Face of Defense: Former Drill Sergeant, Trainee Reunite

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Army 1st Lt. Antho­ny S. Gob­le is rel­a­tive­ly new to his life as a com­mis­sioned offi­cer, but he was remind­ed of his days as an enlist­ed sol­dier when he ran into Army Sgt. Patrick John­son.
Gob­le, a Gads­den, Ala., native, calls him­self a young lieu­tenant, but main­tains that he is an old sol­dier. He spent 13 years of his 15-year mil­i­tary career as an enlist­ed medic and drill sergeant.

Afghanistan's Kunar province
Army 1st Lt. Antho­ny S. Gob­le, sup­ply offi­cer for the provin­cial recon­struc­tion team in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, calls upon his expe­ri­ence as a for­mer enlist­ed medic to direct lit­ter teams, Nov. 12, 2010.
U.S. Air Force pho­to by 1st Lt. Nicholas Mer­cu­rio
Click to enlarge

Gob­le, now serv­ing as the sup­ply offi­cer for the provin­cial recon­struc­tion team here, said he trained thou­sands of medics.
“Of the 4,000 medics I trained, I have run into four while on active duty,” he said.

One is John­son, now a medic assigned to Alpha Com­pa­ny of the of the Mass­a­chu­setts Army Nation­al Guard’s 1st Bat­tal­ion, 181st Infantry Bat­tal­ion, the unit that serves as the provin­cial recon­struc­tion team’s secu­ri­ty force.

John­son, a Worces­ter, Mass., native who is a fire fight­er with the Worces­ter Fire Depart­ment in his civil­ian life, first met Gob­le in 2005 when Gob­le was the senior drill sergeant for Fox­trot Com­pa­ny, 232nd Med­ical Bat­tal­ion, Fort Sam Hous­ton, Texas. Six years lat­er, while Gob­le was review­ing the ros­ter of incom­ing secu­ri­ty sol­diers in prepa­ra­tion for the team’s pre-deploy­ment train­ing at Camp Atter­bury, Ind., he stopped at a famil­iar name and went to seek out his for­mer trainee.

When his for­mer drill sergeant intro­duced him­self, John­son did not rec­og­nize him at first. “He approached me and was smil­ing as he shook my hand,” John­son said. “The name was famil­iar, but the rank was throw­ing me off. He was a staff sergeant when I knew him.”

“I said, ‘Patrick John­son, Fox­trot Fal­con [the name of his train­ing com­pa­ny] right?’ as I shook his hand,” Gob­le said. “He was shocked to see that I was an offi­cer.” “I called my mom lat­er that night,” John­son said, “because it was such a trip see­ing him like that.” John­son recalled his for­mer drill sergeant as always fair and well-respect­ed.

“You nev­er knew what he was think­ing,” John­son said. “It’s absurd com­par­ing how laid back he is now to how intense he was then. He was unmis­tak­ably a drill sergeant.” While Goble’s role has changed since his tran­si­tion to the offi­cer ranks, he said he still is an old medic at heart. “Part of me always remem­bers him in a med­ical sense,” John­son said. “He still men­tors me today, … and I still go to him for guid­ance and advice.” Gob­le, for his part, is more than com­fort­able with his for­mer trainee oper­at­ing on his own.

“If, God for­bid, I was lay­ing hurt, bleed­ing on the side of the road some­where, I would want to look up and see Doc John­son com­ing to help me,” Gob­le said. “He is real­ly show­ing the stan­dard of excel­lence he learned as a Fox­trot Fal­con, and I am proud to serve with him.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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