Farmer featured at Vet Day event

Published 10:38 am Monday, November 6, 2017

MURFREESBORO – Sergeant Major, US Army (Retired)

Johnnie Ray Farmer, a current member of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, will be the featured speaker at a Veterans Day ceremony here on Saturday, Nov. 11.

The event begins at 11 a.m. in the Murfreesboro Municipal Building, located on Broad Street. The public is encouraged to attend.

Farmer, a native of Millennium, graduated from Ahoskie High School in 1968. He was drafted into the US Army during the Vietnam Conflict in 1969.

Johnnie Ray Farmer

He completed basic training at Fort Bragg and completed his infantry training at Fort McClellan, Alabama. Upon completion of his training, Farmer was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division in Cu Chi, Vietnam, arriving in February, 1970.

Farmer was further assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, Wolfhounds, where he would serve as a rifleman. Johnnie spent most of his time in the jungles as an infantryman searching for and destroying the enemy. In April 1970, his unit air assaulted into Cambodia in an attempt to cut off the famous enemy supply route called the Ho Chi Mien Trail.

Farmer returned to the United States in December 1970 and was assigned to Fort Ord, California, where was an instructor for rifle marksmanship until his service time expired in 1971. He returned to Hertford County and worked in construction with his father, Ray Farmer and Farmer Brothers Masonry. In January, 1974, he returned to the Anny at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he served in the 3ro Battalion, 7th Infantry.

Farmer served two tours as a Drill Sergeant at Fort Gordon, Georgia and Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He also served as a First Sergeant at Fort Jackson. In between his two Drill Sergeant tours he served in Stuttgart, Germany, where he served as a Platoon Sergeant in Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry. During his three years in Germany, his unit guarded the Pershing Missiles in the 56th Artillery Brigade Pershing.

From 1986 to 1987 he was assigned to Readiness Group Newburg, New York. There he was an advisor to the New York National Guard and the Army Reserve in all of eastern New York State.

Farmer was selected to attend the US Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, and he departed New York in December 1987. After graduation from the Sergeant’s Major Course, he was selected for a position on the school faculty as an instructor, and selected for promotion to Sergeant Major. During his four years at the academy, he taught leadership, resource management, military studies and developed several leadership courses and seminars.

In 1989, he graduated from El Paso Community College with an Associates Degree in General Management.He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Park College, Fort Bliss, in 1990, and completed his Masters Degree in Human Resource Management from Webster University, Fort Bliss in 1991.

Sergeant Major Farmer’s military education includes the Basic Leadership Course, 1974; Drill Sergeant Course, 1975; Advanced Infantry NCO Course, 1982; First Sergeants Course, 1983; and the Sergeants Major Course, 1988.

His awards and decorations are the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Drill Sergeant Badge, Meritorious Service Medal (3 awards), Air Medal, Army Commendation Award (5 awards), Army Achievement Medal (2 awards), Good Conduct Medal (7 awards), and several other awards.

His final assignment before retirement was as Chief Trainer and Special Assistant to the Chief lnstructor of the Sergeants Major Course. He retired from active duty in October 1992.

Upon retirement he returned home to Hertford County and was hired to begin an Army Junior ROTC program at Hertford County High School in 1993. He served in that position until his retirement in December 2006.

In 1999, Johnnie’s father died while serving as County Commissioner for District One. Friends and citizens encouraged Johnnie to run for his father’s seat on the board. Johnnie did not think that a Sergeant Major, former Drill Sergeant, would make a good politician, but he surrendered to the wishes of his supporters. He was sworn in and joined the County Board of Commissioners in December 1999 and has served for the past 18 years. He has served on several other boards to include the local mental health board for 12 years from 2000 until 2012. He served as Chairman of the board of mental health for a total of seven years overseeing two mergers from four counties to nine to nineteen counties. He currently serves on the Tri-County Airport Board. Johnnie was elected the founding Chairman of the Peanut Belt Rural Planning Organization,

RPO, in 2004, which represents four counties and makes recommendations to the state Department of Transportation for highway improvements in the four county area.

Johnnie has also served on the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners Health and Human Resources Committee since 2005. He served two, one-year terms as Chairman of that committee. Johnnie has served one-year terms on the NC Legislative Committee on Youth and the Committee for Medicaid reform. He also served four years on the State Health Coordinating Council under Governor Beverly Perdue.

Johnnie Ray married Paula Williams from Colerain in 1969 and they have two adult children, Christopher and Michelle.