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- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Army Maj. Alan R. Johnson
Died January 26, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
44, of Yakima, Wash.; assigned to 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion, Tonawanda, N.Y.; died Jan. 26 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee in Muqdadiyah the same day.
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Slain soldier lived for military, parents say
By James MacPherson
The Associated Press
BISMARCK, N.D. — Alan Johnson left the farm where he grew up to become a soldier, and he lived for military service, his parents say.
Johnson, 44, who joined the Army National Guard in North Dakota and later became an Army Reserve major, was killed Jan 26 by a roadside bomb in Iraq, the Pentagon said.
His mother, Mary Hansen, who lives in Sanborn, said she learned of his death Jan. 27.
“It’s still a bad dream, and it’s getting worse,” Hansen said. “He was a good son.”
A statement from the Pentagon said Johnson, of Yakima, Wash., died of injuries when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee in Muqdadiyah, Iraq. The statement said Johnson was assigned to the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion of Tonawanda, N.Y.
Four others were injured in the bomb attack, some seriously, Hansen said.
Johnson grew up in Montpelier, in south central North Dakota, and graduated from high school there in 1981.
“He grew up raising crops and horses and running tractors, and then he went to college,” said his father, Wilfred “Sonny” Johnson of Montpelier.
Alan joined the Guard in North Dakota while in high school, his mother said.
“He was in (the military) 26 years,” Hansen said. “He lived for the service.”
Johnson specialized in Army engineering when he joined the Guard in North Dakota, and he was a member of the Washington state National Guard before transferring to the Army Reserve as a chemical officer and a civil affairs specialist, military officials said.
Hansen said her son lived in Yakima with his wife, Victoria, and a stepdaughter, Megan. She last spoke to him on Christmas. “We didn’t have time to talk about an awful lot,” she said.
It was his first tour of duty in Iraq, Hansen said. The military said he was deployed to Iraq in April 2006.
“He ordinarily would have been coming home in April,” his mother said.
Sonny Johnson said his son “was a good kid, good in school and got good grades. And he loved the Guard.”
Johnson said his son worked as corrections officer at a prison in Yakima. The two last spoke on Alan Johnson’s birthday Dec. 30.
“We talked about what he was doing, and he said they were doing a good job out there,” Sonny Johnson said.
Johnson will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. A memorial service is being planned in Jamestown, N.D., his mother said.
His death brings to 15 the number of U.S. service members from North Dakota or serving with North Dakota military units who have been reported killed while on duty in Iraq, as of Jan. 30. Four others were killed in Afghanistan.
North Dakota Army National Guard officials said Johnson enlisted in the state Guard’s 141st Engineer Combat Battalion, Company B, based in Jamestown, in October 1980.
“We grieve the news of his death as our thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family during this difficult time,” said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, the state Guard commander. “His service and sacrifice to our nation will always be honored and remembered.”
Besides his wife, stepdaughter and parents, Johnson is survived by brothers Wayne Johnson of Brookville, M.D., Bryan Johnson of Bozeman, Mont., Jeremy Hansen of Eckelson, and sisters Marilyn Waddington of Harrah, Wash., and Susan Roemmich of Spiritwood, N.D., the military said.
A statement from the family, released through the Reserve, said Johnson “lived for God, his family and his country” and was respected by all who knew him.
“As a husband, he was a leader, supporter, protector and best friend — he was a knight in shining armor,” the statement said. “As a father, he mirrored the image of God in his ability to love unconditionally. He has positively affected the lives of many, and his influence will continue to be felt for years to come.”
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Memorial service held for slain soldier
The Associated Press
JAMESTOWN, N.D. — A North Dakota native who was killed while serving in Iraq was remembered by family and friends Feb. 10 as a patriot and a leader.
Army Reserve Maj. Alan Johnson, 44, of Yakima, Wash., died Jan. 26. Military officials said a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee in Muqdadiyah, killing Johnson and injuring four others.
Johnson was assigned to the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion of Tonawanda, N.Y. He was deployed to Iraq in April 2006. It was his first tour of duty.
“Alan lived and breathed his service to God, his family and his country every day,” Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, commander of the North Dakota Army National Guard, said during Saturday’s memorial service.
Members of the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group stood outside First United Methodist Church in subzero temperatures, holding American flags. Those who spoke during the service inside the church described Johnson as a humble man, and a person of deep faith.
“How many other lives has he impacted that people don’t know about?” asked his brother, Bryan, who told how Johnson had helped him in his personal struggles. “He’s a soldier for the United States. He gave his life willingly, but he’s also a soldier for Jesus Christ.”
Gov. John Hoeven spoke of Johnson’s work in Iraq as a civil affairs officer, helping to rebuild the country and win the trust of its people.
“Alan’s was a life of service to family and nation and even the people of another nation,” he said.
Hoeven presented Johnson’s wife, Victoria, and parents, Wilfred Johnson and Mary Ann Hansen, with North Dakota flags that had been flown over the state Capitol in the soldier’s honor. Rep. Earl Pomeroy and Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., presented the family with three American flags that had flown over the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
Johnson was born in Jamestown and grew up in Montpelier, in south central North Dakota. He graduated from high school there in 1981. He joined the National Guard in North Dakota, serving in Jamestown and Carrington units. His parents and two of his siblings live in North Dakota.
Johnson specialized in Army engineering when he joined the Guard in North Dakota, and he was a member of the Washington National Guard before transferring to the Army Reserve as a chemical officer and a civil affairs specialist, according to the military. He worked as a county corrections officer in Yakima, Wash.
Johnson will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C., on Feb. 14.
“His grave will be marked by a white cross, and that white cross will be a symbol of so much,” Dorgan said.
Johnson’s death brought to 15 the number of U.S. service members from North Dakota or serving with North Dakota military units who have been reported killed while on duty in Iraq. Four others have been killed in Afghanistan.
Johnson is survived by his wife and stepdaughter Megan, both of Yakima; his father from Montpelier and his mother from Sanborn; his brothers, Wayne Johnson, of Brookville, Md., Bryan Johnson, of Bozeman, Mont., and Jeremy Hansen, of Eckelson; and his sisters, Marilyn Waddington, of Harrah, Wash., and Susan Roemmich, of Spiritwood.