Johnnie Jackson was enlisted in the military before Muscle

You probably know Johnnie Jackson’s name because of his incredible bodybuilding career that spanned two decades. The 2001 NPC national champion won several titles, including the Arnold South Africa in 2017, and he graced the Olympia stage 13 times. His workout videos with fellow bodybuilding legend Branch Warren have become iconic. Many of his fans also know that he competed in the world of powerlifting as well. What you may not know is that prior to all of this he served in the United States National Guard and United States Armyhaving served in Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s. Jackson’s decision to join the service came after his early dream of playing college football for Penn State didn’t work out as he had hoped.

By Bernal

“I was going to have to pay for college, and my dad said going to the military would be a better choice. Then if I still wanted to go to school, they would help me pay,” said Jackson: “For both of us, we thought it was a good idea.”

Johnnie Jackson enlisted in the National Guard and underwent basic training. However, it wouldn’t be long before the reality of this life decision hit him. A few weeks after completing basic training, his unit was activated to travel to Panama to get involved in a fight in that part of the world.

“We hadn’t even completed basic training and they were talking about firing us,” he recalls. They would in fact be canceled and not travel to Panama. He would finish his basic training and then work as a welder. After returning home, he worked with the 144th Supply Company in New Jersey. Less than a month later, this company was called to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Storm.

“I remember being at work and getting the unit call,” he said. He and his cousin, Dave, who was also in the unit, had to prepare to leave. Jackson thought he wouldn’t even get the chance to say goodbye to his parents, who were both away from home. Thanks to the extra time the unit took for processing, they didn’t leave immediately. Jackson and his unit would fly on January 7, 1991. He would actually spend his 21st birthday in Saudi Arabia, which was not how he thought he would celebrate such a monumental day.

“Sitting on a cot in 120 degrees in Saudi Arabia, I thought to myself, ‘Lucky it’s my birthday,'” he joked. The 144th Supply Company had originally been ordered to spend six months overseas. They were to maintain a yard of equipment which included an M88 recovery vehicle. They were responsible for towing damaged vehicles that were hit by the fighting.

Johnnie Jackson in full military gear in front of a Hounds of Hell tank
Courtesy of Johnnie Jackson

“These tracks or tanks had been hit by radiant shells,” he explained, signifying the danger he faced when working with this equipment.

“This thing was in our garden and we lived around it. You don’t have to be a scientist to figure out it wasn’t healthy.

After a three-month extension, Jackson’s company returned to American soil. He will join the army and be transferred to Texas. He will also become an engineer. But to his surprise, he would actually be ordered to make a second trip to Saudi Arabia after the Persian Gulf War ended.

“We came back another six months for a show of force as well as to clean up,” Jackson said. “Once returned from this mission, he will spend the rest of his military career as a specialist. pursued his next dream: bodybuilding. While it was a dream, it wasn’t necessarily his dream. Jackson was naturally strong, but his half-brother, Willie Parker, was the one who wanted to turn professional and grace the stage with the stars of the day. Parker died and couldn’t pursue that goal, so Jackson adopted it as his own.

“I had always trained and trained with him. So it was something for me that we did together.

Fueled by Parker’s memory and dream, Jackson would win six pro shows. His powerlifting background also served him well as Jackson also won the 2009 World’s Strongest Bodybuilder contest. He saw firsthand the transition from the 90s superstars known for their conditioning to the onset of the mass monsters. Still, he held on every year he competed. Of all the moments he has enjoyed in his career, winning the Atlantic City Pro in 2007 was the one he considered his favorite.

“It was in my home country, and I had about 30 family members going crazy,” he said. “People from high school, from Oceanside Gym where I used to train were there too.”

Johnnie Jackson may not be competing anymore, but he’s still involved in both bodybuilding and weightlifting thanks to his new role as a promoter. The NPC YOG Classic will take place on August 27 in Fort Worth, Texas, and it will feature both bodybuilding and raw powerlifting competitions during its show. Jackson said working as a promoter helps him stay connected to both sports.

“It’s the seventh year I’ve had it, and we hope it will be the most successful so far.”

Johnnie Jackson
By Bernal

Jackson’s success has been an inspiration to many fans of strength and fitness sports, but he can attribute all the success he now has to the discipline and commitment he developed during his career. service. He believes that all young people who need guidance for the future can also find it by joining the armed forces.

“If a person can stop and look around, they face negativity, rejection and mental health issues at almost every turn. The military can give you a place of comfort and they can give you the tools you need to be able to protect yourself,” he explained. “You will also get the support you need to be successful in anything you do. Joining the military can help you stop going around in circles and find a career on your own.

Follow Johnnie Jackson on Instagram @johnnieojackson. For more information on YOG Classic, visit .

Teresa E. Burton