnson.
Goble, a Gadsden, Ala., native, calls himself a young lieutenant, but maintains that he is an old soldier. He spent 13 years of his 15-year military career as an enlisted medic and drill sergeant.
Goble, now serving as the supply officer for the provincial reconstruction team here, said he trained thousands of medics.
“Of the 4,000 medics I trained, I have run into four while on active duty,” he said.
One is Johnson, now a medic assigned to Alpha Company of the of the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Battalion, the unit that serves as the provincial reconstruction team’s security force.
Johnson, a Worcester, Mass., native who is a fire fighter with the Worcester Fire Department in his civilian life, first met Goble in 2005 when Goble was the senior drill sergeant for Foxtrot Company, 232nd Medical Battalion, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Six years later, while Goble was reviewing the roster of incoming security soldiers in preparation for the team’s pre-deployment training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., he stopped at a familiar name and went to seek out his former trainee.
When his former drill sergeant introduced himself, Johnson did not recognize him at first. “He approached me and was smiling as he shook my hand,” Johnson said. “The name was familiar, but the rank was throwing me off. He was a staff sergeant when I knew him.”
“I said, ‘Patrick Johnson, Foxtrot Falcon [the name of his training company] right?’ as I shook his hand,” Goble said. “He was shocked to see that I was an officer.”
“I called my mom later that night,” Johnson said, “because it was such a trip seeing him like that.”
Johnson recalled his former drill sergeant as always fair and well-respected.
“You never knew what he was thinking,” Johnson said. “It’s absurd comparing how laid back he is now to how intense he was then. He was unmistakably a drill sergeant.”
While Goble’s role has changed since his transition to the officer ranks, he said he still is an old medic at heart.
“Part of me always remembers him in a medical sense,” Johnson said. “He still mentors me today, … and I still go to him for guidance and advice.”
Goble, for his part, is more than comfortable with his former trainee operating on his own.
“If, God forbid, I was laying hurt, bleeding on the side of the road somewhere, I would want to look up and see Doc Johnson coming to help me,” Goble said. “He is really showing the standard of excellence he learned as a Foxtrot Falcon, and I am proud to serve with him.”