Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Justin W Johnson

Justin W Johnson

Rome, Georgia

April 10, 2004

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
22 Army Spc

1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division

Fort Hood, Texas

Died in Baghdad, Iraq, when his patrol vehicle hit an improvised explosive device.

Justin W Johnson Justin W Johnson

Spc. Justin W. Johnson came from a tight military family, so tight that his National Guardsman father arranged that they would serve in Baghdad together. But a training accident in February kept Joseph Johnson at home while his son, a fire support specialist like his father, deployed to Iraq. "I tried to talk him out of getting such a dangerous job," said Cpl. Joseph Johnson. "I guess he wanted to be like his old man and get an upfront combat job." The 22-year-old from Rome, Ga., was killed April 10 when a roadside bomb detonated as his Humvee passed in Baghdad. He was based at Fort Hood, Texas. Jan Johnson remembers her youngest son as an active teen who liked skydiving, caving and scuba diving. "Justin was our daredevil," she said. A friend of Justin's had gone to Iraq and returned home safely, she said. "(Justin) thought he was 22 and invincible. He thought he wouldn't have any problems either."
Family, friends remember Georgia man killed in Iraq

By Doug Gross

Associated Press

ATLANTA — With ceremonial flourishes honoring his military service and an emotional outpouring from family and friends, a Georgia man killed in Iraq was buried Saturday.

In Rome, a crowd waving U.S. flags lined the street as Johnson’s funeral procession passed.

A Floyd County native, Johnson, 22, was killed in Baghdad on April 10 when a roadside bomb detonated as the Humvee on which he served as a gunner passed.

“Justin volunteered to serve,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Bostick, assistant commander of Johnson’s unit, the 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, according to the Rome News-Tribune. “He didn’t come in as a warmonger. He went for an ideal — freedom and security.”

The Rev. Kenneth Jennings, a former pastor of Johnson’s, urged his family to take comfort in knowing that his death was not in vain.

“Freedom is expensive,” Jennings said. “Thank God for men and women who are willing to pay this sacrifice so we can be free.”

Johnson had been in Iraq for just over a week.

Family says soldier killed by roadside bomb in Baghdad

ROME, Ga. — Jan Johnson got home from church Sunday to find a U.S. Army chaplain and sergeant in her driveway. They brought news that her youngest son, Justin, was the city’s first casualty from the war in Iraq.

Spc. 4th Class Justin Johnson, 22, was killed in Iraq when a roadside bomb detonated as his Humvee passed in Baghdad, Jan Johnson said. She did not know what day Justin was killed, and the Army had not confirmed the casualty Monday.

Justin Johnson, based with the 1st Cavalry in Fort Hood, Texas, was a gunner on the Humvee. His mother said he was killed in Sadr City, in Baghdad. He had been in Iraq a week.

When she spoke to her son last week, he told her he had been providing support in “hot zones” and was disturbed by how some Iraqis were reacting to the U.S. presence in Baghdad, she said.

She also said Justin told her Tuesday that insurgents had shot out a tire on his Humvee the day before.

“He said, ‘You wouldn’t believe this place,”’ Jan Johnson said. “’It’s messing with our heads.”’

His father, Joseph, is in the U.S. National Guard and was supposed to be in Baghdad as well, but a training accident in February prevented him from going.

“I tried to talk him out of getting such a dangerous job,” said Cpl. Joseph Johnson. “I guess he wanted to be like his old man and get an up-front combat job.”

Joseph Johnson said Monday the family was still working on funeral arrangements.

— Associated Press
From The Rome News-Tribune rn-t.com Date?:

Ride honors fallen Roman, other soldiers
by Kevin Myrick , Rome News-Tribune Staff Writer
Five years ago on Easter Sunday, Joe and Jan Johnson received news that changed their lives forever. They learned their son, Spc. Justin W. Johnson, had been killed in Iraq. 

The loss is still being felt by his mother and father, who did their best to hold back tears during a brief memorial service Saturday afternoon at Myrtle Hill Cemetery, where Justin was brought home and buried after his death in Iraq in April 2004 at the age of 22. 

“Every day is still a challenge,” Mrs. Johnson said. “Some days are good, and some days are bad. We’re in a new normal now, in a world without Justin.”

More than 120 Patriot Guard Riders met in Adairsville on Saturday morning, to the astonishment of the Johnsons who pulled up to find the group and took off for the inaugural Spc. Justin W. Johnson Memorial Ride for the Fallen, traveling 75 miles to the cemetery in Rome.

“Its an awesome thing,” Mrs. Johnson said. “It took my breath away when we first pulled up and saw so many riders ready to go.”

She wanted to make it clear the ride wasn’t about just her son’s sacrifice for his country but for all soldiers they still support and try to help. 

In fact, both of Justin’s parents agreed their son, an Armuchee High School graduate, would not have known what to make of the memorial ride. 

“He would have wondered what all the fuss was about,” Joe Johnson said. “He was fairly patriotic and didn’t really like the limelight.”

His mother added “he’d be embarrassed.”

Before heading off again into the sunset, the Patriot Guard Riders gave the Johnsons an Honor and Remember flag, a framed copy of a letter from Gov. Sonny Perdue in commemoration of the inaugural ride, a specially made fleece blanket and a memory book filled with the good wishes of their friends and family. 

The Patriot Guard Riders plan to continue the ride in Justin’s honor in the years to come, and according to rider Mike Blackstock the ride will likely take different routes in the year’s to come. 

As much as the ride has a special significance to the Johnsons, it means as much to the Patriot Guard Riders themselves. 

“We just want them to know they aren’t going through all this by themselves,” Blackstock said. 

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