From combat boots to cowboy boots
By Staff Sgt. Heather Davis, 162nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 22, 2013
TUCSON, Ariz. -- The young woman bespoke 'cowgirl' the instant I saw her, from her plaid western shirt to her dusty boots that were half covered by her Wrangler jeans. As she turned, her brilliantly sweet smile radiated warmth and the kind of gracious elegance one would expect in rodeo royalty.
Few individuals readily exchange their combat boots for cowboy boots, and even fewer have donned a cowboy hat encircled with a crown, but Tech. Sgt. Lacey Johnson, a member of the 162nd Fighter Wing host aviation resource management office here, wears them all with pride, enthusiasm and love.
A princess from the 2001 Tucson rodeo court, Johnson recently debuted with Quadrille de Mujeres, a women's speed and precision equestrian drill team, for the 2013 La Fiesta de los Vaqueros -- Tucson Rodeo. She will be performing with the Quadrille de Mujeres Friday through Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds.
"I'm having a blast," said Johnson. "We ride really fast, perform coordinated drills, wear shiny outfits and smile," she said. "It's exciting to ride so close to one another at such high speeds, and also a little scary, but that's the thrill of it," she said.
Johnson's earliest memories are of riding horses and the rodeo. Her mother was brought up riding and is performing alongside Johnson with the Quadrille de Mujeres at this year's Tucson Rodeo. Johnson's father began riding after meeting her mother, and found his passion in training horses. "My parents have always attended the Tucson Rodeo and numerous other rodeos around the country," she said.
"I grew up on the rodeo scene," said Johnson. "I love the people; they're a good, genuine and down-to-earth group. I also love animals. I get along with them, and it's good to feel that trust relationship with them. The rodeo combines my two favorite things, I never want to be away from that environment," she said.
While her brother and parents competed together in team roping and steer wrestling events with the Arizona Junior Rodeo Association, Johnson competed in Gymkhana's, pattern races on horseback like barrel-racing and pole-bending. Although she still loves barrel-racing, and still races from time to time, her newest passion is mounted shooting. Mounted shooting is an up and coming sport that combines the difficulty of target shooting with a .45 Long Colt single action revolver, and the complexity of pattern racing on horseback.
"I like mounted shooting because it's fresh and I can get a jump on it," said Johnson. The Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association, like the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, is an organization that holds nation-wide competitions throughout the year, and an annual national championship. Johnson travels to Tombstone, Ariz. two weekends per month to practice mounted shooting with her horse, Pete.
Although much of her time is spent riding, practicing, competing or performing with her horses, Johnson spends one weekend a month serving her country with the 162nd Fighter Wing. She joined the unit at the age of 17 after having grown up in a military environment, the daughter of two prominent Arizona Air National guard members.
In her 14 years with the unit, Johnson has travelled to numerous locations, supported post 9/11 efforts, has been involved in countless charity projects throughout Tucson, Ariz. and currently heads the Operations Group mentorship program in addition to her regular job.
"The guard has been a huge part of my whole life," said Johnson. "It's even where I met my husband," she said.
Although her time is divided amongst so many things she loves, she always makes time for her family. In addition to her husband, Johnson has two little girls that she affectionately refers to as "her little cowgirls."
"Any extra time we have, we spend as a family riding," said Johnson.