Military service serves to cement two cops’ friendship

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 30, 2001

Detective Sgt. Sandra Johnson, left, and Patrolman Jamee Carter stand outside the Vicksburg Police Department after their return from two weeks in Naples as officers in the U.S. Navy Reserve.(The Vicksburg Post/ C. TODD SHERMAN)

[07/30/01] Two Vicksburg police officers are finding that joining the military reserve is solidifying their friendship as well as sending them around the world.

Detective Sgt. Sandra Johnson and Patrolman Jamee Carter are back from two weeks in Italy where they wore the uniform of the U.S. Navy instead of the Vicksburg Police Department.

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Both joined the Navy last year and in August went to boot camp together in Great Lakes, Ill. To fulfill their military duties, they attend drill one weekend a month at a naval base in Meridian and participate in a two-week deployment every summer.

This year, Johnson and Carter, whose Navy jobs are as administrative assistants, found openings in Naples, Italy, and jumped at the chance to go overseas.

“At first Jamee was trying to talk me into going to Hawaii, but we decided Italy would be better,” Johnson said.

The two began their friendship in 1993 when Carter joined the police force and Johnson served as her training officer.

Carter, who is married to Vicksburg Police Sgt. Jon Carter, said she wanted the college tuition assistance available from the military. “I am already serving the community in one way and this is just doing it in another way,” she said.

As for Johnson, she said when her two children left for college, she started looking for a new challenge. “I was just venturing out and thought this would be a good opportunity,” she said.

After 10- and 12-hour flights respectively, they arrived in Italy June 23 expecting an exotic locale and breathtaking landscapes.

“Naples was dirty, and the people weren’t very friendly and nobody spoke English,” Johnson said. “It was not quite what we expected.”

To top things off, Carter said, the lack of traffic laws led to the first fight the two friends have had.

“There are no speed limits and the roads are really confusing,” Johnson said.

Carter was supposed to serve as the navigator anytime the two left the motel, Johnson said, and that led to their fight.

“We were trying to find the train station and Jamee said she knew where it was, but it didn’t work out that way,” Johnson said with a smile. “Needless to say driving over there was a really stressful experience.”

The trip was not a complete bust though. “We did get to go to Rome and hear the pope speak and see the Colosseum,” Johnson said.

She said the trip, although not what she expected, did fulfill some childhood dreams.

“Sitting in a classroom as a child I never dreamed I would be able to see the places I was reading about, so that was great,” Johnson said.

Carter said for her the trip solidified her love for her country and respect for military personnel who serve overseas.

“You don’t ever really appreciate what we have here until you are away from it for a while,” she said.

There is one thing the friends agree on without hesitation. When asked where they would try to serve their two weeks next summer they said in unison, “Hawaii.”