There were five Latin words on the Defense Department coins handed out at 1st Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment’s motor pool Monday morning, but the giver, John Johns, highlighted one: astringo.

“It means a commitment beyond ones’ self,” said the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for maintenance.

Last month, Johns presented the squadron with the Defense Department’s field-level maintenance award at a banquet in Grand Rapids, Mich., but he decided to stop into the motor pool and hand out coins to the soldiers who make maintenance excellence possible while on a trip to Fort Hood.

“An award-winning unit deserves to be recognized,” Johns said. “Coming to the unit and seeing most of the guys and women that perform maintenance is critical.”

Meeting Johns was exciting for Pfc. Robert Neville, but the coin was also the first he’d ever received.

“I plan on getting a coin stand for it. It’s a pretty big one to keep around,” he said.

Staff Sgt. Cleveland Carr said he was humbled by the experience, but knew that he and the others in the motor pool had earned the recognition.

“We’re being noticed echelons above us,” he said. “For me, it feels good to have someone from that level (come here.)”

In his position at the Pentagon, Johns helps create policy to ensure military units have what’s needed to succeed while overseeing an annual $90 billion maintenance budget.

Visiting soldiers, Johns said, reminds him of the primary mission of his job.

“I write policy to allow them to do the best job they can possibly do,” he said.

Johns was on post to greet the 13th Sustainment Command upon their return from Afghanistan on Sunday, but spent Monday with the squadron before joining the regimental commander for lunch at the unit’s dining facility.

He also took time to sit with the leadership from 1st Squadron to hear their concerns about the future of the Army and the challenges they see.

“It’s definitely an honor for him to come down here in person,” said Lt. Col. Steve Cho, 1st Squadron commander. “I can tell the guys their doing great, but to hear in from the DoD gives that much more meaning. It gives horsepower to the statement.”

Contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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