BOISE, Idaho – 2nd Lt. Marah Sharpe’s father has served in the Idaho Army National Guard for longer than she’s been alive. But despite commissioning into the organization Jan. 28, she will only have the opportunity to attend the same drill weekend with him once.
Her father, Brig. Gen. Russell Johnson, is set to retire in March after more than 41 years of service to the state and nation. Johnson, the Idaho National Guard’s director of the joint staff, first enlisted into the Idaho Army National Guard in November 1985. He served in the Marines from January 1981 to November 1985.
Sharpe direct-commissioned as a 66H medical surgical nurse and will serve in the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, which Johnson commanded from February 2014 to March 2016.
“I don’t remember a part of my life that the Idaho Army National Guard wasn’t in,” Sharpe said. “My dad’s been in since I was born. The Guard has always been a part of my family and a part of my life growing up, and I’m excited to be part of that organization myself.”
Sharpe considered joining the Idaho Army National Guard earlier. Now that she has completed her education and settled into her career as a nurse at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, she felt the timing was right.
“I can stay in my civilian job that I really enjoy and be in the Guard at the same time,” she said. “It just seemed right.”
Sharpe said she became a nurse because she likes the flexibility the career offers, the science behind her job and the ability to help people. She is looking forward to practicing medicine in a uniform in addition to scrubs as she learns the demands of being a Soldier.
“I’m most excited to expand my knowledge as a nurse and as a person,” she said. “There’s a lot of learning opportunity for leadership as well as nursing. I’m excited to grow in both areas. I want to be a better nurse and be a better person.”
As a medical professional, Sharpe was able to earn a direct commission into the Idaho Army National Guard without having to complete basic training or a commissioning school. The Idaho Army National Guard accepts six to 10 such appointees each year, including medical professionals, attorneys and chaplains.
“It’s always a proud moment when someone’s child goes into the military,” Johnson said. “It shows a commitment to our state and nation with a level of enthusiasm and ambition that they share.”
“The Army and the National Guard are constantly changing,” said Johnson. “One thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of service to our country and state. Today’s Guard is in need of upcoming leaders and folks willing to step up and volunteer their time and efforts. It’s neat to see that level of commitment.”
Johnson administrated Sharpe’s commissioning oath Jan. 28 on Gowen Field.
“I’m very proud of her,” Johnson said.