Sunday, January 27, 2008



As many parents anxiously await the next phone call from their sons and daughters fighting the war on terrorism in Southwest Asia, one mother journeyed across the Atlantic to not only see her child, but also to replace him on the front line.

Staff Sgt. Tammi Johnson, a reservist with the 507th Security Forces Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., arrived to Kirkuk Air Base Jan. 20 and will receive a complete week of training from her son, Senior Airman Derrick Johnson, before he heads back to the U.S.

Atop a remote guard tower, mother and son stood post peering across the barbed wire into the desolate desert plains surrounding Kirkuk AB. In this setting, the role of the caretaker is reversed as Airman Johnson instructs his mother, Sergeant Johnson, on perimeter defense practices as both are assigned to the 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron.

"This is all just a big coincidence," said Airman Johnson, a reservist with the 610th Security Forces Squadron from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. "When I found out she was coming to replace me, my jaw dropped just wondering what the chances were of this occurring."

The coincidence of this pair choosing to serve in the same military branch and career field is only trumped by the fact that out of the thousands of Air Force security forces Airmen and numerous deployment locations -- Sergeant Johnson was randomly selected to relieve her son in the guard post.

This chain of events was put into play in March 2006 when Airman Johnson visited a local Air Force recruiter. His mother, who was a civilian at the time, accompanied him on the trip.

"My son was graduating from high school and talked to me about the Air Force, and as his mother, I naturally wanted to go to the recruiter with him," Sergeant Johnson said. "As a joke, the recruiter asked if I was interested in joining up. I laughed it off at first, but then he started asking questions about my age and how long I had previously served."

Sergeant Johnson initially joined the Air Force in 1983 and worked in the personnel career field for several years before separating.

"I gave it some real thought for a while and talked to the recruiter some more," she said. "When I previously served, I was always interested in the security forces career field. I'm an active person and don't enjoy doing paperwork.

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