Obama makes Thanksgiving phone call to JET Airman

  • Published
  • By Capt. Passion Julinsey
  • 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
A Joint Expeditionary Tasking Airman at Forward Operating Base Mushan, Afghanistan, received a call from President Barack Obama on Thanksgiving Day.

Senior Airman John Johnson heard, "Please hold for the president of the United States," and then heard the voice of his commander-in-chief.

"The president had this deep commanding voice," said Johnson, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 466th Air Expeditionary Squadron. His job is to eliminate all explosive hazards posing a threat to U.S., coalition and Afghan forces and civilians.

During the four-minute chat with Obama, Johnson shared how his two children are growing up fast and Obama reminisced about his own daughters when they were little. Obama asked Johnson to make sure to pass on a heartfelt thank you to Johnson's wife and team members. Johnson, who hails from Bedford, Texas, is on his second deployment, the first being in Iraq.

The nomination process for a phone call with Obama began in October. Johnson learned of his selection in early November.

"Senior Airman Johnson was nominated for his outstanding contributions," said Lt. Col. Keith Reeves, commander of the 466th AES. "He has been instrumental in 22 combat missions. He has supported two planned operations, eliminated 14 improvised explosive devices and conducted 11 post blast assessments. He also contributed to the development of a new combat outpost in the Horn of Panjwa'i."

Reeves further expressed how pleased he was to see Johnson receive this opportunity and that Johnson is one of several dozen Air Force EOD technicians in Afghanistan putting their lives on the line every day.

"He and those who make up his profession are truly courageous Americans," said Reeves. "I wish the president could personally recognize them all."

Being selected to speak with the U.S. president was an incredible honor, Johnson said. 

"Although the call was short, I appreciate the thoughtfulness and the sincere gratitude that he shows to our nation's military," he added. "For me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I am grateful for."