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Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Michael V. Johnson Jr.

Died March 25, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

25, of Little Rock, Ark.; assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego, 3rd Marine Division Detachment, Fleet Marine Force, San Diego; killed March 25 while tending to wounded colleagues in Iraq.

Among the photos that covered his mother’s coffee table are snapshots of Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Michael Vann Johnson Jr. the way his family remembers him: grinning in Mickey Mouse ears and waving at the camera.

“He was just a big kid,” said his sister, Janisa Hooks. “Mikey was a fun person. He liked to draw and he loved basketball, a real people’s person.”

Johnson, 25, was killed March 25 when he was hit by shrapnel while tending to injured colleagues.

He was raised in Little Rock, Ark., and graduated from the University of Central Arkansas. He and his wife, Cherice, lived in San Diego, where he was assigned to the 1st Marine Division.

Shortly before his death, his mother received a letter from him. “Mom,” he wrote, “I love you, and don’t be afraid if I don’t return, realize I’m in heaven with God.”

— Associated Press

Navy dedicates San Diego clinic to slain sailor

SAN DIEGO — Friends and family of Navy Corpsman Michael Vann Johnson Jr. gathered Sept. 17 as his Marine Corps recruit depot dedicated a medical clinic to the sailor, who was killed in Iraq.

“We hope that by naming the branch medical clinic after Michael Johnson, we’ll preserve the sacrifices and memories of Johnson and all those who served with him,” Lt. Del Signore said.

Johnson’s wife and members of his family were in California for the ceremony, where they watched as a new sign at the clinic’s front door was revealed, renaming it Johnson Hall.

Signore said several Marines from Johnson’s unit also attended. Afterward, members of the Navy band played “Anchors Away” and the “Marine Hymn.”

Johnson died March 25 when he was struck by shrapnel from a grenade while helping a wounded Marine. The Little Rock native was the first Arkansan killed in the conflict.

— Associated Press

New American Legion post named for slain Arkansan

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A new American Legion post has been named for the first Arkansan to die in the war in Iraq, Little Rock native Michael Vann Johnson Jr.

The 25-year-old Navy hospital corpsman was killed in March 2003 while tending to wounded Marines during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The Michael Vann Johnson Jr. American Legion Post No. 74 held its first official meeting Saturday at the Masonic Temple in North Little Rock. Vann Johnson’s father, Michael Vann Johnson Sr., also a veteran, attended the solemn ceremony along with about a dozen other American Legion members.

“In all my days, I’ll never be more proud than for what he has done for his family and his country,” the elder Vann Johnson said about his fallen son. Then, recalling the day his son told him he was joining up to fight in Iraq, he said: “I could only think, ‘You’re my hero.”’

— Associated Press

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