Army Spc. Joseph D. Johnson
Died June 16, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
24, of Flint, Mich.; assigned to the 161st Engineer Support Company, 27th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Airborne), 20th Engineer Brigade, 18th Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died June 16 in North Kunduz, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Also killed in the attack was Pfc. Gunnar R. Hotchkin.
(The following was taken from www.mlive.com of June 26, 2010) MUNDY TOWNSHIP, Michigan — Hundreds turned out on Saturday to honor and remember U.S. Army Spc. Joseph Dennis Johnson during his funeral at Central Church of the Nazarene in Flint.
The 24-year-old Mundy Township man was killed in combat on June 16 in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Johnson is the first soldier with local ties to die in combat in nearly two years.
The Rev. W Glen Gardner said Johnson loved his job of dismantling bombs and lived by the motto of “if its not worth the risk, it’s not worth it.”
“We’re here today to pay tribute and honor a man who couldn’t just join the army, he had to give everything to the army. So he would call you in the middle of a minefield and say ‘hey mom, guess where I’m at,’” Gardner said.
Johnson, a 2004 graduate of Carman-Ainsworth High School, served in Afghanistan for two to three months, working as a gunner and disarming improvised explosive devices.
Some in attendance wiped away tears as the Military Honor Guard carried Johnson’s casket, covered with the American flag, into the church. The processional was accompanied by a bagpipe.
During Saturday’s funeral, letters and memories from friends and family were read. The letters spoke about Johnson’s sense of humor, smile, his outlook on life, daring stunts, dedication to his beliefs and his love for his parents, sister and family.
“You always lived for a thrill. Sometimes being an idiot, but I loved you. I would shake my head, but smile. You weren’t afraid of anything, Joe. I admire your bravery, courage, passion and dedication,” said the letter from Johnson’s sister, Jennifer Pollak.
Another letter from his parents, Dennis and Teri Johnson, described raising Johnson as an adventure. He would do anything to take care of his parents. Now that he’s gone, they’ll miss his smile and their long talks with him.
Johnson’s family also was presented with the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Combat Action Medal for Johnson’s service.
Jim Pope, a friend of Johnson’s and youth director of the Central Church of the Nazarene, spoke about Johnson, saying he was a courageous volunteer who understood a life of giving. He gave to his friends, those he loved and those he didn’t know, he said.
“Joe was so willing and so quick to volunteer himself,” Pope said.