|Oregon guardsman killed in roadside explosion
PORTLAND, Ore. — A soldier from the Portland area was killed in a roadside explosion in Iraq, said Maj. Arnold Strong of the Oregon Army National Guard.
Sgt. David Wayne Johnson, 37, of Sandy, died Sept. 25 northwest of Baghdad. He was a gunner on a Humvee, the last in a convoy, Strong said.
Two other guardsmen suffered minor injuries in the explosion and returned to duty, Strong said.
Johnson, who was posthumously promoted from specialist, joined the Guard following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Strong said Johnson was an amateur motorcycle racer who, before enlisting, had orange dreadlocks flowing down his back.
Johnson was initially a cook in the Guard, but retrained as a gunner. He was a volunteer with the 2nd Battalion, 218th Artillery assigned to the headquarters company of the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry.
“This was a dyed-orange dreadlocked racer who suddenly said, ‘This is something I have to do,’” Strong said. “His age was kind of late for an enlistment.”
Strong said Johnson kept his interest in motor sports while in the Guard, racing during recruiting trips at the Portland International Raceway.
Johnson’s family declined interview requests late Sept. 26.
Johnson, who was scheduled to return home next spring, was the third Oregon National Guard soldier to die in two weeks and the eighth in less than four months. He was the oldest of those killed.
Staff Sgt. David Weisenburg, 26, of Portland, and Spc. Benjamin Isenberg, 27, of Sheridan, were killed Sept. 13 while on a daily patrol mission near Taji, Iraq. Insurgents detonated a bomb and then attacked the patrol with small arms fire.
Roughly 750 members of the Oregon National Guard are stationed in Iraq. The number will increase to about 1,400 in two months, Strong said.
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski asked that all flags at public institutions be flown at half-staff on Tuesday in memory of Johnson.
“I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family and wish them strength in this time of great loss,” the governor said in a statement.
|From The Oregonian oregonlive.com
Remembering Spc. Johnson
Published: Friday, October 01, 2004, 6:59 AM Updated: Wednesday, August 01, 2007, 3:32 PM
Soldiers of the 2-162 gathered Thursday night to remember Spc. David W. Johnson, who was killed Saturday morning by a roadside bomb. Friends had so much to say about Spc. Johnson, and we wanted to include some more of the sights and sounds of a moving memorial service.
Maj. Edward Tanguy, 46, Cottage Grove, executive officer and acting battalion commander
Our combat service support soldiers must secure and fight for themselves. They often must do this in trucks without armor, while towing 5000 gallons of fuel or other supplies. They also must execute these hazardous missions without the prospect of a tab or badge on their uniformsOur combat service support heroes go out the wire living the adage everyone is a riflemanSPC David Johnson was one of those combat service support heroesSPC Johnson woke everyday without issue, manned his weapon, and went out on the road."
Cpt. Peter Aguilar, 38, Eugene, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters company.
Quoting a poem by Buddhist monk Thich Nanh Hanh
"I have lost my smile
But dont worry.
The dandelion has it.
Many of you will recognize that David is the smile. He constantly had a good thought, a happy word, and a cheerful grinDavid continues to live in each of us, Every thought, memory, and memento we have brings him back to us in that moment. We are free to have him in our lives anytime we want to remember himThe power and strength of Davids life is in us. We should use it as he would. Lets smile for each other. Lets take care of each other as he would. His spirit will watch over us as we watch out for each other."
Sgt. James Korpi, 42, of Forest Grove.
To him, everyone had a good heart. Everyone had positive qualitiesI was fortunate to spend time with him and his girlfriend Lisa in New Orleans. There was a lot of love between them. My prayers go out to Lisa in hopes that she may be comforted.
Cpl. Joe Fleischman, 31, of Sherwood.
"Dave was the type of individual that would be there for you no matter what. He would give the shirt off his back without question SPC David W. Johnson enjoyed his life in the military, and all that entails the life of a soldier. He began this deployment knowing few of the men he was coming to serve with, but left with an endless amount of brothers and long-lasting friendships He has blessed the lives of those that came to know him, and for that I am grateful.
If we have comfort in Daves death its to realize that he is now reaping the rewards of a life lived well, and that hes keeping guard now in the clouds above."
Staff Sgt. Kevin Yeamans, longtime friend, in a letter read by Fleischman
"He was a happy go lucky kind of man that nothing ever seemed to get him down. He had the ability to take some of the worst of times, deal with them head on, and drive on. More than that, Dave was a brother to me. He was always there He was a man of many dreams, one of which was when we both returned he would buy a new motorcycle and we would ride off into the sunset together down to Laguna Seca to watch the World Superbike races together and hob knob with the great. What most of us never realized was that he was one of the greats.
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 30, 2004 - 09:33am PT
David W. Johnson
Wednesday, September 29 2004 @ 08:02 AM EST
Contributed by: tomw
Oregonian -- BAGHDAD -- An Oregon Army National Guardsman from Portland has been killed by a roadside bomb near Camp Taji, northwest of Baghdad. He is the third soldier with the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry to be killed in less than two weeks.
Spc. David W. Johnson, 37, of Portland was riding Saturday morning in the turret of the last Humvee in a 14-vehicle convoy headed from Patrol Base Volunteer to Taji in a routine supply run.
The convoy was about two miles south of Taji when a bomb -- called an improvised explosive device or IED -- was detonated by remote control on the driver's side of the Humvee, killing Johnson and slightly wounding the driver.
Johnson, a member of the 218th Field Artillery, was attached to the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry. He worked in the transportation unit, which is responsible for helping secure food, ammunition and other supplies.
His death came 12 days after an IED killed Staff Sgt. David Weisenburg and Spc. Benjamin Isenberg from the battalion's B Company. Weisenburg, 26, was from Portland, and Isenberg, 27, was from Sheridan.
Since the beginning of the battalion's Iraq deployment in April, eight guardsmen have been killed, all by IEDs planted on roads or in vehicles.
Saturday's blast threw the 5-ton Humvee into the air and spun it around, said Sgt. John Larsen, 36, of Drain, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of the vehicle. The explosion destroyed a door and threw shrapnel at the three people inside.
At first, Larsen said, he didn't think anyone was injured. Johnson was slumped in the turret, his arms braced against the sides.
When Larsen climbed out and opened Johnson's door, he realized Johnson had sustained a head wound and was not breathing, he said.
As the other vehicles swung back to the bombing site, soldiers secured the area and medics worked on Johnson. He was declared dead shortly afterward.
"He was one of the nicest people you will ever meet," Larsen said. "He didn't deserve to die in this place."
The driver, Spc. James Richmond of Springfield, sustained swollen ears from the noise of the explosion and a burn from hot shrapnel that landed inside the collar of his body armor.
The scene was hard to take in, said Spc. Derek Rabacal, 39, of Beaverton, who was in the fourth vehicle in the convoy.
Cars were piling up behind the site. Dozens of people, gathered outside shops along the road, watched as smoke rose from the Humvee and medics worked on Johnson. The soldiers were unable to determine who set off the IED.
IEDs have emerged as one of the insurgents' deadliest tools in their fight against U.S. and Iraqi forces. Made from artillery shells or other explosives and connected to a timing device, such as a cell phone, attackers can by remote control detonate massive bombs that are planted in debris along the shoulder of a highway, buried beneath the road or packed into vehicles.
The results have been deadly, not only for U.S. and Iraqi forces, but also for Iraqi civilians.
The random nature of IEDs -- and not being able to discern who is setting them -- has been a growing frustration for soldiers.
"Thirteen vehicles passed the site, and the 14th got hit," said Sgt. James Korpi, 42, of Forest Grove.
"Here you don't know who (the enemy) is, where they are, what's going to happen next," said Sgt. 1st Class Ron Van Vlack, 59, of Myrtle Point. "Especially if you're out on the road, you're vulnerable all the time."