Thankful to Serve Those Who Serve

Lt. Byron Johnson is the Command Chaplain on USS COMSTOCK (LSD 45). After entering seminary at Baylor University in 2004, he became a chaplain candidate serving with the Navy Seals, Coast Guard and at the Naval Academy. Upon graduation in 2008, he finished chaplain school and became a chaplain in the reserves for two years, serving in Panama and Japan. In 2010, he came on active duty and served with the Marines, completing a tour in Afghanistan in 2011. Chaplain Johnson resides in San Diego, Calif., with his family.

Growing up with our neighborhood kids, we enjoyed nothing more than exploring the creek behind our homes that led to the great Trinity River, free to venture out like Tom Sawyer and friends.  Much like those childhood memories, we are blessed with the opportunity to explore the world with our Shipmates, our second family… our home away from home.

I am honored to write about how thankful I am to our Sailors and families. Military life is not always an “easy” path, but the lessons learned from our predecessors and those we pass to our future generations are how our military thrives.

For me, I feel so blessed to serve in my path and explore the world. Growing up, two of my greatest role models were my grandfathers. One was a pilot in the Navy during World War II in the Pacific, and while he never mentioned his time in the service, I know he felt honored and blessed to have served our country. He was our spiritual leader in our family and loved to serve others. My other grandfather served in the Army during World War II and was captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. After months of captivity, he and a few others escaped. My grandfathers’ war stories, their resilience and faith, inspired me… their sacrifice planted a seed of service in my heart.

Our nation’s military and especially our Navy (no bias here!) are the finest in the world. It’s the Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Soldiers who give it their all protecting our freedom day after day. The sacrifice of these men and women and their families is at the heart of our nation’s past, present and future.

At this season of Thanksgiving, I am truly thankful for your service to our country and the sacrifice that our families have given to support us as we continue our mission. I am thankful to God for our protection and for keeping us on track.

As I reflect on my childhood, I also remember my mother reading me a book called The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I was inspired by the dedication and friendship the tree provided the young boy throughout his adolescence and adult life. The tree was the boy’s trusted agent and served him by giving everything she had so that he could succeed. What a great story to remember as we continue to serve our God, family and country throughout the year.

Thank you, Sailors and families, for your devoted service.  Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Chaplain Byron Johnson

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