by Senior Airman John Nieves Camacho
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
7/17/2015 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Her
journey was full of unknowns. She was thousands of miles from home and
in a very unfamiliar land. As foreign as she felt, there was one 7-ft
wide circle that made her feel right at home.
For Airman 1st Class Jessica Johnson, 4th Aerospace Medicine Squadron
public health technician, it was the moment she had long waited for. As
she stepped into the circle, she remembered all the training; the blood,
sweat and tears she had poured into preparing for this opportunity.
She grabbed her weapon of choice, mentally prepared herself, and launched it downrange.
"11.44 meters," the official exclaimed.
The mark was good enough for Johnson to place second in the individual
shot put competition during the 2015 Headquarters Aircom Inter-Nation
Athletics Championship in Amsterdam, and contributed to the U.S. Air
Force Europe women's team taking home the gold medal.
"My goal was to come in first place or throw over 12.5 meters, but I
fell short of those," Johnson said. "I was disappointed in myself. The
feeling of competing on that level is hard for me to describe. I'm truly
blessed I had the opportunity to represent the Air Force on that
Shot put is a track and field event where individuals toss a heavy,
metal ball known as 'the shot' as far as possible. For years, Johnson
honed her craft in the sport, dating back to February 2009 when she was a
sophomore in high school.
"I've always enjoyed sports," Johnson said. "I participated in a couple
of different ones, but I wanted to try something new and challenging."
After joining the military, Johnson continued training for competition.
In February 2015, she discovered the Air Force sports program and
immediately upped her game.
"I began going to the gym more and more," Johnson said. "I performed
weight training three to five times a week and threw four to six times
each week, anywhere from one to two hours."
As part of the selection process, Johnson compiled statistics on her
shot put performance and traveled to two different track meets to
compete, winning one of them in Washington D.C.
"It was refreshing to compete again after all these years," Johnson
said. "After getting my feet wet at a couple of competitions, I knew
this was the sport for me."
After applying for the U.S. Air Force Europe team and spending months preparing, Johnson was selected for the team.
"The last time I competed was back in high school, which was more than
four years ago," Johnson said. "I hadn't had adequate training since
When not competing or training, Johnson can be found working in the 4th
AMDS as a public health technician, where she is highly regarded by her
"Johnson is goal oriented and on track to achieve her goals," said Staff
Sgt. Svetlana Alviar, 4th AMDS community health NCO in charge and
Johnson's supervisor. "As an Airman, she led a volunteer event which
shows her commitment to growing her leadership skills and potential for
doing greater things in the future."
Johnson now focuses on completing upgrade training, but afterward, she plans on competing in more events.
"I plan on applying for the Conseil International du Sport Militaire
World Military Championship that takes place in South Korea at the end
of this year," Johnson said. "After that, I'll apply for the World Class
Although thousands of miles into her journey, Johnson's quest for the World Class Championships are just beginning.
"Throughout my life, my family has always been a strong foundation of
support for me," Johnson said. "With them behind me, my drive for
competing will never run out."