Story by Jessica Dambruch
U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll
Personnel from the Department of the Army gathered on oceanside Kwajalein to celebrate the promotion of Chief Warrant Officer 4 Yessenia Johnson Feb. 1, 2022.
In his remarks, USAG-KA Commander Col. Tom Pugsley said officer promotions are unique events that deserve a moment “to reflect on the sacrifices, accomplishments and work” that has helped every Soldier ascend in the ranks as leaders and team members striving to serve the Army mission and accomplish its goals
Pugsley addressed the gathering with Johnson and her two daughters, Jamila and Genevieve, and described Johnson’s character and contributions to the USAG-KA team.
“First and foremost, if you don’t know Chief, you need to take some time and pick her brain,” Pugsley said. “She’s an amazing individual and has lots of good stories. You’ll me amazed at what you can learn from her.”
Pugsley likened Johnson, a native of Newark, New Jersey, who grew up in Puerto Rico, and her tenacious positivity to an Abram’s tank that runs on a precious fuel: coffee. The garrison’s Installation Senior Food Officer, Johnson worked in food service and retail grocery industry before enlisting in the Army as a cook. In a short eight years, she moved from staff sergeant to warrant officer one, an achievement Pugsley described as remarkable.
“She breathes optimism,” Pugsley said. “She inserts herself into a community and workforce. You just feel better off for being around her. …Regardless of the situation, having Chief on the team is unbelievable [for] supporting the overall morale and welfare of the organization.”
Pugsley, and Johnson’s daughters Yamila and Genevieve, placed the warrant officer’s new rank on her Army Service uniform.
Prior to her Kwajalein tour, Johnson, a mother of two daughters, completed two Iraq deployments and three deployments to Afghanistan. She has also worked as a contract officer representative for U.S. Army Contracting Command.
On Kwajalein, Johnson has worked closely with LOGCAP food services personnel. Among her special events this past year were a surf and turf celebration of the U.S. Navy birthday, to show appreciation for the work the U.S. Navy Seabees continue to perform on the garrison.
“She hit the ground running and has done remarkable stuff for food services for this installation,” Pugsley said. “I cannot be happier with what she has done so far, I am looking forward to what she will do for us in the future, and she focuses on the community, as a good food services officer should do.
“Chief Johnson, you are a fantastic officer. You’re truly a pleasure to work with. I look forward to everything you’ll do while you are here. You’ve already earned my trust, and I look forward to seeing how much better you can make this place.”
Asked to say a few words, Johnson thanked God, the USAG-KA Command team, LOGCAP staff and her friends and daughters.
“I just want to say thank you,” Johnson said. “I think it’s obvious they say hard work does get you places. I could not have done it without my family. They have supported me along my entire path: My mom, who couldn’t be here today; my sisters, who have taken care of my children every time that I’ve deployed. Thank you, ladies, for allowing me to take my path. Thank you, everyone.”
Following the ceremony this week, after reflecting on the meaning of promotion, leadership and labor, Johnson submitted a statement for publication.
“I’ve been so blessed by the Army with the exposure to cultures, traveling, and meeting so many people—officers, NCOs, and civilians—who have crossed paths with me and shaped me in some way or form, it’s important to learn from the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ without these we’d have no compass on values and appreciation.
“I’d like to add that a great leader once told me, ‘Leadership involves being approachable, available and accessible,’ CSM Paul J. Denson. It was an honor to have my two precious children share such a special milestone in my career.
“I’d also like to thank all of those who were able to attend, those who wanted to but couldn’t, and Col. Pugsley for the kind words.”
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