Air-Traffic Controlman Darren S. Johnson (AW/SCW) of Portsmouth, Virginia, recently was selected as the Navy Installations Command Sailor of the Year for 2014.
Inspired by his father to join the Navy, Johnson enlisted in 2000. Since Johnson was a child, he has always had an interest in the Navy so joining was an easy decision when he graduated from Salem High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 2000.
"I felt like I was born for this," said Johnson. "My father retired as a boatswain's mate in 1997 as a petty officer first class. When he was stationed at the Washington Navy Yard I remember being three or four years old and he would bring me to work or take us on the USS Barry display ship. I have very fond memories of the Navy Yard as a kid."
After completing Boot Camp at the Navy's one and only Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois, Johnson attended Air Traffic Control "A" school in Pensacola, Florida. His first duty assignment was onboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. Johnson completed two combat deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was selected as USS Theodore Roosevelt's 2002 Junior Sailor of the Year.
His first shore duty assignment was at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, in November 2003 followed by a 12-month tour to Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia in January 2007.
Johnson continued his career returning to Pensacola for another advanced training program Carrier Air Traffic Control Center "C" school. Upon graduation from this school he reported another carrier, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Also known as "Ike," Johnson served as the Air Operations Branch Chief and Precision Approach Landing System (PALS) Radar Final Controller for the carrier. In addition to his normal duties, he served as Command Duty Section leader where he led 200 Sailors during the 2009 deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In March 2010, once again, Johnson returned to Pensacola, only this time as an instructor to teach at Naval Air Technical Training Center in Pensacola. While there, he served as Leading Petty Officer for the Control Tower Operations course and was designated as a Master Training Specialist.
Johnson currently is assigned to Naval Station Norfolk as the Leading Petty Officer and Radar Chief. He has completed his associate degree in supervision and management from Coastline Community College and his professional military education requirements.
The Navy has taken Johnson to many places around the world, including St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; Bahrain; Marseille, France; Slovenia; Cartagena, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Trieste, Italy; Diego Garcia and Souda Bay, Crete.
"I've been an air-traffic controlman for almost 15 years," said Johnson. "The best thing I like about my job is the amount of responsibility that is placed on you at such a young age, and to see junior Sailors embrace the responsibility at 19 or 20 years of age that many people in their 20s and 30s do. That is the most rewarding part of my job."
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