Today in Pacific Spotlight, Stripes talks Johnsie McGuire, a 19-year-old Army private at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul whose traffic control job means he sometimes gets to tell generals where they can — and cannot — go:

How does it feel to be one of the few 19-year-olds in the U.S. Army who can tell a general when to stop and when to go?

It’s not the age that makes me any different, it’s that I’m just a private first class, which happens to be one of the lowest-ranking servicemembers telling one of the highest-ranking servicemembers whether or not they can go.

What was the toughest part of training to be a military police officer?

Training was easy. The hard part was the mind games that drill sergeants played with all of us.

What parts of PT do you like least?

Getting up at 5:30 in the morning.

And most?

The cool-down, stretching part that says we are done for the day.

If they made a movie about you, who would you want to play you?

Well, Tom Cruise would be most people’s answer but, instead, I think I would pick Elijah Wood.

If you could redesign the Army uniform, what would you change?

Instead of wearing the beret, we should get to wear the patrol cap because it’s not as hot and smelly.

What’s your most treasured possession?

My family, which includes many people I’ve met since I’ve been in Korea.

What talent would you most like to have?

To be able to draw and write stories and comics.

What’s your idea of the perfect leave?

Going to Hawaii, but that won’t happen any time soon so being able to see my family in Florida, Virginia and New Jersey sounds like my next best plan.

What food from the States do you miss the most?

My grandpa’s homemade smoked beef jerky and my grandma’s homemade chili.

Of all the skills you’ve learned so far in the Army, which do you value most?

Unarmed self-defense and marksmanship.

What’s the biggest difference between you in high school and you today?

I graduated a year early so the biggest difference is, I was in Korea when all my friends back at home were still in school. Plus, I have a much bigger sense of pride.

Why did you join the Army?

For the first 18 years of my life I was living without worries of whether or not I would have my freedom. So I decided I would sacrifice the next 20 years of my life to pay back every soldier that ever gave their life for my freedom.

Army Pfc. Johnsie McGuire

Age: 19

Job description: Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, traffic control point (human traffic light)

Pacific readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Call Sharen Johnson at Stars and Stripes with the person’s name and contact information at DSN 229-3305 or e-mail her at

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