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Oral history interview of Deontta Johnson. Interview conducted by Karen Kelly at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida on February 22, 2017.


0:01 Introduction; 0:32 Birth Place; 0:45 Parents Occupation, early childhood; 1:08 Size of Family; 1:20 Childhood; 1:35 Education before service; 1:44 Family members in the military; 1:58 Enlistment in Army National Guard; 2:05 Influences to enlist, education; 2:22 Experience with recruitment process; 3:02 Expectations of military; 3:25 Basic Training location; 3:35 What basic training like, experience with sports; 4:08 Average day at basic; 4:40 Sent to Benson, NC; 5:05 Standing out as a newbie; 5:40 Job in Benson, transportation and mechanic; 6:18 Average day, Preventative Maintenances Checks and Services; 6:58 Free time; 7:24 North Carolina Central University, studying business administration; 8:12 Most embarrassing story; 9:38 Funny experiences helped comradery; 10:10 Problems with alcohol helped through VA; 10:45 Experiences with psychiatrist, help cope with problems; 11:50 How other people use VA; 11:25 Deployed while still in school, university worked with National Guard; 13:38 Reactions to 9/11 attacks; 14:28 Finding out about deployment to Iraq, copies of orders for employers; 15:35 Feelings leading up to deployment; 16:15 Reactions to Iraq after arriving, weather, wearing uniforms and packs; 16:50 How time in Iraq helped him mature; 18:10 How training prepared him, land navigation difficult; 19:08 Camp Caldwell, living in tents while it was built; 19:28 Living conditions and sandstorms; 20:10 Culture shock and differences; 21:00 Iraqi children; 22:32 Interactions with Iraqi civilians; 23:20 Job of his company, transportation security team; 24:50 His role, "A Driver", kept a look out during convoys; 25:05 Average day on a convoy, undeveloped roads. 25:30 Transporting a fallen soldier the day before his birthday; 27:00 Talking with VA psychologist; 27:20 Adjusting to unusual things like sandstorms, IEDs; 28:20 Mechanical detonator finding daisy chain of IEDs on his route; 28:55 One member of his company died because of an IED; 30:30 Free time, recreation area with phones to call home; 31:42 Food, MREs (meal ready-to-eat); 33:35 Living conditions in tents; 34:30 Comradery; 35:18 Staying connected with family; 36:00 First experience with combat; 37:15 Convoy vehicles without armor, from WWII; 39:50 Injury, shoulders locked up and couldn't get pack on; 41:20 Combat Action Badge; 41:45 Involvement in indirect action; 42:45 Camp Anaconda hit with mortar rounds; 43:10 Coming home directly to civilian life, transition very difficult; 44:25 Sleep pattern; 45:00 Always have guard up, taking a different route to and from a location; 45:00 Things learned in National Guard that are used in civilian life; 46:20 Returning home, being different or "crazy"; 47:44 Returning to unit in North Carolina; 48:22 Leaving the National Guard, keeping in contact with other soldiers; 48:50 Transition to civilian life, move to Florida; 49:40 Looking at older group and how they coped, received benefits; 50:13 Chapter 31 program at the University of Central Florida; 51:00 Studying criminal justice, career plans; 52:38 Why he chose to study at UCF; 53:30 Remembering the good things; 54:15 Summing up experience; 54:40 Parachuting and hang-gliding will traveling, seeing how other people live; 58:50 More on experience with V.A.; 1:01:45 Showing Photographs Until End.

Date of Birth


Place of Birth

Smithfield (N.C.)




Black or African American

Home State

North Carolina

War or Conflict

Operation Iraqi Freedom



Begin/End date of Service - 1st



Video; MovingImage


Entrance into Service


Branch of Service

U.S. Army National Guard

Unit of Service

30th Brigade; 230 Support Battalion

Location of Service

Benson (N.C.); Iraq; Durham (N.C.)

Highest Rank

Sergeant; SGT

Prisoner of War


Service Related Injury





Combat Action Badge; Army Commendation Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Armed Forces Reserve Medal; Driver and Mechanic Badge


See video for details.


Awarded Armed Forces Reserve Medal and Mobilization, Army Service Ribbon, Driver and Mechanic Badge W Bar. "Was in Combat. Number of times deployed: Once, deployed to Iraq (dates: 10/01/2003- 11/2004)... Student at UCF, Junior in Criminal Justice." -The interviewer.

City of Birth


Country of Birth

United States


Kelly, Karen

Interview Date


Location of Interview

University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL.


Johnson, Deontta; Iraq War, 2003-2011 -- Personal Narratives; Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, 2001-present -- Personal Narratives; United States. Army National Guard

Collection Description

Contains logs, audio and video recordings of interviews with Central Florida's veterans as part of a history class project for the students at the University of Central Florida (UCF). The UCF Community Veterans History Project(CVHP) started in fall 2010. It collects, preserves, and makes accessible to the public the experiences of Central Florida's veterans so that future generations will better understand the realities of conflict. It is a collaborative endeavor supported by multiple departments and offices at UCF. The veterans' histories are archived and made digitally available through the UCF library and selected materials are contributed to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.

Contributor Affiliation / Organization

RICHES; University of Central Florida


Kelly, Karen

Length of Interview

77 Minutes


Department of History, University of Central Florida




All rights are held by the respective holding institution. This material is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. For permission to reproduce and/or for copyright information contact Special Collections and University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries, (407) 823-2576. http://library.ucf.edu/about/departments/special-collections-university-archives/


University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives

Contributing Project

UCF Community Veterans History Project

Document Type