2nd Lt. Eric Nels Johnson '16 Celebrates Commissioning and Begins Service
Upon arriving at Fort Sill, OK, a little over a month ago, 2nd Lt. Eric Johnson ’16 began a two-week quarantine before starting Basic Training on October 1. Basic will carry him through the holiday season until February 17, 2021. Then it is on to his duty station at Joint Base Lewis/McChord, Tacoma, WA, where he will be an officer in the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment.
Johnson is a 2020 graduate of Marist College with a degree in History and Economics. In his sophomore year at Marist, he was encouraged by a friend in Student Government to look into Marist’s Army ROTC program, which is linked to Fordham University’s Army ROTC. With a family history of military service (his maternal grandfather served in the US Army; his paternal grandfather in the US Navy; and, an uncle in the US Air Force), ROTC was worth investigating. He checked it out and saw it as a wonderful opportunity to serve our country and pursue personal goals. At the time of his commissioning on May 12, 2020, he signed a seven-year commitment with the Army. One of his goals is to complete a Master’s and perhaps a Ph. D. program while in the service.
Johnson described his summer placements after sophomore and junior year at Marist. He attended Basic Camp at Fort Knox, KY, in 2018. This one-month experience is limited to cadets from military schools and ROTC candidates and focuses on the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in ROTC and the Army. The summer of 2019 brought him again to Kentucky for Advanced Camp where the Army assesses a candidate’s ability to lead and his understanding of military tactics. At the end of that summer, he headed to Vermont for the Army’s Basic Military Mountaineer Course under the guidance of the Vermont National Guard.
Johnson said that his ND experience eased his transition to college life. “The brotherhood and interconnectedness of students, teachers and coaches at ND made it easy for me to make new friends and get involved at Marist.” ND also prepared him for leadership and he especially noted his Coach Deacon Bill Parkinson and English teacher Lucy Abbott. He credits both with mentoring him with spiritual and moral guidance. “Coach Parkinson’s emphasis on attention to the task in front of you and Mrs. Abbot’s sense of empathy will serve me well as an officer in the United States Army.”
Like every other 2020 college graduate, Covid-19 sent him home in mid-March. Thus, we have an unusual commissioning picture. It was in his family’s Fort St. Lucie, FL home that Johnson was commissioned in a virtual ceremony on May 21, 2020. He is pictured here with his grandparents, Anne and Vincent Sabine. Mr. Sabine is a Vietnam War Era Veteran.
ND thanks all of the members of the Johnson and Sabine families for their service.