Thursday, September 25, 2014

Women Who Inspire: Interview with Casey (Jamieson) Johnson

Next up in the series of Women Who Inspire, it's Casey (Jamieson) Johnson!

Casey (Jamieson) Johnson graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering and reported to Naval Intelligence Officer School. She served as the Anti-Submarine Warfare Intelligence Officer for VP-24 and worked in the Pentagon both as the Assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence and as an Intelligence Analyst in the Naval Information Warfare Activity. After six years of active duty service, Casey returned to the civilian sector, remaining in the Naval Reserves for an additional three years, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Commander (O-4).  

AW: You selected the field of Naval Intelligence coming out of the Academy. Is that something you had always wanted to do?

CJ: Actually, no. I was pushed into it. (Laughs). I had wanted aviation all along, but it turns out that I was a quarter inch too short. Admiral Hill [Naval Academy Superintendent] and his wife used to joke that they should hang me upside down to stretch me. I didn’t find out until two days before service selection that I wouldn’t be able to get a waiver. Fortunately, I was one of the first women to service select, so I was able to get one of the four Intelligence billets available.

AW: You served as the ASW Intelligence Officer for VP-24 [Anti-Submarine Warfare squadron that flew the P-3 Orion] in Jacksonville, FL. Was that your first duty station after Naval Intelligence Officer School?
CJ:  Yes, that was a great tour. In fact, that was my favorite tour. I was the only female officer in the wardroom, and I think about half of the wardroom were graduates from the Naval Academy – Class of  '86 and '87—which helped me to make friends quickly. They were a great group (all of them).

AW: Did you deploy with them?

CJ: Yes, we deployed to Iceland for six months. And people always get Greenland and Iceland mixed up, by the way, because Greenland is icy and Iceland is green.

AW: I had no idea! So what was your job in Iceland?

CJ: Primarily, I gave the flight crews their intel briefings prior to their flights. I was also attached to the local intel unit as a TAD officer.

AW: Intel like where to look for subs?

CJ: Yes, we would give them a potential target area to monitor and tell them what to listen for. They would drop an appropriate sonobuoy pattern  and just listen. They’d stay on station for eight hours.

AW: Very cool. I’m sort of thinking The Hunt for Red October here. So did they ever find anything or is that classified?

CJ: Well, actually we had one major hit on that deployment, and it was so long ago, I’m sure it’s declassified by now. There was a high opportunity target that we wanted a signature on, so we did a lot of work to get the intel we needed on it and finally determined that it might be out of port on patrol. Our aircrews went on station and got the first signature data ever captured on it. That was pretty cool.

AW: And after VP-24?

CJ: I went to Washington, D.C., primarily because it was the easiest place to get stationed with my husband. We were engaged at the time, so when I got up there, the detailer looked for Intel billets for my husband, who was still on deployment, and it was easy to find him a job. There are literally hundreds of Intel billets in D.C.
AW: When did you meet your husband?

CJ: I met him at Intel School, and then we dated long-distance for two years while I was in Florida and he was in California. We got engaged while I was still at VP-24.

AW: And where was he?

CJ: He was in San Diego and served as the Intel Officer for HS-4 [helicopter squadron] and deployed with the Kitty Hawk. Oh, and a story for you, which you’ll appreciate since you flew the 46 [H-46 Sea Knight helicopter]. My husband flew off the Kitty Hawk to Bahrain in an H-46 and the helo starts hemorrhaging hydraulic fluid. I mean, he was drenched in it. My husband told one of the crewmen, “Hey guys, we’re getting poured on back here,” to which the response was something like, “Let me know if it stops, because if it stops, we’re in trouble. As long as we have fluid, we’re good.”

AW: Ok, that is hilarious! And sort of typical, actually, of the kind of stuff we encountered with the 46. What memories! So you were together, then, in D.C. after that?

CJ: Yes, After that tour, he moved to Washington, D.C., we got married, I got pregnant, and we got out! In that order.

AW: Did you have your kids while you were still in the navy or was that after you got out?

CJ: I had my oldest daughter when I was still on active duty and working at NavSecGru. And that was a unique, only-in-the-navy experience. I was assigned to Bethesda Naval Hospital for the delivery and the baby was frank breech, so I needed to have a scheduled C-section. Now Bethesda is a training hospital, so everyone present in the operating room that day had a training partner with them. There were like fifteen people in there watching me get spliced open !

AW: Nice audience!

CJ: Yeah, tell me about it! I found out later that my C-section was an actual scheduled training event for that day.

AW: Why am I not surprised? So then you left active duty soon after, right?

CJ: Yes, my husband and I met with the detailer and we realized that we would be on opposite deployment schedules, lots of underway time, little family time, and so we decided it was a good time to leave.