View Full Version : Hydraulics Mechanic Impresses Troops, Commander with Artistic Talent

05-04-04, 07:06 AM
U.S. Marine Corps
Lance Cpl. Mischelle R. Johnston

Hydraulics Mechanic Impresses Troops, Commander with Artistic Talent

By U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. J.L. Zimmer III
3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

AL ASAD, Iraq, May 3, 2004 Marine Lance Cpl. Mischelle R. Johnston stepped up when her commander wanted a sign painted for the containers where Marines in her unit live. And she's been painting ever since -- everything from signs to T-shirt designs.

"I was on guard when the question was asked, 'Who knows how to draw?'," said the Mile City, Mont., native. "I sketched out a design and (my commander) liked it. Since then I have been asked to draw maps, other signs for the living area and other things for individual Marines."

Joining the Marine Corps shortly after graduation from Custer County High School, Johnston did not know the Marine Corps had a use for artists of her caliber.

"I have been drawing since I was old enough to hold a crayon," the a 21-year-old hydraulics mechanic with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 11 said. "I did not know the Marine Corps had the combat illustrator (military occupational specialty) until I was already in boot camp. I would have gladly done that MOS if I would have known it was around."

As a recruit in boot camp, Johnston said she did things that would normally get someone in trouble with Marine Corps drill instructors.

"I would wake up in the middle of the night and draw," she said. "After the drill instructors saw some of my artwork they made me the 'art recruit.' I drew on my study books and anything else I could get my hands on.

"I would even draw when we were supposed to be studying military knowledge," she added.

Johnston's passion for art did not start with the idea she could be a successful artist, she just knew that drawing and painting is something she likes to do.

"My grandmother was an artist and worked at an art studio," she added. "I grew up realizing that without recognition, an artist would go nowhere with their talent. So I sort of gave up with art after a while, but then realized art was my life."

Now, in the middle of the largest province in Iraq, the Marine has made a decision to make the most of her experiences here.

"Since I arrived here, I feel like I haven't done anything that is (typically) me," she said. "Doing these drawings and paintings for the squadron makes me feel like I am really making a contribution."