An admiral's admiration in Oxford

OXFORD – One of the Navy’s big guns saluted former sailors and other military veterans on Wednesday at the Mississippi State Veterans Home in Oxford.
Rear Admiral Arthur J. Johnson, commander of the Naval Safety Center in Norfolk, Va., visited with former servicemen as part of Navy Week in Mississippi. Man after man, he asked about their service and thanked them for their part in protecting the nation and its allies. Speaking with a former Seabee (Construction Battalion) who had served in Guam, Johnson noted his own service on the island had given him a chance to see that man’s work.
“All the stuff that the Seabees built in the 1940s is still there, so y’all built it extremely well,” he said. “I appreciate what y’all did, and thank you for your service.”
Residents found it gratifying to be recognized by such a commander.
Cliff Foote from Tupelo was an Engineman Third Class on a landing ship/minesweeper in the western Pacific, but Johnson’s visit was his first brush with top brass.
“I never met the higher-ups before,” he said. “He thanked me for my service. I just said hello and wished him well.”
Although Edmund Barrett of Saltillo served in the Army during World War II, Johnson was actually the second admiral he had met.
“I once shook hands with Admiral [William ‘Bull’] Halsey,” he said.
Before Johnson’s visit with the veterans, he spent the morning judging science fair projects at the University of Mississippi.
“It’s quite exciting to see some of the young brains here in Mississippi and the challenges they’re working on,” he said. “Now we’re here visiting at the Veterans Home with some of our service members who preceded us in their service to the nation. We’re where we are today because we’re standing on the shoulders of those who came before us. This is our opportunity pay tribute.”
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@journalinc.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal