Guest Author Donna Zephrine: “Misfit”

Donna Zephrine is an Iraq war veteran and accomplished writer. A full bio can be found at

Guest Author Bio Donna Zephrine

There are many different ways to interpret a misfit.  For whatever reason, whether they are too smart, too friendly or too “southern”, a misfit has a hard time fitting in with the rest of the group. When I look back at my time in the army, one particular soldier comes to mind as a misfit, his name was Johnson.  The first time I met Johnson, I was at the Hunter Army Air Field in Savannah, Georgia.  He had a crew cut with short red hair and was of average build.  Johnson was a very approachable person right from the start and was always willing to help others. What separated him from other soldiers was that he was a very skilled mechanic.  He grew up in a family of mechanics and he was the most knowledgeable mechanic in our platoon.  One particular memory that sticks out was when Johnson’s barracks roommate stole his climbing equipment which was worth $1000.00 and other equipment when he was leaving the service.  His name was Nathaniel but we called him Fester.   His name fester was chosen because he kept unclean and he was named after the character in the Adams family the television show Uncle Fester. I felt terrible that something bad like this happened to a good person but I did admire the way Johnson controlled his disappointment and did not let it affect him too much in the barracks.

He also used to fix the soldiers personal cars during his spare time on the weekends.   Johnson also liked to play paintball, fish and hunt.  A few months prior to meeting him, Johnson was taking college classes while in military installation.  The other soldiers respected him because of his knowledge in mechanics and had a very nice personality.  Johnson had a large black trailer and inside of it he had two snap on tool boxes and his own little workspace.  This was a unique portable shop that allowed him to travel around with his tools to get his work done.  He would sometimes let other soldiers borrow his trailer and tools for their own work.  Everyone knew he was the go-to guy for any mechanic work.  Most of the mechanics were very skilled but sometimes things would come up that only Johnson could handle.    Johnson joined active duty straight out of High School and he was from California.  I did not know until meeting him that Johnson had a desire to go to Airborne school.  The last time I saw him was January 2006 which was the end of my enlistment contract and Johnson stayed about another year in his enlistment.  Johnson was in charge of giving the leaving soldiers plaques for their service and I never received one but he reached out to me to apologize for the confusion.

I always knew Johnson would be successful because he was ambitious and had a good attitude.  He always had an interest in school and college and I expected that he would eventually go back.    I assumed he would have followed through with his mechanic work and would be working in that field doing something related to it.  He was engaged to a woman in our unit by the time I left and I imagined that they would eventually start a family.     I picture Johnson being married with kids working somewhere as a mechanic.  He went to Webster university took classes and he finished at Columbia College in Missouri he majored in Business Administration.  He also did some contracted work for Halliburton as a instructor teaching

In addition to my company I recalled in my 416th transportation company the other two platoons in my company one was actually called the misfits and the other platoon was called the outkasts.  The LT I contacted from the actual misfits platoon quoted to me “ The leadership sat down  for a  meeting to divide the platoons into three.  After the meeting, my platoon sergeant at the time (  SSg Stephan) told me we received mostly soldiers that were not regarded as good; Misfits.  I am into the music genre called punk rock.  One of my favorite bands at the time and currently is the Misfits.  It just worked out!  The logo for the platoon is the same as the band’s logo.  Some of my soldiers got the logo tattooed on them on them upon our redeployment to the United StatesAs far as the outkasts the soldiers came up with it sure, the Soldiers came up with it largely because we were the first to get selected for every mission. It seems that being a “misfit” in society can actually bring people together and create a special bond, such as the bond in both of these platoons. The idea of a misfit is not restricted to just one person but can also be a group of people who for some reason have been identified as unique.

About Frances Wiedenhoeft

After a lifetime in nursing, anesthesia and the Army I now write, blog, attend school for journalism and massage, and watch my 3 grandchildren. I am a veteran of Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan and try to serve other vets such as myself, and to work for peace.
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