Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fair Winds and Following Seas...

This morning Capt(Ret) Bradley Eugene Johanson was taken from this earth. His battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) began shortly after his retirement from the US Navy in 2008 and he succumbed to pneumonia and ALS today. Captain Johanson was the Commanding Officer of the USS John C. Stennis when Bobby reported to the ship in 2006 and performed Bobby's re-enlistment ceremony on the bridge of the USS John C Stennis is 2007 while the ship was on deployment in the Persian Gulf. I was lucky to serve as an ombudsman under Captain Johanson's leadership for twenty-two months.

Captain Johanson was a true leader, a man who believed in his mission and lead by example, he was honest with his sailors, he trusted them and they trusted him. He ended his 30 year career with the Navy after a very successful 2007 deployment with the USS John C Stennis, a deployment spent mostly in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Persian Gulf (the Stennis did not loose a single sailor during that deployment), and a docking planned incremental availability period which was completed EARLY and UNDER BUDGET in the early part of 2008, a pretty much unheard of feat in any government agency.

In a Navy where no less than fifteen CO's have been relieved of duty this year, many for inappropriate personal conduct, loss of confidence in the ability to command, or problems with their temperament and demeanor, Captain Johanson had been a ray of light in our Naval adventure. He was a man who was fair, honest, and judicious when he was put in a situation where it was necessary to discipline his sailors.  He believed in the good in people. Captain Johanson was an amazing sailor, he believed in the Navy, in their mission and purpose, and he worked hard to bring out the best in the sailors around him.

I knew Captain Johanson as a sweet natured man, one who always greeted us with a winning smile and a firm handshake and always left us with a hug when we met with him, whether that was on board the ship or in his home. Captain Johanson wanted to know that the families of his sailors were well taken care of, he wanted those families to have all of the information they could regarding the whereabouts and well being of their sailors and he was honest with his sailors and with their families, something I am finding is scarce in today's Navy leadership.  Under Captain Johanson's wing mediocre sailors became good sailors and good sailors became great sailors, his people wanted to be better for him (I am reminded of a quote from A Knight's Tale, when Prince Edward says to William Thatcher (speaking of his knightly qualities), "Your men love you.  If I knew nothing else about you that would be enough").  Captain Johanson's sailors loved him, if I knew nothing else about him, that would be enough.

Captain Johanson was married to an amazing woman, Junay, a woman he met in the Navy and who stood next to him, tall, proud, and an amazing example to all the spouses she mentored, throughout his Naval career.  She, too, believed in the job that her husband had to do, she cared about the sailors doing that job with him, and she was an amazing example to the spouses who were lucky enough to make her acquaintance.  Today is a sad day, indeed, and through my personal sadness, my prayers have been with his family, I hope that Junay is lifted up by the thoughts and prayers of all those who were lucky enough to know them.

The Navy is better for having employed him, the sailors who knew him are better for having known him, I am better for having had the wonderful opportunity to work with him.  Fair winds and following seas Captain Brad Johanson, you will be sorely missed.

I have made a donation in his memory to the MDA for ALS research, and you can too.

The Kitsap Sun article regarding Captain Johanson's passing, it includes information on the public services for Captain Johanson.

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