Get to Know: Donnie JohnsonLayne Cameron
Get to Know:
Start Date: 2007
When Donnie Johnson graduated from Tipton High School in 1980, there wasn’t much gray in his decision to join the Army. Those who know Donnie, know that he’s a black-and-white kind of guy.
The military way of life suited him, from the top-down structure to the emphasis on discipline. (It’s an approach he still appreciates today.) He enlisted, completed his basic training at Fort Knox, and was stationed in Germany.
When he first stepped off the plane in Illeshiem, Germany, it was an overcast, blustery day. Jet-lagged and unable to determine compass directions on that gray day left him out of sorts.
It didn’t take long, though, to shake off his grogginess and become focused. Driving and shooting tanks tends to have that effect. “I served in a combat arms battalion as a tank driver and gunner,” Donnie says. “Our battalion was the first line of defense next to the Cold War border of Communist Czechoslovakia.”
While the tanks focused him professionally, riding bikes to nearby villages established a deeper connection to the rolling hills of northern Germany. “I came from a town of 650 people,” Donnie says. “So I found the area beautiful, and I really liked riding the hills, meeting the people in the villages, and drinking the beer that was unique to that village.”
Donnie has been with RLTurner since 2007. He lives in a small town outside of Tipton, similar to the German villages he frequented. And the “adapt, improvise, and overcome” mantra of the military serves him well in his construction career.
“I like to work and get dirty; I’m not a sit-behind-a-desk kind of guy,” Donnie says. “The comradery, hard work, and the teamwork mentality of never leaving a man behind is the same in construction as it is in the military.”
Donnie was honorably discharged after four years of service. The former sergeant honors his Army tenure subtly by wearing a Cold War Veteran hat or a DD214 T-shirt (military shorthand for “honorably discharged”). He also donates to Wounded Warriors.
On Veterans Day, you won’t find him in military parades or socializing at the VFW. You will find him in his church at its annual dinner honoring veterans.
So on this Veterans Day, please take the time to thank Donnie for his service. While you’re at it, thank Dave Neff, Doug Barts (recent retiree), Norb Stransky (recent retiree), and the late Robert Turner, our company’s namesake founder.