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Army Pfc. John C. Johnson
Died May 27, 2011 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom
28, of Phoenix, Ariz., assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; died May 27 in Diwar, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.
Phoenix soldier killed in Kandahar
By Eddi Trevizo
The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic
PHOENIX — A soldier from Phoenix was killed in Afghanistan on May 27.
Pfc. John C. Johnson, 28, died from wounds he received when insurgents attacked his unit in Kandahar province, according to officials at Fort Drum, N.Y.
Johnson trained at Fort Jackson, S.C., and Fort Benning, Ga. He was assigned to Fort Drum in July 2010.
Johnson was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in March.
According to Drum officials, Johnson was assigned to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.
His awards and decorations include the Army the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
He is survived by his wife, two children, and his mother and father.
‘He was strong as a bull but soft as a teddy bear’
By Rebekah L. Sanders and Ofelia Madrid
The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic
Pfc. John Corey Johnson, 28, was looking forward to a shave with an electric razor when he last talked to his dad.
Johnson, an affectionate father of two with one on the way, said his camp in Afghanistan had recently gotten power.
Could the family send an electric razor in the next care package?
“I went right down to Walmart and got it,” said his father, John Johnson of Yuma, Ariz. “It’s in the mail. He never got the chance to use it.”
The Phoenix soldier, whom everybody called Corey, died May 27 from wounds he received when insurgents attacked his unit in the Kandahar province in Afghanistan, according to officials at Fort Drum, N.Y.
Corey’s mother, Anita Johnson, said she and her husband were focusing on the good times they had with their son.
“He wanted to make a better life for himself,” Anita said of her son, who could light up a room with his smile. “He’d just gotten married again and had a daughter on the way. I can’t imagine him gone. He’s like a magnet. He’s strong, honest and loving. He surely was one of a kind. I don’t believe it.”
Corey joined the Army in February 2010. After completing training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and Fort Benning, Ga., he was assigned to Fort Drum in July 2010. He was deployed to Afghanistan in March.
According to Drum officials, Corey was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.
Corey was an experienced hunter and tracker, who grew up fishing and hunting in Arizona’s high country, his father said. Together, they bagged deer, elk and javelina and reeled in catfish, bass and trout. “I took that boy with me everywhere from the time he was old enough to walk,” John said. “He was my partner.”
Corey, who grew up in the Valley, went to Wickenburg High School, worked in a rock mine and oil fields before he joined the Army.
At 16, he dropped out of school to work with his father operating heavy mining equipment, according to John. At 18, Corey moved to Colorado to work in the oil fields.
Corey married and had a daughter, who is now 4. That marriage ended in divorce, Anita said. The young man returned to the Valley to join the military.
“He said, ‘I feel like I need to do this,’ ” his father recalled.
Corey enlisted help from Sen. John McCain to get in to the Army, John said. Then, a few months ago, Corey surprised his family by telling them he had remarried, adopted his wife’s 5-year-old daughter, and they were expecting another girl. Corey’s wife, Jennifer, is four months pregnant and lives in New York, Anita said.
“He found himself someone and was trying to better his life,” she said.
The last time Anita and her husband saw Corey was around Christmastime, she said.
“He’d tease me a lot. We had a good relationship,” Anita said. “He’d come up behind me with that Corey smile. Then he’d lean over my shoulder and say, ‘I sure do love you with all my heart.’ ”
John said his son towered at more than 6 feet tall and 225 pounds. But he was never riled, often putting up with ribbing from one of his seven sisters with nothing but a smile.
“He was strong as a bull but soft as a teddy bear,” John said.
In Afghanistan, Corey made sure to keep his pockets stuffed with candy, which he would give to children, his father said.
In recent months, phone calls from Corey didn’t focus on the war, Anita said.
“He didn’t really talk about the Army. But he would say ‘I’m tired of seeing my buddies go.’ He would have been 29 next month. He sure was one hell of a man,” she said.
John said eight men in his family have served, from World War I to today, and nearly all were injured. Now his son has paid “the ultimate price.”
“I’m not saying my family has done any more than anyone else’s, but we dang sure have pulled our weight,” he said. “I would like to say to Mr. McCain or Mr. Obama, ‘Stay the course. Finish the job. Don’t let these servicemen go in vain.’ ”
Corey’s awards and decorations include the Army National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
Corey is survived by his wife and children, and his mother and father.