Karl Johnson

Karl Johnson commissioned as an officer in the US Air Force after graduating from Syracuse University in 2008. He is a young gay pilot and first started writing for Battleland using the callsign "Officer X" to protect his identity while documenting the end of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on open service for gay military members while serving under the policy. He has flown combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and continues to tell his story. Follow him on Twitter @TIMEOfficerX or email him at TIMEOfficerX@gmail.com. Click to read the Officer X archive.

Articles from Contributor

Battleland Battleland

Time on Target: The Sound of Freedom


Chances are, if you read Battleland, you’ve seen pictures or videos of paratroopers jumping out of the back of an aircraft. But have you ever considered the small miracle it takes to arrive at that particular point in space at that exact planned time? In combat, there is little to …

Battleland Battleland

The Party

Only a month ago I was unable to disclose my status as a gay man in the military. Fast forward to Tuesday of last week, when I stood as a guest to a party celebrating the launch of the anthology “Our Time“, a collection of stories from other gay, lesbian, and straight servicemembers, negatively affected by the “Don’t Ask” ban on open …

Battleland Battleland

The Story So Far

As of Thursday of this week, “Don’t Ask” has been dead for a month. To this point, the outreach I’ve received from peers and coworkers has been extremely positive, which appears to be the trend across all branches of the services. Contrary to all of the hullabaloo raised by those against the repeal, to my knowledge there hasn’t …

Battleland Battleland

Battleland on NPR

I know I’ve been radio silent for the past few weeks. I’ve been getting my ducks in a row for the post-DADT era. Here’s a look into an interview I had with National Public Radio’s Terry Gross on ‘Fresh Air’ which aired this Wednesday. In the interview, OutServe’s Josh Seefried and I discuss what it’s been like living under “Don’t …

Battleland Battleland

Officer X: Behind the Mask

What a fascinating time to be a gay man in the U.S. military. This time last year, I was sure the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy was here to stay for the next 2 to 3 years.

These initial words from my first post on Battleland are as true today as they were when I first Photoshopped a hastily-taken picture from my iPad, …