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Army Pfc. Jason D. Johns

Died February 21, 2007 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

19, of Frankton, Ind.; assigned to the 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Feb. 21 in Bagram, Afghanistan, of a non-combat related injury.

Indiana soldier died during 2nd month in Afghanistan

The Associated Press

FRANKTON, Ind. — A central Indiana soldier who died in Afghanistan had gone to that country last month as part of the American anti-terrorism effort.

Army Pfc. Jason D. Johns, 19, of Frankton, died Feb. 21 in Bagram of what the military said was a non-combat-related injury. A spokeswoman for his unit, the Fort Bragg, N.C.-based 82nd Airborne Division, said his death remained under investigation.

Johns was born in Florida, but his family moved to Madison County when he was an infant, said his father, Jeff Johns. He grew up near Frankton with his two brothers and a sister before moving to Florida to live with his mother for several years.

Johns returned to Indiana as a sophomore at Frankton High School. Before his senior year, he dropped out and obtained his GED, then enlisted in the Army in October 2005.

“He really blossomed when he went into the Army,” said Johns’ father, who lives in Alexandria. “You could hear the maturity.”

Johns was a computer/detection systems repairer, working on equipment such as night-vision goggles, according to Steve Lawson of the Army Recruiting Battalion in Indianapolis.

“He knew he was going to be deployed as far back as December, but didn’t know when he’d return,” Jeff Johns said. “I know he wasn’t really thrilled about it, but it was expected. It was his duty. In his field, he never expected to be off-base.”

Michael Maddox, a friend who attended school with Johns, said he was a nice person.

“He never hurt anybody, and whenever you had a problem to talk about, he was always there for me,” Maddox said.

Johns is the 14th person from Indiana to die in Afghanistan or Pakistan since U.S. operations began there in late 2001. Since February 2003, 72 Indiana military personnel have died after being sent to the Middle East for the war in Iraq.

Solider with Indiana ties dies in Afghanistan

By Diana Penner

Indianapolis Star

A soldier with Indiana ties died in Afghanistan this week, just days after his 19th birthday.

Pfc. Jason D. Johns, formerly of Frankton, died Wednesday at Bagram Airbase north of Kabul of a non-combat-related injury, according to the Department of Defense. His death is being investigated.

He was assigned to the 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C

His father, Jeff Johns, lives in Alexandria in Madison County, but calls to his home were not returned Thursday.

Most of Johns’ family lives in Florida.

His grandmother, Marlies Paolino, Boynton Beach, Fla., said Johns had deployed to Afghanistan on Jan. 9; on Feb. 15, he turned 19.

“We were relieved he was going to Afghanistan rather than Iraq,” Paolino said. “But I don’t think there is such a thing as a safe area in that part of the world.”

John also leaves behind his mother, younger sister, older brother, a stepbrother, his grandparents and great-grandparents. The family has not been given details on how he died, Paolino said.

Her grandson had not finished high school but had earned his GED, she said, and joined the Army in hopes of learning a skill. His immediate job involved computers and using global positioning systems, she said.

Johns was a burly man who stood more than 6 feet tall, but he had a gentle, easy-going spirit.

“We were all terrified that if he ever had to shoot somebody, he wouldn’t be able to do it,” Paolino said. “Or if he did, that he wouldn’t be able to live with himself.”

He is the 14th person from Indiana to die in Afghanistan or Pakistan since U.S. anti-terror operations began there in late 2001.

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