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Air Force Senior Airman Daniel J. Johnson

Died October 5, 2010 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

23, of Schiller Park, Ill.; assigned to 30th Civil Engineer Squadron, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.; died Oct. 5 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

EOD airman dies in Afghanistan

By Jill Laster

Staff writer

An explosive ordnance disposal airman died Tuesday after insurgents in Afghanistan attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Senior Airman Daniel J. Johnson was conducting an explosive ordnance operation west of Kandahar when his unit was attacked. Tech. Sgt. Daniel Butler suffered injuries from the blast, according to the Defense Department.

Both men were serving as members of the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Lt. Ann Blodzinski, a spokeswoman at Vandenberg, declined to comment on Butler’s condition.

Johnson, of Schiller Park, Ill., joined the Air Force about a year after graduating from Monona Grove High School in Wisconsin. He was on his second tour in Afghanistan and is the 30th Space Wing’s first active-duty airman killed since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, Blodzinski said.

He had completed less than a month of a planned six-month deployment.

Johnson talked about the dangers of his job in a March interview with California television station KSBY.

“You work on an IED or something like that, and you know there’s hostile forces around you, you must be crazy to do what you do,” Johnson said. “I never really thought about it. It just seemed like a cool job.”

A memorial service at Vandenberg remained in the planning stages Thursday. Col. Richard Boltz, commander of the 30th Space Wing commander, said in a news release that “the loss of one of our own deeply affects us all.”

“Team Vandenberg is pulling together closely to be there for the Johnson and Butler families and for each other,” he said.

Paul Brost, principal of Monona Grove High School, told the Wisconsin State Journal that Johnson graduated from the school in 2005 after four years as a good student and three-sport athlete.

Brost said Johnson was on the football, swimming and track teams. He also was editor of the school yearbook and worked on the student newspaper.

Friends said Johnson got married in June.

Johnson was the fifth airman to die in the war zones since Sept. 15:

* Senior Airman Mark A. Forester, 29, died Sept. 29 while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province. He was assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, N.C.

* Senior Airman Michael J. Buras, 23, died Sept. 21 as the result of an improvised explosive device detonation in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

* Senior Airman Daniel R. Sanchez, 23, died Sept. 16 while conducting combat operations in the Afghanistan’s Oruzgan province. He was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

* Senior Airman James A. Hansen, 25, died Sept. 15 of wounds suffered during a controlled detonation at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 46th Operations Support Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Wife, brother eulogize fallen airman

The Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin native killed while serving in Afghanistan was remembered as a brave, confident and loving man.

Friends and family gathered Oct. 18 at Door Creek Church to pay respects to Senior Airman Daniel Johnson, 23, who graduated from Monona Grove High School in 2005.

Johnson was killed by an explosive in Kandahar on Oct. 5.

Johnson's wife, Kristen Harlow, said her husband had the most integrity of any man she has met.

WKOW-TV reported that Peter Johnson remembered his brother as brave, self-sacrificing and loving.

The Defense Department listed Johnson's home address as Schiller Park, Ill.

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