European Spotlight: Marine Lt. Col. John M. Jansen
What is a Tailhooker? It sounds salty.
Simply, it’s somebody who lands on an aircraft carrier in a jet.
What’s the smallest thing you ever landed on?
The USS Lexington, a World War II-era aircraft carrier that was used for training — that was the second carrier I ever landed on. But you never really notice how big or small it is; you’re just so busy trying to get the damn thing aboard.
How did you end up here?
I asked for it. I went from having a trigger in my hand to having a treaty in my hand.
As one of a handful of Marines in Europe, do you feel like a fish out of water?
The Marine Corps is so small, we usually spend a lot of time with other services — the Navy, of course, and during tactical flight training with the Air Force. When I was on the Coalition Forces Land Component Command staff in OIF-1, I learned how to speak U.S. Army “Hooah.” I guess the answer is no.
What do you think about the new Army uniforms?
(Laughter) It’s great. I’ll be honest, it’d be great to tug on the strings of the Army, but the Marines are the ones that broke ranks with the new uniform. Our former commandant and previous Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, Gen. James Jones, was the one who started it. His idea was that we don’t all have to dress the same. And the beret to me, honestly, looks sharp, but I guess some soldiers don’t like it.
Do your Army colleagues have any nicknames for you?
Not yet. They don’t really understand what a Tailhooker is. In the Marine Corps, my call sign is “Dog.” Brad Davis, the deputy director here, threatened to change it to “Hooker.” I’m just a little too old for a call sign change. But the key is, if it’s a bad name, don’t ever fight it. The more you fight an unwanted nickname or call sign, the more likely it is to stick.
What’s a better slogan: “Army Strong” or “The Few, The Proud”?
Well, I don’t know. The Army’s just now trying on the “Army Strong” slogan. I can tell you it’s a supreme upgrade from “Army of One.” The people who were into the idea of using teamwork to get things done kind of went “ugh” when that thing came out.
“The Few, The Proud,” that’s not really a slogan: That’s fact.
Marine Lt. Col. John M. Jansen
Title: Team chief at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Darmstadt, Germany
Day job: Conducts on-site weapons inspections to enforce conventional arms treaties with Russia and other former Warsaw-pact nations.
Claim to fame: For his leadership of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 and ability to land a jet on a floating parking lot, he received the Tailhook Association’s Marine Tailhooker of the Year award Sept. 9
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