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Did You Know?BY KATHY BANFIELD SHAWter) Battle Creek welcomes that many reservists because a few years back when reserve centers in Grand Rapids and Lansing were closed, Battle Creek became the only reserve center in West Michigan. It’s also one of 24, and the largest reserve center in the Midwest.I learned all this from Commander Lara Johnson, the Commanding Officer for NOSC Battle Creek. “Our job is to ensure the sailors are mobilization ready when called upon,” CDR Johnson told me. “We have sailors in Djibouti, Iraq, Bahrain, Hawaii, Japan, and Guantana- mo Bay right now.” The reservists’ jobis to be in operational support of active duty personnel, whatever those active duty tasks may be, from medical to Sea- bees. Navy reservists spend one weekend a month and two weeks per year training to do just that.have two children, Alex 12 and Abby8. They have owned three homes and moved seven times, but she believes this may be their last move for a while. CDR Johnson’s job at NOSC Battle Creek has another two and a half years before they have to decide, but “We love it here, even after last winter,” she says with a big smile. “Daniel came in January to look for houses and there was no snow and it was warmer here than in Virginia... then we moved in February! And we weren’t scared off by it.”CDR Johnson is a Charleston, South Carolina native, married to Washington state native, Daniel, and together theyDespite the snow and cold Lara says her family has really enjoyed the outdoors here, taking the opportunityCDR Johnson joined the Navy as a 19-year-old with a year of college behind her and wanting to figure out what came next in her life. What came next wasa career in the Navy and, thanks to an ROTC scholarship, included the oppor- tunity to finish her college degree and become an officer. “My Dad was in the Navy and I believed it would help me find my way...and it did,” she said. The Navy experience also helped Lara find her way to West Michigan and it sounds as if she likes it. “I love it here. The people are so friendly and open.”6 SCENE 4410 I VETERANS ISSUEDid you know that 279 Navy reservists come to Battle Creek to do their training for one weekend every month? NOSC or (Navy Operational Support Cen-to hike, fish, camp, and just spend time together. “We’re looking forward to ex- perience ice fishing this coming winter,” she says.CDR Johnson takes her job of oversee- ing all programs and personnel at NOSC Battle Creek seriously. “I want to show Battle Creek that we have a strong Navy presence right here in Battle Creek.” Sometimes that’s a difficult task when there’s no large body of water nearby, but Lara believes the community deserves to get to know the people who come to the area in service of their country. “We’re developing a color guard and hopefullya Sea Cadet program. It’s tough because it’s so busy here with the tasks we are charged with,” she said. In addition tothe reservists there are 13 full time staff members that CDR Johnson is in charge of and their responsibilities. Those jobs include ensuring the administrative issues such as medical are taken care of while the reservists are mobilized and families are also taken care of. “I am very lucky to be here,” she says. “I have the best staff.” She went on to describe the staff mem- bers as a special brand of people, “They serve their country and balance their lives outside of their service,” she told me.Commander Lara JohnsonWe Need Sweaters!We are collecting tired but true sweaters between now and Thanksgiving Day. Please bring your sweaters to Bachman Hebble Funeral Service & our supporting drop-off locations.223 N. Bedford Rd. 269-965-5145 Battle Creek, MI bachmanhebble.comBefore we finished with the inter- view, CDR Johnson wanted me to know, “One of my favorite parts of this job is getting to know the reservists, gettingto know them as individuals and what they do when they aren’t on duty. Being a reservist is like having a part time job and they don’t always do the same job as a reservist as they do as a civilian. I have the highest respect for them.”Commander Lara Johnson can be found most days at NOSC Battle Creek, 269-968-9216 (unless you call this win- ter when she’s trying ice fishing!).

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